Born in Montreal, Canada, Mark Laurin began his action sports life as a snowboarder for 15 years, working in the music industry doing tour management and creating all the visual creative from video, photo, graphics, and more. He eventually found his way into surfing and has now embarked on a project exploring the connection between our daily habits and wilderness entitled Seeking For A New Port.
The idea behind the project is to touch base with watermen, artists, and surfers from Alaska to South America, learning how these they create balance between the virtual world and the real world. Marc and his crew will be examining how computers have changed where these creatives live, surf, and relationships they have with kids & friends and over all lives. Seeking For A New Port is a project powered by GotSurf.ca. Marc is one of their collective filmakers and they are helping to provide him a platform to share his project.
Tell us a little about where you grew up and how you first got into the surf scene.
I grew up on the south shore of Montreal, in your typical suburb where you’ve got direct access to all resources and plenty of opportunities available. All you really need is some motivation and the world is yours! I’ve been in contact with water at a young age. I grew up having swimming lessons, going out fishing and going out on boats. As I grew older, skateboarding and snowboarding took up most of my time, and with it came stills and videos. In august 2008, a friend of mine invited me on a weekend surf trip to New Hampshire, and that’s basically when I got bit by the surfing bug. From then on my life followed a totally different path.
How do your local breaks in the Atlantic Northeast compare to other places you’ve surfed? Do you feel that the surfing experience up there offers something special or unique that other parts of the world do not?
The breaks I’ve surfed in the Maine and New Hampshire are cold water beach breaks that pick up swell mostly during hurricane season… this means paddling out in random peaks in a 5mm wetsuit. Most of the time, we do the 5 to 6 hour drive only to get choppy waist high surf…so we now opt for exploration! When we’re not traveling we river surf around Montreal, or we make the 13 hour drive to Nova Scotia when we know a hurricane is on its way. The surf in the Atlantic Northeast is so different from the other places I’ve traveled, from the water temperature, the breaks, the lineups, the sets; it’s all very different yet anywhere you go the passion that unites surfers in the water is universal. There’s dedication and passion involved when you are a land lock surfer and manage to surf 100 days a year. I guess that’s why I’m so stoked when I surf; there’s so much time and effort put into just reaching the beach, that you enjoy the surf that much more.
How did you get into filmmaking? Have you been doing it for a while or is it something more recent? What had you been up to prior to teaming up with GotSurf?
Prior to this, I’d been working for a music label for 7 years doing tour management, graphic design and music videos for French Canadian bands. At the same time I had my own small video production business. I studied both visual and music management so it felt like a good environment to grow and develop my skills. In the last few years, I started to focus on working more as a freelancer in projects that inspire me and aren’t music related. I especially wanted to bring together my passions for surf and visual. Back in June 2009, I did a little “newcomer” project (Surf101) in Costa Rica to get in touch with Montreal’s growing surf scene. A year later I teamed up with Olivier Barrette-Laperrière for GOTSURF, and now here we are after a few surf clips!
What is the idea behind your new project, “Seeking for a New Port”? What inspired you to embark on this journey?
Working as a freelancer and being in front of my computer a minimum of 10 hours a day made me realize that most of our life is lived through a screen. If sitting in front of a computer wasn’t enough, we now carry our access to this cyber world with us everywhere through our smart phone. This “life 2.0” has somehow become more important then what surrounds us. This reality got me feeling like I had to do something in order to help the future generation, instead adopting this crazy lifestyle the 265 days a year when I’m not surfing. The idea of connection kept coming to me. The way I see it, there are two main connections: connection with nature/human contact and connection to the internet. We are losing connection with nature/human contact due to our connection to the internet. Seeking for a new port is about finding out if it’s still possible to keep a balance between the two, and how to achieve it. My own balance in the past couple of years was maintained through surfing, so I decided to explore this phenomenon further. We are following the coast through different climates, economy and culture to see how watermen, surfers, and fishermen are able to use the internet as a tool and still maintain a strong connection with the wilderness.
Can you describe how the process has gone so far? Where have you been and where are your next stops?
We left Montreal on July 24th and crossed Canada to Skagway, Alaska in 7 days. From there we took a ferry to Sitka where, for the next two weeks, we were welcomed by locals I’d contacted prior to our departure… thanks to the internet! Then another ferry brought us to Prince Rupert, BC and we drove through the Canadian Rockies. After a quick stop in Whistler, BC., we drove to West Vancouver to hit yet another ferry heading to Tofino. Partners from GOTSURF, Adam Dewolf and Raph Bruhwiler, with all their knowledge and good will welcome us during our stay. Time for the fourth ferry, this one crossing USA borders to Port Angeles, WA. We surfed in Wesport a total of 3 days and then continued our trip south. We went through Oregon quite fast, because it was really windy and there was a lack of contacts in that area. As we set our wheels in California, the swell picked up, so we surfed several spots from Crescent city to San Clemente where we stayed for the Hurley Pro. We got to surf Trestles 6 hours a day! Next stop was in the San Diego area where I filmed a few interviews and enjoyed the party scene since the surf wasn’t good. On October 9th we arrived in Baja California and surfed places like the Seven Sisters, Pescadero area, and the East Cape. After spending 5 weeks in Baja, we’re going to get on…guess what… yes another ferry! This time from La Paz to Topolobampo so we can get into the mainland. We plan on staying in Mexico on the mainland for the next 3 weeks then head down to El Salvador for 2 weeks in December. After spending the holidays there, we want to get to Nicaragua in early January and end the trip in Costa Rica sometime in February. Then the fun will be to drive ALL THE WAY back to Montreal…
Is there a particular theme or message that you hope viewers gain from watching your film?
I just hope that people will understand their role as an active part of the earth and take better care of our planet instead of spending all their time in a cyber world. It’s just a matter of balancing it all out. Internet is indeed a great tool and I do believe we should be aware of the technologies at our disposal, but that doesn’t mean losing touch with the real world and neglecting our planet and mental health. Internet must remain just a tool or activity without overwhelming our lives.
What kind of difficulties or challenges have you experienced along the way?
I’d say that the hardest part would have to be the long distance relationship through Skype calls and Facebook e-mails. But then again, these social networks are a great help in a way; it allows me to keep in touch with my girlfriend as much as possible. Finding a good, free internet connection is a challenge, however. And when you think about it, that’s another reality that most North American kids grow up with; free Wi-Fi everywhere. Try to find Internet in the Baja desert… Another thing that’s been challenging is finding drinking water out here, which back home isn’t an issue we have to face. You begin to appreciate and cherish every drop of water, trust me!
We understand that you have a pretty sweet ride to get you down the coast…Can you tell us a little about the RV and how it has added to the whole experience?
I’ve always dreamt of having one of those epic surf safaris from the 70’s to go on discovering empty breaks and remote pieces of paradise… so I figured there was no better way to visit our continent than the old fashion way; in an RV! The goal was to be able to surf and stay everywhere and anywhere we want; total freedom. With the RV, I get to jump on the roof at sunrise for a better lookout at the surf conditions, while my buddy Fred is inside brewing coffee… now that’s a classic morning! The best part is not having to stay put at a single break. We can pack up everything, drive out to explore a bunch of other places and gain not only greater knowledge, but a better surf experience. All this thanks to our GMC Élite 1984!
What can we expect to see from Marc Laurin in the near future?
When I come home from this journey, I’ll take the time to plan out how I can push the envelope. These past few years I’ve realized the importance of future generations. I think it’s important to open their eyes on the rest of the world and keep them from drowning in a cyber universe. So I guess maybe I’ll aim in that direction…