Johnny Abegg is an incredible surfer from Byron Bay, Australia who has gone from grinding it out on the WQS, racking up quite credit card debt in order to live out a dream to now shifting his focus to behind the lens. After chasing the dream for 3 years on the QS, Johnny has now translated his smooth style into a new realm of possibility for himself, that of a filmmaker. With quite a few projects under his belt, including his films Two Weeks and On Credit as well as his website SkuffTV, we are always excited to hear what projects Johnny will come up with next.
How did you get into filmmaking?
In 2005, I was about to go away on the WQS. I had a thought “why don’t I document the unseen side of pro surfing”. So, with $20,000 of debt to my name from two previous attempts of being a pro-surfer, I bought a handycam. After 5 months away on tour, I came home in $27,000 of debt. I then taught myself to edit and made my first film On Credit. People can get it here: http://oncreditfilm.wordpress.com
Would you say you have a particular filmmaking style? What separates you from everyone else?
My style varies depending on subject matter. I’m no different to many other filmmakers. But what drives me is story at the end of the day. A good story wins over anything in my mind, so if that’s a point of difference then cool.
How does being on the WQS compare to filmmaking? Any similarities between the two?
Hmmmmm…. both are an absolute roller coaster or triumphs and low points. Sometimes your inspired in film, sometimes your ripping in the surf… and them sometimes you suck at both. So the ups and downs of both are relative.
Your film “On Credit” is about how you racked up quite a credit card bill to do the ‘QS. Is the ‘QS chase and the debt worth it?
Yes. In following my dream of being a pro-surfer, another dream blossomed through living my true path. I’m still paying off the debt now ($10,000 in the red), but I’m doing what I want to, so the financials are a small price to play. Will re-assess this ethos when I have children.
Having a go at the ‘QS probably kept you on a thruster most of the time. Seems like you have branched out to all sorts of boards. How has riding a variety of boards changed your surfing? Has it changed your overall point of view of surfing?
My perception of surfing is still very similar, I do surf because I love it. I feel calm in an oceans presence. My surfing has been about evolution really, a reflection of life. If you get stuck in a rut, you too as a person get jaded and frustrated. Same with surfing, it’s always good to try new things and riding different boards are the spice of ones surfing life.
Any particular type of board you prefer?
Right now, I’d say ‘Pinky the Sea Quad’. She is my favourite for the last 2 years, a Dain Thomas/Sea Surfboards slice of magic. Rewind a few years I would have said a 6’2” Thruster and fast forward a few years it will be something different…
What can we expect to see from Johnny Abegg next?
Two Weeks, my latest film being seen by the world. More stories from the heart and whatever else comes with evolution.