Filmmaker Feature: Justin Krumb

Filmmaker Justin Krumb has been documenting surfers’ complex relationship with the ocean for over two decades, most recently for his production company Saltwater Collective. We heard about Justin’s new full-length feature documentaryMinds in the Water and asked him to share a few details on the project and his filmmaking background. Minds in the Water follows pro surfer Dave Rastovich and his friends on their journey to “project dolphins, whales and the ocean they share” and it launches today (available on iTunes and DVD). We’ve included the trailer below, and you can check their website for screening details:

I love the “one man” focus that the trailer for “Minds in the Water” starts out with – it seems to echo yes, you can – but it is clear that the specific quickly translates to the universal in this film. What is it about Dave’s story that made you and your team think it had to be told? 

The most intriguing thing about Dave’s maturation from surfer to environmental activist was his willingness to put himself out there for something he feels passionate about. His willingness to use his surfing celebrity to spread a message that would ultimately affect change and raise some eyebrows in the process was what we found to be so compelling.

What makes a good documentary subject? 

In this case it was the possibilities of both success and failure of Dave’s mission. That unknown factor added a real twist that we could not predict. The chance to capture that, whatever it was, became an exciting element to making this documentary.

You go to some pretty extreme locations in this latest documentary. Is that new to you? 

Fortunately the travel element was a pretty comfortable part of the process for all of us because, being indie filmmakers and surfers ourselves, we’ve become used to the job that is international travel these days. The tricky part there was how these different governments and local authorities would react to what we were coming to document.

What was the most challenging part of this project? 

Honestly, the most challenging element of the process was when to stop documenting Dave’s environmental activism. After 5 years of following him we were pretty confident that we had what we needed and just had to move to the next stage of editing.

And the most rewarding? 

By far the most rewarding part of this process has been creating a feature length documentary that could reach beyond the surfing community and into households around the world. Hopefully inspiring change in people that do not see the ocean every day like we do.

Do all of your projects focus on the sea? 

Pretty much all my projects have been focused on our saltwater connection. There is such powerful inspiration there, as your Korduory viewers well know, that offers so many choices when it comes to inspiration in storytelling. What is it about the ocean that is so inspiring to you? The sight, the sound, the smell, the recreational value and her ability to always keep me guessing and coming back for more.

Do you have a preference between documentary film or documentary television?

Making the move to feature documentary work has always been a goal of mine and Minds In The Water is evidence of that. Still, there is something to be said for the pace that comes with TV work and the deadlines that come with it.

What is the festival scene like?

Doing the film festival circuit has been an enlightening experience when it comes to how viewers see your film. Some festivals are big some are small and that affects everyone’s impression of the film. Audiences have been really positive to the message and Dave’s journey and that feels pretty good.

Were there any big surprises in terms of audience reactions to “Minds in the Water”?

How engaged they become about the issues that Dave addresses in the film. Humans can be very passionate and it’s cool to see this come out in people who have just seen your documentary.

When a person sees the film and is moved by its message, what can he or she do to support the cause? Is it the job of a documentary to provide a call to action? 

I think it is. That is what documentary filmmaking is all about, creating awareness about issues that our society faces. If people are inspired by this film we hope they will go out and use their skills to find a way to make their world a better place. For more information on our support of this cause we are directing people to That’s Dave’s non-profit that is set up to address these issues.

What is the role of the filmmaker after the film is released? Sit back and watch it spread?

Ha! is that ever a misconception… What I realized during this process was how MUCH work there was once the project was finished to get it out to the public. The world is a big place and people have so many options with regards to how they view your film these days. Seems like you need a degree in social networking to get it right and that may not even be enough.

Do you have a sense of what’s on the horizon for you? Did this latest project steer you in any different directions creatively? 

Well yes and no. I’m still really inspired to tell stories built around the surfing community and how we affect our greater society but I’m challenged to finds ways to tell those stories in a unique way. That is what makes being a filmmaker so much fun. You are constantly challenged to do things with a fresh approach. Hey every canvas offers the opportunity for a new brush stroke right? Just like every wave is a new canvas…

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