Filmmaker Feature: Mark Daniel

Mark Daniel is a 22 year-old filmmaker from Porto Alegre (Southern Brazil). He recently released an independent production called Tales From the Desert, where he uses vintage aesthetics to highlight some of the footage based upon his recent surf trips to Mexico and Peru, featuring Brazilian pro and amateur surfers.

Tell us a bit about your life and how did you become involved in surf filmmaking?

I was born and raised in Porto Alegre, going to beach on weekends. Last year, I got degree in tourism and it was during my academic period that I realized I was not trailing the path I would like. My interest in photography, art and music spoke louder.

When I started filming, I would take the camera to the beach with some friends and during this period I wouldn’t consider staying longer than what was agreed among us. But slowly, I began to get interested in the footage and realized that I was happier when I shot some cool maneuver from an specific angle than if I had actually executed the maneuver. Then a whole new world of possibilities opened up before me. It may seem daring, but I realized I could make people happier by shooting a video than if I was just surfing for myself.

How is the surf attached to your life and does this relationship is reflected on your films?

Surfing was always present in my life. From early childhood I have memories of my brothers going to surf with their friends. It was a natural step for me to begin to surf as well. About two years ago that I started to get more interested in photography. So I decided to try to show some of my interpretation not just about surfing, but on the whole environment that involves surfing, people and landscapes. I’m not there yet, and I do not know if this is a utopia but I guess that’s the feeling that makes us always put our hearts in what we do.

Tell us about the filming process of Tales. What equipment you used in the recordings and conceived as the aesthetic of the images and the film’s visual identity?

The filming process was very simple. I used a Sony FX7 and that was basically it. It was basically the do it yourself stylei of production. I’ve always been fascinated by old photos and movies and I wanted to share some of that feeling. I think the surf, and people in general are very concerned with being the most high tech as possible. But having the latest high tech equipment won`t guarantee you to produce a pretty picture. So I just I let my instincts automatically treat the images with a vintage tone to add a little more to that concept.

How did you pick the songs for the soundtrack?

Whenever I am shooting I already have some music in my head. . It always seems to work because I can already feel the vibe of the moment and try to contextualize mentally with the music. It`s a kind of pre-editing. But in Tales, not all songs came along like that. Some tunes where changed along the journey to fir the reading I had of the footage in the editing room. So, the choice of a track is very relative and not always the music I have in mind at the moment ends up being ideal for the occasion.

What are some of your favorite movies (surf related or not) that served as inspiration for Tales?

I love the work of Dustin Miller , I like the simplicity and purity in his images and themes. It would be unfair to name just one of his movies, because all his work has inspired me , but then I would have to quote Picaresque. A film that made a big impression on me was Thicker than Water by Jack Johnson. It’s one of my favorites. I would also mention (Simples Olhar) simple look by my friend Pablo Aguiar . Watching these films sparked on me the interest in shooting.

More recently I would quote Kai Neville`s Modern Collective, which I think was kind of a wake up call for surfing, both for the surfers but also for directors and producers who were accommodated in an non-creative environment. And finally I have a big influence outside which are the films by Stanley Kubrick. My favorite film is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which somehow had some influence in Tales.

What are your future plans?

My plans are to continue producing but always looking for something different. I have some projects for this year and I’m trying out different concepts for surf production. I believe there is a great market for surfing and the number of surfers who are hungry for trying out something new and different is greater. So there is no point on insisting on the copying the obvious and what has already been done.

For more about Mark’s film Tales from the Desert, check out:

Interview by Luciano Burin of

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