Filmmaker Feature: Ryan Chartrand

Ryan Chartrand grew up in Brewster, Massachusetts in the heart of Cape Cod. Not known for it’s surf, Cape Cod does have it’s rare days where the surf turns on and everyone drops what they are doing to catch a wave. Throughout his surfing years, Ryan wsa always into filming beginning with skateboarding. It wasn’t until he got his HVX-200, at age 17, the he began filming surfing, and after his first full video project, he’s been hooked ever since. We caught a glimpse of his project “Life of a Surfboard” and decided we’d better find out more about who this kid is.

What made you decide to pursue a career in filmmaking?

There isn’t a specific thing that made me pursue filmmaking but it started when I saw the surf film One California Day and also when got my dads HD camera about half a year ago. Ever since I’ve been filming more projects than I can comprehend.

How has it gone for you thus far? Has anything happened thus far that you weren’t expecting? Any obstacles that you have had to overcome?

I’ve only been shooting for half a year and a lot of things changed within that time period. I’ve filmed many great surfers, Eric Dranginis , Brett Barley and many more great surfers. I started one project with local surfboard shaper, Shawn Vecchione and the edit came out really nice for a first video project. I did it for a fun project and didn’t know what was going to happen after that. Since the Vec video, I have gotten noticed by viewers worldwide. I didn’t expect anything like this. I started this for pure fun and it has landed me on different blogs and websites. The only obstacle that I had to overcome and still do is managing time shooting and editing while staying focused on school. Almost going to college and studying in school it has been a hard time choosing, school work or filming something I love.

Do you have any formal training?

My father has been a video producer since before I was born. Growing up, I watched him do his own commercial and corporate projects, I used to help him do some commercials, either acting in them or helping with lighting or floor work. I got a grasp of shooting techniques from him, he’s told me to do whatever I want to do and he will support me with it and thus he has. He showed me how to properly use the camera and how to find a great shot. I don’t consider this formal training, but I consider it help. I do my own directing, filming, and editing from watching him do it.

What kind of equipment are you using?

I’m not going to lie to you and say I own the most expensive equipment known to filmers. I’m an 18 year old high school student with a very fixed budget! I have a Panasonic HVX 200 camera with a Miller tripod, a Apple MacBook Pro and Final Cut Pro. I try to make the best work with the little things I have.

What are your goals as a filmmaker? And how do you intend to stand out from what other filmmakers are doing?

My main goal is to be a professional surf videographer and work with renowned surf companies producing the best surf films. I want to be known as a role model for younger kids to pursue their dreams in filmmaking. It doesn’t matter if it’s surf, skate, snowboarding, or anything. As long as they’re pursuing their dreams and being productive, that’s cool.

How would you describe your style?

Throughout the process of shooting you find yourself evolving into your own style. My style of video cinematography is a funky modern feel with a twist of retro extras in it. Yet my style is still being formed by what I come across, the people I meet and the subjects I shoot.

Can you fill us in on your project that you are working on called “Life of a Surfboard”? What can we expect to see between you and Shawn (Vecchione)?

Shawn Vecchione is a local surfboard shaper here on the Cape. This was my first “real” project. What Vec and I want to show is, literally, the “Life of a Surfboard”. People think “oh it’s easy to shape a surfboard, it’s just a foam deck, fiberglass and then a surfer rides the board.” It’s not like that at all; it’s an art. From shaping the board to riding the board it’s a completely different experience. It takes style to shape a board and to ride a board, and I try to show a little different “style” in the feel of the edit. In our future episodes we want to show different surfers riding the exact board that Vec shaped and handing it off to other surfers until the board’s life is complete.

Tell us a little bit about where you grew up in Cape Cod?

Cape Cod is an amazing place to grow up. I’m thankful for my parents giving me the chance to grow up here. Cape Cod has so much history to it, the Pilgrims arrived in Provincetown and then Eastham before going to Plymouth rock where they finally settled. It’s also known for fishing, the beautiful Atlantic beaches and it’s old comfortable lifestyle. I have spent my whole life on the beach, the beaches form who I am today. The only tough thing about living on Cape Cod is the summer. Tourist season…. we get some high maintenance “out-of-staters” (if you know what I mean and I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying that, but you guys really have to work on your driving skills.). There’s only one or two main roads to get from one town to the other and when that road is full of traffic I seem to lose my mind and go into road rage. Overall, Cape Cod is a great place.

How is the surf culture in that area? And the waves?

The Cape Cod surf culture is small. Everyone has their own group. There’s the older crew who don’t seem to like the younger surfers, the young surfers who go every morning and the groms. When you wake up, you can find most of the surfers in Orleans at cafes. Where everyone talks about the upcoming swells and the last wave they had that morning.

What can we expect to see from Ryan Chartrand in the near future?

You will find more of my funky projects and can follow me on tumblr to see what I’m currently doing.

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