Reel Talk: Eugenio Barcelloni

There’s a constant debate about surfing in third-world countries. Bringing tourism dollars is great but a lot of these countries lack such basic infrastructure that just beyond the beach lies vast wastelands. You’ve probably heard stories about the devastation in Bali, but this film by Eugenio Barcelloni gives an up-close-and-personal view of what’s going on there. We talked to Barcelloni to get a feel for why he felt he had to make this film, the gear he used to accomplish the task, and what it was like to be documenting such conditions. First, watch Black&Blue here:

Why did you want to make this film? How are you connected to Bali and their struggles?

The first time I went to Bali was in 2004. I have been back many times but it was last year that I decided to shoot “Black&Blue.” Over the 10 years, I have seen a lot of changes on this island. It’s hard to imagine what it will be like in 20 years’ time because it’s getting worse every year. The pollution from the sea is the most significant problem, when the wind blows on-shore you will see a huge amount of plastic in Kuta that comes from the ocean, it arrives slowly then stays on the beach. When you drive through Serangan, not far from the ocean, you smell a very thick and dirty stench that comes from a big landfill mountain. Most of the Bali rubbish goes to this mountain that grows rapidly.

Eugenio Barcelloni Surf Bali

Is surf helping or hurting Bali?

Surfing is helping and hurting this island in different ways. It is helping Bali’a economy because the locals with their small warungs are working and living thanks to the surfers who come to Bali every year and spend all day in the warungs, eating and drinking before and after surfing. In a way, I’m pleased about this, I’m happy for the locals, who are extremely poor, as they can work and earn money from the surfers. The only problem is that the locals are not culturally aware of the need to respect nature, they easily throw their rubbish into the sea. However, this is a problem linked to education and can be adjusted over time, I believe.

On the other hand, it harms Bali when there is large-scale construction, big investors who try to use the locals land to make “the surf” more commercial, more luxurious and more comfortable with easy access to the prime spots. The way to preserve this island is to preserve the warungs and not to demolish them to make other massive projects, like huge hotels on the beach, like Nusa Dua.

Eugenio Barcelloni Surf Bali

How long did it take you to gather the footage for this film?

Four months, but I was working on other projects at the same time.

What kind of research did you do before you started shooting?

I asked the people living in Bali if they know of some organizations that want to preserve the island but I haven’t heard much back. When I started my research on the web I found some interesting associations such as, a company involved in recycling; and, a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve Uluwatu, one of the most famous surfing beaches in the world. They are currently building a liquid waste-treatment system to protect its blue water and white beaches from the warungs, restaurants and other activities up on the cliff, that risk to destroy this beautiful place.

In Bali, I was driving around the island with my moto and after a while I found some of the bad polluted places by myself. The most significant place for me was the landfill of Serangan. I spent two afternoons there shooting, and I remember when I was going back home at night I felt a strong headache and all my body all my clothes smelled dirty. It’s hard to realize that some locals go there every day and try to rescue pieces of wood and other junk.

Eugenio Barcelloni Surf Bali

Did the story turn out how you expected it, or did you change direction during filming and/or editing?

Yes the story turned out as I expected, but during the editing I changed some sections. I chose to change aspects of the music during editing, I also changed parts of the edit itself, so that the final result flows into one single film.

What gear did you use to shoot this film?

I shot with a 5d Mark III, I use a 17-40mm lens for the water images then I used different types of tele lenses for the surfing images and a 24-105mm lens to shoot the life style.

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