Twenty-ten was the most life-changing year of Riley Blakeway’s life. Analog gifted the kid a round-the-world ticket and asked him to document one of surfing’s most technical men (and his best-ever pal), Chippa Wilson. Riles had the time of his life making NOW, then enjoyed the afterglow for a stint. Then he made some of the best digital shorts you’ve seen in the last 18 months. And, then, Analog asked him back to produce 2.0. So, on the eve of sending his newest film, Chromatic, off for DVD replication, Riles spoke to Stab about working with Chip’s new co-star (Nathan Fletcher), the beneficial values of acupuncture, and all other things that making a surf film involves.
*Scroll through the carousel up top for some grabs from the film, or roll down bottom for the trailer. All images by Riley.
Stab: What was the final thing you captured for Chromatic?
Riley Blakeway: Well, Nathan turned up two days ago with clips from Mex – one’s a full rote on an eight foot wave, one of the gnarliest airs I’ve ever seen. So now I’m trying to find a way to splice them in, but it’s so hard because I’ve already finished the movie and am supposed to be handing it in. The last thing I actually filmed was a session with Chippa in Cabarita. There was a bank out front of his place for two weeks straight. The best session we got was right after he got acupuncture in his back. He couldn’t move the day after he got it, but then the next day he surfed and he did a huge straight air, a couple of huge rotes and a rodeo. He got five or six clips in this one little half hour session. I’ve been claiming acupuncture ever since, telling people to go get it.
You used Chris Bryan’s Code Red footage of Nathan. Is it odd treating something that ain’t shot on the same camera you used for all your other footage? This is a really relevant question. This movie has been shot on Super 8, Super 16, digital, Red Camera, high-speed Super 16, Phantom camera, there’s archival footage of 14-year-old Nathan… it has every different type of footage you could imagine. Trying to make it cohesive has been one of the bigger challenges. It’s 90 percent my own footage, and even then it’s hard at times to use other people’s stuff. But, the Phantom footage I tried to leave on it’s own. There’s nothing that needs to be done to Phantom footage shot at Tahiti on a day like that, except put it to nice music. It doesn’t feel like it’s yours, but it’s such an important part of the film and something of that calibre, you can’t really be selfish with.
What’s the difference between shooting Nathan and Chip? There’s a massive difference. Chippa’s my best friend, so obviously I’m really comfortable running around on the beach, moving position, and I know he trusts what I’m gonna do. And I know what he’s gonna do and when I need to be ready. But with Nathan I worry way more, ’cause he might try a hundred things and not make them, but then he’ll make the most ridiculous manoeuvre you’ve ever seen. But, it’ll be that one in 100. So, it’s kinda like you have to play it safer with Nathan ’cause when he makes that one, you really don’t wanna miss it.
Should we expect something similar to NOW? I think what you have to remember with both this film and NOW, is that I set out to make a film that represents Analog. So, stylistically they’re always going to be similar. The whole goal with the film was to make something that was Analog. No gimmicks, just a good representation of the brand. Chromatic is a lot cleaner than NOW. I’ll probably keep saying this for the rest of my life, but I just didn’t want to over-edit parts. It’s really surf-heavy. I treated all the footage and made it look how I like it to look, but I didn’t mess with it as much. With NOW, I think my creativity got in the way of the surfing a little bit. But because the surfing’s so gnarly in this, especially with bigger airs and bigger waves, I just kinda wanted to let the surfing do the talking. Chromatic is only 22 minutes. It’s really concise. I wanted sections to flow into each other with less, like, “Oh here we are in Panama now.” Even though there is some establishing shots, I’ve stripped it back to 20 percent of what I’d normally use. I cut the bullshit. – Elliot Struck
Chromatic premieres next friday night and it’s, like, totally free and all-inclusive! (Then follows a mini-tour). If you can, make yourself present. Check out the event page here.