How Did A Surf Filmer End Up On Wheel Of Fortune? - Stab Mag

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How Did A Surf Filmer End Up On Wheel Of Fortune?

Nate Leal would like to solve the puzzle.

elsewhere // Apr 16, 2021
Words by Jack Mutschler
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Surf cinematography isn’t a terrible career path. While the money is nothing extraordinary, the perks included with the job are worthwhile. Not many people can say they get paid to travel the globe.

Surf filmer Nate Leal recently lucked out and found his way onto the popular game show Wheel of Fortune. As Volcom’s in-house videographer, there’s no denying that his film expertise helped his audition tape stand out out from the rest.

Curious as to how the event above unfolded, I shot Nate a few questions; check out his answers below.

How did you manage to get on Wheel of Fortune

My roommate and I were having some midday wine right at the beginning of quarantine, talking about our bucket list items. For some reason, Wheel of Fortune has always been at the top of mine. I sent them a self-tape with a quick bio, and a couple of months later, I got an invite to a zoom audition… the rest is history.

 I also had a mullet and a handlebar mustache at the time, so I think they were looking for a bit of diversity. 

 That’s a pretty neat suit. Did you already own it, or was it purchased for the occasion?

I outgrew the old tuxedo so had to buy a new one. 

How were the other competitors? Anyone try to play any competitive mind games backstage?

No, this isn’t surfing. Everyone was just anxious to be on national television. I barely had a chance to talk to them before because of Covid precautions. 

Did you buy any vowels?

I was in the red the whole time; I never got a chance, haha.

Did you win any money?

See last answer^^ 

But no, I landed on bankruptcy, my only two opportunities to spin, so I got a grand ($600 after taxes) just for showing up. 

What are you going to buy?

I had a proper viewing party with all my homies and spent most of my winnings on the bbq and booze for the gang. They all assumed I’d made millions, and I love a good troll, so I had them fooled till the end. 

If I did strike it rich, I’d buy some land in the woods or get more camera gear to sit on my shelf, but It’s probably for the better I didn’t, so I stay motivated to keep grinding. 

How does it feel to be on the other side of the camera? Give the crew any pointers?

It all happened so fast, but It was such a cool experience regardless of the outcome; so many bells and whistles. It was exactly what you would imagine. 

Which surfer do you think would do the best on Wheel of Fortune?

Andrew Jacobson hasn’t missed an episode since he was a little boy, and it would be hilarious to see him on tv. 

What have you been working on recently? (besides strolling onto game show sets)

I’m getting on a plane to Costa Rica right now to film for a new Volcom project; besides that, I’ve been experimenting with some new mediums and techniques. I am also assisting on bigger productions, trying to learn as much as I can.  I want to do something that hasn’t been seen before, but that’s extremely hard this day and age. So I’m not going to give any spoilers until I drop it. 

A favorite film you’ve had the pleasure to work on?

Psychic migrations will always be my favorite project. I feel like that was one of the last legitimate surf movies ever made, and RT is an absolute wizard at editing. 

Plans for the future?

As the world opens up more, I’d like to more trips that aren’t centered around the beach. I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively, but nearly every trip was to film surfing, so I’d like to explore more of the world that isn’t surrounded by the ocean. Until then, I just want to make cool stuff with my friends.


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