Film: Hunter Martinez
Watch: A Truly Independent Surf Film, Lost In Thought
This film was made by surfers, for surfers, with no financial assistance or agenda.
Hunter Martinez, 24, was born in Pasadena, California—about an hour from the Santa Monica Pier, or two in peak traffic.
When his family finally moved to the beach, Hunter's interest in surfing became a bona fide passion. He surfed whenever he could, made countless friends in the water, and even tried his hand at local surf events, but the inland upbringing prevented Hunter from high-level competitive success.
"I wasn't that good, but it was still fun to surf with my friends and see their level of talent," Hunter admitted.
Due to his separation from the coast, Hunter had missed those crucial hours of practice in his developmental years—the ones that form an athlete's muscle memory and, ultimately, determine their ability.
But Hunter recognized this fact early and, after negotiating the five stages of grief, decided that even though he wasn't going to be a professional surfer, he could still create a life for himself in the sport that he loved. So Hunter picked up a camera and started snapping pictures of his most talented friends, including Eithan Osborne, Shane Borland, and Micky Clarke.
Hunter's sharp eye and unwavering dedication made him a quick study; he even went to photo school for six months, in an attempt to master the art of photography, but started getting booked on so many jobs and trips that he dropped out and became a full-time freelancer.
"It felt like the right move for me at the time," Hunter said.
But as the market's need for photos diminished and video's stock continued to rise, Hunter made the choice that so many photographers have been forced to in recent years—he adopted motion picture as his primary form of capture.
While video mightn't have been Hunter's passion, this move benefitted both he and his friends, whose symbiotic connection led to mutual career growth: Hunter as a filmer, his pals as professional surfers.
"It's been awesome seeing how much better they've gotten in recent years," Hunter said.
Any time that Hunter wasn't doing commercial gigs (gotta pay the rent, right?), he was filming with guys like Eithan, Shane and Micky. Some of Hunter's earlier clips that you may have seen on this site include Micky Clarke's Fricked and Fricked II, A Snap Back to Reality with Andrew Jacobson, and Shane en Central America.
After a while, though, Hunter decided that he wanted to challenge himself. He wanted to create something more meaningful than the short, individualistic edits that define modern surf media. He wanted to make a full-length film, with all of his friends, and he wanted full creative control.
So Hunter did something that we haven't seen in some time:
"I wanted to make an independent surf film," Hunter said.
And he means truly independent. No sponsors, whatsoever.
"The surfers helped me pay for my trips, flights and all that, but everything else, like camera equipment and developing film, has been all on me," Hunter revealed.
All up, this amounted to three or four grand out of Hunter's pocket, plus the countless work hours that went into the film, which could have gone toward more lucrative projects.
But this wasn't just a labor of love. Hunter sees Lost in Thought (AKA LIT) as an elite portfolio piece—something he can show potential employers to demonstrate his ability as a filmmaker. So all the time and money he invested was essentially an investment in himself. A brave, yet wise decision from the 24-year-old.
Oh, and if any brands are reading this, Hunter is available for inquiry!
We asked Hunter what was the biggest lesson he learned when making LIT.
"Just how difficult it is to turn your concept into a reality. But I'm really happy with how this film came out in the end."
LIT features sections from California, Panamá, Portugal, Mexico, and beyond, and was captured over the course of a year. It includes Stab High competitors Shane Borland and Eithan Osborne, plus underground California talents like Micky Clarke, Gunner Day, Colin Moran, Wil Reid, and more.
Click above to enjoy.