Watch: Craig Anderson In "The Quieter You Are The More You Can Hear"
Craig discusses life as an "over the hill" professional surfer, FORMER, and easing into his 30s.
Craig Anderson is 30 years old; surprisingly young for someone who's been at the forefront of non-competitive, progressive surfing for over a decade.
After moving to Newcastle from Port Elizabeth in South Africa at 15, Craig's presence in the surf world has only continued to grow. While he competed as a grom up until he was 20 years old, it wasn't until he took a call from Kai Neville to replace an injured Dion Agius on a Reunion Island trip that his path as an influential edit-based surfer was paved.
That trip was for Modern Collective, a film which defined an era of impressionable surfers and consumers, and for Craig, set his path as a staple in Kai's lauded run of films.
Today, in 2019, Craig confesses he's over the hill in his career as a professional surfer. The end of his time with Quiksilver coincided with the release of his acclaimed edit, 'Welcome Elsewhere' in 2016, and while 'The Quieter You Are The More You Can Hear' (we'll call that Quieter from now on) isn't a sequel, Craig says its a natural progression from that previous film.
After a string of haphazard, unconnected premieres that started in Melbourne, headed to Los Angeles, and concluded in Sydney alongside Jack McCoy's Vivid Talk, the film is now 'premiering' online.
"I don’t want to make a big song and dance though. If they want to see the film, just click on it and watch it."
Quieter was filmed over an 18 month period, featuring everywhere from Iceland, to Indo, and South Oz. You can watch that above.
For an interview with Craig, recorded over a few beers last Friday, featuring a bit of background on the film, Former, and where Craig is at as in his life as a 30-year old professional surfer, scroll south.
Craig, a single fin, and lefthand walls are a symbiotic combination.
Stab: So, Craig, it's been over three years since you dropped Welcome Elsewhere, you had the Luxury 29.99 drop in between, but how does this film compare?
Craig: We filmed [Quieter] over an 18 month period, compared to a quick six months for Welcome Elsewhere. Both films have a long list of cinematographers but the new film was mostly shot by Dav [Fox]. [Welcome Elsewhere] was more a mix of filmers, but both have cohesive flow as Kai pieced both together.
Was the intention always to make a film?
I didn’t chase it too hard, the intention wasn’t even really there the whole time. The first year I was just going on trips with Harry, Dion, and other friends: boat trips to Indo, went to Portugal with Brendon Gibbens and Dane, Fiji with Julian, Iceland, and a trip to the desert. You always get your best waves in Indo but [laughs].
It was only the last six months I started putting this towards a film. There’s not much of a platform for what you could call a film anymore, most people are just working on their web edits. In saying that, I wouldn't quite call this a film, nor a web edit — it's 20 minutes.
Alright, worst place you went?
Los Angeles [laughs].
So, last week? What was the best place that isn't a surf spot?
Los Angeles [laughs] Nah, Ireland. People over there are similar to Benny [Howard]. They're relaxed. They're not all so stressed out all the time. You surf when you can, and drink Guinness or see the country when you can't.
Has the film changed much since that first premiere in Melbourne?
Both the Melbourne and Sydney prem came about by Austyn [Gillette] being out here with the Former skate team. They all encouraged me to show the film
But evolution, not really, it evolved a little. [Kai] first started cutting it in January.
We have this little punters club, there’s around 10 of us and we all went over for a snow trip to Japan. There’s [John] Spon [Respondek], Kai, Beren Hall, Ryan Callinan. But yeah, when we were in Japan, Kai had it all on timelines, but it wasn't close to complete.
I shot most of it with Dav Fox though. I’d say more than 90 percent of it is Dav's footage. He was going to edit it, but he’s so busy and was juggling a 1000 things at once, so I spoke to Kai.
I love working with Kai, he's been a good friend for a long time, and he's a genius at what he does.
Are prems something that are missing in surfing now?
Definitely. I’ve had those sorts of conversations with a bunch of filmmakers and friends, hopefully it might come full circle back to how it was. Jack McCoy was one of these friends talking about tours up and down the coast selling out theatres. That’s an aspect that seems to be missing.
Everything has evolved into vlogs and Youtube channels, but that's the power of the internet, I'm pretty interested in where everything will end up.
Anyway, who came up with the title for your film?
Originally I wanted to play off the Welcome Elsewhere title, although the film isn't a sequel, I wanted some sort of similarity. That wasn't really going anywhere though and Kai pulled a reference along the lines 'the quieter you are the more you can hear' and I wasn't mad at it. It's tough trying to name a film.
And the soundtrack, that Cluster track and Willie Nelson song are so sick. Who did that?
I just sent a bunch of songs in a playlist to Kai that I liked, and he chose from there and added some spice. That Willie Nelson track was a song that my friend Lewis Dunn showed me a while back, it's a great end to the film.
We certainly didn't get any of these tracks approved though [laughs].
"Dav was one to encouraging me to chase swells..." This swell in Iceland was one of them.
So, now you've got Former to occupy your time. You're kind of the only person flying the Former flag out here.
Yeah myself and Benny Howard...
But I assume Benny isn't orchestrating production or making decisions...
[Laughs] Yeah. Former out here [in Australia] is a lot less [than the US]. Everything is really done out of the US, it's even hard getting it shipped out here but we are learning and trying.
"You always get your best waves in Indo". Case in point.
What's your role within Former, how's it all going?
It's a learning curve. We all care about every aspect, but there are individual roles we all have I guess. No one really knows how to do that backend sort of organising: making sure there's product to sell every month, the important stuff making sure we're ticking over–the stuff that matters, like running a business, marketing it to people, having it easily available, or even just having a brick and mortar store.
I just want to do the fun stuff like work on creative, clothing, and go surf. But that's not going to cut the checks for our small team every month.
It keeps us all busy, and we're not going to give up cause it's hard. We believe in it, and nothing stokes me or anyone else out more than someone liking our films or wearing our clothes.
How does the skating aspect come into it all?
Skating is our biggest market I believe. Skaters wear [Former], girls wear it, and then surfers, well I don't really think they get behind it. Maybe in time, but what Austyn has done with the brand is really great. We have an amazing skate team of personalities and super amazing guys.
It all sounds busy, as you'd expect, have your priorities changed now?
A little bit, but Former isn't the only thing that's changed that, just growing up in general has. Surfing isn't the only thing I care about in my life anymore.
Like today, there's fun waves at home. When I was 20 I’d make sure I’m at home to score waves with my friends. Now, at 30, I want to hang out with my girlfriend, focus on the brand stuff, pay attention to relationships, and in general be happy.
Just growing up and gaining responsibilities changed me from simply wanting to chase waves and having surfing as my sole motivator.
Outside of surfing and Former, what occupies you?
At home I hang out with Mum and Dad, who live one street away from me in Merewether. I’ve got two sisters – one has a 16-month-old girl – I spend time with them. I really spend a lot of time with family. Even just doing the gardening is nice [laughs].
Other than that I go surfing with friends at home too. I never film around home, I just like to surf for the fun of it.
Merewether has a great surfing community, boardriders is great.
Are you involved in the boardriders?
I don’t surf in it [laughs], but yeah I go down for the comps and hang out. They do great memorial events which I always take part in, like when Mark Richards dad passed, or my good mate’s Ryan Callinan’s dad passed.
Even surfing with the groms is great, I paddle out and they’re calling me off waves. They're all pretty funny, but we joke around and I give it back.
It’s a great energy and great community.
My housemate wanted me to ask you if you're a 'conscientious objector'. He asked when you were coming on the World Tour, and didn't understand that people don't surf comps.
That's real fucking good [laughs]. I might change the film title.
This is the same bloke who shaved my head, I wouldn't listen.
I've been wanting to do that for decades.
[Laughs] do it then!
Warren [Smith] always says I'm over the hill and if I cut my hair, it's done.
As much as that's all a joke though it's hard to know how much I really care about continuing to chase it into the future. My mates all tell me how much I'd hate a 7-3.
For now though, it's still a thing and I'm grateful for the brands that support me running around and creating things. A big thanks to Former, HUF, Haydenshapes, Futures Fins, Modom, and Salt & Stone.
What would you do for work then, if you didn't surf?
I've got friends at home that are carpenters. I do that occasionally when I'm home and enjoy the work and learning.
But what I've done previously, ran around drinking beers with my friends and surfing, it's a lot different. There's still some 90's freesurfer like Rasta, Ozzy, Machado, and a handful of people that are having fun and are relevant, but that's not the majority. Most people have to go out and work a real job. Everyone says its something that should concern me, but it doesn't, it's just something I'll have to face.
"Like anyone I watched videos of my favourite surfers, for me, a lot of goofy footers, but you can’t mimic a style. Andy Irons might be your favourite surfer but go out and try to surf like Andy Irons, it won’t happen."
[Craig scrolling through a bunch of questions on my phone].
[Laughs], this is a good one. 'People say your style is contrived, like that photo of you at Teahupo'o'...
[Laughs], yeah someone commented that on a post compared Leroy Bellet's shots of you and Michel Bourez.
It's a good one. I find it funny. Go ride a barrel like that and try to think about how your legs are going to look on a wave. Surfing happens so quickly, and if you could control it, then that guy could have a crack.
There’s some dude riding behind you with a giant camera, people screaming at you in the channel, and you fly out the end with no idea what even happened. I’d never been whipped in at Chopes before either, that was something at the forefront of my mind.
Did you ever put conscious thought into your style?
Like anyone I watched videos of my favourite surfers, for me, a lot of goofy footers, but you can’t mimic a style. Andy Irons might be your favourite surfer but go out and try to surf like Andy Irons, it won’t happen.
You’ll gravitate towards things that look good to you, whether it’s surfing, or whatever, and you can do your best to copy it, but it’ll never be the same.
Anyway, there's a bunch of people I want to thank about the film.
Guys like Dav Fox played a huge part in creating this. He's amazing to travel with and always wants to 'go go go'. When we were in Iceland, the weather maps were so tricky and he'd be there zooming in on Google Earth trying to figure out what we were looking at. Every little fjord has its own sort of weather system, the winds were always blowing different directions and he figured it all out. Dav was the one encouraging me to chase these swells, he really was the backbone.
I still really enjoy it but it's nice to have someone cheering you on with a similar mindset.
How did you meet guys like Dav, people in the bodyboarding scene, in the first place?
I'm stoked I crossed paths with all these south coast guys that they've taken me in over the years. I did a desert trip with Grizz [Chris James] and a bunch of boogers and it all rolled from there. I've had some of the best waves of my life with those guys.
And for the surf nerds out there. Here's what Craig is riding throughout the film.
All Haydenshapes boards. Basically the same standard quiver I've been riding for a while. Each craft has its comfortable place in various conditions:
5'4" Hypto, 5'7"1/2 White Noiz, 5'9" rounded pin Black Noiz, and a 6'8" single fin [which you can see in the film's final section].