Photographers, surfers, brands and media; a symbiotic co-existence. When everyone pulls their weight, the world of surf keeps turning! Chip knows.
Why Chippa Wilson Is A Filmmaker's Best Friend
"Someone was telling me they call him Clippa!"
Chris 'Chippa' Wilson is the most exciting and productive non-singlet sporting surfer on the planet right now. We're calling it.
Remember Epokhe’s Listen Now, Misty Dawn featuring Dion Agius, Creed Mctaggart, Jack Freestone and the rest of surfing’s most thrilling eyewear fam? How about Taj Burrow's Macaronis destruction with that mullet-hawke hairdo?
That film had to be one of our top five favourites from the last 12 months. In Kai Neville's forty-odd minutes, it was Chip’s performance that brought the gasps in Stab HQ.
Last year, Stab joined him on a trip to Fiji with Vonu and a band of gents who ride everything from thrusters and twins to no fins at all. Mr Wilson spent the first three days below deck, rocking in sick sweats and chowing anti-biotics. But, when Cloudbreak began to heave he grabbed his Neal Purchase Junior duo and swung on the least makable waves of the day (which he made). Post session, Tai "Buddha" Graham was sitting on the boat, drinking a beer; he laughed, and said, "Well, it's just the fucking Chippa Wilson show!"
More recently, Chippa literally bought into the foam scene. He purchased part of the Drag biz. Over two session for their announcement clip the soft-enthusiasts shot Chip, and once again he shone, redefining what we thought was possible on a sponge and contributing to the stock evaporation that happened right after its release.
Rather than reviewing every appearance he’s made in a surf clip, let's all agree the man is very good at one thing, consistency. Take him someplace, stick a camera in front of him and he’ll produce. He’s a brand (and filmmaker's) wet dream. When we shot him in Mex for our highly-serious wetsuit advertorial last year, Chippa took a standup boog out at Baja Malibu and proceeded to do laybacks, big spins and a few maneouvres that trascend classification. We cursed our filmer at the time for taking a nap instead of setting up his tripod and shooting.
Obviously there’s sheer talent at play here, but what else goes into this knack for productivity in the field? Is it die hard commitment to spending all day in the water? How about a sharp eye for conditions? What about relationships with his lensman associates?
For the answers we dialled up one the key filmmakers who shot with him during his early years and revealed him to the world, Mr Riley Blakeway.
Back in 2010 Riley filmed and directed NOW, one of the first projects that documented what he was capable of. Since then, he’s moved onto bigger things, like large scale advertorials, short films and music clips, but admits he’s always got time for a catch up with his old pal.
Next we hit filmmaker and all around gentleman, Dan Scott. Mr Scott's been camped out on the beach around Chippa’s Cabarita homeland and following him on his travels, capturing the majority of the Chippa trickery we’ve seen from the last two years.
Oh, and we gave Chip a yell.
On The Ideal Filmer/Talent Traits
Riley: "With any kind of project whether it’s narrative or action or whatever, I’m always trying to look for a collaborator. I think that’s one of the most necessary requirements to be inspired to create things, to have someone with the same kind of goal, vision and drive as you.
"Having that kind of person has been a lot of what my work has been built off and early on obviously that was with Chippa.
"You want someone who takes it as seriously as you do and someone who you’re on the same page with. And obviously someone’s that’s extremely talented. I think that applies to everything.
"Sometimes with narrative stuff actors can be really strange, or they can be lovely or anything in between. With surfing, especially because you’re travelling with someone all the time you also want someone who you get along with on a personal level."
"It’s hard not to be biased, him and I are super close," says Riley. "I haven’t seen him in a bit, but every time we see each other we kind of pick up where we left off.
Dan: "I think positive attitude, is what I value most. A lot of the time on trips the conditions aren’t what you expect and I think anyone’s who’s down to just give anything a go, just try to get something down, that’s what I like.
"Chippa’s always down, if it’s massive and onshore, he’s still be looking for ramps or any opportunity. I like it when guys are willing to put in time and surf all day, I don’t think people really know but guys like Chippa and Craig and those kind of guys actually surf for six to eight hours a day if they can.
"I think people think that they just go out for a little session and get paid money to just go surf good, but they do put in the time."
Chippa: "It makes it a lot easier if everyone’s looking for the same things. You’ve gotta be on the same wavelength.
"You’ve also gotta pick your tides and your windows and that kind of thing and have some patience. Riley and I had that dialled in pretty well. It works out when it’s organic.
"NOW, the first one – that was real fun. We both wanted to make a fun, summery vibe movie, lighthearted. So I guess that film came out well because that’s what we were both going for.
“At the start of the year, I went too skitz in the garden, jumped on a flight, got to America, didn’t stretch at all, surfed for three weeks straight," Chip recounts on a recent back injury. "Then I got home and got a phone call saying I had to go to Panama in three days. My back was real sore but I kinda had to do the trip. Probably shouldn’t have went. But yeah, blew it out so bad in Panama.”
Chippa: "Dan, Riley, Beren Hall, Tyge [Landa], Dave Fox all those guys are just so professional, it’s gnarly. They’ll stand in the sun for eight hours if they have to.
"Just watching Dan work, it was gnarly, he was down there every morning, and the boys he was shooting, they surf for quite a while and yeah, he was just there grinding. Plus he shoots really well and puts out cool edits at the end of it all."
On The Not-So-Ideal Filmer/Talent Traits
Riley: "Yeah I’ve had plenty of bad experiences.
"One of the first times I was working with an actor in the States, we got this guy to do this music video and he’s not like a known actor or anything, and he was just so difficult and so unmotivated. He kind of turned the whole shoot into an absolute nightmare, it ruined the whole thing."
Dan: "I think surfers can be a bit precious at times.
"I’ve tried to shoot with guys who just come in and complain that it’s shit or the tide’s not right, and you get off those guys pretty quick. I mean I’ve spent my time to get here.
"I’ve had occasions when I’ve driven to a spot, setup things and they’ve gone out for like 20 minutes and just came in, didn’t even say goodbye, just bailed. I don’t shoot with those kinds of guys again."
"Seeing him in person, it’s crazy how consistent he is, even compared to other really amazing surfers," Riley told Stab.
Chippa: "If someone’s really bugging me to surf, I’ll probably just run away or drive away [laughs].
"I’ve been on some boat trips and some guys just want to surf the weirdest waves for hours, and that’s hard when you know somewhere else is probably good.
"When you know the person you’re working with isn’t going to miss anything you feel way more comfortable.
"The worst is when you come in and something’s going on and they miss something answering their phone calls, not filming, something like that."
On The Nickname 'Clippa'
Riley: "Someone was telling me they call him Clippa!"
Chippa: "[Laughs] Riley would’ve said that, I forget who made it up, probably Dion or someone, I hate that one!"
"The water dudes are so fucking psycho, Foxy (Dave Fox), he’ll swim for hours and hours," says Chip. "John Respondek, Nate Lawrence, there’s a couple of really gnarly dudes."
On Chippa As The World's Most Productive Freesurfer
Riley: "It’s no secret that he’s insanely talented and insanely consistent. He’s pretty much the whole package, someone you want to work with and someone you want to watch surf.
"Seeing him in person, it’s crazy how consistent he is, even compared to other really amazing surfers.
"I think you’d have a hard time finding anyone who has a bad word to say about Chippa’s attitude. He’s an easy going, hard working dude, all about getting it all done."
Dan: "He’s a machine. Definitely the most reliable guy to work with. Chippa seriously lands everything, like freaky shit.
"I’d say he’s the best tech guy in the world, spins the fastest and does the most technical shit. Like he does stuff nobody else can do.
Riley: "Well actually once he went home early from a trip in Fiji, I think he went home early to get tattooed or something and I always used to give him shit about it [laughs]. After years of working together I think that’s the only time he ever went home early, and he’d kinda got all the clips he needed anyway."