We recently made a film about a very special individual; the cold-water surfer Neil Erskine. Surfing is a big part of him and it informs how he approaches pretty much everything he does and the choices he makes. He’s very careful not to become embroiled in commercial commitments and compromise what he loves. But he’s quick to share.
It was tough at first to get Neil to trust us, he’s not a big fan of the camera and we didn’t really know what the film was going to be. But we talked a lot, about lots of different things, books, ideas, past adventures and we got on. And I think after all it was just that, we got on and because of that he’d talk to us with the camera on. The film itself was shot in one day. One surf, and one conversation. The surf wasn’t that great but it’s the day we had. And the conversation we had talked about that, about making the most of things and it all kind of fitted together. It felt honest and Neil was generous enough to try to articulate things that for him you can’t set in stone.
Many brands harp on about the power of stories and the importance of authenticity, and I couldn’t agree more, but for us it was the film making process that allowed it. When Finisterre asked us to make a film about Neil they had no preconceptions. Neil was a guy that inspired them and they just wanted people to see a glimpse of what he was about. For them he was a guy they live through vicariously, who shares a lot of their ideals and reminds them what they do it for. They just supported, encouraged and let us get on with it.
At a time when brands are keen to unearth authentic stories, surely the process of how we go about it – allowing for situations to unfold, responding and relaxing your hold a little – will make for more honest stories and better films.