Friday, February 27, 2009
Justin Furniss sent these photos to me last week. A buddy of his, Jason Weber, took them while surfing in Manhattan Beach. They made my day and thought they'd make you feel good, too. Here's what Jason said about it...
"We've all seen dolphins in the lineup before. But this was different. It was like the dolphins wanted to hang out with us. They had been flying down the lineup, blasting out the back of the set waves. When they got to us they stopped and started to play right in front of us.
The picture of the dolphin standing up and looking at my buddy is the coolest. The dolphin did this like 3 times. The funny thing is, my friend's nickname is the "manatee". Are you kidding me!! Of course the dolphin is going to stop, look, double take, and wonder what the hell is this guy--docile sea mammal or surfer?!!?"
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
After thoroughly loving the film Saturday night at the Ocean Film Festival in SF, Jay and I had a few questions. Thank you for taking the time to answer them, Mick.
As the writer and director of Musica Surfica, did you actually come up with the idea of the finless surfing and music collaboration, 'Musica Surfica' or was that idea already planted between Australian Chamber Orchestra's leader, Richard Tognetti and surf legend, Derek Hynd?
If the idea had already been planted, how did you become involved from the very beginning and what drew you to this story?
The idea began in Richard and Derek's friendship, which in turn began 10 odd years ago when Derek was still with Rip Curl. Way back then they tried to do something together, with mixed results - as the surf community was perhaps not ready for it. But it bubbled away and, at the behest of one of the ACO board members, they kept the ideas generating and eventually Derek came up with the term 'Musica Surfica'. (A nod to an Australian classical concert series called Musica Viva).
Independently, I'd begun research filming and interviews on a surf related project of mine. I'd been aware of Richard T. for many years and took a punt, contacted him explaining my story. I asked if he'd be interested in doing the sound design, as I wanted to break the mould in that area and his depth of knowledge, and staggering talent, fit the bill. That he agreed floored me, but I wasn't to argue.
That began a sporadic email ping-pong that ended in a phone call asking me to come along to a concert, check it out and meet afterward.
This was our first meeting and there, walking through the streets of Melbourne, he asked if I'd like to come to King Island with Derek and a bunch of very good surfers, and film them attempting a week of finless exploration. He told me it was called Musica Surfica, they were going to play a bit as well, but didn't know where, it was all very disorganised - but for me the opportunity was too good to miss, though I still didn't quite get it.
I asked why, and he said he wanted to be able to play a concert that had the finless surfing filmed on the island, cut to a set of classical pieces, and then in concert played live to exactly the same music. Essentially live music to a surfing backdrop, but with the edit and the playing working together precisely.
I too asked 'why finless surfing', and that goes back to the relationship between Derek and Richard.
Derek had been surfing finless for about a year or so, his exploration with it beginning when attempting to teach a friend to surf, and wanting to engage his empathetic gear to understand what it was like to learn again. Something got his attention and he began riding the shore breaks of Sydney, persistence and talent paying off as he began to get very good.
Richard picked it up too, was gaining in proficiency, and together they felt they might be on to something.
Classical music was naturally part of the mix as that is what Richard is, a classical musician... a great one, and one who is dedicated to getting it seen as something more than only for concert hall audiences.
The connection Richard made was that perhaps by drawing audiences in to see surfing in a classical setting, these atypical concertgoers might become inspired to engage with classical music on a more regular basis.
The finless surfing became an analogy for moving out of your comfort zone, to learn you need to do new things, not rehash the old. Essentially, the rewards of risk in creativity.
All this came out as we spoke and later night I wrote a treatment of what I thought it could be, as for me it was far more than just a surfing backdrop to a concert, and that treatment is essentially Musica Surfica, the film.
Of course I had to meet Derek, and get the money to do it, but with the help of the ACO management, and Foxtel, and later the Australian Film Commission, it was pulled together.
At the time I thought we were breaking new ground entirely, filmically, but I think Tom Campbell has begun some work with Tommy Wegener, though we were I think first to get it to screens, and of course Tom Wegener had been filming his early efforts himself I suppose.
Was it a coincidence...? I think more it was something that was happening and Derek had the foresight to invite Tom along, who in turn told me about the Joske family and their experiments, which rounded out the Australian contingent in ancient board experimentation. Perfection I suppose would have been adding Tom Pohaku Stone to the mix and getting it from a pure Hawaiian perspective.
I think the alaia's time, as an alternative form, has come... an awakening of new possibilities and it'll be very interesting to see where talented surfers take them. Growing a surfboard is timely though... isn't it?
Would you like to see more people experiment with earlier board designs? Is this something that interests you personally as well - is there a finless board in your quiver?
I suppose it's up to them, but I think the more we free people from the need to be seen to ride the 'correct' surf craft, the better and more fun filled the experience will be. I have a finless Derek made me, it's hard to ride but definitely a conversation starter when I take it out. I just wish I could do some of the things Derek manages to do so effortlessly. That he gets five or six go outs a week to my one or two I think will guarantee I'm no threat.
It was lovely to watch Tom Wegener shaping wooden boards and then listen to Richard Tognetti describing what it was like to be able to play with a Carrodus (which I learned is even more rare than a Stradivarius). It must have been even more lovely to film these masters.
That was one of the great pleasures of the time on the island. To see Richard and Satu playing in such an intimate setting... they are moments to treasure and everyone there recognized how special that night was. To have an instrument of the magnitude of the Guarneri del Gesu 'Carrodus' sealed the deal.... though I think those guys could play a saw and blow your mind.
The thing I've noticed with continued exposure to music of that standard is, like everything, the more you know the more you realise you don't know and the experience gets better. You appreciate it more as you comprehend more and more of what's going on.
As for watching Tom, he's just one of the most engaging people I've ever met, so happy all the time with that big smile of his, and his enthusiasm is infectious. That he was so lucid and knowledgeable about the history of the boards, and such a craftsman, was a great asset to us as well.
One thing we noticed during the screening in San Francisco is that when the musicians spoke about the surfers, the audience was quiet, listening…in reverse, when the surfers spoke about the musicians and how blown away and appreciative they were by the music, some of the audience laughed - inappropriately was our interpretation - the surfers were not saying anything funny, just expressing pure emotion - but the audience put a sort of false stereotype against the surfers. This could be that old misunderstood perception of surfers in the US - does Australia have that same stereotype of surfers?
Yeah, I've noticed that a couple of times too. We had pure, genuine guys telling it as they saw it without the benefit of being comfortable in front of the camera. For me though it was what was said, not the delivery. That people unused to classical music can communicate the depth of the experience successfully is enough for me... I think the surfer stereotype exists everywhere, but in Australia, people like Richard at least lift the image out of the ruck... to a degree, and as surfers get older and people see it is something that for some strange reason captures some people and holds them till the day they die. We know why, they wonder why and sometimes they try and discover what we've known all along.
Was it ever hard to film when you were seeing something on the other side of the lens that was blowing you away? Perhaps the Paganini piece or Derek doing 360s on the alaia?
Fortunately the filming was done by Tony and Jon, I was directing traffic so to speak which really meant let them do their thing, and wave spot for Tony a lot as sometimes the action was going on all over the place and choices had to be made. We missed some belters along the way, naturally. As for the concerts, naaa it was easy. Once we were set up I left them to it and enjoyed the show.
On the other hand, when we were doing the interviews I was often bowled over by the answers I was given and had to be on my toes to take those balls and run with them. That way you get far more than you planned and with Richard and Derek, I had great material pouring out.
One of my favorite moments of the film was when assistant violinist Satu Vänskä, rode an alaia and she moved her hips back and forth in a playful way, to show how much fun she was having. Did she grow up surfing, do you know?
Satu was a prominent Finnish violinist before she joined the ACO. She said to me she came to Australia to join the ACO and learn to surf, which she has done over the past four or so years. She doesn't ride an alaia or finless, just this big old weird thing Derek made - she loves it and has a ball. She is as gutsy as all get out though, and will think nothing of heading out at 8ft Bells. She speaks fluent Japanese (without an accent) as well as two or three other languages apart from English. She'd be scary if she wasn't so nice.
Another favorite moment is when a young teen surfer in the lineup, whom Derek described as 'not even a very good surfer', asked if he could have a try with the alaia - and promptly figured out how to surf the thing straight away, blowing everyone away.
Yes, young Sol turned out to be the star of the show in a way, and I think Derek was a little unkind with the 'not a very good surfer' comment, though it was Derek that gave him the board afterwards.
Since the film came out, is the same group of musicians playing together (besides their regular commitment with the ACO) and has their music continued to evolve?
Danny and Mike went on to tour with the ACO on our return, and I think remain in sporadic contact with Richard, but as with anything these are gigs that come and go. Both are very successful musicians in their own right, but I do know that the cross pollination that occurs with the mixing of styles has had a great response, with the exception of the odd purist looking down their nose.
Without the loneliness of King Island it would have been a very different beast. To have it all to ourselves with a guide like Jeremy Curtain (Wire) who knew everything there was to know about wind, tide, swell and where not to stand made the film. And it was so beautiful, plus... we were very lucky with the weather.
I've had quite a few surfs with Derek now and they are an experience. He is a very eccentric, engaging guy and a lot of fun in the water. Hooting, directing traffic, and he could pick a good wave out of a mixmaster.
Your sons are young teenagers - what did they say to you when they first saw the completed film?
You have new distributorship in the US and Europe. Does this mean I will be able to find Musica Surfica at my local surf shop soon? Hint hint, Mollusk SF.
We've just shipped a few hundred copies over so yes, get onto your local surf shop and get them to give Mutiny Media a ring.
Do you have plans in the works for your next film? If so, can you give us an idea as to what it’s about?
I do, as I'd like to finish what I started before Musica came along, which was a revisiting of a very influential surfing film and it's participants, forty years later. I must admit to being a bit gun shy now though as it's no way to make a buck and I have these mouths to feed. I am working on a couple of documentary ideas that are related to surfing but not specifically about it, and am also attempting a screenplay, but that is more a what if than when. I hope I do get to do more though as it has been quite a ride and is genuinely one of the most satisfying things I've done.
I did step out of my comfort zone, waaaaay out, and it worked. Not financially, but personally, though we would like both.
Musica Surfica is so educational and as our friend Mary said, opens your mind to possibilities - inspires one to perhaps try new things. It is such a beautiful film. One does not need to be a surfer or lover of classical music to enjoy this 50-minute gem of a film.
When I started this I wanted it to appeal to non surfers. I've always wanted to work with unexpected music and play with showing what we do in a new light. Where I couldn't believe my luck was that two men of genius asked me to throw my hat into their ring, and join them. What I managed to do, with a lot of help, (please look at the credits) was to make the most of a rare opportunity.
Anything you would like to add, Mick?
I suppose I'd like to say that without Simon Whitney and Richard Keddie, who backed me up as I staggered along, and Anne Carter, my editor, who sat and listened to my ravings for weeks and gave me such an immense amount of help, and of course Tony Brennan, Jon Frank and sound man Craig Johnson to capture the sights and sounds, there'd naturally be no film. And of course having Richard and Derek and the ACO trust a first time film maker to do this... I still shake my head about that.
Oh yeah, and thanks to all my bloggy friends for following the ride. They have been a great source of inspiration, believe me.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Life feels a touch too busy these days. It's just a phase. Glued to the computer at work and finally escaped for a bite to eat. On the return I parked in the underground garage and got out of the car. I heard silence, followed by the sound of a leaf being dragged along the ground by the wind. That was the loudest, clearest sound I heard today. And this is the prettiest song I've heard all year.
Monday, February 23, 2009
I want to thank everyone who has already let me know that you will be donating your work to benefit the Mattson family. Jonathan Mattson wrote to me this weekend and let me know how grateful he is for your support!
I just got word from Plywerk and they are generously offering a 30% discount. Truly amazing - and the co-owner, Kim Nguyen, is an award-winning photographer and donating a piece as well! Thank you, Plywerk!
If you choose to have your work mounted on their beautiful, sustainably harvested wood, please email me at pineappleluv (at) gmail.com and I will give you the link and code.
I should also mention that my husband Jay has already used the product and is very happy with it. Jay has very high standards.
If you're just tuning in, details on the benefit are here... Thank you all for caring and contributing.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Those in San Francisco can see Mick Sowry's award-winning film, Musica Surfica - premiering *tonight* at the Ocean Film Festival! It's in Program 5 at 7:00pm - located at the Cowell Theatre in the Fort Mason Center. That is where we'll be this evening!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Hi friends! We need you! Or I should say, we need your art! The Mattson family is going through difficult times due to very serious health issues. For those of you in the San Diego area, this Sunday the Mattson Two is playing a benefit show in Encinitas, with special guest Ray Barbee. Please see the Mattson Two blog for more information.
I will be collecting artwork for a benefit art show that will benefit the family. We want to collect as much art as possible. The date for this silent auction will be announced in the near future, however we do know that it will be held at the Surfindian Gallery in Pacific Beach, one night between June 23-30. Thank you Chris and Sam!
Please send your art, photography, drawing, handmade item - by May 30th. Art can be framed or unframed. Please include the title of your piece(s), your name & contact information & a ballpark estimate of pricing. Mail to:
759 Cordilleras Ave.
San Carlos, CA 94070
Some tips to make things extra easy:
* Plywerk is a company which uses sustainable wood, where you can upload a print, have them laminate it on the wood/size of your choice, and they will drop ship it directly to the above address. Update: Plywerk is offering a very special 30% discount. Please email me for the link and code.
* Imagekind is a company where you can upload your image, have them print it (and frame it) and ship to the above address.
If you go with one of these options, please be sure to email me at pineappleluv (at) gmail dot com and give me your contact info & pricing. Also please email me with any questions whatsoever.
I know this is going to be a huge success, just thinking about the community we have and how this is going to come together for the Mattson family. Thank you!!!!!
p.s. Also, if you're a shaper in the San Diego area or have an extra surfboard to donate, or a cool fin, that would be a welcome item as well!
Please enjoy a tasteful B&W video of the Mattson 2, taken by Kyle Lightner.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Thought you might want to see a new print I made. I've always collected seashells and was thinking recently that they are kind of like jewels to me!
It's a fine, rainy day in northern California, and the Tour of California cyclists made it over the Golden Gate Bridge and are on their way to Santa Cruz. I have the day off and am getting organized at home before heading to the studio.
Stay tuned for a fun new interview next Wednesday...
Friday, February 13, 2009
1960s ad for Hansen Surfboards, Cardiff, CA
Love for art that makes you feel happy inside
Love for children
Baby Sirens photographed by Liz Cockrum
1964 Surf Guide
North Shore, Oahu photographed by Jeff Divine
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I was very proud when Jay dove in and figured out how to do this vintage form of photography. It was invented in the 1850s and the actual photograph is on a piece of metal. Nothing about it seems easy. Jay reminded me that light meters do not apply and both exposure and development are guesswork. The image is a negative that is flipped, so I see myself here as I would in a mirror. It takes about one week to prep, as the photographer needs to make the chemistry and let it age.
I think they are beautiful. This portrait somehow reminds me of my favorite Neil Young song, Cortez The Killer. You cannot rush this song, just as you cannot rush this type of photography.
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.
On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls he often wandered
With the secrets of the world.
And his subjects gathered 'round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colors
For the angry gods to see.
And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.
Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.
They carried them to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up with their bare hands
What we still can't do today.
And I know she's living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can't remember when
Or how I lost my way.
He came dancing across the water
What a killer...
Jay Watson's tintypes
Joni Sternbach's tintypes
If you're a fan, what's your favorite Neil song?
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Check out little Luca here. Congratulations Ed & Marcia!
update: Thanks Jess! Ed's story really is an inspiration. For those who don't know...in Ed's words:
Hi, my name is Ed. I’m a graphic designer who lived in L.A. I quit my job, sold my car, rented out my house and moved to Mexico. Along the way, I learned how to surf and fell in love. This blog is my story. In these pages I write about and photograph my daily experience. I also post about things I find interesting: art, design, photography, music, tech, etc...
Friday, February 06, 2009
Archy played at the Santa Barbara Int'l Film Festival recently. From the Archy site...
When Matt Archbold started surfing back in 1979, at age 11, the world had no concept that it was about to witness one of the most explosive surfers to ever have set foot on a surfboard. With a career spanning nearly three decades, Archy is today considered to be the most successful free surfer of all time, and one of the originators of high performance surfing.
As Martin Potter was setting the stage globally for high performance surfing in the early 80's, a young crew, led by Archy out of San Clemente was about to blow the roof off of surfing...
From dropping out of High School as a Freshman at age 15 and turning pro, to becoming the poster child for surf clothing giant MCD, Archy's young life had not a dull moment to it. After struggling with competitive surfing for the next five years and having some success winning a handful of Bud Tour events, Archy quickly leant that pro surfings' '3 turns to the beach' format wasn't for him.
Deciding to set out on a fairly new frontier, 'free surfing', Archy got paid simply to go out and get photos, something that had not been done before then. In his early 20's, his name became synonymous with the legendary surf spot known as 'Off the Wall' all the while riding shorter boarders in bigger waves, something that most had never done or even dreamt of doing. Archy's aeriel attack in the water and explosive surfing revolutionized what we view as high performance surfing today.
Archy is a timeless film that tells the story of 3 very different generations in surfing. Spanning the 80’s, 90’s, 2000 and on, Archy’s amazing story is one of survival through surf stardom at an early age, fame, drugs, alcohol, sponsorships and the surf rock star lifestyle. Light will finally be shed on the true-life story of one of the most charismatic and legendary surfers in history.
Compelling interviews, explosive surf action, timeless photos matched with Narration by Henry Rollins from the legendary band Black Flag and set to an all time soundtrack including The Clash, Social Distortion, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Devo, The Avett Brothers, The Kinks and many others, Archy is sure to effect audiences of all walks of life worldwide. This is a story that needs to be told.
Dem Belly Full - Bob, live at the Santa Barbara Bowl, 1979!
I've got a cool friend (hi Andrea!) who plays only reggae on Fridays - she calls it reggae Fridays...and today she played only Bob Marley, as it was his birthday. Anyone else out there doing something special on a certain day of the week?
Oh and right this moment, there is a HUGE party going on at Corduroy Surf Boutique & Gallery, in Portland, Maine. (East Coast, holla!) They (Ms. Tyler Briggs & Jim McGinley) are celebrating their reopening tonight, complete with a solo show by artist Jenny McGee Dougherty. I recently bought some of her work and I love it.
Also, a fun little surprise is right here, you can see the coolness that is going on at Corduroy, and I wonder what that is in pic #3...
And can I just tell y'all that I'm glad you're reading this? Glad you stop by, happy when you say hello, just really happy for you all. Rock your weekend. xo P-luv
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
Some good deals on similar barware at Pottery Barn
Let America Be America Again, poetry by Langston Hughes