We sat down to have a chat with Creator & Innovator Jack Coleman in anticipation of his new surf film THE ZONE. The film features Vissla's Bryce Young and Derrick Disney, premiering on July 14th at the Brunswick Picture House in Australia and more California premieres towards the end of July. THE ZONE will be available on DVD exclusively at Thalia and Mollulsk Surf Shops next week.
By the way, Jack's keyboard only makes capital "N's." You'll see what we mean...
How did you get into Filmmaking?
Photography led me to filmmakiNg. I shot aNd shot for like 10 years, all kiNds of photography. After a while you waNt to braNch out, film and video was the obvious progressioN. I was also drawN to the process of creating your owN world, which is what film can do maybe a little bit more thaN photographs. HaviNg audio with the visuals was a fuN way for me to express myself.
What surf films were you into growing up?
GrowiNg up I'd have to say ENdless Summer & Big WedNesday were huge iNflueNces iN how I grew foNd of the culture. Also, surf comps were what I taped via VHS off the televisioN. IN the late 70s through the mid 80s ABC would have "The Wide World of Sports" or "Bud Surf Tour" eveNts, aND occasioNally televise coNtests like SuNset, or PipeliNe. This was about the time Mark Richards was a four time world champ. I used to watch those tapes till my eyes bled. EveNtually as I got iNto my teeNs Jack McCoys "BuNyip DreamiNg" was a classic, SoNNy Millers "SearchiNg for TOm CurreN" was my go to, aND I really got iNto Taylor Steele's early movies MomeNtum I & II etc. Both Jack, SoNNy & Taylor were masters at souNdtrack mixes, I felt most coNNected to their choice iN music.
What cameras are you working with?
I work with Beaulieu & Nizo for my super 8, use a PaNasoNic for digital video, & a CaNoN A2 aNd disposables for 35mm. My 16mm is a Bolex. Also foNd of shootiNg large format photos with my 4x5 & 8x10 laNd cameras.
Who are some of your favorite surfers to work with?
My favorite surfers to work with are all the positive guys who give more to surfiNg thaN they take. I like workiNg with aNyoNe who is who is doiNg his owN thiNg. The hardest part to filmmakiNg is haviNg the right taleNt at the right spot, oN the right board. To make that happeN, alotta the time, takes a small miracle to accomplish. My favorite surfers to work with are the oNes that caN stay positive through the whole process of that happeNiNg.
What is your editing process like?
Usually starts with the surfiNg. How much do I have? What is the quality of the surf? Who's the surfer? TheN I get the clips together, place it over some music, aNd start massagiNg it until it flows. Sometimes there is a soNg that I waNt to use for a particular surfer or sectioN, & shoot the footage with that soNg iN my head. That's really fuN wheN that happeNs, it makes it like shootiNg a music video based arouNd surfiNg. There is also a lot of editiNg that happeNs wheN you're Not iN the edit bay. Like wheN im surfiNg or grocery shoppiNg im goiNg over edits iN my head, like "how caN I make the edit stroNger," aNd I usually fiNd alot of ideas that way. Mostly I'd say my editiNg style is largely based off of the music that has beeN selected.
You work with an eclectic group of surfers. What led you to work with such unique individuals?
The guys I shoot with are Not oNly the best guys iN the water pretty much about 95% of the time, they are the fuNNiest charactors oN laNd as well. Each guy has a passioN for somethiNg, aNd im drawN to that. Most of them shape boards either for themselves, or other people. I like the guys who have side projects to balaNce out the surfiNg as well, either they're iN a baNd, or they are iNto photography.
What was your art school experience like?
I weNt to Art School from 2007-09 at THE ART CENTER COLLEGE OF DESIGN. Probably the best thiNg I ever did for myself. School taught me to opeN my miNd. Draw iNspiratioN from everythiNg. Photography aNd film is eNdless. I walked away from art school just 20 uNits from a photo art degree, aNd doN't regret it.
Would you recommend art school to someone?
If you have pareNts who will pay for it, or you get some graNts, do it. You doN't have to go to a expeNsive private school, but I thiNk learNiNg how the camera works aNd why photography & film caN be used as aN art form. Its Not for everyoNe though, some photographers have a voice iNstaNtly aNd do Not Need to go to school.
How is life in Newport?
I've beeN kiNda based out of Newport for almost 19 years Now. It is startiNg to feel a bit less like home lately though. I've beeN speNdiNg most of time this year iN Australia. So I plaN oN splittiNg time betweeN Cali & Auz Next couple years. EveNtually beiNg predomiNately based out of Australia. I love Newport for its puNchy beach break waves, aNd fuN bike rides up aND dowN the boardwalks! It's a fuN beach towN usually with a wave to ride, so I like that.
Just wrapped up The Zone. How long have you been working on the film?
This film was a 28moNth project, so 2years aNd 4moNths, my loNgest yet. It just takes that loNg to produce somethiNg with substaNce. Im hopiNg aND feeliNg like this is my best movie yet. Its all pretty much self fiNaNced aNd 100% a passioN project.
Where did you travel to for The Zone?
THE ZONE was maiNly filmed iN aNd arouNd the East Coast of Australia, JBay ZAF, CaribbeaN & Pacific Costa Rica, Baja & MaiNlaNd Mexico, Hawaii, aNd a bit of SoutherN CaliforNia.
Do you have any other creative outlets?
Im iNto miNd meditatioN - great way to fiNd the zoNe.
If you could work with any surfer dead or alive who would it be?
Interview by Kenny Hurtado