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Show FeaturesJo Tyrrell - Watching Water

Posted by Admin on Monday 5th March, 2012 @ 09:06 GMT
News Category: Interviews | Visited 3421 times
Watching Water is a surf movie all about the stoke. Filmed in a documentary style it features surfers talking about how they got into surfing, why they surf and how it's an intrinsic part of their lives. It was made by Jo Tyrrell, a South African-born photographer. We caught up with Jo a few days after a packed UK premiere showing of the movie organised by Wittering Surf Shop...
A1Surf: What made you want to make a surf movie?

Jo: I was involved in fashion and event photography in New York but was starting to really crave the ocean. I decided I wanted to do a series of photographs on surfers and before I knew it a friend had lent me an old video camera and two weeks later I was in California interviewing a bunch of pro surfers in a kitchen in Newport Beach.

A1Surf: How did the idea for Watching Water come about?

Jo: The name came about because for years, I’d seen guys sitting in wet car parks looking
out to sea for hours on end and essentially I just wanted to know what they were looking at. What made them even go in? I wanted to ask questions that no one else ever seemed to ask. I wanted to get an insight into their world and also to represent it in an accurate way. I’ve always wanted this to be a film that allowed others in but that ultimately surfers themselves would relate to.

A1Surf: Why did you choose southern California?

Jo: I think I could have made this film anywhere. But I just happened to have a couple
of friends and a place to stay in California. The locals are seriously close knit and Newport is such a huge centre for surfing. Hawaii was a total last minute deal but also where I got some of the best footage. I met some real local legends and characters there, a lot that I ran out of time to film, but I can’t wait to go back and interview them.

A1Surf: You met some legends in the world of surfing. Who was your favourite?

Jo: Lisa Andersen has been someone I’ve looked up to for years. I still have the ‘96
copy of Surfer Magazine with her famous cover shot. She was much softer than I imagined, shy and really humble. Tom Carroll was really funny and the rest of the interview I have with him is hilarious. Mark Healey blew me away. He has such a deep appreciation of the ocean and respect for it and it was a joy to talk to him, he’s also got a wicked sense of humour.

A1Surf: How long did it take to film, edit and get on to DVD?

Click to view full imageJo: I started filming in February 2010 and naively thought I was finished after 3 months. But I kept getting more interviews that I had to add in. I had done a rough edit by November 2010 and then suddenly got the chance to go to Hawaii in December. But now I had an extra five hours of interviews to add to an almost completed one-hour film.

By May 2011 I had a finished film of 90 minutes. I edited it down to an hour, which is what I showed at Quiksilver in August 2011. And then cut it down further to 40 minutes, which is what it is now. It was a lot of work and I did the entire thing from start to finish myself.

A1Surf: Do you have any other surf films in the pipeline?

Jo: I do. I’m working on a series of short films based on the same idea and style as Watching Water. I also really want to keep my films interview led, the focus always on the people I meet. I’m currently working on a film looking at surfing in India. Also being back in the UK this winter has given me a great opportunity to meet the UK surf press and head out to Ireland and Cornwall to do some preliminary research for future projects I’d love to do.

I’ve been invited to show my film at the SAL (Surf at Lisbon) Film Festival this summer, so hopefully that will lead me to new projects as well.

A1Surf: Do you surf yourself or has this experience made you want to get wet?

Jo: I do now! I grew up in Durban, South Africa and all my family surfed but then we moved to England and away from the beach. I’d been down to Cornwall a few times but I was totally useless. Then last summer a friend finally took me out in Newport and made me learn. I suddenly found myself sounding like all the guys in my film. On the morning of my screening at Quiksilver, I was out at Blackies, sitting alone on my massive yellow foam board, catching waves and I just had the biggest grin on my face. I thought “I can’t believe it took me making a whole film to finally get me in the water!”

A1Surf: What other films do you make with Dairy Beach Productions?

Jo: I feel like I found something that worked with my first film and I want to continue to
develop that. Making films that are sincere and that move people at a deeper level are important to me. I think being female, without a background in surfing, and working within this industry has given me a unique perspective.

I recently got back from filming in India, which was truly incredible. But while I was meant to be shooting temples I managed to get some random footage of a surf session in the Bay of Bengal (with a temple in the background). So I always seem to find myself coming back to the ocean.

Right now I’m working with the UK company NBG Extreme. It means I’m able to utilize my travel itinerary, photography and film experience to get their clients and brands in locations they wouldn’t normally be able to. Because I’m able to do the whole process myself, from start to finished product, it means companies don’t have to hire huge crews. It also keeps me independent and objective. This year I also really want to get out in the water to start filming. I’ve been itching to do that, just maybe not at the Wedge or Pipe.

A1Surf: How did it feel to have the first screening at the Quiksilver headquarters? How was the film received?

Jo: It was a totally surreal moment and I got some amazing comments from the people there. Having an audience like that was seriously intimidating, but it seemed to go down well so I was happy. I met Bob McKnight, the CEO of Quiksilver, in New York and he’s been an amazing mentor over the years.

A1Surf: Where can people buy Watching Water from?

Jo: I made it available for download and for online renting initially, but now I also have DVD’s available, all from my website - www.watchingwater.com

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