Last week, to mark the release of the final instalment, friend and fan Matt Smith caught up with Noah at home in Ireland to find out more about the making of the project.
MS: Can you tell us about the process of this film, why those crafts?
NL: From a surfing perspective, I did what I usually do and rode whatever seemed right on the day. Sometimes that might be a craft suited to the waves; sometimes it might be a surfboard I’m particularly buzzing on at the time, sometimes it’s just going diving or swimming with a camera. We wanted to show that there’s a broader spectrum of ways you can enjoy the ocean and frame it in a way that made it look fun and enjoyable regardless of the weather or conditions. We shot a bunch of rolls of Super8 (which unfortunately mostly got squished in the developing phase by covid) but one of the best days was bodysurfing near my house with Joao’s waterproof super8. It was overcast and not great for filming, and I got rammed into the reef on my first wave, so we decided to swim in but halfway to shore the sun came out this tiny left that never breaks, showed a few. We took turns bodysurfing on these high knee tubes, and it was epic.
MS: What were your motivations for making this film? Was there pressure from your sponsors?
NL: The idea for Variety came during the first lockdown. I noticed how much time I (and everyone else around me) was spending on my phone looking at Instagram. The need for instant gratification and using it in the same way the TV used to be; sometimes mindless zoning out, sometimes information overload but often capturing our attentions for unnoticeably large amounts of time.
So with that in mind, Joao and I came up with the concept of this experimental short film series designed to target people on the platform, to try and motivate and inspire through these upbeat clips showing many ways to connect with the ocean (because that’s my outlet and what’s alive in me most days).
Even if it gave pause to a few people, and made them want to get outside, then that’d be great. We pitched the idea to my sponsors Finisterre and Globe, and they were supportive. I feel like I’m old enough now to know myself; I believe in what they both do as brands and promote them because of that.
MS: Why did you partner with Joao for this series? What have you liked about his work in the past?
NL: He’s got such a creative, unique way of looking at the world represented in his films. He’s critically analysing everything he does and always improving. Tiago also brought an original music score to the mix. It’s rad stepping back to think of the world we live in Joao is Portuguese, and I’m Australian both residing in Ireland.
MS: Do you consider your self an artist? Your previous films Beyond The Noise and Edges Of Sanity have been blockbusters, how much input do you have in the process?
NL: Ha! I suppose I’d like to think of myself as creative. I’ve always felt somewhat of an imposter syndrome in most things I’ve done but regardless of all that it’s just nice to be around people you resonate with and play a part in creating something other people enjoy.
MS: What films/art inspires you?
NL: I read a fair bit, and lately, Tim Winton has been making me homesick for a part of Australia I’ve never even been to. As a foreigner, I love the way Hemmingway romanticises Europe and always go back to his books. Steinbeck’s good to realise just how much closer death was in that era and how cushy we have it. The last great film I watched was called “The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid”, and I have been binging Star Wars. In surfing, I like Thomas Campbell’s films The Seedling and Sprout, and even though he’s a mate, I love Chris McClean’s movies.
MS: I would rate you as one of the best surfers in Europe, Ireland & the UK. How much do you associate with the Australian scene and surf culture, or do you connect more with the Irish Crew? And how much Aussie influence have you brought to the Irish scene? It’s not often you see someone surfing around Bundoran on a hand plane or Alaia.
NL: Thanks very much, that means a lot. But also very hard to judge in the digital world we live in these days. Ha! I still connect strongly with Australian surfing and that scene, but I think these days more on a nostalgic level than anything else. I guess I associate with the waves and surfing here much stronger now than I would in Australia. I suppose surfing is a much smaller community here, so you’re only ever one or maybe two people removed from those you don’t know. It makes it feel more interconnected, and because of that, you can see ideas, equipment changes, information spread. I wouldn’t say it’s my Aussie influence, but a cool example is with the #wastetowaves hand planes we’ve been making through our coffee shop at Foam with designers, OTHERS. Plenty of people still ask us what they are, but it’s rad to see more surfers adopting something new into how they enjoy the ocean, and the diversity can only be a good thing.