Published on March 12th, 2014 | by RB Team0
Interview with Timon Rupp from the Surf Movie “I Wanna Surf”
Surfing is not really the first thing you would associate with a small landlocked country in the middle of Europe. And yet, there’s quite a bit going on in Switzerland. The great Swiss (River) Surf Documentary I Wanna Surf is capturing the story of Swiss river and ocean surfing since 2011. Timon Rupp and his crew just finished the last edits and will bring this gem to the movies on March 20, 2014. Let’s hear what Timon has to say about the process of making the film and his ideas behind it.
Tell us a little about the crew behind I Wanna Surf — who was doing what?
There are four people in our production group. Alena Ehrenbold, who is one of the surfers in the movie and the link between the production crew and surfers. She is also the one who got us in touch with the protagonists and responsible for finances, funding and PR work. Sophie Bürgin — also in charge of finances, funding and administration — was floor manager and photographer at all shootings. Mike Eymann is our creative handyman and supports us in conceptual work, graphics, film and in the acquisition of sponsors. And I’m Timon Rupp, the director, camera man and editor. There is a couple of other guys supporting us, such as Bänz Isler (a composer from Bern) who contributed the soundtrack.
How did you get into surfing?
We all started surfing at the Atlantic coast in France. Alena was the one who really got into it. She’s been surfing regularly since 2006 with great success: Swiss Champion 2010, Swiss Vice Champion 2013, participant in the World Surfing Games. The rest of us doesn’t surf that often, so we wouldn’t actually call ourselves “surfers”. I’m surfing in the river Thun every now and then.
How did you come up with the idea of a film about surfing and Switzerland?
What I want to see in a film is more than simple surf action.
Alena and I, we both had the idea of a film about the Swiss surf scene, independently of each other. Alena knew many good surfers but she didn’t know anyone who knew something about filming. On the other hand, there was me, a filmmaker who was highly motivated to do something but not really in touch with the surf scene. This is where Mike came into play. He had known me for many years from music video projects and was a teacher at the same school as Alena. When I pitched my idea to him, he introduced me to Alena and the next day, the three of us sat over a beer and decided to stay the course.
We love the simple but powerful name for you movie “I Wanna Surf” — what’s the idea behind the name, how did you come up with it?
After our first meeting in Luzern, when we decided to take the plunge, I sat on the train home, writing the first draft with the title “I Wanna Surf”. The name came up rather spontaneously and by chance but we think it gets right to the heart of what moves our protagonists. They wanna surf. Period. You’ll see on the big screen this March what they do about it in landlocked countries and how diverse their life stories are.
The choice of characters is crucial for a successful surf documentary. How did you go about the search for the characters and interview partners in your film?
Alena has a really good rapport with the Swiss surfers. She put us in touch with the guys who not only have excellent surfing skills but also interesting stories to tell. In our film, we aim to explore surf action as well as the people behind it and show the different and creative ways our protagonists deal with the fact that Switzerland doesn’t have the ocean on its doorstep.
Let’s chat a little about the technology that you used for the film … which camera system did you use and how did you approach the surf shots?
We shot most of the film with a Sony FS-100. We used a Canon 5d and three GoPro 3 Black Editions for the shots in the water and dropped one of them somewhere on a reef in the Maldives. The finder will be rewarded with two tickets for the premiere in March.
Every film starts with an idea, intention or a message that film makers want to get out there. I Wanna Surf’s focus is to emphasise the diversity of surfing — which aspects of surfing would you like to highlight?
River surfing and ocean surfing are two very different animals. But they’re both animals.
I don’t think our surfing shots clearly distinguish us from other surf film productions. We had cameras at the beach, the boat and in the water. The focus is definitely on the diversity of surfing. There are surfers who love big waves and those who rather rip the small ones. There are those who fight for the best wave at the peak and those who set out even in the worst conditions to have their soulsurf without the crowd. And then there is of course the whole river and wake surf scene of Switzerland, including a small group from Bern who wants to build an artificial river wave in the river Aare. On the whole, the film is not only about surfing but above all also about the people behind it.
What music do you use in your film? Who are you working with? And what is the mood you want to convey with the music?
Bänz Isler, a composer from Bern, composed the music for our film. It has developed along with the editing of the movie. There is no single mood that goes throughout the film but it varies depending on protagonist, place and scene.
When is the premiere and where can we watch and get the movie?
The film will premiere in March 2014 and then go on tour to the biggest cities of Switzerland and Germany with our friends from BLUE-Surffilmnacht. In Germany, you can also watch the film at the NORD NORDWEST SURF FILM FEST HAMBURG. After that, it’s pot luck – we’ll see what the festival summer has in store for us. We’re in talks with other festivals and organisers and we’ll let you know if anything becomes official on our Facebook page and at iwannasurf.net. If there’s anyone who knows a possibility or wants to show the film at their festival or in their city, just get in touch with us!
Which other surf movies do you know? What are your favourites and why?
It would take too long to list all surf films we know. Personally, what I want to see in a film is more than simple surf action, as the story behind it is just as important. This is why Keep Surfing or Finnsurf are two of my fav surf films. And if I feel like seeing excellent surf action, well edited with beautiful images, I like to watch Modern Collective.
What is it about surfing, what is the spirit of surfing?
Good question … and the question we asked about every surfer we came across during the filming. Obviously, I can’t give away the answer here as this would spoil the film.
What does river surfing and ocean surfing mean for you — what do you think are the strengths and downsides of these two types of surfing?
I think our rider Jonas Studer put it nicely in an interview: River surfing and ocean surfing are two very different animals. But they’re both animals. Living in a landlocked country, the advantages of river surfing are perfectly obvious. The river waves are virtually on the doorstep. And that’s the disadvantage of ocean surfing for us Swiss. Often, the way to good waves is long and not everybody can or wants to take it. Another pro of river surfing are the rather constant waves so you can make some progress rather quickly and try some tricks. Yet, no matter who you ask, ocean surfing is still the uncontested number one for surfers. Why? Only a surfer knows the feeling…
What is your stance on artificial vs. natural waves? What are your personal opinions?
The tempting thought of being able to surf an almost perfect wave again and again, regardless of weather, tide and wind.
We love pure nature…. Joking apart. Artificial waves are great, as long as they can be powered ecologically friendly and don’t need extensive resources after having been built. Artificial river waves are one example, as they are built once and can then exist by the mere power of water. As soon as huge amounts of electricity are needed to generate a wave, the question rises whether this is worth it, despite the tempting thought of being able to surf an almost perfect wave again and again, regardless of weather, tide and wind … Again, this leads us to the question “What is it about surfing?” Isn’t it part of the game to come to terms with the environment, to analyse the wind and the waves, to chase the swell, to search for new spots… ? Or are we satisfied with just jumping into our cars, paying an entrance fee and practicing our moves in a pool with perfect training conditions? In the end, it’s everybody’s own decision.
What is your vision for the future of river surfing in Switzerland and around the world?
The Swiss river surf scene is really evolving. Projects like the Limmatwave or the river wave in Bern contribute to presence in the media and public acceptance. There is yet a long way to go before such projects are actually implemented. We hope our friends from the association Flusswelle Bern have the will to persevere and that the authorities will show acceptance and good will so that we’ll soon have the first artificial wave in Switzerland. In general, there is a lot of talk about planned and authorised river waves in Europe and that’s very good news!
Switzerland is clearly one of the countries with the greatest quality of life and self-confidence. Do you think surfing is the (only) thing that’s been missing?
Who knows…? It definitely would be good for many Swiss to spend some time paddling in the water, to travel to other countries and to get to know other cultures…
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Riverbreak audience?
No matter where you live or how often you get to go surfing – set out, do your own thing and be creative! You don’t need the perfect reef break to have fun and to be outside amongst nature!