From the breaks of south-west France to south-west Cornwall and beyond, filmmaker Romain Juchereau goes his own way. His work celebrates independence and creativity, the stuff that gives surf culture its soul. Whilst he’s walking the road less travelled, we’ve managed to track him down to ask a few questions and find out about his latest film.
Your film ‘Behind the Tide’ was released last year. How has it been since you sent it out into the world?
It’s been great and since the film came out last November, I literally haven’t stopped. Between organising screenings throughout France and the UK, sending the film to Surf Film Festivals and launching the DVD, it’s been an extremely busy year so far! I’m super stoked with how the film has been received by everyone and the reviews from the Surf Film Festivals. Behind the Tide has also been selected for the San Diego Surf Film festival this month which is incredible. It’s such a big deal for me as an independent filmmaker.
It must be difficult having worked on it for so long and letting it go, is there anything you look back at and wish you’d done differently?
It took me two and a half years to make Behind The Tide, from writing the script to the DVD launching. When you work on a project like this one on your own, you live for it and you find yourself continually working on it before and after your normal day job. You don’t come home to have a rest, eat dinner and watch TV, you go straight out to film, meet people, interview artists, edit sequences, seek royalty free music, work on social networking… So when you let it go, it’s a relief and a very exciting moment but then there’s the worry of peoples reactions, opinions, critics, etc…
I don’t think any filmmaker is always 100% satisfied on their final project
As a director, I’ve tried to put in more energy and I tried to be harder with myself on the quality of the film, but even so, when I finished the film I still felt like modifying it and adding things on. I don’t think any filmmaker is always 100% satisfied on their final project. It’s good to have a critical eye on your own work, it makes you progress more.
Independence and creativity through all walks of life is heavily promoted in your work. Why is this?
Essentially my objective here was to shine a light on independent talent because everywhere we go our attention is subliminally drawn to mainstream commercialism and therefore independent or essentially breakthrough talent is often overshadowed. Mainstream commercialism will always have more force due to the difference in the media and difference in marketing budgets but through the increased emergence of independent films, music, books and the use of social media, local, independent and new talent has an increasingly louder voice.
The style of your photography, and the surfers you tend to document, all pay respect to styles of the past. Do you think surfing and surf culture was better back then? Or is there certain elements of it you’re hoping to keep alive through your work?
When I started surfing back in the late 90’s, it was the short board revolution. Every Wednesday we would go surfing with school. The bus would drop us at a local beach break on Ile d’oleron and we had the afternoon to play in the water. 95% of the kids had a shortboard, even when the waves were small and mushy, they would ride very thin and narrow surfboards. That was the trend, but for me it was a trend driven by the media and magazines who were just focusing on pro-surfing throwing some tight manoeuvres or barrels in perfect clear blue waves.
I was surfing a 8’6 board and a funboard shape 7’2 at the time. I was part of the 5% of kids who were surfing what they felt like they were having fun with. I started to look back on the surf culture of the 60s and 70s and I fell in love with it. The surf culture back then meant diversity. You would see people kneeboarding, tandem surfing, bodysurfing, riding wooden boards and single fin longboards. These are the elements I’ve focused on when making Behind The Tide, trying to keep some of these traditions alive such as tandem surfing and handplaning.
I think it’s a good time for surfing right now. People are more aware of the different surf craft and materials available to them. Custom boards are getting more popular than ever.