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Last year I was approached to direct a series of commercials and mini documentaries for the Nikon ‘I Am Different’ campaign. The first artist we did a film on was Clark Little.

We shot this project last August in Hawaii. We approached it as a documentary film. We shot Clark at his home, his gallery and in his stomping grounds on the north shore of Oahu. The challenge in August was finding any sizeable surf. Our crew was ready to travel anywhere in the Hawaiian islands at a moments notice for waves. We got the tip that Big Beach on Maui was our best bet.

Clark spent 8-10 hours each day in the surf, he was on fire. We basically had to drag him from the water as the sun went down

For the shoot we had two reasonably good days of 5-6ft surf. Clark spent 8-10 hours each day in the surf, he was on fire. We basically had to drag him from the water as the sun went down. We shot the spots on the Red Dragon and the Phantom Flex cameras. We used the Phantom to get super high speed footage of Clark in the waves. I basically wanted to bring time to a stand still to capture the moment where Clark does his work.

My cinematographer in the water was Don King. In my opinion he is the best in the game. He was in the water all day right there with Clark. He and Clark could place themselves perfectly in every wave. It was really cool to watch these guys work, and they had so much fun while doing it.

The final spots that where delivered where great, but I knew from the start I would want to make my own cut. You can view them on Nikon’s site here. And here is a behind the scenes from the shoot.

After sitting on all this great footage for a year I wanted to revisit it, I wanted cut something that was much more abstract. I wanted to try and get in Clark’ head… What was driving him to put himself in such crazy and dangerous conditions? I came across Charles Bukowski’s poem Roll The Dice, I instantly knew it would be perfect for my director’s cut of Clark Little. The goal was to capture the never ending quest and drive that keeps Little coming back to the ocean day after day. Will he ever be satisfied?

This director’s cut is really about seeing and feeling the ocean through Little’s eyes and lens

I wanted to the film to feel almost like a dream sequence. This director’s cut is really about seeing and feeling the ocean through Little’s eyes and lens. I worked with sound designer Joe Mount out of Wave Studios in London. His sound on this piece really helped create a surreal experience. At the very end you hear a gasp for air, it brings you back to reality. I’d like to think for 60 seconds you are taken into the underwater world that Little inhabits. He and his camera lens go places that most of us never would or could go. This director’s cut is just a fleeting glimpse into his realm.

Director David Holm

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