When you go to a surf film festival, comedy isn’t the genre you’re always expecting to see. Surfing as a sub-culture has been trend setting since its commercialisation in the 1960s and the naughty-but-nice persona of its rebelliously nonchalant young water-dwellers still exists today.
But with athletic performance and health now being the most prominent themes pushed in surf media, there’s a big confliction to be documented and of course, comedy to be found.
FREEZING, a film by Jeremy Joyce, Rob Lockyear and Jamie Baughan is a surf-travel mockumentary that’s been blowing fresh, cold air into surf film festivals all over the place and I couldn’t NOT catch up with Jeremy and Jamie to find out how the concept came about.
Part 1: Jeremy Joyce
So Jeremy, it’s you, Rob and Jamie. Who’s the link between you all?
Rob and I go a long way back. We met when we were about 9, at school and then I went to drama school with Jamie, so I’ve known him for about 12 years, give or take.
In the film you list so many lovely hot places you could’ve visited…Why did you choose Iceland?
Rob and I have done a few surf trip together but we saw a coldwater surf film set in the east coast of the US, New Jersey or somewhere, and we came out of the screening realising how much potential there was for coldwater surf trips. In the last few years it became a big thing for us.
We just thought it would be really funny for two guys to go on an adventure without being the adventurer types. They think they are, but they’re not. Rob and me went out to Iceland for a reccy in 2014 and everything went wrong; we got our car stuck in a ditch, turned up at the perfect surf spot without any boards; it was all perfect for the film.
Was a comedy always the original concept?
Our previous films like Van Life were our take on what was popular at the time and displayed some normal people living these heroic, uber-cool lifestyles. That’s what we find interesting and there’s loads of material once your start asking what could go wrong.
It’s not something you normally see in surf films. Also because we both live in landlocked places, we’re not super amazing surfers so this is just our angle. We just try and do stuff that makes us laugh.
Is there a difference between what you originally thought the film would be and how it actually turned out?
The script is quite similar to the final film, but once you’re out there on the road you suddenly see these amazing locations and have more ideas. We had the script pretty tight before we left but of course as ideas popped up along the way, things were added in.
So you and Rob have a lot of surfing background together…is Jamie a surfer too?
I took Jamie surfing in Sennen cove about 2 months before we flew out to shoot. He’s a very athletic guy and a great swimmer so he just jumped right into it.
We pushed him out in some really big surf in Iceland and looking back at some of the footage, I’m watching through my fingers because he was quite lucky at some points.
There was this one moment we didn’t put in the film, but we had to time our entry into the shore break. And we miss-timed it. I got over the dump but Jamie had a nine-foot Longboard and he got absolutely slammed. He’s pretty fearless is Jamie; he’d definitely be a good surfer if he put the hours in.
Did you get some good surf on the trip around filming?
We were staying in an Airbnb, which was right on the coast about 2 miles from anywhere else.
I found this farmhouse online and we basically had our own black-sand beach. It was like a French beach-break. We never saw another surfer during the whole trip.
Where did you find the giants?
We thought it be funny if the characters met two bodybuilder Icelandic dudes in speedos on their solitary, reflective trip. They’re actually brothers that we found on Facebook. We thought these strong men could work in a care-home to supplement their strongmen lives but that footage didn’t make it into the final cut.
How do you feel about the film’s success?
It was weird because the day we released it, I moved to Tokyo and Rob went to France. So the reaction has been absolutely unbelievable and a brilliant surprise. It’s been really nice seeing what people who care about the surfing industry have written. Some people just want to see something they can relate too.
Did anything surprise you about the Icelandic surf scene whilst you were there?
We never met another surfer whilst we were there. We’d kind of researched the surf scene before we went and knew the main spots where the best waves usually were. But we just kind of just went there. We didn’t have any preconceived ideas of whom we might’ve met, but the wave they ended up finding is actually quite a famous surf spot.
When we did our reccy in 2014 we turned up and it was 3-4ft, offshore, super glassy lines. But we didn’t have any surfboards which was awful. By the time we’d found someone to hire stuff from the next day, the surf was terrible!
Who was the eerie farmer singing in the rain?
He’s called Gudmunder and is an unbelievably nice guy who we found through a friend me and Jamie went to drama school with.
We hadn’t planned the song but he mentioned he was a singer so we like YES! That song in the film is actually an Icelandic lullaby and its lyrics are really quite dark; it’s about a kid who doesn’t go to sleep and wonders outside and falls down a ravine. It’s actually really fitting because we wanted something dark to clash against the silliness of the film.
So what have you got lined up for the future?
Rob and I have started work on a new project, which we’re hoping to start shooting in early 2017. It’s a mockumentary of surfing culture all around the world. We’ve shot a crowd funding video and we’re hoping to film it over a period of about two months.
A lot of filmmakers work freelance, but Rob and I both have jobs so we have to do this around our work schedules, editing after work and grabbing moments when we can. We’re looking forward to cracking on to the next thing.
We’ll be announcing more info about the new project on our social media soon and we’re going to release a short film catching up with some our old characters! It’s good to have something in the pipeline!
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