Award-winning filmmaker Dustin Miller collaborated with Mikey DeTemple on the recent ‘Picaresque’, a thoughtful and contemplative look at the new generation of surfing. We caught up with Dustin to find out how he liked his first foray into longboarding…
Christiaan: Hey Dustin, tell us a bit about yourself… Who are you? How did you get roped into shooting ‘Picaresque’ with Mikey DeTemple?
Dustin: I’m 27, I have an amazing wife and two beautiful kids – Salah is four and Silas just turned two. I live in Florida, shoot video and film full-time, and travel a lot. Day to day is working a lot, chasing my kids, trying to bass fish, and wishing Florida had more waves.
I didn’t know Mikey DeTemple – he got in contact with me saying he wanted to make a longboard film. Mikey had never made a movie before and didn’t have any money, which made me laugh, but something inside told me to believe in his idea. So I did. I am not a longboarder – to be honest I had never really ridden one – but we really clicked as friends and started plugging away on what is now ‘Picaresque’. Its great to see the DVD, have no regrets, and know that I made a great friend.
Christiaan: What about the process of shooting ‘Picaresque’… How did it compare to other productions you have worked on?
Dustin: Start to finish, I worked on ‘Picaresque’ for about two years – a little over a year-and-a-half shooting and many months in post-production. Production was real shoe-string until funding came through, which allowed Mikey to finish it. I was pushing for film from the start, but Mikey wasn’t sure. I told him HD sucks, and when we got the first batch of film back from the lab… he was a believer too!
Highlights for me included getting to know all the surfers in the movie. I made many great friends on this project: Harrison [Roach], Christian [Wach], Tommy [Witt], Scotty [Stopnik], Chad [Doyle], and Chris [Christenson]. It was also amazing to get people’s responses to the film, which were very encouraging. My friends in the “shortboard world” were even excited.
Any issues we had were simple ones, such as music rights and deadlines. But they turned out not to be issues at all really. The trips had their little adventures. But like Yvon Chouinard says, “It’s not an adventure, until something goes wrong.”
Christiaan: How do you see ‘Picaresque’ sitting within the surf film genre? What do you hope an audience will take a way from watching it?
Dustin: ’Picaresque’ isn’t a surf documentary; there is no story. It’s just a beautifully visual surf film. No voice-overs about traveling or waves. Just surf. Surfing is fun – a surf film should be the same. The highest compliment someone paid ‘Picaresque’ was to say “It made me want to surf.”
There’s no formula to the film. I love showing sessions, not just the best tricks or whatever – I’m not a huge fan of surf porn. I wanted to show these guys doing what they love, I really wanted that to come through on screen.
We also selected a non-traditional soundtrack for a longboard movie. There’s no jazz, and from the get-go I really wanted to use different music and make faster edits. We aren’t re-inventing the wheel, but again, we wanted to make it fun – the kind of movie you watch before surfing or something.
Christiaan: Do you feel that the surf movie genre has much left to offer its audience in terms of original content?
Dustin: I think people will always be excited by and enjoy watching a well-made surf movie. Also, there are so many more stories to tell. A ton of stories! I love it all; I keep getting sucked back into making surf films, my brain never really stops.
Christiaan: Who or what influences you and your work?
Dustin: My main influence is God, He is the most creative person I know. My wife is my most honest critic and biggest encouragement, my kids influence me to be young and work hard. My dad for holding me accountable in business matters.
In the industry I am influenced by Joe G, CJ and Damien Hobgood, Greville Mitchell, Dane Reynolds, Scott Soens, Rick Jakovich, Thomas Campbell, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Steve Soderburg, George Lucas, Nike Commercials and ‘The Office’.
Christiaan: Film or video? Why? Is it important?
Dustin: Film. Hands down. I love selecting film stocks and weird lenses. I love loading the camera. I love the smell of film. I love hearing the camera run. I love not being able to see what you’re getting. I love getting a package from the lab… It’s like Christmas!
HD has its place, and a lot of my commercial work is in HD. But I heard a great quote by DP Sam Bayer once, “I love film like I love my wife. I’m not going to cheat on my wife, so I’m not going to cheat on film.” I feel the exact same way.
Christiaan: What are your surf movie aspirations?
Dustin: Right now, I am working on a film with Dane Reynolds. It’s a dream really. We are shooting it all in Super 16 and, well, it’s Dane Reynolds. It’s an honour to shoot this. We hope to get weird and have fun. Got some different trips planned and have hopeful music ideas. I keep thinking, why me? What did I do? As for the future… this is as far as I can dream right now.