I recently had the opportunity via Farm League Productions, Cheil Advertising and the World Surf League to shoot a mini-documentary for Samsung. We traveled to Brazil, a place I love shooting and spent a few days at the Oi Rio Pro. Never in my life have i seen such a crazy seen at a surf contest. The Brazilian fans are passionate to say the least and this was a big focus of our story.
Last year, Gabriel Medina won the world title, it happened not long after Brazil's soccer team suffered a brutal defeat on their home turf in the World Cup. The timing was such that I think the Nation needed a hero and Medina, taking down Kelly Slater in pumping Teahupoo fit that role perfectly. His title has truly ignited inspiration in the entire Brazilian cavalcade of pro-surfers, known as "The Brazilian Storm" thanks to some media reports. A term, I think they like although I got the sense that they didn't love the fact that people were now making money off of printing Brazilian Storm Tee-Shirts, Hats, Foamie-Fingers (yes, foamy-fingers), did I mention it was chaos on the beach?!!!
I think what really caught my attention at the event was the fact that beyond the crowd and the chaos, every person was fixated on the actual surfing. There were cheers and jeers for every wave ridden and the odd 100,000 people in silence when a non-Brazilian surfer did something good. It was amazing and thanks to Globosat broadcasting the contest live on TV along with a strong internet audience, the WSL states that this event was seen by more people than any other event in the history of pro-surfing. That's a pretty amazing statement.
On our end, two RED Dragon camera packages were in hand-held mode trying to capture the aforementioned chaos. I chose RED because I was really impressed by it's ability to handle contrast while shooting my #Redirectsurf project. I also love the slow motion capabilities. It is a handful for shooting documentary work both physically and meta-physically with the amount of data you are capturing but the end images make it worth the effort. We had a A-team crew from Rio. These guys work on all the features that come through town and they really made my life a lot easier (not to mention the Brazilian bbq they cooked for us was stupid good).
The most brutal zone for our shoot was the spot we really wanted to get images of, that being the surfer exit and entrance from the main tent. For those who don't know surf events, you have a main area with judges, media and athletes. The surfers must exit this area to get to the beach and in this case, the beach was full, so the surfers just needed to get into the water. A VIP roped off section allowed them a good 50 yards of protection but that still left an open area at the water's edge, where media, fans, $85K RED Camera carrying gringos, all congregated in the midst of 8-10 bodyguards in some kind of salt water soaked, sand-crusted, surf media orgy of sorts that could only be likened to a Rugby scrum. Framing a shot of this train wreck, I did get run over once. Farm League Executive Producer Tim Lynch got a pretty classic photo of that!
Luckily our final edit has access to the WSL production team's archives. With RED production happening under the watchful eye of my old friend, Chris Merrit. Those guys have the scene dialed.
We were also able to spend some time in and around Rio capturing lifestyle inserts and details. It was nice to take some time to really create some nice moments. As much as I enjoy the energy of the live events, it was difficult to truly achieve all the coverage I had in my head. In the end, we will utilize a mix of pure documentary and controlled filmmaking to tell our story. I've shot in the favelas above the city a few times. It is amazing that some of the poorest people economically are rich in the phenomenal views they have of such a unique city.
Our team then moved to quieter zones where we were able to spend some time with the Medina family. I truly thank them for their hospitality. I also want to thank my hard working crew, including everyone at the Farm League offices as well as my right-hand-man in the field, Tyler Emmett and our fearless producer Arlo "the NYC veggie burger king" Rosner. I look forward to where Cheil Advertising and Samsung take the final edit of our film. Look for it to drop in the coming months.
UPDATE: see the director's TV edit here:
#farmleaguer #shotonRed @jasonbaffafilms #Rio #WSL