A behind-the-scenes look at how Marcus Gillezeau and his team at Firelight Productions took on this mammoth adventure.
Storm Surfers follows two-time world champion Tom Carroll and big wave tow-in pioneer Ross Clarke-Jones as they hunt down and ride waves as tall as four-story buildings.
First things first, why did you come up with this idea? What was your inspiration / insight?
As a producer I am always looking out for good ideas with subject matter that I can get passionate about. It takes about 3yrs – 5yrs to make a film so you really want to believe in what you are making or it makes it hard to sell it. Storm Surfers is something I can really ‘froth’ about. I surf. Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke Jones are childhood heroes. I love making adventure films. It’s fun.
Was this a collaborative project?
We work with a team of up to 100 or more people on a project like Storm Surfers. It’s super collaborative and there are lots of specialist we need to work with from yacht designers to 3D Stereographic optimisation technicians. Oh, and the directors, writers, all-media producers and investors. These are the key collaborators who work right from the beginning of the project and are still there at the very, very end… 3 years later.
What challenges did you face along the way?
Where do I begin? The challenge of shooting a stereo 3D film in the middle of the Southern Ocean in a giant storm in 10m swell and keeping it in focus is pretty hard to describe. It was super, super tough. But the results are incredible. The post production of Storm Surfers in stereo 3D film was also incredibly challenging as no one had ever worked with 7 different camera formats before. So we were doing a world first on the shoot and in post production.
The other big challenge that was really satisfying was delivering Storm Surfers as a movie, four part TV series, game, E-Book and 20 part web series. As the producer, I am moving from edit suite, to game production suite, to E-Book editorial suite, to social marketing suite all day. It’s a lot of fun creatively.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on a similar kind of project?
You need to think big. You need to be willing to risk everything to get a project of this scale off the ground and completed. You need to believe. And you need to own a big chunk of the back-end royalties to make it worth it.
What is your favourite thing about this project?
The best thing about making Storm Surfers is we get to work with an incredible team of people making the craziest show about a bunch of guys chasing huge waves around the globe and people give us a whole bunch of money to do it. Super cool. Super fun. I found myself on the bridge of a 50ft jet-cat with our 3D camera team on the back shooting Tom Carroll surfing a 30ft wave 75km out to sea travelling at about 80km an hour… and I thought “I have the best job in the world!!”