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by Ed Temperley on Tuesday 4th October, 2011 65113 Views
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Meet the filmmaker, Alex De Phillipo, creator of Dark Fall. Surfing on the North Eastern Seaboard of the USA may have attracted the myopic focus of the waveriding world during the recent Quiksilver Pro NY, but ever wonder what happens when the circus leaves town and heads for the warm autumn days of Hossegor? The encamped media circus barely scratched the surface of this rich and diverse scene, never really delved into this committed and hardcore community.?
To get a real sense of what it means to be a surfer from the Jersey Shore, one needs to enter the world of Dark Fall, the amazing film by New Jersey filmmaker Alex DePhillipo. The film follows a year in the life of a crew of hard-charging local surfers and the unique challenges they face. During frigid winter storms they wade through waist deep snowdrifts to get to the peaks, during the hot and claustrophobic summer they fight crowds and bureaucracy. These guys rip whatever the Atlantic throws at them and DePhillipo takes us from the boardwalks, to the line-ups and beyond.
The film has already picked up Best Film and Viewers Choice awards on the international circuit, making the UK Premiere of Dark Fall a must see at this year's London Surf / Film Festival in Hammersmith on 14th October. Grab a ticket here.
Festival director Chris Nelson pinned down Alex DePhillipo in an attempt to find out what makes him tick.
Did you have a background in filmmaking before Dark Fall?
I grew up and surfed here all my life. I went to film school, I went to college and University and then I moved to Hawaii in my early twenties. I worked on some pretty good films out there, I got into the industry and then one day a couple of years ago I was sitting there, and so many people out there have the same job as I do, and I thought 'Why not go home and do a film about home, there's so much history.' We have a lot of good surfers, and it's the sort of place where we don't get recognition. © 2013 Trevor Moran
When you started making the film, did you have a story in mind, or did you decide to make a movie first and then the story unfolded as you progressed?
I was just doing it for fun, we didn't know how big it was going to be the first few months, then me and Andrew Gesler wrote it and did the voice over, and after that we had a plan.
Did you guys have any financial backing at the start?
There wasn't really any financial backing at the start, we had some help from a few companies, but everything else was out of our own pockets.
Did mother nature oblige and deliver surf while you were filming?
The first year the winter wasn't actually all that great so we decided to wait another year and it was pumping, and we got one of the best north easterns in a while and we just got everything we wanted with snow and big waves, and then when The Fall came around it was really good too - it was sort of crazy how it all fell into place. © 2013 McMullen
How long did the project take?
It took two and a half years and we edited it as we were going along, as we were filming. It wasn't like we filmed and then we edited.
What equipment were you using on Dark Fall?
HDX200 Panasonic for pretty much 90% of the film, and then the winter section was the RED Camera - our friend owns one. There's a few shots with the 70, but that wasn't that big a couple of years ago - it is now though. The HDX is like obsolete now (laughs). It's a growing process, you know.
What's the hardest thing about being a surfer from NJ?
The waves aren't always here, the Atlantic - it's moody. The waves aren't always here and the surf scene is in California, or in Florida. We have two contests a year. The weather and the winter's hard, it's really hard man, putting all that gear on and trying to surf heavy waves. All those things come into it, but in a sense, that's sort of what we like. The summer is nuts. There's so many people down here you can't get around. You pick New York and Philadelphia, two of the biggest cities in the United States, and bring them to these small beach towns and you can imagine how populated it gets. It sort of makes us unique. It's not a film that says 'Give us more', it's more a film that says 'This is what we have. We love it here.' © 2013 McMullen
You have some great surfers in the film - a close-knit local crew.
Yeah. Andrew Gesler is one of the standout guys in the film - he's a really good aerialist. Zach Humpreys is a local grom that I grew up with, he's about 21 now. Really made a name for himself going at Pipe and Tahiti, this kid's like amazing. Sam Hammer is like one of the Godfathers of North Jersey, probably one of the few guys around here who does make a living off of surfing. He's amazing. He's probably hands down one of the best cold water surfers in the world.
Dean Randazzo is the only guy from New Jersey, or from the Northeast every to make it onto the World Tour, back in the early nineties. Dean sort of became this icon because he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, so he's been battling cancer four times, on and off. People from Kelly Slater to all the guys on the tour, have the utmost respect for what he's done - he's sort of portrayed as the Lance Armstrong of surfing. That being said we had this story, this underground story, I wanted to show people that we have these great guys, these great waves, even though it's cold, even though it might not be the prettiest stuff you've seen on film, it's heavy and we've got a lot of good guys. © 2013 Dark Fall Productions
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