Shooting nearly the entire film underwater was a huge risk. How did that process go? What worked and what didn’t?
Both me and my talent knew what we were doing when we dove underwater for the shots involved in “I’m Not Trying To Stay Comfortable”. When I first moved to Hawaii, my pals and I would spend hours under the sun for weeks at a time surfing, diving, and paddling, so I could get the hang of water footage fairly quickly. It’s addicting! Meg, the main talent in the film, had been diving for a little longer than I had and understood necessary safety precautions and could hold her breath for a over a minute.
As far as gear, I only had one issue with the phone case that opened up while I was underwater, but luckily my iPhone was waterproof and untouched (though the lenses didn’t hold up so well!). I used an Axis Go case which helped tremendously as it’s such a solid product. I did, however, end up stabilizing the footage a lot in post because the current would be too strong at times.
All in all, the frustration was worth it.
How did you find all the sea life to shoot with?
Hawaii is rich and plentiful with sea life. People can easily spot sea turtles whales, rays, sharks, and large schools of fish at nearly every beach or bay on most days. There were times in the past were we surveyed certain ocean water by boat and saw dolphins going “free willy” in the middle of the water — so sick! Though it comes and goes. There’s no predictability, though you’re guaranteed to see at least something while diving.
What gear did you use to shoot underwater?
The Axis Go was my main piece of gear while shooting underwater. The few shots above ground in the beginning of the film were supported with a the infamous movie freely gimbal, which I loved, though I intentionally followed through with minimal shooting techniques. I did have a dome for the first few days of shooting, though I scratched it pretty immediately and no longer took use of it.
Does the “not trying to stay comfortable” theme something you try to apply to your own life?
This entire project has been a testament to my courageous move to Hawaii back in January of this year. My first time visiting Oahu was in October for fun, the second time was in November for a job. I then decided to take the leap forward into the unknown and move to an entirely new landscape than what I was used to. I soon found my love for surfing after weeks of hitting up friends to visit the beach. But before my first trip to the ocean, I was terrified. It’s nerve-racking for me to try something I’ve never experienced, but nevertheless still felt compelled to swallow my pride and jump into the unknown. Literally.
Now — you can’t get my out of the water. Whether it’s surfing, paddling, or swimming I’m all in. What was originally an uncomfortable feeling is now a lifelong passion; that was the ultimate goal when shooting this project. Though my friend, Meg, was the face of the narrative, the story still very much about myself. As I’ve said in the film, life exists outside your comfort zone. Just gotta send it.