Sometimes the best photo angle isn't POV or shooting from a boat. Put a jet ski at the front of a 15-footer and you have unique. Sketchy? Well, yes!
See this wave pictured? Pretty ain’t she. Oowee. But it was nearly filmer Chris Bryan’s last.
Chris is the High-Def gun for hire, a 37-year-old from Cronulla, Australia, for whom the phone tolls every time a studio wants the finest in surf-cinematic vision. And when Warner Brothers were hot for a remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cheeseball surf-drama Point Break and needed vision of big waves, they called on Chris (as well as every other big-name surf shooter in the game. Hello Don King!).
But this wave, on this day, it was neither the stunt doubles for the film’s protagonists Bohdi (Dylan Longbottom) or Johnny Utah (Bruce Irons, called in after Laurie Towner busted his jaw on the reef), who scooped the waves of the day. It was the kid-brother of Manoa Drollet, 17-year-old Matahi.
And Chris, whose brief was to film Bohdi and Utah on the same wave, found himself soaring down a 15-footer behind Matahi.
“I was yelling at the driver to go and he was saying, ‘No! No! Not this one!’ And I was yelling at him to go. Because we hesitated we went late and because we were deeper than the other skis, to get the tracking shot, we had to bounce over their wake. And so we’re coming down this vertical face, trying to get down, I’m looking through the eye-piece, there’s no footstraps (which Chris had asked to be custom-fitted) or life jacket or helmet and because I’m holding the big heavy movie camera I can’t hold onto the seat. As we got to the bottom of the wave the transition was a right angle. And as we hit it, the ski start to nose dive and I was thinking, ‘Oh my god! We’re going to flip!’ But I kept my eye on the eye-piece and as we pulled out of the dive I saw this little kid completely disappear and then there was this huge blow out. I was thinking,’Oh god, the kid might’ve died.’ But then he came flying out. All the boats were scratching over the west bowl and we couldn’t even get near to the channel. It was the most dramatic thing I’ve ever seen. It was so big and we went straight into the lagoon where it was knee deep, watching for big coral heads.”
Chris is fond of this angle because of the perspective it gives. GoPros’ll make the tube smaller, the boat angle you’ve seen, but the ski, he says, gives a true indication of the wave’s size.
“It’s the difference between looking at skyscraper from a plane or standing on the ground looking up,” he says. “This angle puts the wave in its proper perspective.”
It’s the truth!
And this morning, Chris is buckling in for another ride to French Polynesia. Along with Dylan Longbottom, Bruce Irons and various other Point Break contractors he’s flying back to Teahupoo to greet another swell.
Can Hollywood fuck it up? Maybe. But there’ll be enough big-wave juice in it (they’ve already shot big Jaws on Maui), to scrape us into cinemas.
Point Break‘s hitting multiplexes and suburban joints late July, 2015.
(In the meantime, here’s Chris’ showreel.)