Q&A: Riley Blakeway
We caught up with the 22-year-old wunderkind filmmaker Riley Blakeway midway between Hawaii and Australia. Riley first held a camera at age 5, and has gone on to shoot amazing footage for countless surf and skate brands. Read on for our chat about hanging out of helicopters, travel, Lost in Translation and surf fashion.
Olasul: It looks like it's been an insanely busy year for you, let's say you had a week to unwind, what would your vacation be like?
Riley: I haven't been on a vacation per se in a very long time. I don't leave the house without my cameras but if I did get some time to unwind I would be going to Japan for New Years and snowboarding my butt off for a couple of weeks!
O: We loved your Fiji Vignette series. The footage was unbelievable, that shark you filmed in Part 3 was chilling! What was it like shooting from a helicopter?
R: It's funny, at first I wasn't into it when the chopper idea came about. I had never experienced it before and I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if I was capable or prepared for filming from a chopper so, at first I was a little apprehensive. Once I got up there we were straight over the top of a bomb set out of Cloudbreak and Kelly [Slater] dropped into a six second barrel right below us. I nailed the clip, watched it back on my LCD screen and I couldn't contain myself. It was so damn fun from there on. My confidence grew over time and as the sessions progressed I started hanging out the side of the bird by my seatbelt to get the best shot possible. It was an experience I won't forget. Check out the vid here.
O: What’s your favorite film, not necessarily surf-related?
R: My favorite film is Lost In Translation. The grey areas of the relationships between the characters, the themes of isolation and existential ennui, the photography, the music, the location, the layers...It's a perfect film in my eyes. Brilliant.
O: We know you travel constantly, are there any places left you’re dying to shoot? What about Perú?
R: Japan, Berlin, Egypt, Israel, Africa, Russia - all on my to do list but obviously not so much to shoot surfing.
O: What do you look for in a great pair of board shorts?
R: The right length, the right material, one solid color. Nothing too out of control.
O: We've got you covered there. Our new spring collection is launching soon on our site in February.
O: You’ve been shooting a lot of fashion lately. Surf and fashion have always been closely intertwined, while traditionally the result was surf clothing, today, an increasing amount of high-fashion is surf inspired. Where would you like to see this go?
R: I'm not sure I would agree that "surf and fashion have always been closely intertwined" as surfing today is a lot more about the fashion than, say, 10 years ago, but I will agree that a lot of surfers today are more fashion conscious. I think the whole surf rock, 'beach blanket burnout' attitude has been a popular movement over the past few years and it's cool to see it influencing high-fashion, it will be interesting to see where it goes. For me, I would like to keep my work within surfing and fashion separate to avoid being pigeon-holed.
O: The future looks bright for you Riley, but let's go back to your roots, one final question. Tell about your first film, what camera were you using then?
R: My first surf film was a DVD release called 'Spectrum'. I used a Sony FX7.