The Heart & The Sea is the third release from Independent Australian filmmaker Nathan Oldfield, the creator of the highly regarded left of centre surf films Lines From a Poem and Seaworthy.
Over three years in the making, The Heart & The Sea explores the joy that lies at the very centre of a surfing life: family, friends and a shared intimacy with the sea. Filmed in Australia, New Zealand, France and Spain, this is a gently refreshing & quietly enchanting contribution to the surf film genre. The Heart & The Sea features Dave Rastovich, Lauren Lindsey Hill, Alex Knost, Tom Wegener, Sage Joske, Brett Caller, Kassia Meador, Clovis Donizetti, Belinda Baggs, Paul Joske, Ryan Burch, Chris Del Moro, Matt Chojnacki, Jared Mell, Dane Peterson, Harrison Roach & many others.
On the eve of Nathan coming to town with his wife Eliza and three beautiful kids for the joint premier/holiday, we had a few questions to ask Mr Oldield…
Firstly, how did Nathan Oldfield find himself in the “Send Yourself Broke” world of independent surf filmmaking?
I guess it is part of my nature that I am watchful, I like to observe things, and at the same time, I’m wired to want to make things. At a young age, my Dad gave me his old 1960s Canon SLR and it was almost an innate process for me to make photographs. So I guess that I’ve always looked at the world with a bit of a photographic eye, and I’ve been in love with surf films ever since I saw The Endless Summer as a little kid. I thought it was incredibly joyful and engaging, and I remember having a vague aspiration to make my own film one day.
That dream continued to evolve as I grew as a surfer and experienced the depth of feeling of a committed surfing life. It’s like I knew it would happen, but I kept putting it off, because I was more interested in actually surfing, being in the water. For a long time, I couldn’t think of anything worse than standing on the beach with a camera when the waves were good. But about eleven years ago, I began to experiment with filming surfing. Friends and I would swap between surfing and shooting, just mucking about with cameras on the beach really. But I began to take it more seriously, and enjoyed the creativity of the shooting side of things as well as editing. It all kind of grew from there, and I taught myself along the way.
How does a full-time teacher with a family of three kids create a surf film in their spare time?
There’s definitely a balancing act to be achieved, absolutely. The thing that my wife Eliza and I are really grateful for is that my filmmaking has supported our family. The financial return from surf films is really modest, but it has supplemented my teacher’s wage and enabled Eliza to be a stay at home mum, which was always our goal. The other special thing is all the family adventures we have had. When I go away to shoot, whether it’s here in Australia or overseas, I bring my family with me as much as possible. We are really thankful to have shared those special experiences of travel with our kids, and without my surf films it’s something we wouldn’t have been able to afford.
After the very successful Seaworthy, what inspired you to start making The Heart & The Sea?
After Seaworthy, I almost felt like I’d shared everything I could about how meaningful and worthwhile surfing is. But then some new ideas started to stir in my heart and I felt like there was something else to explore and communicate in a new film. The film is called The Heart & The Sea because it’s about what is important to me in life, healthy relationships and surfing. For lots of us who have surfed our whole lives, there is this beautiful intimacy with the sea that we have in common with our family and friends. The sea brings us together. Surfing gives us many gifts, but perhaps the greatest of these are the deep connections we make with other people through sharing the experience of surfing. I thought this was an idea that was worth taking a look at it in a surf film.
What has been the high and low point of the last three years creating this film?
The highs have definitely been the new friendships I’ve formed, and the older friendships that have gotten stronger. And, as I said earlier, the highs have also been involving my little family in these experiences of friendship and travel. We have had some precious journeys, physically and relationally, that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. The low points have been those times when I’ve been overwhelmed with the task of making the film entirely on my own. It’s been a long road, taken an enormous amount of creative energy and time. There were moments along that journey where I questioned whether it was worth it, and indeed if I’d ever get the job done.
You enjoy a Coopers Green, is it time to relax and enjoy some family time? Or does that creative fire within keep you burning towards another project?
Yes, I’m looking forward to a lot less time behind a camera or in front of a computer, and a lot more family and surfing time. I definitely have a creative drive, a need to make stuff, but after working on this film for over three and a half years I’m aiming at simpler dreams at the moment like making some surfboards, gardening, playing my ukuleles, photography, yoga. Down the track I’ll probably start to work on some short films and see where it goes from there…