While banger web edits are a dime a dozen these days, every now and then, a very special, rare surf film is made that you can tell took a lot of time, love, blood, sweat and tears to create. It’s the type of film that stays with you after watching it. Such a movie is Perry Gershkow’s “Elude,” starring Santa Cruz, California’s Noah Wegrich and a small cast of other amazing and eclectic surfers. While filmed around the world, Noah has a few incredible sessions with HS team rider Nate Tyler—the two of them on an array of Haydenshapes. While you may (or, may not) have already seen the very gorgeous “Elude,” we caught up with the director himself, Perry Gershkow, to give us the lowdown on this special project…
Haydenshapes: Is this your first film and also, what’s your background with making films?
Perry Gershkow: This is around my 6th film, I believe. I’ve been making surf films since I was about 23 years old, and I’m 31 now. For me, surf films are a way of being to express my creativity. When I’m not making surf films, I am a DP and director for non-surf brand videos and commercial work. But for me, surfing is my greatest passion, and my favorite hobby. It’s an excuse to go travel with my good friends and make cool shit. In the end, hopefully I can make something that can resonate with everyone, not just surfers.
The cinematography and VO instantly reminded me of a Terrence Malick film…like The Thin Red Line…who are some of your cinematic inspos?
Damn, ya I guess I never thought about comparing it to a film outside of surfing, that’s rad! Haven’t heard that one yet. For me it’s all about creating a story that has a fluid transition from the beginning to the end, with hints of mystery drizzled throughout. Some of the inspiration comes from a lot of people to be honest. I watch a ton of videos every day, from short narrative films to 30 second commercial spots to 2 hour feature films. I’ve always wanted to have a distinct style to my films, where people can watch a film without looking at the credits and say, “That’s a film by Perry Gershkow,” just by the style of the film.
Awesome. And that poem…you write a bit of poetry? Gimme a few of your favorite poets…
[Laughs] Ya, I was beginning to start structuring the sections and I knew I wanted to add something unique to the film that I hadn’t done before, so one day I decided to start writing. I looked at all my footage and thought back to all of the trips. Usually when I am on a trip, I like to jot down notes about what I am seeing, feeling, somewhat of a journal. So, I looked back at this and decided to write a poem that would connect every section. I think some inspo comes from the likes of E.E. cummings and Shel Silverstein. I also would say I draw inspiration from just the locations I am talking about.
I loved the music choices…those mostly yours or a collaborative affair?
Ya I am psyched everyone enjoyed the music, as that’s a massive part of every surf film. The thing about this film was that I pretty much funded most of it, with the help of some amazing sponsors who helped pay for a couple trips. So when it came down to post production, I pretty much had no budget. I reached out to a few bands, and let them know my story with the film, and they ended up being crazy generous and letting me use their music. I think where our industry is right now, not only the surf industry, but the creative industry, people want to collaborate and help other people’s works come alive, especially when they are passion projects. I am very thankful for everyone who came together on this one and helped the film come to fruition. Without the musicians, the other filmmakers, the VO artist, graphic artist, I wouldn’t be able to make the film the way I wanted to.
You traveled to a few different interesting places. I guess it is a travel film…did you have a favorite place from “Elude,” or one you’d love to go back to and why?
I fell in love with every location from the film. A couple that really stood out were Ireland and Scotland. We met some absolute legends on those trips. Without the help of Gearoid and Clem in Ireland, and Mark Boyd in Scotland, we would have been surfing some weird wave somewhere [laughs]. They got us into some beautiful waves and I really appreciate their willingness to help out with the project. Ireland and Scotland are also just magical places. It’s wild how dramatic the landscapes are, as well as the waves. I will without a doubt be traveling back that part of the world very soon, and can’t wait!
Who was your favorite subject in the movie and why? Maybe this is obvious…
That’s a tough question! The film was obviously centered around Waggy, whose also one of my best friends, but everyone in the film is such a rad human. I mean that’s why they are all in the film: they surf insane, but they are all also just epic humans to hang with. Nate Tyler and Nat Young are also good friends of mine, so being able to cruise around California with Noah, Nate and Nat was such a special experience, as they are a few of the best surfers to ever come out of California. And then you throw Jake Kelley and Colin Moran, who are both the most down to earth, easy going guys, then you have an all-time California crew. Gearoid Mcdaid and Conor Mcguire were really fun to hang with and film as well, they are both absolute chargers. And then being able to incorporate a few of my good friends from back home into the film was such a treat. And then you have Ben Coffey, who probably got the wave of the film. He is as humble and cool as they come, and also rips in all conditions.
That concept of “elude”…how does one escape and elude the crowds? Cold water? Onshore-ish winds. What’s your take?
The concept of “Elude” I would say is derived from the fact that I love not being surrounded by 200 people while surfing and filming [laughs]. Noah and I are on the same page when it comes to this, so we decided to base each trip on this exact word, “elude,” and it worked out pretty well. Sure, you see more than a few people in some of the clips, but all in all we made stuck to the plan and got waves by ourselves or with a few buddies, which is all you can ask for in this day and age.
I remember in the mid-00’s watching films like “Second Thoughts,” “The Present/Sprout,” or “Brokedown Melody” and being SO inspired to leave, surf and find my own adventure….you feel like “Elude” is meant to evoke that at all?
Yup. 100 percent. It’s all about getting people inspired and motivated. People don’t need to go find some empty waves in a far-off land, but what is important is to go do something different and create some memories with your friends. It’s easy to go to your local surf spot and get a surf in, but when you take the extra time and effort to go out of your comfort zone, you’ll never forget those experiences.
A new film by Perry Gershkow
A visual surf odyssey that takes its audience around the world and back, featuring the cold waters of Scotland and Ireland, to the warm waters of Indonesia and everywhere in between.
Starring Noah Wegrich, Nate Tyler, Nat Young, Gearoid Mcdaid, Conor Mcguire, Jake Kelley, Colin Moran, Ben Coffey, Michael Taras, Robin Caddell
Words: Beau Flemister