As surf media becomes more digitally driven, it's only natural that the limelight is veering toward video content. It's a paradigm shift from the days of getting a surf magazine once a month in the mail—we want our surf action as it unfolds on beaches and lineups across the world. And remember when you and your friends would take turns filming each other surf, only to watch the footage later and discover that your knucklehead friend pushed the record button at the wrong time and ended up filming sand, passing birds, and blank skies? Or when you'd catch the videographer (usually someone sick or injured) talking smack about his buddies’ lack of surf skills while he unwittingly had the record button on. Let's just say that the craft has evolved and kids nowadays are creating more compelling and radical content than ever before.
On the forefront of the revolution going on in surf movies is 21-year-old Surfing magazine videographer Sean Benik. Last fall, Benik was sent to Portugal to document three amazingly talented young surfers: Parker Coffin, Griffin Colapinto, and Nic Von Rupp. The video Sean created complemented a feature in the magazine and was filmed with a high-end RED Epic camera. We caught up with Benik to see how got to where he is today, and to get his advice for aspiring surf filmmakers …
How did you get into videography?
I first got into videography on a family trip to Costa Rica. I just broke my collarbone skating so I couldn’t surf, and ended up filming my brothers on a handy-cam. I got an editing program when I got back and fell in love.
What was your first edit like?
The first edit was probably of that trip, just horrible music and shaky footage, but I remember being so excited to be able to create something that I would watch on television.
Tell us about the first trip Surfing magazine sent you on …
The first trip for Surfing was to Nicaragua for the “Grom Games” trip. It was about a year-and-a-half ago and we brought kids like Griffin Colapinto, Jake Marshall, and a few others. It’s funny now because I’ve gone on trips since with Griffin for the mag and it’s really cool to see us both grow and continue to work together.
What was it like working with the RED cam?
Compared to any other camera I’ve used, it’s definitely the most fun. You’re able to play with all the settings so easily and have so many options that it keeps your attention when having long days of filming surfing, rather than just hitting record every time someone stands up.
What are the challenges to using a RED cam?
At first, it took me a little time to get used to, but now that I’ve got most of the basics figured out it’s pretty simple. It’s so versatile when it comes to attachments and settings so it’s kind of an information overload at first, but that’s a good thing once you find out exactly what you’re trying to accomplish for an edit.
What tips would you pass on to a kid who wants to film surfing as a career?
If you're a kid wanting to film surfing or any action sports as a career, I’d say the most important thing is to just do it a lot. Make a video every two weeks. Set goals and deadlines. The more work you do the better you’ll get; you learn from every experience. That, and networking—hit up local companies or magazines and have fun with it.
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