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Creators: Patrick Trefz finds our collective water connection

Harbor Bill © Patrick Trefz



Creator Profiles

Trefz' mission is all about the strong bonds to the ocean we share

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 11 February, 2018 - Patrick Trefz is a surfer and photographer from Santa Cruz who has built a solid portfolio of images from his global travels. As comfortable in the wilds of Alaska as he is in the sidewalk sophistication of a Biarritz cafe, Patrick’s work is born out of travelling. He’s taken his visual sensibility and branched into film with projects like “Thread” and “Idiosyncracies”. With his latest project “Surfer’s Blood” his technical chops had to increase tenfold in the editing bay to attain the vision he had in mind. The new film is launching this month.

Where are you from and what do you shoot with?
I {live in} Santa Cruz, California. I shoot with a wide variety of cameras. Anything from digital to analog. I use an old Rolleiflex 6x6, Leicas and a Canon DSLR. For Film stuff I like to use the C300 these days. It’s Canon's documentary motion camera and it has a real neutral beautiful look to it.

In 60 seconds, tell us what Surfer’s Blood is about:
It’s about the connection to the sea that all the subjects share. They all have strong bonds to the ocean. They be machinists  They may be designers. They may be boat builders They may be professional surfers. It’s about a wide variety of people but the common bond they share is all about the love and the passion that connects them to the sea.

Keiki death bowl © Trefz


How did surf photography start for you, and likewise film making?
It started with surf photography when I was a teenager travelling aground the world. Yeah, it was really fun to pick up the camera and document the whole scene around you. Back then (late ‘80s and early ’90s) you had to really think about what you were doing. It wasn’t like the current state of today's photography where everyone has a digital camera on their smartphone with Instagram and all that... You had to dedicate some time to it, there was serious learning curve.

As I grew older I got more into it and sold some photographs to Rip Curl, and updated my spartan equipment, bought a water housing.... then the Mavericks thing happened and I became staff photographer at Surfer Magazine.

getting into Filmmaking was a counter intuitive move, within the rise of still digital STILL cameras, and the homogeny that came with it, I picked up a 16 millimetre wind up motion film camera (bolex) and went from there with Bicycle Trip (2005), short film, followed by Thread (2007), a feature length documentary...

Rob Machado © Trefz


Share with us your heaviest experience while shooting photos or in the making of this project.
There was a shark attack in El Salvador. We were surfing at la Punta. We had driven from Santa Cruz to Central America. And I was surfing with this Aussie guy and I saw this huge 14-foot tiger shark swim past us and I yelled at the Aussie guy saying there was a shark and he said “Nah mate, that wasn’t a shark.” And then the shark hits this other guy. This local boogie board kid. It took a huge bite out of him. Unfortunately the kid died later in the hospital. There were all these other things going on during that trip. There was a flash flood and then this mini-uprising in El Salvador with burning cars and roadblocks and people standing around with guns. Craziest week of my life.

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer or film maker?
Well, I think it’s been fun working with Surfer Magazine over the years. To get a support system - it was sort of like getting a scholarship - and then take it from there and publish books. I’ve published three books. And then getting into film making has been great; and it is a bunch of disciplines combined that make it so challenging; the rhythm of storytelling and dialogue, the music and the imagery, the texture and pacing, it’s been so great to explore that world and get deeper into it.

The Harbor, Santa Cruz California © Trefz


In the big picture of things, life lessons, what did you learn while working on this project?
What I learned about life changing experience during Surfers' Blood was when Barney Barron passed away during the production of the film. There’s a section in the film where I talk to this old Basque shaper, Patxi. Barney new him from a previous trip when we got to meet him for the first time vis our good friend Sancho, he was so stoked that i was doing a chapter about this old Basque shaper. I wish he could have seen it...So, I dedicated the film to Barney and created a part about his passing as an homage to him. He was a creative genius and a good friend. Santa Cruz's ambassador, flying the flag of aloha, wherever he went.

Ghost Trees © Trefz


The film starts in the Basque Country with the Albaola boat builders making replicas of centuries old ships.then it moves to one of the first shapers in the area who created 'Democratic' surfboards. He made them fairly cheap so the kids could afford them. His name’s Patxi Oliden and he’s 94 now. After that we move on to Basque surfer Kepa Acero and his relationship to the new Bilbao and Mundaka.

Then we jump to San Francisco and meet with Thomas Meyerhoffer who came from Sweden to the U.S. and had been a designer with Apple and Mercedes and now makes surfboards. Then we have La Jolla legend Richard Kenvin, who has been curating surf art shows on a museum level.The film ends with 3 time Mavericks champ Darryl Flea Virostko and the unexpected passing of his longtime friend Shawn “Barney” Barron.




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