Meet Finian Vogel, one of the most enthusiastic filmmakers around
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 11 November, 2014 - Over the years, surfing films have left a strong impression on me: the sheer power of nature as it crashes across shallow, sharp reefs and that tiny person on their little board, slicing the water with the ease of a knife through butter. Mix this with images of a laid back lifestyle and tropical care-free existence, the sort of fantasy land that pulled in the crew the 'Bounty', and the appeal of the total package is magnetic.
I'd had a degree of success with my previous short film about river surfing in Munich ('Die Endliche Welle') and wanted to use my film making to explore surfing further. However, right at the start I realised my own experience of surfing was radically different from the one from fantasy land! Gone were the perfect waves that propelled household names such as Kelly Slater along the sun-kissed stretch of golden sands of Hawaii. And in were persons clad head-to-toe in neoprene whose gender you could barely make out...
So, I planned a different exploration of surfing: one closer to home and closer to the realism experienced by most surfers on these islands. And a good place for me to start was South West England. Charging the Barrel' started off as a concept over a pint of ale in a warm Bristol pub in the autumn of 2013.
We wanted to portray the cold, the grey and the unknown that characterise the Cornish coast, as well as the stark beauty of the exposed Penwith environment, surrounded as it is on three sides by the sea. Cornwall may not be the fantasy, textbook paradise but in many ways it still echoes the characteristics of so many of those surf films, and the personal fulfilment of the Cornish surfers is clearly evident.
Filming the project took 8 months which included a lengthy 'flat' period over the summer months, where not much happened for surfers, into the Autumn swells of September where some of the best surfing is to be had but the rough waves often prevented us getting clean motion footage.
There was hours of film from which we chose the best and steadiest as the raw material for the film. In between filming sessions, I would edit our shoot—many films are edited after production. For Charging the Barrel, the 'post production' stage commenced during filming and continued after.
All in all, the project has been very rewarding and not just in the fascinating process of making a film. It's been an enlightening foray into a unique slice of the surfer's world and the surfers themselves. This project presentz a scene that contrasts starkly with those of traditional surf films. Charging the Barrel consists of jagged cliff faces rather than clear waters, cloudy skies rather than unspoilt sun, men in head to toe wetsuits rather than beautiful young women in stringy bikinis. But this for me was where the joy of the film is.
That rather than celebrating perfection we celebrate raw enthusiasm.
Charging the Barrel from Pye Productions on Vimeo.