Pete, in the beginning of “Born Pacific”, we see a very young surfer, can you tell us more about this kid, his passion for surfing, his dreams…?
This is my 11 year old son "playing" a young me. For me as a young surfer it was all just for fun. I surfed a little bit in the summers from when I was 7 until 12. Wetsuits were so bad back then and I would freeze even in the summer. Once I grew more and could fit into a proper hooded wetsuit around 12 or 13 I started to surf year round. Having a career as a surfer wasn't even a thought for me growing up. I just really loved surfing and how challenging and varied it was. Traveling was always the best opportunity. I started riding for Hurley at 16 and was able to do some trips and contests in California which was so fun, and it kind of went from there. When I started getting a salary at 19 or 20 it gave me the opportunity to keep surfing full time and here we are. I've been so fortunate to enjoy the trips I've done, meet the people I've met, and continue to surf.
We heard the production time for the film was pretty long. Was there a session that really stood out to you as a highlight?
We started filming last fall and wrapped filming in the Spring, so it was about 7-8 months. That's our wave season here and summer is basically not worth filming. I was dealing with a bit of a nagging knee injury so my performance level wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be, especially early in the fall. I think my favorite trip/surf of the film was the little plane trip we did. A few friends that Nate knows, Dennis and Mark, have private planes with wheels for beach landings. We flew to a very remote area that I have never been to and landed on a beach for a surf. The waves were just average beach break but the whole experience was epic! It was just Mark and I in the water surfing little rip bowls looking at snow capped mountains. I'd love to do more of that.
We really like the cinematic approach of Nate Laverty who have made this film. How was it to work with him?
Nate is epic and always entertaining. He's always down for an adventure and keen to check out somewhere new. He's also very creative and I think his work just continues to improve. He comes from a snowboard filming background too, so cold is not much of an issue for him. It can be hard to get good waves here so you end up filming a bunch of worthless days to get a few good days, but Nate is always down to try. It takes a hearty filmer to get anything done around here.
Surfing the BC coast is obviously an adventure, tell us about those missions to find surf, are they what keeps you excited about surfing?
I think I would have to go back to the plane trip. Going to an area I've never been to or never scored and getting some good waves is always the goal. I love seeing new areas and looking for potential spots but it is so hard to get good waves. The conditions really do have to align perfectly to score here. I also love the days I see coming where a forecast looks super good for my favorite slab and I wake up with all this excitement and anticipation. Half the time even those days don't deliver but every once in a while it all comes together and it's just magic. I think that's what keeps me excited.
Regarding the Vancouver region itself - are there any threats to the waves or environment that people should be aware of? Unfortunately, some of our favorite surfing spots are threatened by unnecessary development or activities that threaten ecosystems. How does your part of the planet look when it comes to these things?
I'm not aware of any threats to waves in particular, such as harbours and developments on our coastline. Most of the surf is very remote so there are no big ports or infrastructure near them. The biggest threats to environment are the continued logging of Old Growth Forests and of course climate change and global warming. Sea level rise could have a major effect on our coastal communities and waves here.
The Bruwiler family, Hanna Scott, Noah Cohen, Mathea Olin, Andy Jones…(I surely forgot many names), The local surfing community in Vancouver island is really giving birth to great talents. Can you tell us about Vancouver island’s surf scene in particular? What is special about it?
For such a small town Tofino is home to a lot of great surfers. The access to waves everyday is the biggest contributing factor to this. If you want you could ride a wave every single day of the year here. The quality may not be the highest but we sure have consistency. It's been fun growing up here watching everyone. The Bruhwiler brothers and their sister Cath were the ones ripping when I was young so I had them to look up to. Then there was Noah, who I surfed and traveled with for years. Michael Darling rips. The younger crew are really stepping it up these days so that has been fun to watch also. Reed Platineus, Kalum temple, Mathea and Sonoa Olin along with a younger crew of 12 and 13 year olds are improving really quickly. In the past we've had big gaps between really passionate young surfers but surfing has become so popular here I think that is about to change.
All photos above by Marcus Paladino