Filmer Profile – Ryan Moss
If your out surfing and you see someone floating around with a camera and a redbull there is a good chance that it’s Ryan Moss filming upcoming talent such as Nat Young, Matt Myers, Austin Smith-Ford, Kyle Buthman and many other already known surfers. Norcalsurfers got a chance to take him out of the water and sit down long enough to answer a few questions about how he started filming, his current equipment, and experiences out in the water. Check it out…
NCS: How did you get into filming?
RM: I was attending college at the University of Hawaii Manoa, when I met Ricky Lesser for the first time. Ricky is single handedly the biggest influence on me wanting to get into making surf movies. It all started when we took out one of his small digi cameras that happen to have movie mode on it to this really shallow reef break just North of Sandy Beach on Oahu. I vaguely remember the video looking absolutely horrible, but I remember just frothing on it at the time. I wanted to shoot more and more and just be the best at shooting water. I bought my first camera a year or so later. It was a Sony PC 1000. It really didn’t have an adequate enough zoom to shoot from land, and I thought sitting on the beach filming all day was boring anyway. So shortly after I came across (by means of Ricky) SPLWATERHOUSINGS.COM. Sean Labrie is the man, he has always been super supportive of my throughout my career. He has kind of been a mentor in a way. His housing are super lightweight and durable. So now that I got my SPL plug out of the way we can continue, THANKS SEAN. So I got my first housing but didn’t really know what I was doing. Ryan Beppu, another all around insane water photographer from Oahu took me under his wing for a while and taught me the ropes. Since then it’s been all a blur, pretty much constant routine of trying to film with the top guys around Santa Cruz, watching Taylor Steele videos, and editing.
RM: It has been difficult, but it’s a constant trial and error battle. Without a doubt spend a ton of money on videos, at least I have anyway. I’ll sit in front of my t.v downstairs and just watch HBO, any surf, skate, or snow videos. I take notes on what I like and don’t like and try and emulate their styles of shooting and integrate it into my own videos. It has been fun though too, because I’m a self made videographer/editor. I definitely have traces of influence, but shooting wise I am original to an extent. Graham Nash from Santa Cruz has a smooth, solid shooting style that I wish I had, Dustin Humphry is insane too, Ricky Lesser behind a video camera is deadly too. All three guys can tell a complete story in the matter of 1-3 minutes and I only wish that I could even begin to do that. It probably takes like 15 minutes of my boring video to accomplish what they can in 1/5th the time.
NCS: What kind of video camera (make/model) do you use?
RM: Currently I own a Cannon XHA1 and a Panasonic AGHSC1U.
NCS: Do you use the same camera in the water and on land?
RM: The Panasonic I use for water because it is smaller, more light weight, and more mobile when swimming. The Cannon is for land due to the weight stability and battery life.
NCS: What kind of water housing do you own?
RM: SPL. SPL. No leaks, sealed by design. Check them out, Sean has helped me so much in my career and is a great guy to work with. He has always had time to answer any question no matter how trivial it was. He is a true innovator and has a lot of new designs and concepts coming up for 2009.
RM: It actually is more so the other way around. I mean I would like to truly believe that I am Aquaman and can swim in any situation, but there are times when it’s really not worth the risk. So, I had to learn how to shoot on land. Everyone has the misconception that shooting on land just requires a big lens and the ability to pan with the surfer. Not true, look at guys like Ricky Lesser, Ryan Criag, and Corey Wilson. I’m a little biased because they are all friends of mine, but they all capture “the moment”. There is so much that is over looked in surfing. It’s not just about the surfer being able to rip anymore. It’s about the location, the feeling that the viewer is actually in the surrounding. Foreground, background, lighting, saturated colors are all things that should be taken into account when shooting from land. Ryan, probably heckles me the most about how easy it is to video and how much video guys don’t have it as hard as the still guys. He and Ricky probably push me the hardest to be more creative.
NCS: In your videos you have some really sick water shots and there’s a few were the rider is literally going over you. What’s the gnarliest situation you’ve ever been in?
RM: Pipe this year without a doubt. Swam out one day when no one was shooting water. I was on three Red Bulls, and a 9 shot Starbucks coffee. I had only slept an hour the night before, because I had to submit a video by the deadline for Magicseaweed.com. The swell was pretty north and it was just a recipe for disaster. I got pretty worked by this north close out set and because of all the caffeine started to panic. I literally thought I was going to drown at one point. I remember hitting bottom and getting pinned their going great, I knew I should have stuck on land. I really wanted to go in after I finally got back to the surface and caught my breath. I ended up sticking it out until the battery died because I am just like that. but I learned my lesson for sure. There have been a few times where I was trying to get under the surfer when he was doing an air and I swore the board was going to clock me in the face but those times are a part of the job.
NCS: We’ve seen your work in Hawaii and in the frigid waters of NorCal. What sort of challenges/benefits does each location present? And which is your favorite to shoot in?
RM: Hawaii, you have to be in much better shape, even though I really did defeat that theory this year. I went over completely out of shape and in two days of swimming at backdoor got back in shape really fast. Hawaii is also a scene, you have the entire whose who of the industry there. I became people-phobic half way through the trip, I literally didn’t want to see or talk to anyone any more. You have to respect the guys like Russo, Flindt, Nelly, Aichner, Stacy, Dorsey, the list goes on and on. There is a hierarchy in the lineup when shooting for sure, and you just have to wait your turn and pay your dues like everyone else. Even though I’m shooting video with a fish eye most of the time and those guys are shooting stills, it’s still another ugly yellow housing in their way. The waves are a lot faster and so are the surfers. So if you’re not used to shooting at that pace, you can get really hurt. Contest will take the best surfers away from the best waves at time, or they take away the best waves and replace them with media contracts and ugly neon jerseys. Benefits though, are warm water, friends who you maybe only see a few times a year, Kona Brewing Company, Breakers, really good food, and a magical island I like to call my second home.
Santa Cruz is much colder than Hawaii. The waves here are never good, there are tons of sharks waiting to eat you and everyone here is bad at surfing. HAHA. No, ok it’s first off really really cold. I wear a 5/4/3 most of the year. It’s pretty sharky in some areas and most of the time you look and feel like a baby elephant seal. Then there are the elephant seals, which most of the time I worry more about than sharks. My dad just got chased by one the other week at a not so secret secret spot. Then there are the winds which blow NW most of the year and unless you know where to look. There is so much coastline to check, so you end up driving around for a while looking at all the possibilities of where could be good. It’s really hard at times to get motivated to get up knowing you’re going to be swimming and freezing. Ever since Blue Crush it seems like every old man corpo or woman thinks they can surf and get in your way (I now bring to you exhibit A, the hook.) Payoffs, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are a bunch of really photogenic spots, and there is a really great pool of upcoming talent. Nat Young, Matt Myers, Austin Smith-Ford, Kyle Buthman are just a few. My family lives close by and have been supportive of my passion to film. All my childhood friends are just a phone call away. If you have the drive to get away from crowds you can. It’s just a really magical special place up here.
NCS: Beach or Point break?
RM: Reef Slab. But it also depends who’s surfing it.
NCS: What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to get into filming surfing?
RM: Someone really smart once told me, “You have to believe in yourself and what you do, you can’t listen to the other people around you.” If it’s your passion then follow it. Just know that there are other guys who are going to be competing with you trying to prove that they deserve to have a job in this industry and you don’t.
Stay really cool and humble and try to be respectful of EVERYONE. Don’t get wrapped up when everyone tells you how good you are. Don’t ever believe you are better than everyone else, egos evolve and bad decisions come of it. Pay your dues and eventually you’ll be successful (mistakes I have made in the past that I would love to be able to live without)
NCS: Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
RM: I would like to thank everyone who still supports me: Sean at SPLWATERHOUSINGS.COM, Chad and the Reelcomp.com Team, Mom, Dad, my brother Aaron and the rest of my family. I would also like to thank Ricky Lesser, who has been a huge part of my life as a traveling partner and helping me out with every project I take on. I would also like to thank, Nate Dias and Kevin Azevedo and Jordan Atkins-Loria for always making music for all of my projects at the last minute. A lot of this wouldn’t be possible without you guys. Also thanks to Arun Frances, DPC and everyone at NorCalSurfers.com and look forward to publishing, a few tricks I have up my sleeve for the new year, new featured videos soon. I also would like to thank the guys over at Fox Head Inc. for believing in me and getting me on the program.