| Since Hugh Miller started Kiteworld in 2001, the moves in kiteboarding have changed, the equipment has improved immeasurably and the average age of kiteboarders in competition has virtually halved. What has never changed is the commitment, enthusiasm and inventiveness of the sport's photographers. And we've never shirked our own commitment to search out and bring you the best images that exist in the sport to help you escape your daily stresses by transporting you to another world, bringing the dream to life. This issue is dedicated to providing you with a behind-the-photo-shoot-scenes visual feast, here in the magazine and online with bonus videos and features at: Kiteworldmag.com
But what is it that makes a photographer want to lug and swim around in sharky waters with bulky water housings all afternoon that encase thousands upon thousands of pounds worth of the latest in image capturing technology that they've blown their mortgage on instead of just going kiting themselves? We open the issue here with a tale from the provider of the cover shot you have in your hands, Jeff Pfeffer. It's not all about kicking back in your board shorts, pointing your digi cam at the world's best riders you know. You need a resolute diligence, patience, and a willingness to drop everything when it's on and get your hands dirty...
| I rolled the words around in my mind the way you roll an ice cube with your tongue; 'independent film maker'. I like the sound of that. It just seems way more impressive than 'photographer' doesn't it? It seems like 'independent film makers' would enjoy a liquid lunch in trendy bars sipping pornographically named colourful drinks with dirty sluts and then slam a few shots, leave a big tip and fuck off back to the studio. That sounded really good to me because I'm pretty sure 'photographers' spend their days nursing tepid beers on a dirty park bench with other smelly old fat guys bitching and moaning about the good old days and telling sunburned albino tourists that kiting isn't as hard as it looks while watching backside bow kiters water-ski around in knee-high chop.
So I called Felix Pivec to give him the conditions report and tell him my idea.
'The wind's fingered but I have an idea. We should become independent film makers,' I said. I expected him to laugh but he didn't.
'Oi, have you seen Hadlow's clip?' he replied.
'No, is it any good?' I asked.
'I hear he's fricken on it, we should go have a look.' So we downloaded 'Re-Volve' and that was it. Brilliant bit of work. Shit, we became 'independent film makers' right then and there. How hard could it be? Go to Videoworld, buy a laptop and a VCR and start 'storyboarding' or whatever they call it.
Two weeks later we had a yellow notebook full of scribblings. We needed to start this all off with a bang. The basic plan called for stuffing a helicopter with kite gear, finding a place to land illegally in an uninhabited valley and bushwhacking through jungles and streams to get to a perfect empty black sand beach where we'd kite a heaving eight foot beach-break in front of four thousand foot sea cliffs with waterfalls and rainbows as backdrops. Nothing to it I figured. In and out in a few hours. Zip, bam, bang! Just like 'Snatch'.
The first storyboard called for us to get a movie poster quality still of a sun-in-the-background fill-flash switch stance strapless off-the-coping lip-slide, with fins out the back in front of a giant green vegetation covered cliff with the bar and lines clear of the rider's face and body (no hooked-in umbilical cords allowed). All backed up by top notch HD video. If we could get a sea bird into the shots for dramatic effect that would be a bonus. Basically just a simple bit to get our poster and trailer in the bag so we could hit up some financing.
Of course there were a few challenges. Number one was the fact that we had no money and no crew, no VCR and no helicopter. I bounced the plans off my dad for a reality check because he and I had spent a fair bit of time diving, surfing and camping on this coast by boat. I told him the basic plan and finished it off by nonchalantly adding that we were 'independent film makers'. His reply was, 'Independent film makers? You mean you have no experience, no one believes in you and you have Cadillac dreams on a Pinto budget'. I was going to ask what a Pinto was but I just told him not to worry because we had a secret weapon; a 'storyboard'. He dismissed my scribbled sketches without even a second glance.
'Listen.' he said, 'Those sea cliffs will wreak havoc with the wind and Felix doesn't even use a chicken-loop. He'll probably die launching his kite. There are also really strong currents that sweep through the shallow bay and down the coast, so you only have a narrow window of time to drift and film before an all out desperate swim for shore to avoid a twelve mile solo sea cliff tour. And all those rainbows and waterfalls also come with 250 inches a year of rainfall, so plan on shooting in the rain. And do I have to remind you of the time you and your brother waited an hour on the beach there for the twelve foot tiger shark to go away so you pussies could paddle back to the boat?'
He would have discouraged a mere photographer, but the film maker in me knew he was
just jealous that there wouldn't be room in the chopper for his sorry ass. We would score. I just knew it. In a few weeks investors would be lining up to get a piece of our pie. This movie would rock the industry and I could prove it in an afternoon. My dad just shook his head, but he must have felt sorry for us because he agreed to call a friend of his who owns a chopper and ask if he could help us out.
So how did it all go down? Did we nail it to the storyboard? Not exactly. First we almost crashed in the trees trying to land. Then we hiked for hours through nasty mud, got chased by a wild pig and didn't get it on film, stepped on bamboo 'pungi sticks', got threatened at gunpoint by psycho dope growers who only let us live when they found out we were going to launch a kite in what they called 'The Devil's Corner' (apparently back in the seventies some crazy hippie had jumped from the cliff with goat horns tied to his head and when they found his bloated body it looked like the horns were real). Seems they also knew something about the wind and what we soon found out is that the wind is even crazier than an acid soaked hippie with goat horns, and that kites will fly in all directions at once. There is no way you can kite the joint. After a few aborted attempts at launching we went bodysurfing and confirmed that the currents are really, really, really bad. The good news is we didn't see a single shark the whole trip. The bad news is three weeks later my eyes turned sort of yellow. The doctor said I probably had something called 'leptospirosis', which is some little worm that lives in the mud and streams and bores through your feet before it lodges in your liver where it multiplies by the thousand.
'Take these pills, stay out of the sun, don't drink alcohol for six months and you should be OK. Oh, and better have your friends checked out too.'
I started thinking seriously about throwing in the towel on the whole project. So I went to Joe's bar in Haleiwa to have a few beers by myself. I figured at least it was out of the sun. The whole filming thing just seemed impossibly difficult. My plan was to get buzzed, call Felix from the bar, have him meet me there and tell him the bad news about retiring from the movie business and the worms in his liver.
After a few beers the bartender asked what I was doing drinking alone, so I told him about our trip. He thought it was pretty funny and gave me the bar's special drink; a 'Sandy Snorkel', on the house. He said it was 'A beautiful concoction of a splash of cranberry and about nine different alcohols and that he had invented it and named it after what it feels like to perform oral sex on a girl at the beach.' He also claimed that it would lift my spirits and maybe kill the worms.
So there I was, shielding my jaundiced eyes and self medicating with a 'Sandy Snorkel', when up comes this nasty hot milf who sits right next to me. The place is empty since it's 3pm and she asks what the beautiful translucent ruby cocktail I'm drinking is? I explained the history of the drink. She then asks me what I do for a living, so I tell her, 'I'm an independent film maker working on a kitesurfing documentary'. I swear her eyes sparkled and her legs moved apart just slightly like it was an involuntary reaction and she leaned forward and said, 'That sounds like pretty glamorous work and that drink sounds promising, too. I think I'll have to get one. Can I get you another?'
That's when it hit me. It was like magic. I looked up and smiled the first smile I'd managed in weeks. I drained my glass in one go, picked up my phone off the bar, put it back in my pocket, looked her straight in the eyes and said, 'I'd love to, but right now I have to get back to the studio.' I dropped a twenty on the bar and didn't look back. Why would I? I've got projects to plan.
Enjoy the issue.
Read issue #35 HERE