Drift – Exclusive Interview with Director Ben Nott

Hey goFlow users – here is the interview you have been waiting for!  The goFlow team was lucky enough to go see the screening for Ben Nott’s new full feature length surf movie Drift at the Red Bull Screening Room earlier this week.  Drift is a unique style of surf film that combines mind-blowing surf footage, a strong plot and story line that literally kept us on the edge of our seat, and A-List actors for good measure.  All to create a new style of film that appeals to any type of audience from a surfed-out beach bum to a popcorn-eating movie buff.  After watching Drift we couldn’t help but ask Ben a few questions…

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Ben…

M: You have an obvious passion for surfing.  How long have you been surfing for?
B: 33 years

M: We heard you born and raised in Australia. Whats your local beach growing up?
B: North Narrabeen

M: As a someone who is living both surf cultures (Australian and American) whats the big difference between those two?
B: Surf cultures in each county – well in the water Americans seem more laid back.  Australians seem more competitive.  On land Americans seem more steeped in the tradition of surfing than Ozzies.  But I think there’s that general similarity of respect for the ocean and fellow surfers.

M: When did you decide it was time to connect your passion for surfing and your passion for film to create the masterpiece Drift?
B: About 12 years ago I knew I wanted to make a dramatic action feature film that involved surfing as a major justified part of the storyline.

M: What was your inspiration to create the movie Drift?

B: My inspiration was the undying thrill of surfing itself, combined with the types of films about surfing that were being made, which were mostly straight surf action films – which are great – but don’t have much of a storyline and don’t appeal too greatly to a non-surfing general audience.  Then there’s the Hollywood dramatic action films involving surfing, which would have a decent storyline, but the surfing action and surfing cliches would make all core surfers cringe.  So those films were a form of inspiration or repellant.  [My inspiration was] to do a surf film that has the best of all surf films so far and hopefully make the best dramatic action surf film to date.

M: One quote that stood out to us at goFlow was from a previous interview you had: 
        “The problem I saw was that every time Hollywood did a film about surfing it made true surfers cringe.”
How were you able to differentiate this film from the typical Hollywood-style surf film?
B: Right, as I mentioned above, just being authentic to surfing in every detail that we possibly could is how we differentiated Drift.  It’s a really tough fight because a general land-lover/non-surfer can’t see the all subtle differences between waves, surfers, and the surfing itself.  It takes a lot of time and money to get it right which others can’t see and others will battle that investment.  Also making surfing central to the storyline was a big point of difference.  It’s not just some fun, cool thing that the characters do and [the surfing] has real bearing on what happens.

M: The movie gives us insight to the beginning of the surf industry.  What do you think of the industry today and where do you think it’s going to be in 10 years from now?
B: 10 years, who knows. Although I do hope that the industry is in more harmony with the ocean and nature from which the surf industry freely derives its profit and coolness from. Not just token reciprocation either. Something that truly balances out everything they have taken and keeps that in harmony in the future. Just as nature stays in balance, so should we and the surf companies who live within the ocean.

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**A shot of the beautiful Margaret River and surf break, the location the film is based out of – Copyright All rights reserved by riding glass (Flickr)

M: After watching the screening of Drift, one of the best parts of the film as a surfer is the awesome surf footage.  What was one of the hardest and most fun scenes to film?
B: Hardest. Filming 50-foot waves at Cow reef.  A place that only breaks a few times a year and is very dangerous.  Filming on the ocean is ten times harder than land as a starting point. So throw in rare dangerous 50 footers breaking 2 miles out a sea in shark infested waters and thats just some of the hardships starting for that scene.

Most fun.  There was a scene we ended up cutting out of the film called Indo.  There were actually many that we removed for pacing reasons, but this scene is in the DVD extras.  It’s Sam Worthington and Xavier Samuel riding old 1972 motor bikes and discovering the famous G Land break in Indonesia.  That was a fun scene because Sam and Xavier were really enjoying riding the bikes and the scene feels very real because of that and the fact they are both great actors.  I love combining good acting drama with action at the same time.  Thats why I found that one of the most fun scenes.

M: How long did the movie take to film and produce?
B: Roughly 5 years.

M: How was it working with/directing Sam Worthington, who has played starring roles in major motion pictures previously?
B: It was great.  I was a bit daunted at first because he’s one of the biggest actors in the world.  He’s Avatar and Terminator and a bunch of great characters!  But he’s also such a down-to-earth guy and professional about the work that it was just a pleasure and my privilege to work with him and learn some more.  Hes a real waterman too – so he had no fear in the big waves, around sharks, etc.

M: When can the public expect to see the full featured length film here in the United States?
B: From July 2 you can catch it early on Itunes and Ultra VOD. And on the big cinema screen its out August 2nd.  I thinks its going to be at the Laemmle Cinema on 2nd in Santa Monica and at about 10 other cities across the US (Laemmle Cinema.1332 2nd Street. Santa Monica, CA 90401. 310-478-3836).  Watching Drift [in theaters] is totally worth experiencing the big waves on the big screen with the big sound. 

M: After Drift is released, whats next?

B: Theres a few surfing commercials, maybe Drift the TV series and maybe another film.  But Im just hoping for a break and a good surf trip.

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**Ben getting pitted at P-Pass in Micronesia 

Quick fire:

M: Favorite surf spot of all time?
B: Theres a few: P Pass, Lennox Head, D Bar, North Narrabeen, Pipe, Trestles, G Land – Anywhere I’m lucky enough to catch a wave that day. 

M: Favorite board?
B: 6ft. Thruster – Shaped by Brett Warner – Warner Surfboards.

M: Favorite surf movie?
B: Hahaha – Drift!

M: Favorite surfer?
B: Kelly Slater is awesome of course, but whichever mate I’m surfing with that day.

M: Favorite maneuver?
B: Hmm?  None – all of them.  Tube, re-entry, carving cut back, a lucky air that I may actually land.

Final Questions:

M: What do you think of the goFlow Surf App?
B: I think its great.  It feels very user friendly, personal, and up to date with conditions. Its easy to use.  Its kinda interesting who is making the reports too, not just the one surf reporter all the time.  Maybe it has a social side that I haven’t seen in surf condition reporting before. 

M: Last words?
B: Check out Drift the movie, go with the flow, and respect the beach.

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Thanks again to Ben for taking the time to answer our questions and get an in-depth look at Drift!  At goFlow we send our congratulations in creating such a realistic surf movie with footage that rivals any of the modern surf films out today!  We can’t wait till it is released in movie theaters to go see it again on the big screen and send our highest recommendation to everyone and anyone to go check it out in the beginning of August (if not before on iTunes!!).  You can check out the trailer below!