Filmmaker Feature: Steve Cleveland
Tell us about your new film, A Paradigm Shift. Who is in it? What can we expect to see?
"A Paradigm Sift" is a relatively fast paced, tightly edited surf film, with a dually appointed soundtrack and great surfers riding all types of surfboards on all types of waves. Filmed in Australia, California, Hawaii, Mexico, and Pohmpei. It features (in order of appearance) Jai Lee, Harley Ingleby, Brain Anderson, Colin Whitbread, Jared Mell,CJ Nelson, Joel Tudor, Dane Peterson, Leah Dawson, Kassia Meador, Jen Smith, Asher Pacey, Darshan Gooch, Chris Del Morro, Jan Wessels, Tyler Warren, Alex Knost, and Harrison Roach. The movie is stocked full of unreal surfing and shows what it's like hangin' at some of the parties we had during the filming.
What does the title of the film mean for you?
“Paradigm Shift” is what happens if you change the basic assumptions that support your way of thinking. So it means a basic change in the way people think about things. In this case, it means that more and more surfers are riding all kinds of surfboards and it is becoming widely accepted.
After making a bunch of films now, how has the process evolved for you? What's gotten easier and what are still the constant challenges?
When I first started (before video), we shot in film and spliced it together. Now I shoot mostly in digital video and do all the editing on the computer. In a way, the shooting part has become easier, but the editing part is a steep learning curve for an old dog like me, so I bring in Nathan Apfell to edit it at the end and I sit next to him and direct the thing.
What have you learned from making surf films?
First of all, it's a hard business to make a buck at. You guy's know first hand what I'm talking about! There's not too much love (money wise) out there from the big surf companies for alternative surfers or alternative surf movie makers, especially if you want to do your own thing. So you have to definitely have a passion for what you do. It's bitchin though traveling to different places and meeting new people from foreign cultures.
How did you first get into filmmaking? What were some of your early projects?
Well I first became interested in photography at Maui Community Collage in about 1972. Then I started doing a little 8mm and video filming. My first film was called "On Safari To Stay". I produced it and my good friend Chris Ahrens directed and had the original idea. Greg Weaver shot it in Super 8mm and Spider Wills was a consultant. I learned a lot about making surf movies from Weaver and Wills. It was in 1990 and featured a 13 year old Joel Tudor and Wingnut. They say it was the first longboard movie of the new era.
How does one make it as a filmmaker these days? What are some of the challenges in this age of digital everything?
Dedication! Well, in this digital age, any one can grab a camcorder or dslr and get decent results. And the cameras are fairly inexpensive so it seems like everybody and their brother are making surf movies these days. The equipment is just so available. Putting a good one together is a whole different thing however.
Film Premiere at La Paloma. May 24th, 2012.
Where do you see surf filmmaking going in the next few years? And where do you see yourself in that?
Truthfully I'm not sure where it's going. I see the big companies, Quiksilvers, Billabongs, etc., throwing big bucks at their movies to promoted their surfers and giving it away, which makes it hard to compete in the marketplace for the independent filmmakers. But I see myself continuing to do my own thing!
For more, check out surfcraftmedia.com