At 24, Jeremy Rumas quit his full-time job in Chicago to make a surf movie. “Thinking back over the previous few years was sort of a blur of sitting at desks,” says Rumas of his time working in an office as a commercial artist. “I felt like I better make a move quick if I was to try to do something of my own.”
The quick move he made was a solo-journey to Samoa– alone. Rumas, an Indiana native, bought a surfboard for the trip and instantly fell in love, deciding to pour his artistic skills, and savings, into a passion project on surfing.
His upcoming surf film, Hangs Upon Nothing, will be the culmination of his work with both music an cinematography. Shot entirely on a Bolex with 16mm film– a decision inspired by Jack Johnson’s September Sessions– and with the musical score provided by his band Turbofire to Zenith, Rumas is aiming higher than most filmmakers for a debut project. According to Rumas, “The big dream is to tour this with Turbofire to Zenith playing the soundtrack live [while the film is screened].”
It’s been quite a journey since his first trip in Samoa, and his work on the film is far from over. With the filming complete, here’s what Rumas had to say about his project.
Describe your life and career before you picked up a surfboard
From 22-23 I was full time as an artist/animator for a big corporation. I was really grateful to be making a pretty good living, be out on my own, and getting paid to draw. But I’m not sure I really felt like an artist at the time. All my creative energy and time was being poured into products I had no connection to outside of work. I decided to quit my full time job so I could pursue my own art.
How is it different now?
I really had to cut back materially to make this film project a reality. I got rid of a lot of stuff, sold my car, moved out of my apartment. I looked at it all, and I said it’s either stay here anchored to this stuff, or simplify and head out and see some of the world.
What I do have now is a wealth of experiences from around the world. I’ve made friends in some far corners of the earth. I’ve experienced a tropical cyclone on a small atoll. I’ve surfed perfect waves. I’ve sailed from Hawaii to Kiribati. I’ve listened to whales that sound like dinosaurs. I’ve seen rainbows at night across the open ocean under a full moon. I’ve experienced first hand a lot of what this planet has to offer.
What made you decide that you wanted to document surfing?
The whole experience of my first surf trip, a solo trip to Samoa. It completely blew my mind and changed my direction in life. Out in the water there I clearly remember the moment I thought to myself, “Wow, this is so awesome, I want to make a film about what this feels like someday.”
It was the end of the day, north side of Upolu, I was out in the water with a few local Samoan guys. One was swimming around with a machete and mask, gathering urchins, cracking them open right there in the water and eating them. And we were surfing right over where he was swimming. This guy, Unga, could even catch fish with his bare hands, and he’d chomp them right there.
What or Who influences you?
I would say first of all I’m heavily influenced by the unique visuals of NW Indiana. Not joking here either. The industrial landscape is epic and huge, and is right next to sand dunes and Lake Michigan. And it looks like an alien world in places. I’ve always found this strange beauty in it all.
I’m very influenced by two early George Lucas films, the first Star Wars and American Graffiti. The Empire Strikes Back directed by Irvin Kershner is probably my favorite film and a big influence. The Good,The Bad, and The Ugly is an influence on this project both in terms of visuals and music. There’s some Baraka influence in this for sure. I’d even say there’s a bit of inspiration from the Japanese comic Akira, in terms of visuals and scope.
As far as surf films I feel very in tune with Morning of the Earth. I’m also influenced by Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer.
What’s next for you?
My friends and I in Turbofire to Zenith have a long road ahead of making music for the film, and that’s going well so far and is one of the most fun parts of making this. I still have a lot of editing work ahead… I’ll throw this out there too, the big dream is to tour this with Turbofire to Zenith playing the soundtrack live. I’m really hopeful we can pull that off.
Here is the second trailer for the film, an extended glimpse into Jeremy’s new life. For more about the man and his film, check out Korduroy’s interview here.