"There has been a lot of debate this year on how women are portrayed in surfing, and it's something that we are always aware of when we are creating our content," explain Clare Plueckhahn and Fran Derham. "There is a fine line between inspiring and beautiful, and too sexy, and it's about knowing when to toe that line."
Like most things they do, Plueckhahn and Derham's self awareness is refreshingly honest—not that they let it hamper their vision. As the founders of production company Cos We Can, the Melbourne, Australia-based filmmakers and photographers have been working together for just three years, but have already managed to set a new standard for surf and snow visuals. Their first feature-length film, “First Love,” was the official selection of the Byron Bay Film Festival, while their cheeky surfing short "Lunch Break" took home the Best Short Film award at the New York Surf Film Festival.
Most recently, the duo was tasked with creating film clips that celebrate Rip Curl's women's surf team while highlighting the company's new bikini fits. Here, we catch up with Cos We Can to talk about toeing the line and celebrating the female athlete for both her beauty and her talent:
How many hours of footage do you have to capture to create short clips like these?
For these 2013/2014 6x Rip Curl campaign clips we had two cameras shooting for five days straight. The most important thing is not getting a massive amount of footage, it's about knowing what content you are going to need to create the end clip, which involves a lot of pre-planning.
You make underwater and surf film and photography look effortless—tell us a bit about some of the more difficult aspects of capturing visuals in the water.
Clare: Filming in the water is probably where I am at my happiest, as there is nothing better than floating around in the surf for hours at a time. The challenges that I do face are being in the elements without a break for hours at a time, camera technicalities, and just the physical challenge of swimming in strong currents and big waves with a [heavy] camera.
Fran: I just wait for her to get out of the water, pass her a towel, a drink bottle, and spend most of the time oohing and aahing over the footage that she got. Generally I'm on the beach on my phone or writing interview questions, or narration.
You were tasked with showing off the form and function of Rip Curl's My Mirage bikini swimwear collection. What details do you look for in your own swimwear, since you spend so much time in the water?
Fran: It really depends on what I'm doing. If I'm sunbaking, I'm looking for something skimpy and tanning friendly. But if I'm surfing or working, I'm looking for something that will support me. Overall, we want to look and feel good at all times.
Clare: When you're shooting in the water with a camera, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your bikini, so something created for surfing is perfect.
What's a special moment during shooting that you didn't catch on film?
The hardest thing with working with top-end gear like the RED camera is that there is a large set-up time involved, so you always have to be on the ball to make sure you don't miss anything! One of the benefits with working with a DSLR on previous shoots is you get to capture all of the really candid action, like Alana Blanchard doing the Strawberries and Cream dance or pretending to be a news reporter in a cyclone.
So…what is special about the ocean and surfing for the two of you?
We both grew up in the ocean on the west coast of Victoria. Although we met in the city, it was the love of surfing that drew us to work on our first project, “First Love,” together. A connection to the ocean is something that never leaves you, regardless of where you live.
What project are the two of you working on next?
Right now we are answering these questions in the car on the way home from a fashion shoot in the country. We are always on the move! Apart from upcoming ad work and creative content for different brands, we have started brainstorming a surf film for next year.
“Pauline is a dark horse. She is extremely beautiful, well spoken, and doesn't give up in the water. The interview we did with her was so profound it nearly blew us away.”
“As the main bikini model and an ambassador for Rip Curl, one thing that we admire about Alana is her relentless passion to surf. She could have a 5 a.m. makeup call, a shoot all day in the hot sun, and be completely exhausted, but if someone says 'surf' she's the first one ready with her board.”
Nikki van Dijk:
“We have watched Nikki grow from being the crazy girl we filmed for “First Love” to a professional surfer who just qualified for the World Tour (and is still crazy). Nikki is like a little sister to us and is always super fun to work with.”
“Tyler is a mile a minute and so much fun to hang out with. If she's not surfing she's reciting lines from movies, wrap songs, twerking, krumping, or speaking in full acronyms. Oh, and cooking. She loves cooking. And her dogs.”
“Bethany is just an inspiration. Everyone always says that but it's just so true! If you can surf with one arm, you deserve the respect of everyone.”
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