Stoked on basically anything she’s ever done, we caught up with female surf film maker Hayley Gordon to have her inspire us even more with her life story…
Interview by Anna Langer
I don’t quite remember the very first time I held a camera, but I do remember when I first started playing around with one. It was my friend’s dad’s camcorder, and they lived across the street. We would make short TV shows and movies. I think we were around 8 or 9 years old, and the movies often starred my dog. You know, having her save the world from evil, or saving people dangling from cliffs. I quickly got very interested in it, but I didn’t actually get a video camera of my own until high school.
My professional career kind of evolved naturally. I set out to make a short surf video with JettyGirl and I realized that there was a big audience that was really into what I was doing. Plus the surfers I met were eager to film, so that really helped.
I don’t really think there’s much of difference when it comes to actually filming someone surfing or skating. The only difference more or less lies in the fact that I’m friends with the girls and I can pretty much just hang out. That way I can get more natural candid shots – and so many people have told me they love seeing those shots of everyone just having fun and being themselves.
I don’t really have one particular favorite to film – I’d say my favorite surfer to film is anyone who actually wants to go out there and get shots, and won’t give up after 20 minutes. I really want to work with Steph Gilmore at some point. I think her style is amazing.
I’d say my favorite surfer to film is anyone who actually wants to go out there and get shots, and won’t give up after 20 minutes.
I don’t see too many obstacles in becoming a film maker; or at least I try not to focus on them. I think one might be fighting to get coverage or exposure for my work, but I actually haven’t had too much of a problem. If anything I’m finding that people want to see more footage of women out shredding. Perhaps another problem is getting funding for bigger projects.
I think that the best tip with whatever you’re doing is to just be yourself and don’t force it. The moment you try to make something to please “everyone” or even a certain audience you’re going to lose your personal style. I try very hard to remind myself of this because it can be really easy to fall into changing your style, even in small ways, to please a wider crowd. I think style should definitely evolve, but only in ways that are meaningful for you – not simply to please your audience. Once I’m doing something for someone else and not myself, it loses all the fun.
I sometimes experience machoism in the water when I’m surfing. It’s strange how people can be so aggressive in the water. Guys that will drop in on you or snake you because they don’t think you can surf or catch a wave. The usual story. But I just try to ignore it, and think about how to outposition them for the next wave. The guys do it to each other too, so I try to stay relaxed. I think once the guys see you catch a wave or two they give you some respect.
It’s strange how people can be so aggressive in the water. But the guys do it to each other too, so I try to stay relaxed.
If I had all the resources in the world, I’d definitely get a hold of some RED cameras as well as some film cameras, and go travel as much as I could. The one thing I haven’t been able to do yet is travel as much as I want to. I’d definitely go on some boat trips as well as a few interesting locations that are on my list as far as unlikely surf spots.