The More Things Change: A Moment With Director, Nathan Myers.
Bali’s famous Uluwatu region. A pristine, exotic and cultural haven to say the least, the pumping waves and nature greet thousands upon thousands of tourists, surfers and adventurers year after year, all eager to get their first taste or return once again to island life paradise. What was once a peaceful and simple dot lost in the wilderness of Bali’s southern point is now bustling with crowds, heavily developed and boasting a completely new vibe of those once quiet and easy going days.
One person who knows Ulu’s all too well is legendary Hawaiian surfer, Gerry Lopez. A part of the first few to pioneer the now world famous left, Lopez remembers a time when it consisted of friendly local vibes, empty line ups and thousands of engraved, magical memories. 40 years down the track, he’s now back living the Bali dream, embracing the change and sharing his wisdom. Patagonia is one brand that appreciates unforgettable times once lived, and decided to gracefully pay homage to this era in time that was once only known by a select few individuals, telling the story through the eyes of none other than Gerry himself. Combine that with the direction and management of Mr. Nathan Myers, and you’ve got yourself one motion piece that will inspire the surfing world and others alike. A film full of rich history, life lessons and feel good moments, it stars the likes of Gerry Lopez, Dave Rastovich, Rob Machado and many more – a worthy treat for your peepers.
No doubt interested on how this project and storyline all came together, we caught up with Director, Nathan Myers to dive deeper into its creation, a rare insight into something that will go down in history. Join us and learn all about SurfStitch’s exclusive release of The More Things Change.
What first drew you to tell this story?
My friends at Uluwatu Surf Villas booked Gerry for a yoga retreat and asked if I could do some filming without interrupting the retreat too much. As we started to realize that Gerry hadn’t been back to Bali in more than 20 years — and considering how much the place had changed — we realised we were looking at a pretty special moment. I called my friend Sean Doherty at Patagonia and he saw it too, which gave us the green light to make this.
What was it like working with Gerry himself? He’s obviously so humble, wise and a very special person.
Man, it’s hard to keep this answer short, without babbling on. Gerry’s the real deal. A true yogi. So giving of himself, his time and his energy. Always sharing a story, or helping someone stretch, or smiling in the surf. He’s this mixture of child-like wonder and ancient wisdom. He’s in his 60s and he’ll spend six hours in the surf, then go teach a yoga class where really fit people can barely keep up. And despite being such a (for lack of better word) “legend,” in his presence he’s just really present, down to earth and comfortable. Such a pleasure to work with. I learned a lot.
What were the biggest challenges throughout the creation of the film?
This is a documentary. So, we just kinda dove in with some ideas and followed the truth as best we could. I don’t think Gerry even knew we were there to make a film at first — and he was busy teaching a yoga retreat, being on vacation with his family, and making a somewhat emotional return to a place he has a great deal of history with — so the biggest challenge was inserting ourselves in amidst all these other goings-on without rippling the waters too much. But when I first explained to Gerry what we were up to, he said: “Well, if we’re gonna do it, let’s do it right.” From then on, it never felt challenging. Gerry’s just a shining light to follow.
How long was the film in production?
We filmed during the weeklong yoga retreat, then chased a swell to G-Land for a bit of bonus action. We had an awesome crew of people with us, including Rob Machado, Chris Del Moro, Mega Semahdi, Dave Rastovich, and Rizal Tanjung, so the vibe was really positive. For the editing process, I knew I needed a lot of instrumental music, to accompany the people talking, so I brought a two piece band called A Conscious Coup into the studio with rough cuts of the film. We scored it live over the footage, then we tightened the songs down a bit more, and I tightened the edit around those finished track. It’s probably a more risky way to approach a soundtrack, but ultimately more rewarding. I’m happy how the film sounds.
Your style of film is powerful. Can you describe your style and how you used it to capture Gerry’s story exactly how you wanted to?
I like think of this as a calming movie. When you’re around Gerry, there’s not a sense of strife and struggle. He’s peaceful. He’s calm. He makes you feel good. So I wanted to convey that feeling. Give the audience a sense of what it’s like to be hanging with Gerry. Even when we were facing things like the pollution and overdevelopment of Uluwatu and Bali, Gerry finds a way to see it in a positive light.
Apart from Gerry and yourself, who were the key individuals involved / guest appearances?
I think having guys like Rob Machado, Rizal Tanjung and Dave Rastovich around helps put Gerry’s status into perspective. He was their hero when they were little, and he’s still their hero now, but for different reasons. He continues to demonstrate what a surfing/healthy/yogi life can be. We need those sort of role models. In Gerry’s presence, those guys all stopped being legends and started being grommets again.
I also have to mention my cinematographer Alejandro Berger, who’s filmed movies like Sipping Jetstreams, Castles in the Sky, This Time Tomorrow, and Missing — was the most epic partner I could have had on this film. I needed this thing to just be beautiful to look at, and he delivered.
You’ve done some INCREDIBLE work in the past, what makes The More Things Change so special?
That’s nice of you to say. Thank you. This one was close to my heart because the place and issues we were bringing to light — particularly the work of Project Clean Uluwatu — are very close to my heart. And the chance to work with Gerry was such a pleasure. After we’d wrapped filming, I took an extra day to just hang out without the cameras. The memories I have of Gerry playing with my two young boys, holding their hands going down to the tidepools…those are really special. Making a film is like making yourself the best postcard ever.
Did living in Bali yourself have its advantages when making the film?
Of course. This is a love note to Bali. The place has changed a lot in the last ten years, and I think we were all waiting to see Gerry’s reaction. Would he be disgusted or shocked or scared away. But Gerry points out that the things that attracted him to Bali all those years ago — the waves, the people, the culture — are all fully intact. That’s where the title comes from. “The more things change, they more they stay the same.” It was nice to have Gerry remind us of that. He’s wise like that.
What’re some life lessons you’ll take away from this project and from Gerry himself?
I think Gerry is on the cusp of fully realizing and sharing with the world his great life lesson…which is something about the connection of surfing and yoga, breath and meditation, to all things in life. A way to peacefully, gracefully walk the path of life. He’s been working on this message in one way or another his whole life, but I felt like he’s really getting to the roots of it now… learning how to fully express it. So, for me to be present and help express a bit of that was a real honor and a pleasure. As surfers (or as yoga practitioners), we all have a sense that the lessons we learn in the water (or on the matt) can be applied to all kinds of other situations in life. Especially when we understand what those lessons really are. It’s a great message. And I think this is just the beginning of it… Gerry’s got a lot left to give.