Blake Kueny and John Florence’s new film, Done, is now available on iTunes. So, on that note, here’s a snippet from Stab issue 64, out now.
Blake Kueny and John Florence accidentally just made a really excellent profile film.
The biopic is a rarely broken mould. Vivid opening section, establishing shots. Flashbacks (narrated by surfer). Flurry of location-based sections. Is there anything wrong with locking your wheel into a groove and rolling down the track with only occasional (and small) deviations? Depends on your palate. Standard is standard for a reason: it works. But where’s the fun in that? Though they’ll tell you it didn’t cross their minds, John Florence and Blake Kueny asked that question before making John’s 2012 profile film, Done.
A few factors played in making this film as fresh, and excellent, as it was. Like secretiveness. Did you know it was coming? Neither did we, ‘til we saw a trailer. This is telling of the film’s overall tone. “The way we released the movie, we just wanted to spring it on everyone,” says Blake. “Like, no one knows about it, then, here it is. That was a theme for the movie ‘cause it formed the basis for the way we started the film. I just wanted to get straight to the point, I didn’t wanna have any bullshit.”
What you get is something understated in every way, to offset surfing so good it’s beyond description. The starting point Blake mentions is the first shot, John on a wave, set to classical music. No scenery, no titles. Straight to the delicious point. Oh, and how those influences sneak their way in. The Hawaiian section looks, sounds and feels very much like an old Volcom movie vibe (some of Blake’s favourites). Almost to the point of being too familiar, but the quality of John’s surfing pushes it into 2013.
The Tahiti section is cut to rap, more like the skate and snow films Blake adores than a surf film.
“I woke up this morning to a cop with a gun” (steep air-drop into blue cave)
“Who told me that he looking for a n**** on the run” (bottom turn under crushing lip)
“I thought for a second and I screwed my face” (disappears into perfect barrel)
“And asked the dirty pig ‘Why the f*** you in my place?’” (flies off back with speed)
It’s almost too much!
Without stealing from the film’s glamour, and politely, of course, Stab suggests that Done is home movie-esque. “That’s exactly what it was and that’s why it was so fun,” says Blake. “It’s not like I thought it was gonna be the next Scorsese film, I just made it what I thought it should be.”
And what Blake thought it should be was self-explanatory, which he addressed by letting the surfing do the talking. “John’s not a big talker. By showing in the film that his surfing does the talking, it shows how he is in real life.”
Which leads to the absolute crux of this film’s direction: “My main goal was to show that… ah, it’s a bold statement, but that he is the best surfer in the world,” says Blake. “Or, try to make him seem that way. Anything else to fill that story was just an afterthought.”
So, like, what’s the process here? “I’ll get all the footage, pick a song, make an edit and show him. I’ll say, ‘Do you like it or do you hate it?’ He’s usually like, ‘I love it, I just wanna make this change.’ His input is more focused on his surfing. What waves are in and what waves aren’t, that’s what’s most important to him. Once it clicks, we both know. We’re on the same page. It’s not like we’re arguing with each other.”
Though the details are being stitched, John and Blake are gonna be in the same pocket for the next coupla years. So, yes, you can look forward to more.
This whole deal started on a snowy mountain in California, with John asking Blake between runs if he’d wanna come to Hawaii the following day to film. “There’s a big swell tomorrow,” John said to Blake. “If you wanna go, let’s go.” And after a week in Hawaii, John then said to Blake, “I really want you to come do this thing.”
And then there was more.
What do you see? An artist and his subject, on the cusp of greatness? Or, two pals living the high life? Or, both! Photo: Jimmy Wilson
Written by Elliot Struck