Prolific indie writer-director, Peter Hamblin, first hit our screens in 2016 with the iconic Emmy award- winning surf film ‘Let’s Be Frank’. As a South African surfer born in Durban KZN, Pete began his career in the world of advertising, but fast recognised he preferred ‘creating’ over ‘managing’ the creative process. He experienced his first taste on a 2-week stint shooting stills for the WSL during the annual world tour in 2006, and was captivated.
In 2009 Pete founded Hamblin Imagery: a boutique production company HQ’d in the UK focused on constructing unconventional narratives and testing the boundaries of film-making with as many ‘What the Fuck?’ moments as professionally admissible. The company has rapidly become recognised as a creative leader having collaborated with some of the industry’s top brands and creative agencies.
Peter has spent the past year writing, directing and editing his latest surf documentary ‘RISS’; a candid, mixed-media exploration into the life of newly-Olympic surfer Carissa Moore, peeling back the layers and exploring her sense of purpose. Film News hooked up with Pete to find out more.
Where did the initial inspiration for surf documentary RISS come from?
Surf Film Making Inspiration: I think the first time I ever went to the cinema, I saw Bruce Brown's Endless Summer 2 and I was hooked, I was inspired by the sense of journey, I was in awe of film and the romance and escapism it allowed. Growing up in South Africa, surfing everyday I had a love for the ocean. Surf films were accessible, the sets/stage was right there in front of you, all you needed was a camera. It was an easy first step.
Riss Inspiration: Initially it was a business decision to make a film on 3 times world champion, Carissa Moore. Getting to spend time with her and becoming friends switched that to a passion project. I was inspired by the incredible person she is, when her professional guard is dropped and you get to truly know her, she has so much sincerity and love to give. She is relatable and fun, and a person you want as a friend, shit, she is inspiring. That's why the film is called RISS, it's her nickname, what her friends call her.
How have you enjoyed the documentary making process?
It has been an incredibly rewarding process, not only did we make a new friend in Riss, uncovering angles for the story, but I took a very mixed-media approach allowing me to dabble with a range of techniques and cameras that I had never used before. It was an exciting learning process for me.
Did you have a clear vision of how this story would unravel on screen?
Yes, even in Doc, I like to script and have a clear vision of the story before I shoot, obviously we adapt as the story unfolds. Spending time with Carissa upfront allowed me to understand all the elements of her personality that I wanted to bring to the surface, it was then a case of observing and capturing those nuances.
What’s the underlying message you want to impart in this film?
To embrace the love, friends and family around you. To get inspired and be inspiring.
When you founded Hamblin Imagery what were your goals?
To keep growing and learning in film, to make a difference and to one day make films that are recognised and valued.
Surfing has clearly been a life-long love for you. How were you first introduced to the sport?
Walking in my backyard! Surfing is a way of life where I grew up.
You’re next project ‘In The Hope Of Nothing’ is a departure from surfing. How did this project come into fruition?
They say you should write about what you know, so I did. I know the hussle of film, trying to get films made, trying to get people to believe in your ideas. That's what this film is about, about two brothers reaching for the stars, trying to get greenlit, possibly IN HOPE OF NOTHING. But it is that little bit of hope that keeps us/them hooked, it's that carrot with the sense of "What If?”
What advice would you have to other want-to-be filmmakers?
If you love film, and love what you do, never ever give up. But you need to love it.
Peter’s next film to be released across festivals this year is a fiction comedy short starring Bafta- winning actor Celyn Jones, entitled ‘In Hope Of Nothing’. It tells the tale of two brothers, negotiating the trials and tribulations of producing a Hollywood movie, and the challenges they face on that journey, and their endlessly entangled professional and personal sibling relationship.