13 March, 2014 13 March, 2014

Mat Gardner – Videographer, Musician, Surfer


Without them, our TV screens and many of the web pages we visit would be dull (we’ll pretend there’s no such thing as animation and photographers in this scenario). Videographers add colour and motion to our viewing experiences and the media world would be a far more boring place if they weren’t around.

Yet they don’t often get the recognition they deserve, as they sweat on the beach (or try to dodge the rain with electronic equipment in hand) to film some or other shredder having all the fun. They do it because they love it though, and KZN north coast local, Mat Gardner, has been following his passion for over a decade.

For his moment in the spotlight, we chatted to Mat about his gig as a videographer.

Interview by: Dan Redman


ZIGZAG: Howzit Mat, tell us when it was that you first got into filming and why?
MAT: About 11 years ago. I started to shoot and edit some mates skating with my sister’s JVC camcorder. Then my cousin G-Man got a small camera with a 13x zoom function and we would film our surfs in Umdloti and make small clips.

What are some of the surf projects you have worked on in the past?
I filmed Peter Hamblin’s ‘Wright Side of Wrong’, which did well on the circuit. Other than that, really small personal passion projects with mates. I’m yet to actually make a surf film or short. I’ve got a good idea though.

What else have you shot outside of surfing?
Yoh – that would be a long list. In short, from commercials to small events and everything in-between. You can’t be picky when bills need to be paid.

Mat shot and edited this clip featuring Brandon Jackson.

What kind of videos do you like to create?
As difficult as it is, something different. I try be original and develop my own style I guess. Often you’ll see something and it will influence your outcome, but I try dissociate myself and aim to express a feeling / emotion within a clip. In a subtle way.

You’re creative skills don’t stop at filming. You’re also in a band with Andrew Groenewald (ex junior Springbok surfer) and together have made tracks especially for some of your clips. How did you guys record the songs and what input did each of you have?
Both of us really enjoy playing instruments. Growing up we were in bands, but now we just hang out and dig slap’n da bass (laughs). I thought it would be cool to score music to the surf clips like they do for ads or films. Also legally its perfect, because I’m not being a pirate. Plus Andy is talented – always healthy to expand… We have a few dops, talk shit, hit the record button and see what happens. We mix up instruments. It is all done at Andy’s studio. He does the final mixing and sends me the recordings. I plug them into the edit. Done.

You also shoot a bit of photography.
Yeah, I do. The cameras I own are both video/photo cameras, so the transition to either field is simple. I actually enjoy photography more. My goal is to progress in photography this year. Also you’ve got to know both if you’re freelancing and want to be ahead.

In this edit featuring Josh Redman, Mat filmed, edited as well as scored the soundtrack (along with his mate, Andrew Groenewald)

What camera and editing equipment are you currently using, and what would be your dream set up?
Cameras – 5D MKIII
Lenses – Helious 54mm. Samyang 24mm / 35mm. Canon 100mm macro. Canon 100-400mm.
Tripod – Sachtler Ace L
Audio – Sennheiser lapel mics
2x converter. I will often hire lenses if there is budget for higher end jobs.
Editing – Macbook Pro 15’’. Adobe Premiere and Photoshop.

Dream set up – Canon C500 camera. O’Connor tripod.
For photography the new Nikon D4S. 35mm / 85mm / 135mm lenses.

Currently, where are you at and what are you working on?
I am back in London and running Hamblin Imagery, a production company based here for Director, Peter Hamblin. He is onto bigger, brighter things and asked me to step in for six months while he is busy. I’m doing the day-to-day productions and helping him on some of the larger upcoming projects.

What are the future goals? Dream jobs? Ideal retirement set up?
The future – Learn more. Work hard. Save up. Enjoy time. Be happy. Health and love.

Dreams jobs – Be a part of projects that benefit people in need. Some goodness for the soul kind of projects. Avoid offices and 9-5 set ups. I really like the company Vice and the stuff they do. Most of it is just interesting and strays from TV broadcast. It would be awesome to be a part of a South African Vice department. Time to start emailing. (laughs)

Dream retirement set up is underway – Establish a passive income, get to a level where I get commissioned to be a part of a few bigger projects. Live near a sunny and warm beachbreak with good internet. Stoked.

‘Meraki’ featuring Dan Redman and music by Mat Gardner and Andrew Groenewald

Lastly, a short edit featuring some windy waves in Richards Bay ridden by Beyrick De Vries.

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