16 November, 2015 16 November, 2015

A Film Premiere You Won’t Regret

In three short days, after months of anticipation, the premiere for Jason Hearn’s new short film, No Regrets (featuring Ricky Basnett), will be screened in Cape Town followed by Durban (see details below).

Judging by the trailer, viewers can expect some incredible surf action alongside some epic creative story telling.

Cape Town Premiere: This Thursday, 19 November at Aces n Spades Bar, 62 Hout Street, 7:00pm – screening at 8:30pm sharp.
Durban Premiere: Next Tuesday, 24 November at Open Plan Studio, 39 Station Drive (4th floor), 7:00pm – screening at 8:00pm sharp.

Those attending either of the premieres will also be able to purchase a Zag subscription (R350) and receive a free limited edition ‘No Regrets’ Rip Curl T-shirt worth R200.

The film’s premise is built upon Ricky Basnett’s climb from darkness over the past eight years, and documents the former CT surfer on a mission deep into remote Africa alongside Casey Grant. If the trailer is anything to go by, No Regrets promises to be one of the best surf films to come out of SA this year. We caught up with Jason to get an in-depth look behind the scenes of No Regrets

Ricky, putting the past behind him and moving forward.

Zigzag: What was it like working with Ricky and Casey during the filming of No Regrets?
Jason: I have worked with both of them before for the last film, The Africa Project, so I know them well. They’ve also done a fair few trips together with Greg Ewing to other African locations so they get on really well and know how to travel together. I had no issues with either of them, we all had a blast and they were keen to film whatever we needed. They’re classic together, always having a laugh.

What were some of the pros and cons of shooting in such a remote place?
The biggest pro of shooting in such a remote part of Africa was that we were the only ones there for the full two weeks, not another soul around other than the odd farmer, just us immersed in nature way off the beaten track. It was incredible and the perfect location for Ricky to escape his past and mould his future. The cons are obviously being nowhere near civilisation so things like power for charging batteries, food and supplies are hard to come by. We had to take a generator with us and a couple of the boys would drive for hours to hunt supplies from the nearest town every three or four days. However, all this was a small price to pay to have that stretch of coastline all to ourselves.

Did the trip and waves turn out as planned? We heard you guys ran into a few challenges along the way…
Before we left on the trip I sat everyone down and explained the mission. We were heading into an extremely hit-and-miss location, therefore we needed to do two weeks minimum, come rain or shine, to give ourselves a chance of at least getting hopefully one good day of waves. If anyone felt they could not do the time then they needed to speak up because there was no turning back half way through the trip. Needless to say, everyone was in and no one tried to bail out when times got hard. The trip was a success for sure but as with all trips it had its challenges.

As for the waves, well that’s a story on it’s own. We never looked at the charts prior to the trip, it boiled down to when everyone was available to just go no matter what and see what we get, which isn’t always ideal because you can end up with nothing. This was a self-funded project, there was no budget. Everyone put in from their own pockets to be a part of it, so the only chance to go was a gap in everyone’s work schedule.

Adjusting to the colder climate and ready for action.

I have never been so frustrated filming surfing on any trip over the last 12 years as much as this trip. We got teased constantly for the full two weeks. It’s so hard to score up there, the charts mean nothing. It can say perfect offshore and six foot swell, then you wake up and it’s 12 foot and onshore. It’s unbelievable but all part of the adventure I guess, and it keeps you hanging on to the hope of tomorrow. We had so many days where the waves were 10 foot, with the most perfect hollow beach breaks you have ever seen and as the boys paddled out, 10 minutes later the wind switched from howling offshore to onshore and the mist rolls in and it’s all over.

Most of our shooting sessions would last 45 minutes to an hour. You can see the mist come rolling in from the ocean and you’re like, no, please, not again. But it always comes and the next thing we’re fogged in for three days, huddled around a fire thinking of what could have been. Another thing is that it’s so powerful up there with basically too much swell most of the time, making it really hard for boosting airs and carving it up, but Rick and Casey did really well with what was on offer when the swell did come, not to mention  the freezing water. All in all though the boys snagged some magic moments in-between all the madness, good barrels were had and some nice turns and airs executed, leaving everyone satisfied on the surf front. We got good waves because we did the time and when it’s good up there it’s really good.

As for shooting the lifestyle elements, it’s an incredible place – just as raw and out there as it gets, with incredible light in the afternoons when there was no mist.

When the mist cleared and the offshore prevailed, there were moments of magic.

Other than that, what were some of the main high’s and lows of the project?
The mist ruining good waves and potentially epic surf action for the film was the only real low point, but in saying that the mist also created some incredible scrim lighting to shoot amazing lifestyle shots like the black and white scene the movie opens with. Without the mist softening the light shining in through the window that day, those images would not  be nearly as powerful as they are. For me light is everything in capturing an image so in a way the low point also created a high point.

The  trip on the whole was epic, we had such a good crew and everyone got on really well which is super important. Shooting the lifestyle elements is always the highlight of a trip for me, and I think it’s what makes or breaks a film. Ricky and Casey were all in for shooting any ideas I had and with the textures of the shack we stayed in, crazy landscapes and the light on hand we managed to shoot some beautiful imagery. We experimented a lot, trying out certain things such as lighting the shack and tents up at night for time lapses,waiting for certain times of the day to shoot certain light dependent shots, threading smoke from smouldering coals through the cracks in the cabin walls to catch light, as well as some crazy drone angles and movements. We went to town and it was a blast. It’s a goldmine up there, everywhere you look there is an opportunity to shoot something amazing.

However, I would have to say that the absolute highlight for me was when we went back to the broken down house to shoot some more for the opening black and white scene that represents the dark times in Ricky’s life, and the seaweed farmers had made a fire in there the night before leaving soot all over the floor, which kicked up into the light as Ricky walked through it. An idea sparked that very moment and I got Paul Daniel, who helped me shoot this project, to sprinkle the soot into the light as Ricky sat hunched over, face in his hands, creating a  powerful shot that tells the whole story of his dark past. I love those unplanned moments.

Filming the opening scene with the help of leftover soot compliments of local fisherman.

For the camera enthusiasts and aspiring filmmakers out there, any tips on sorting out and refining your arsenal of gear for a trip to a remote spot like this?
The only advice I can give is don’t forget anything, because there’s no going back for anything. Also, always take a back-up camera.

What was your most useful piece of equipment during the whole project? You can’t say your toothbrush…
Jeremy Hutch bringing his generator was definitely the most important piece of equipment, because without it our cameras would have had no life (laughs). Also having no budget to shoot this film it helps that I have a Red camera, which is a great piece of high quality camera equipment we did not need to hire. The boys from Helio Imagery also brought up and shot with their top quality drone giving us the birds eye perspective of the area. Together those two pieces of equipment add huge production value to the film and quality is everything.

Ricky, living in the moment during some down time.

As the title suggests, the film is about Ricky having ‘no regrets.’ Dealing with his past, overcoming alcoholism and moving forward is one of the things that has turned his situation on its head as we understand it. How’s that been going for him?
Aside from all the epic moments of the trip, for me the most magical thing to witness was the return of Ricky Basnett. He had taken himself down a dark road for eight solid years, something that most would not be able to come back from, but everyday up there I could see the change in him. Each day was a new day and a step forward for him. He was so content up there and never talked about regret, only about how excited he is about what he has learned from it all. How beautiful the future looks and all the possibilities that lie ahead for him. Around the campfire every night he kept saying, “this is all I ever wanted from surfing, I absolutely love it up here and being on these kinda trips, this is me for the rest of my life.”

Yes he is a changed man now, but for the good of himself and I believe the good of South African surfing. His world has opened up to experimenting with different boards, he wants to draw new lines on waves, he still oozes style and when he is in peak form he blows minds. His kind of talent never dies, it’s a rare gift few are born with and we should all be grateful that we’re going get to watch it grow in years to come because Ricky is back.

Swapping out salt for ‘zamalec’ during the lifestyle shoot.

What was your main objective, personally, for creating this project with Ricky? Have the two of you always been mates?
I have had my head down shooting commercials for the last four years and had not shot anything in surfing since I did the Africa Project, so I was itching to shoot something fresh. Last year during the winter of 2014 was a banger for KZN and all the talk coming out of Durban was that Ricky was the man of the swell time and time again, so I called him to see what was up and if the rumours of him giving up booze were true and if he really was flying out of massive barrels at New Pier. He said he was sober and surfing again, so I asked if he was keen to shoot a short clip. Immediately he was in and amping.

In my mind action clips are saturated on the internet, so I liked the idea that he had a story to tell which would give the clip some substance. The clip then turned into a short film. The hard part was asking him how much of the last eight years he was willing to talk about. Coming out of alcoholism can’t be an easy thing to talk about, but he was straight up keen to let people know where he had disappeared to and why. We decided not to go too deep about the past but make this short film more about celebrating the present, and where better to take him to shoot than a remote part of Africa far from all the evil temptations of city life with his mate Casey. The film lets us know what happened to Ricky and follows his and Casey’s journey through African territory they had both never been to.

Standing tall the under the lip of a beast.

What’s next?
Who knows, the future is wide open

Lastly, any thank you’s?
I would like to thank everyone involved in this project. Without them this would not have happened. Rip Curl and Lizzard for their support and getting Ricky and Casey on the trip. Paul Daniel, Jeremy Hutch, Sasha Specker, Alan Van Gysen, Adam Layland, Janine van Schoor, Sign Post Sound, all the musicians, Red Bull for loaning their jet ski, Reg from Aces ‘n Spades Bar, and just basically a massive thanks to you all for giving up your time.

No Regrets
The official No Regrets Rip Curl shirt, which can be purchased along with a Zag subscription at both venues on the night.

Sign aces n spades logo vector

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