After our biggest month of entries yet, Leg 3 of Zag Shorts – our short film competition presented by GoPro – has come to an end. And after much deliberation from the judges and tallying-up of votes, it’s Tao Farren-Hefer’s entry ‘Zephyr’ which trumps the rest.
Zephyr by Tao Farren-Hefer, the August winner of ZagShorts presented by GoPro.
Along with the monthly prize of a GoPro Hero and Handler for his efforts, Tao also claims a spot in the finals, where his short film – along with eight other monthly winners – will be in with a shot at the grand prize of R20 000 in cash plus the opportunity to document an exclusive Zag surf trip.
There were eight entries in contention for the August leg of ZagShorts, all of which were great and interesting in their own way. But other than Tao’s Zephyr, three others in particular stood out and are worth special mention. In no particular order these included: High Noon, by Steven Michelsen; A Man and His Horse, by David Van Rensberg; and The Colour Perspective of Ian Thurtell, by Ryan Collins. All three made deciding on a winner this month the toughest yet, and are all worth another watch. But without further adieu, an analysis and explanation on this month’s winner, Zephyr.
So why did Zephyr win?
Featuring Mikey February and Davey Van Zyl, Zephyr showed these two friends boosting airs, getting slotted and having a good ol’ ‘breezy’ session together in Cape Town.
On a critical note, the cinematography was probably the film’s strongest feature. Shooting on a powerful Sony FS700 gave it a flatter image profile that, together with some subtle colour grading, created a softer, more filmic quality that went hand-in-hand with the high frame rate, allowing for crisp, smooth slow motion. This style also blended perfectly with the basey, laid back track and the on-the-beat cuts. But what probably added the most value to this film was the fact that it put the viewer slap-bang in the midst of the mission, from the trip there in Mikey’s old school Merc, to getting out of the water at dark, it allowed for a much stronger engagement between the viewer and subject, like you were there with the duo, going along for the ride and excited for the surf ahead.
The variety of angles and scenery is what kept things fresh and entertaining, which is of utmost importance for holding the attention of viewers. An important aspect to factor in with any edit, is changing up the pace and rhythm. Think of an edit like a song. For example, if one beat (even if it’s epic) loops over and over, after the first minute or so you expect something different. When that doesn’t happen it becomes monotonous and stale. Although it’s far from the rule of thumb, the same concept can be applied to a surf film: different angles, pace of cuts, colour and music can make all the difference.
Probably one of the best things about creating a short surf film is the freedom that comes with it. There’s no first assistant director, or third grip, or any grip for that matter. Point being, the filmmaker creating his or her short has a blank canvas on which to paint their original idea onto, and original ideas is what we want. But what exactly constitutes a good short film? Behind the technical aspects it comes down to telling a story, or showcasing surf action in a way that evokes an emotion in the viewer, whether it’s the fact that it makes someone smile, laugh, feel good or even sad – if it evokes a strong enough feeling then you’re on the right track.
The winning short for Leg 2: ‘Surfing Stop Animation’ by Grant Hewitt.
Josh Rowe’s ‘Skeleton Bay Sandspit’ won Leg 1 and is in contention for the main prize.
* HOW THE VOTING WORKS:
Zigzag, GoPro and the public all have an equal say in determining the winner, with each contributing 33.3% of the final decision. For the second leg, both Zigzag and GoPro chose Tao Farren-Hefer’s video as the outstanding entry, giving it a 66.6% lion’s share of the total.