Sometimes you just need to be in the water. When your day-to-day existence starts to feel de-sensitised, when your connection with the outside world is confined to a commute, it’s time to hit the reset button.
For some adventure-seeking New Yorkers, that comes with grabbing a surfboard and embracing the elements.
The Ocean Doesn’t Care, a new documentary from award-winning filmmaker Mikey DeTemple, follows a handful of brave souls doing exactly that.
The one thing connecting these four characters – designer Christina Nizar, student and lecturer Dion Mattison, neuro-oncologist Mariza Daras and artist Juan Jose Heredia – is that they wash away the stress of the Big Apple with the most brutal waves they can find.
The film casts a fresh light on the nature of contemporary surfing: did you set out to get closer to the truth of most surfers’ lives when shooting the film?
I think that’s what our aim was: to show something different; to open a small window in our characters’ lives; to see what their day to day is, and how surfing fits into that picture. They are all incredible, intelligent and inspiring people.
That truth that I think we found is that surfing is what keeps their focus in their worlds outside of the ocean. We’re usually looking into people whose lives are only surf, but a lot of times those stories are so two dimensional.
New York is surrounded by water. Do you thinking surfing has a strong future in and around the Big Apple?
I think the future is now. Surfing has always been a huge part of coastal towns in the Northeast, especially in the summer months. Wetsuit technology is only making that easier to surf in the winter, so in the last decade, it’s become much more of a year round activity.
But the reality is, most people work a nine-to-five, and in the winter when the sun rises at 7:30am and sets at 4:45, there’s not much of a window to surf, if any at all. If you’re relying on weekends only, it’s making it that more difficult.
But sometimes, like you’ll see in this film, there’s no stopping anyone from getting in the water. No matter the conditions, no matter the temperatures.
There’s a lot of romance peddled about cold-water surfing. Do you think that’s justified or is everyone really dreaming of piss-warm tropical water when donning their five mil?
I mean, snow is romantic as hell. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. It changes the landscapes and feelings of everything. And there’s something really special about tracking through the snow to go surf a perfect little wave alone. But a lot of times that’s not what it is.
It’s brutal; your feet still get numb after 2 hours in 37 degree water. With wetsuits getting so much better, they rarely flush fully with water in a session, so that take away the old pissing in your wetsuit trick to stay warm.
You really get chilled to the bone. And if the surf is sub par, it makes it tough to motive. I can usually sit there and outweigh the reasons why I would rather not surf when it’s freezing out. But our charters have this motivation. And I genuinely envy that. It’s inspiring. I’ve been surfing my whole life, and they make me look at it differently.
Tell us a bit about your current and future projects…
I’ve been working on a few fun projects between directing jobs. I’ve got a long term creative direction position with a brand in France, and I’ve been shooting a lot of stills lately for editorial and commercial. Surfing is still a huge part of who I am and what I do, but I’ve grown to love sailing and have been on the water a ton this summer. I think I’ve put in over 40 days this season.