A quick chat with the founder of Tracks and all-round good-vibe warrior.
“Filming came pretty naturally to me. Bob Evans gave me a crash course and I shot some footage for him and earned enough to buy my own 16mm cam- era. I started filming Morning of the Earth without a plan - it just unfolded naturally. The next project was a film on George Greenough with David Elfick. It was meant to go for 10 minutes but with George a conversation can go for days. I ended up staying with him for a year in Santa Barbara and helped build his boat Morning Light while we made Crystal Voyager. After that I kind of fell off the perch - sold Tracks, got a little bit of money and went walkabout.
I travelled through Asia and made a series of documentaries on festivals of the Far East, which screened all around the world. I felt I’d said everything I needed to say about surfing with Morning of the Earth. The documentary work took me to Tibet and I became fascinated with Buddhism. I think there’s a real con- nection between Zen Buddhism and surfing. A lot of seekers use meditation to reach the place we get to when we’re surfing. Surfers ride waves for different reasons but underneath it, really, the essence of what we’re doing is connecting with the wave’s energy.
After years of travelling I worked on some surf films for Quiksilver (Metaphysical, Globus and Quik- silver Country). Then I met the founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell, in Bali and he invited me to his place in Jamaica, which happened to be Ian Fleming’s old house where he wrote all the James Bond books. Beautiful place. I did a film on Caribbean music and then shot another surf film on Lombok (Can’t Step Twice on the Same Piece of Water).
I made a film about travelling across the Sahara Desert, one about Tibet and a film about Shadus [Indian holy men] attending the biggest gathering in the world, the Kumbha Mela. It’s on the banks of the Ganges and 20 million people go through in four weeks. I was there with my brother and we were the only westerners there. We ended up with all this incredible footage, which I put to Brian Eno and Talking Heads music. I got to screen the film to the band members of Talking Heads in David Byrne’s New York loft apartment. They were really stoked and we got the rights to the music but in the end it was never released commercially. All up there’s 25 or 30 films but not all of them saw the light of day.”