Russell Ord, Darren McCagh and the documentary that’ll literally make, or break them.
If there was ever a doubt much more goes into the photography of Russell Ord than the actual act of taking photos, a teaser from the upcoming documentary about him should clear that up post haste.
For a little over two years, cinematographer Darren McCagh has trained his lens on Ord and his quest to nail the one shot he hopes will deliver peace of mind and a long sought after sense of satisfaction that’s eluded him thus far.
But as McCagh came to realise, it’s the circle of family and friends surrounding the former fireman that was perhaps even more important to Ord achieving that goal than conditions out on the ocean.
Central to that circle is Ord’s wife Catherine who McCagh captures beautifully talking candidly about the thought process she goes through whenever her husband heads off to chase massive waves.
“There’s no way I would have captured a scene like that with such openness and honesty when I got started on this project and didn’t really know Russ and Catherine that well,” says McCagh.
“But the scene itself happened very naturally in the end though. She was prepared to share her side of the story that was very emotional for her to share and for me to listen to.”
The scene also caught Ord, who’s forged a steely reputation by swimming amongst moving mountains at The Right, off guard.
“It was pretty emotional to be honest,” he says.
“The approach Daz took was certainly unexpected, however from the outset of this project, we’ve always wanted a honest, direct and no bullshit dialogue, but for sure, seeing Catherine in that scene brought a tear to my eye.”
The project came to life after McCagh was privy to a fairly typical rant from the pragmatic Ord at the state of the surf industry, but more directly, his own body of work.
“He started telling me about the things he wanted to do with his photography and I figured it would make a decent story so we decided to have a go at telling it,” says McCagh.
“And there’s been some incredible moments during the making of it, but as I found during this latest shoot the stand outs haven’t necessarily been the surf or heavy waves.”
The two crowd sourced funds to be used in post-production but have continued to work to finance all other expenses, including travel, accommodation and equipment.
They’ve released a few snippets as the documentary progresses, including an interview with Jacob Trette who Ord rescued and revived after a near drowning at Mavericks in 2011.
But this latest teaser is the first time a firm deadline has been not only set, but announced, which McCagh says is a welcome pressure after a period of conflicting work schedules, mismatched availability and family commitments.
“I feel really good about it actually,” says McCagh of the announcement.
“We've continuously had to put other work in front of the filming of this project, which has led to it becoming drawn out. Realistically, we need to make money to buy us time to do the trips to get footage and record interviews. But…there’s no excuses now...If it sends me broke in the process there's a soup kitchen in town and myself, girlfriend and future children are on the waiting list if need be.”
But the process got an unexpected kick along when Ord unexpecdtly announced he was setting off with his family later this year to sail the Pacific.
“I still feel I have better images to capture in that type of environment and I don’t doubt there’ll be an image or two that I’ll think, “That’s it, I’ve finally taken a decent photo,”” says Ord.
“But I also know a few days will go by and I’ll start thinking I can do better but I’m off to travel the Pacific with my family for a few years from November, so this is the year to do it. It’s now or never.”
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