Today we’d like to introduce you to Wyatt Daily.
Wyatt, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a filmmaker, I’ve always been passionate about connecting with people through storytelling. The challenge with my latest documentary, “Spoons: A Santa Barbara Story” was bringing viewers into one of surfing’s most insular communities and use that as a platform to tell a universal story. I wanted to show how a community sprang up and has maintained a strong central compass over generations. The answer to that question lies with the people; mentors, innovators, creatives, and hard-working people are the bedrock of any culture and that’s what we sought to show with this film.
People say don’t meet your heroes, but I can’t understand why. This whole film is a collection of the most legendary names in surfing, and the insight and perspectives they share helped open our view of the world. These are the people who built surfing as we know it today. Bruce Brown (the filmmaker behind the Endless Summer & On Any Sunday), Al Merrick (Channel Islands Surfboards), Tom Curren (3x World Champion), and George Greenough are all featured heavily in this movie, alongside many others. The decades we span from 1940’s to present show how surfing evolved in California and how that influence spread throughout the world. I think it also shows why we are still in good hands.
The process of making this film included gathering hundreds of hours of archival material (much of which has never been seen) and presenting it in a cohesive way. We wanted the film to appeal to die-hard surf fans but also be accessible to the casual viewer. It’s been amazing to hear how its resonated with people from all walks of life and to win accolades across the world, and for that success I have to give credit to our excellent team: my editor Dana Shaw, who helped bring the magic, and to my producer Justin Misch who found a way to make impossible dreams a reality.
Has it been a smooth road?
Filmmaking is inherently difficult. Bruce Brown told us “It’s like banging your head against a wall,” and it’s true.
This film is 100% independent. It seemed like every step of the way, we were presented with an insurmountable challenge. Still, conditions lined up, friends helped out, passion was shared by all, and we made the film we wanted to make.
Struggles also presented opportunity. Because our budget was low, we worked with one of my childhood friends to make the music. It turned out insanely good! I’m so proud to see the soundtrack on Spotify. We also Kickstarted the film and raised over $47k, showing us at our most desperate times that there was a real passionate base and a need for this film.
Beyond that, we maxed out two credit cards to finish the movie, and we set up our own tour in Australia to pre-empt our online release (which we also did ourselves), and now we are distributing ourselves. This is the path we chose, and while it’s a difficult path it’s amazing to see how the passion that went into the film continues to gather momentum. I could go on and on about individual horror stories, like needing to re-cut eight minutes of the film 24 hours before our premiere, or what it took for us to get 50+ licensing agreements inked, or how we got a Black Sabbath song in the movie, but the point is we did it for the love and we love what we did.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
We pride ourselves on building strong relationships with the people who trust their life’s work to us. Our approach was to gather archival material and digitize it in bulk, sight unseen. That’s how we found the never-before-seen material. We made the upfront costs work for us, though, by using the cost to digitize against the licensing fee that we’d eventually have to pay for the footage. It was a good system; filmmakers got their movie film archives digitized, and we had plenty of fresh material to choose from in the editing.
But we went a step further.
We realized that there was a real lack of resources for independent filmmakers looking to shoot on film, even in the heart of the industry, Los Angeles! We felt a need to bring a boutique experience to film scanning and build relationships with young filmmakers who wanted to try shooting on film while at the same time promoting the exploration of archival storytelling. Long story short, we decided to buy our own film scanner and our efforts culminated in building a second business, Origins Archival (originsarchival.com). We focus on digitizing delicate archival material in 4K resolution with incredible color depth, and we also scan freshly shot film. Most recently, we’ve focused on building out our Motion Picture Remastering arm of the business and are set to release our first fully remastered project “Morning of the Earth” in time for its 50th anniversary sometime 2021.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Working from Topanga has incredible advantages: the surf is close, hiking in our back yard, few distractions, and the ability to get into “town” when needed. But I find Los Angeles’s strengths can also be its weaknesses. Personally, I find that the spread-out nature of the city makes chance encounters with other creative people rarer. I’m just looking forward to when we can work in coffee shops again, and go to film festivals.
- Available to buy or rent at iTunes, Vimeo, Google Play & Youtube
- DVD’s available for $25
- Website: spoonsfilm.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @spoons_film
- Facebook: @SpoonsASantaBarbaraStory
- Other: originsarchival.com
Dana Shaw, Justin Misch, Wyatt Daily