The Finishing Line for the WonderVisions Workshop Winner.
Jordan – or ‘Jordy the Geordie’, as his friends call him – is the aspiring 24-year-old filmmaker who won VICE Film School’s WonderVisions Workshop competition in partnership with Lumix, giving him the finances, resources and all the camera equipment imaginable to realise his debut film, “Needles in Your Face”.
WHAT’S HE MAKING? Jordy is setting his doc in the North Sea. He’s part of a surfing community who routinely brave not just freezing cold winter waters but also intense industrial pollution to catch waves off the economically depressed coasts of England’s Northeast. However, having to film during a record-breaking heatwave didn’t do him many favours, rendering the seas relatively clean and serene, robbing him of the waves and much of the pollution he’d planned to capture. We’ve been following him through the process and caught up with him for the last time as he was finishing up in the edit suite.
VICE Film School: Hi again, Jordy. What’s been happening since we last spoke? Jordy Walker: We’re just getting to the final edit now – we hadn’t even started filming when we last spoke. Because of the heatwave this summer, it’s been quite hectic. All the filming’s finished now though and we’re in the editing phase, building the structure to tell the story.
It’d be raining one moment, then there’d be a glorious rainbow, then rain again, then hail, then the sun would come out. It made for a nice, atmospheric story in the end.
How did the heatwave end up affecting the shoot? Well, after the heatwave – which lasted two months, ha! – we actually had some hailstones coming in. Thick, thick hail. And that storm brought a little swell through and we got some waves. It’d be raining one moment, then there’d be a glorious rainbow, then rain again, then hail, then the sun would come out. It made for a nice, atmospheric story in the end.
And then you had to record voiceovers, right? Yeah, with five people. I interviewed them myself but Tayo sat in to give me pointers, nursing me in how to pose the right questions to create an interesting documentary. It was strange interviewing my friends – at one point Tayo left, so it was just me interviewing one of my really good mates, someone I surf with a lot and worked with all summer as a surfing instructor. Other than that, it went really well.
Who are your other characters? My friend’s name is Louis, he’s 21 and a sponsored surfer. Then there’s Alison, a lovely lady who’s a hippie at heart and surfs with her daughter, son and husband as a family. Then we have Gordon, who’s in his mid-fifties, he’s a spiritual kind of guy who works in finance – he separates his two worlds into work and pleasure. Then there’s Frankie, who’s about the same age as Gordon, and they were some of the first 20 surfers in Tynemouth, where the film is set.
What story are you trying to tell in the edit? It’s mainly just about the people and the place. The area has seen a lot of hardship, but essentially it’s the people who make it what it is, so the film is just them doing what they love, what makes them feel alive. They have their own struggles to face but that doesn’t stop them. That’s the story.
Is there a chronology or linear structure to it? Or more of a mood piece? We’re aiming for it to be a seven-minute atmospheric piece, something with a gradual build-up, starting a little dark and then as we introduce the characters, it gets a bit lighter. It peaks with them surfing and then it’s a slow comedown from there showing how beautiful the area is.
Looking back, what will you take away from the process of making your first film? I think the main thing I learned is how important it is to have a great creative team. Previously, I’d always worked alone, and I’m self-taught, but having a crew who specialise in certain aspects really helps, and you can feed off each other, pitch each other ideas. If you can delegate jobs, it’s so much easier than making a doc all by yourself. If I had any advice, it’d be to surround yourself with creative, like-minded people. If they help you out, you can help them out further down the line.
Where will you go from here? What’s next on the agenda for you? I’d like to team up with other creatives and make more docs, to look at this as a career. I’d like to specialise in environmental documentaries and travel with the work to beautiful places, document animals and people’s actions and reactions to the environment and various ecosystems. I’m filming a free-dive in the Orkney Islands soon, because I’ve got all my water equipment, so I think that will be pretty awesome. I’ll be looking at the freedivers’ relationship with the water and marine life as they spear fish and collect scallops from the ocean floor. First of all though, I’m going travelling.
Cool. Also, can you give a shout out to Alex Hoffman for his input as the head guy, for making great calls, helping me see the bigger picture and unclouding my judgement, and Tayo Yusuff for nursing me into how to be a shooting producer-director and also just being class and fun to work with. And also to the editor Josh Whitelaw, ‘cos he’s literally a wizard on the computer and an excellent storyteller. If you could give a shout out to those guys – and also Lauren Clark for sorting out all the administration side of the shoots and keeping us in check – that would be wicked. They’ve been an amazing team.