At iLivExtreme Extreme Sports Magazine we like to bring you the best of the best. The film Isolated, Exec Produced by Hollywood actor Ryan Phillippe, is just that. Five world class surfers search the planet for unridden waves, but discover much more than they bargained for. All captured on film, cut, spliced and glued back together, bringing you a truly unique look at how nomadic surfers can not only shred exotic waves but also introduce the rest of us to lesser known parts of the world.
With the International premiere just days away on the 30th January 2013, we caught up with Director Justin lePera from Something Kreative Films (The Arena, The Forgotten Coast) to get the juice on his latest release. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Where are you whilst answering these questions and what are you doing there?
On the patio, relaxing.
In what way is Isolated different from other surf movies?
Isolated is a film that focuses on the theme of surf travel and what a few surfers are willing to put themselves through in order to find the perfect wave. It’s not a film consisting of back to back surf clips in exotic locations. While the location is exotic and untouched, the film consists of a real story capturing the true essence of surf travel and the positive impact surfing can play in the world. The movie starts out as a surf adventure and turns into a mission to help those in dire need of the world’s aid.
Where were you born?
Boone, Iowa. I know, so what am I doing making a surf film? Let’s just say I love surfing and the communities that are comprised of surfers.
Where do you live now?
Long Beach, California
What has been your biggest lesson learned in life so far?
Don’t ever give up.
How has it been working with your Exec Producer Ryan? He’s better known for being in front of the camera so what special skills did he bring to the table?
Ryan has been great. He is really passionate about the project and really connects with the subject.
Sum up your outlook on life in 10 words or less…
Full of surprises
What are you most looking forward to?
Getting the movie out and watching my two little girls turning into the amazing people they’re becoming.
Do you have a party-trick? If so, what is it?
It’s a dance move I call ‘The Pump’.
How did you find the entire filming process in New Guinea?
Challenging! Whatever the surfers are enduring, you too endure as your capturing it. It was amazing because just as they are getting challenged by the elements, so are we.
What makes you strive to be one of the best at what you do?
To make my small little imprint on the world and to be the best person I can possibly be.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
This movie for sure! I never thought I would be doing a political piece and possibly be able to have a positive impact on such an amazing group of people (Papuans).
What top pieces of advice would you give to people traveling to remote and almost untouched places?
Take in the experience and go with whatever cards your dealt at that time. Don’t stick to plans if the path takes you in another direction. Always smile and be polite and treat the locals with the utmost respect and they will take care of you. Stay away from resorts and places that are the same as home and open yourself up to the primitive you.
What makes you sad?
Knowing there are people still out there in the world that are struggling for their freedom.
What makes you happy?
Family, friends, and the ocean.
How was the idea for Isolated born?
I was working at Warner Brothers for a producer while I was in college trying to develop ideas for films. I always was fascinated with people like Travis Potter who would travel to the far reaches of the globe to find waves enduring extreme elements. They are our modern day explorers. Trying to develop a narrative fictional film based on this concept, I realized it would be much more honest to capture the real people who are considered feral surfers, therefore I decided to do just that creating a documentary following a group of surfers to one of the most remote places on the planet.
Life-long friends are made during epic filming trips, what can you tell us about some of the surfers and crew you were working with?
During the production of the movie, Jenny (Jenny Useldinger – big wave surfer) was injured during a night surf session. We didn’t know if she would make it through the night and everyone stepped up to her aid after only knowing each other a short period of time. We would do anything for each other. When Travis came down with Malaria, we all worked together to create fundraisers to get him the money for his treatment.
Do you enjoy your job? What are the best bits and what are the worst bits?
Couldn’t imagine doing anything else in the world. There’s nothing better than bringing an idea to life on the big screen. The worst bits are the challenges you go through to get these ideas created into films.
How did you get into film-making?
Ever since I was a kid, my best friend and I would always try to create movies in my back yard. We could be anyone and be anywhere in that moment. That passion never died.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so bad?
Working at a clothing retail store. Being stuck indoors folding clothes all day was brutal. I lasted 7 hours before I was over it.
What is your favourite smell?
Sun tan lotion. Reminds me of summer time as a kid.
Who do you most admire and why?
My parents. My mother is like a nun, she is a newly retired special Ed teacher who is now taking in a special needs kid who needs a home to live with her. She will do anything for those in need. My dad has always taught me to stand up for what is right, to be strong. Don’t let anything get in the way of what is important to you. He came from nothing and now has everything.
What project is in the pipeline for you next?
I would love to do an Isolated 2.. keeping the adventure going.
Do you surf? Where’s your favourite break?
Yes, I don’t usually have much time so I just surf my home break being Huntington beach but I love Trestles.
What did the New Guinea locals think about you filming on their patch? How much interaction did you have?
They were very curious about our equipment. They had never seen cameras before. It was fun to flip the view finder around so they could see themselves being filmed.
Do you think the penis gourds worn in New Guinea would catch on at home?!
It would be pretty awesome if it did! Haha!
What do you hope an audience can learn from watching Isolated?
As human beings it is our responsibility to look after each other and when we see something going wrong, we need to stand up for what’s right.
What has been your single most memorable filmimg experience?
Going to meet with some political figures in New Guinea during the filming. Didn’t know how it would go down. Pretty intense experience.
What 1 thing would make your life better?
To see a peaceful coexistence between the Papuan and Indonesian people in West Papua.
When you weren’t filming in New Guinea, what were you getting up to?
Always filming. The cameras never stop. I didn’t even surf on the trip. If the moment isn’t captured, its lost so you can’t take any moment for granted.
What are you listening to over and over on your iPod at the moment?
Bob Marley while I was filming the surfing.
If a genie gave you 1 wish to use to improve the film production industry, what would it be?
Less focus on telling the same stories over and over and to get back to making movies that inspire and change the world we live in.
If a genie gave you 1 wish to use to improve your film, what would it be?
An ending where the Papuan and Indonesians coexist peacefully.
If you had unlimited funds what kind of film would you make and who would you cast as the main characters?
A film about a book I’m reading.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
Every Weekend. I do at least one thing that’s pretty embarrassing. I don’t get too embarrassed anymore. I’m always doing stupid stuff.
Tell us the first thing that comes to mind when you see the following:
My Favourite Album is: Bob Marley’s ‘Legend’ (never gets old)
My pet peeve is: people that don’t have good manners
Imminent Danger is: death
My Automatic Cringe is: snakes
The Swear Word I use the most is: poop
Finish this sentence: Nobody knows this but… sometimes I laugh in my sleep.
In addition to it being a rad surf movie, this film also raises issues of human rights and humanitarian aid accessing remote parts of the world. Become an Ambassador for Peace and join the movement at ISOLATED.tv By showing your support, you can help add force to a movement asking the White House to force the Obama Administration to address the Human Rights issues in West Papua as well as helping to obtain access for the the Red Cross to help Papuan communities. Or if videos are your thing, you can upload a video on the same site to show your support too.