The Argentine-born New York-bred film-wielding madcap
Argentine-born New York surfer Tin Ojeda has a knack for making provocative pictures. His first short surf film, Kook Paradise, was a mockumentary poking fun at the Montauk surf scene through cheeky Bruce Brown–style voiceovers. In 2013 Ojeda made Daughter, featuring black-and-white surf footage laced with surreal images of a man reading a flaming newspaper, mannequin heads being hurled against a wall, and unmanned surfboards flying through the sky. Ojeda’s latest film is called Expencive Porno Movie, and although he claims there won’t be as much nudity as the title might suggest, it’s sure to be stimulating nonetheless.
SRFR: What’s your background working with film?
TO: I started making little videos with my friends when I was a kid growing up in Argentina, just shooting stuff on VHS tapes. When I came to the States I worked on music videos and some skateboarding videos. It was almost always digital, and I really wanted to make something with real film, but it was so expensive. When I made Daughter, I just said, “Fuck it” and spent all my money on Super 8 film. It was cool, but in the end I wasn’t really happy with the Super 8 quality. It looked sort of homemade, so I wanted my next project to be different.
How many innocent surfboards were destroyed in the making of Daughter?
[Laughs.] We went through a few. My buddy had a bunch of old boards that were past their prime, so we decided to paint different messages on them and throw them into the air. I liked the way the shots came out, but the boards got trashed.
So your new movie is going to have a very different vibe?
It’s going to be way different. Before I made Daughter, I was really into Jim Jarmusch films, like Dead Man, which was a really dark black-and-white film. So I wanted to make a black-and-white film that kind of fused art and surfing. But when I was done I immediately wished I had shot it in color. Surfing is such a beautiful thing to watch, and the colors of the ocean and the sky are very powerful. I got a lot of old 16mm film off of eBay for my new movie and it looks much better. There’s so much more detail, but it still has that warm, grainy feel. I always loved the look of the old George Greenough and Paul Witzig movies, and those were all in 16mm.
Where did you shoot the new movie?
There’s one scene in New York, but the film is mostly California. I went from Santa Barbara to San Diego and scored a lot of iconic waves and a few lesser known spots with some really amazing surfers. Right when I was about to head back to New York, the swell picked up and we started getting perfect Santa Ana winds, so I changed my ticket and scored the best footage of the movie over just a few days. It was 6 foot and offshore all day—just totally perfect.
The title is a little unexpected.
[Laughs.] I had made this T-shirt that said “Expencive Porno Movie” on it, and later I realized that would be a great name for my surf movie. After all, shooting in 16mm made it really expensive to make, and it is surf porn, or wave porn, or whatever people call it. I understand that it’s a bit misleading, though, because there’s no one having sex in it.