Ben Howells interview by Phil Sirech

I’ve been involved with filmmaking and photography for over 15 years. I first starting playing with
my Grandfather’s video cameras at a young age and my Dad’s old Pentax 35mm SLRs, then getting hold of my first MiniDV handy cam at the age of 16. I really don’t miss logging footage from all those tapes! Then it led to the modern world of mirrorless cameras, DSLRs, drones and so on.

Hi Ben. Introduce yourself in a few words:

Idiot with a camera.

Tell us more how the idea came to create PILCHARD PRODUCTIONS?

My Granddad on my Mum’s side of the family did a lot of filming, with all the different formats through the years; 8mm, VHS, MiniDV. He was into making short videos on all kinds of different subjects and sending us family films from visits and sometimes we would borrow his old video cameras too. My Dad is also into photography and had a few Pentax 35mm cameras which I was always borrowing/breaking a lot. So using cameras, taking photos and making films was a pretty normal thing.

I had a paper round and worked in a few pubs washing dishes in my early teens, saved enough to eventually buy an old Pentax Super A from 1985 off eBay to start taking photos on 35mm, and a Sony TRV16 MiniDV handy cam for filming. I was about 16 or 17 at the time.

What art form do you like to put forward in a video? The trick, the colors or the landscape?

It depends. The simplest and smallest things can look amazing with the correct approach. Mostly I like to focus on creativity and style in the rider, not so much big tricks. Vibrant colors and a beautiful landscape are cool of course, but a cloudy day in an urban setting can be really fun too. It all depends on the context.

Also, not too much slow motion, or transitions. Both are amazing used correctly, but get overused way too much in my opinion, often just to hide lazy/bad camerawork and lack of narrative or creativity in editing.

pilchard-production-ben-howellsIs there a place in the world where you would like to shoot in particular?

Definitely Folgefonna Glacier in Norway, the summer midnight sunsets there create amazing colors and Emil Fossheim, the park manager, builds amazing jumps to shoot.

As for wakeboarding, early mornings and sunsets at Liquid Leisure are epic! Anywhere I can hang with friends, and being able to go surf or skate in between wakeboarding is a big plus – Bali is great for that.

Who do you usually shoot?

Friends mostly, that way everyone is more relaxed and it’s way lot more fun! Dominik Gührs, Lior Sofer, Nick Davies, Im San, William Klang, these guys always guarantee a fun trip! Of course there’s so many more though.

What kind of camera do you use for video and photo?

The camera I use isn’t important, it’s how it’s used. Fancy lenses, drones and stabilizers help of course but creativity and imagination are more important.

Do you make videos of other sports?

Yes! Actually I really want to shoot more mountain biking and motocross at the moment. Also a little bit of surf, skate…other things I do beside wakeboarding. Sometimes it feels like I have too many hobbies.

It can be fun to film all kinds of different things, that I’d usually have no interest in, not just sports. Actually I’m getting bored of making and watching rider edits now, I like to do a few still each year but I’m trying to think of interesting concepts and subjects instead. I have a few friends who are actresses living and working in LA, it would be interesting to go check that scene out…although I don’t think I would fit in that well!

Check out the full interview on the last issue of #unleashedwakemag

Ben Howells

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