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Documentary, Character Portrait / 5mins / 2016

There’s nothing going through my head except getting the next wave.
— Nolan Haney


A portrait of Nolan Haney, documenting the intimate relationship between him and his passion: surfing. 



Director, DP, Editor / Ran Zhang

Surfer / Nolan Haney



How long did it take to finish this film?
It took one day (morning) to shoot, one day for the interview, and one day to edit. This was a no-budget, lo-fi, almost home video film that I hoped would capture the intimate relationship between the surf and Nolan. 

How long had you known Nolan before doing this film?
This film was put together a month into my freshman year at college, so I'd say around a month or so. 

What kind of equipment did you use?
I used my very old Canon T2i for all the shots on land and a GoPro Hero 3 for the shots in the ocean. I packed extremely light because we were constantly on the move. I also wanted to facilitate an intimate environment where I'd get the most genuine footage possible. All the shots were handheld. I also wanted to have some fun on the surf board and didn't want anything getting in the way of that. 

How did you shoot the surfing shots?
My year of water polo training came into use there as I was treading water / floating the whole time. The GoPro was on an extended pole and I basically held that up and pointed it at Nolan as he caught the waves. This was my first time shooting surfing action, and one of my first times surfing, so there definitely was a learning curve. 


Director's Statement

"My initial impression of college life abroad was not one that I had expected. Albeit refreshing, life in dorm rooms and the weekend drinking culture I initially met with slowly began to lose its allure. A cycle of comfort began to settle in and I began to feel like I was living in a bubble encircled by the borders of our campus, a feeling I'm sure many other students to be familiar with. In Los Angeles, adventures and experiences were not as easily accessible as they were in Hong Kong, where less than a half-hour bus ride separated bustling metropolis and vast, remote wilderness. Unwillingly, I began to feel complacent. 

I did not hesitate when my friend Nolan asked me to go surfing with him one Tuesday morning, even when he cautioned the early wake up call of 5am, the risk of missing our morning class, or even the fact that I did not know how to surf. The outcome was a couple more morning surf missions after the first, and a product born between our two passions: surfing and filmmaking. He showed me adventure is wherever you are willing to look for it, and all you need is the courage to begin. A friend to do it with is just the sprinkle on the sundae."

- Ran Zhang