Tim Bonython: Back on tour

Stu Nettle
Talking Heads

A fortnight before he takes his latest Australian Surf Movie Festival, his fourteenth, on the road, Swellnet chatted to Tim Bonython about the Euro XXL swell, FOMO, and having a Plan B during COVID.

Swellnet: How are you mate?
Tim Bonython: Serious bout of FOMO, but fuck, what do you do?

I could see this [the huge swell about to strike Europe] on the charts ten days ago. It was obviously gonna be a big one. Incredibly, it's even been upgraded since then.

Have you roped anyone in to film it for you?
Yeah, I have. I've got the best guys: Pedro Miranda shoots the land footage, and then his partner Daniel shoots the drone footage. So they're filling in for me. 

We're in the process of finishing The Big Wave Project Two, and we've got all the footage we need, but if any historic, momentous, amazing shots go down...well, we'll have them recorded and be able to throw them in there. 

Let's talk about ASMF. How are the tickets selling?
The Orpheum show sold out, so now we're adding an extra show. The COVID rules are that cinemas can only be about 60% full. So the Orpheum, I think, seats a bit over 800, so we can have 400 people, and we sold it out, and that's good.

Really good.
I sense that people are really keen to get out and do normal things again, and that includes going to the cinema and seeing a surf film.

It feels like COVID is coming to a close...
You reckon?!

Yeah, maybe not, I shouldn't be so premature, but I agree that people want to get out and do normal things. It's been a long weird winter. 
Yeah. Everything said, I still think we're in the lucky country. That's why I didn't go to Portugal. I would've loved to have been there. If everything was normal I would've gone to that swell, I would've jumped on a flight last Saturday. I would've been on the same flight with Ollie...

Ollie Dousset..?
Yeah, yeah, he's probably there by now. He's hooking up with Dylan Longbottom's mates. He told me he's he's not aiming to surf Nazare when it's 100 foot, but you know what's Ollie's like, he'll have a go. I'm curious to hear what's going to happen when he gets there, if he's got all his COVID boxes ticked.

He ended up paying $1,400 in excess, so he hasn't had the perfect start to the trip, and he's going over on a one way ticket, which is another story. He wants to get to Hawaii, but he reckons that the borders are closed in Hawaii, so I think he'll just spend whatever time he can over there.

But far out, even that can be a problem because apparently you've got to to tell them exactly where you're going and then you've got to stay there - you can't just be cruising around, having fun as you might on a holiday. 

We can curse COVID all we want but it's allowed you to catch up with work.
Yeah, a blessing in disguise really, because it's allowed me to stop and put everything together. The idea was always to put a film together, which is what we're doing in the background with The Big Wave Project Two, but at the same time, I went to a lot of amazing spots and filmed historic swell events. And so what we decided to do for ASMF is pick one swell event from each of those places and put a story together - except for Tahiti. We went to Tahiti three times in 2019, so we've combined all that footage, but for instance, the Nazare footage was all filmed on one swell. It was the day Rodrigo Koxa got the world record wave and Andrew Cotty broke his back. 

And that's the same with Cloudbreak as well? It was all filmed during one swell...
Yep, and that's the finale because that's when pretty much everybody, Slater, Billy Kemper, Florence, all these guys were there. They brought in lifeguards, like Abe Lerner and Ryan Hargrave, to look after them. So they had it very organised. I knew that there was a really good story in this, so documented everybody before and after, and then with Kelly there it was just a matter of getting the action, which we did. And being on a Tavarua boat, you just don't get a better opportunity to document it.

And so that really makes a great finale to the film festival.

Yeah, unreal. Now look, you mentioned that the Orpheum has sold out, how are some of the other venues selling?
Well, the regional shows are doing pretty good, but all these things take time. We've also sold out of Perth, so wherever we're selling out, we try to put extra shows on. And so we're touring at the moment, we've got 22 shows and I dare say there'll be a lot more shows added to it.

And look, if I don't go to Portugal in January, then, between you and I, we might even go on the road. Just get a camper van, a screen, and go and do a roadshow.

Back to the pubs and clubs?
That's what I've always done really - it was always about pubs and clubs, but that's been harder with COVID. Cinemas...well they have set seating so people can be COVID-safe. RSLs aren't really geared that way, so they've pretty much shut the door on performances of any kind for the time being.

So first things first, get through these dates.
Yep, then we'll see where things are at.

Check dates and times for ASMF 2020


Trentslatterphoto's picture
Trentslatterphoto's picture
Trentslatterphoto Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020 at 11:18am

cant wait tim always produces the best footage going around

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020 at 5:49pm

Should do some clandestine gigs projecting onto a bed sheet hanging off a temporary frame job in car parks.

That’d be unreal. Real old school.

3vickers's picture
3vickers's picture
3vickers Thursday, 29 Oct 2020 at 9:38am

I sure hope this can come to Melbourne

spenda's picture
spenda's picture
spenda Thursday, 29 Oct 2020 at 3:01pm

Have always loved going to Tim's movies.
The anticipation at work the afternoon prior.
His microphone preamble in front of the audience.
The surprise appearances from some underground legends.
The big gallery of punters hooting throughout.
Cold schooner in hand.
Living the dream.

Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Saturday, 31 Oct 2020 at 11:01am

I love his work it’s not an easy gig to get in action lots of hard work on his behalf and I guess it a financial risk too
I always go and get my mates along as well so we all should support a great aussie enterprise