Ryan Callinan's Love Buzz
Ryan Callinan's Love Buzz
He keeps us guessing, does old R-Cal.
Though he lacks a hipster edge, Ryan made it big in Kai Neville's arthouse opus 'Lost Atlas'. And though he's quiet and unassuming, sometimes even coming across slightly goofy, when the microphone points Ryan's way, his answers belie a deep thinker, and one with an awful lot of heart.
Here, Ryan chats to Swellnet about his latest film and much, much more.
Swellnet: I'm curious about the title of the film, Beneath A Pear Tree. Can you explain that for me?
Ryan Callinan: Well, I got married earlier in the year and it was between pear trees and the title summed up how good of a year it had been. I also wanted to show that it's not just about surfing. Obviously, not many people would've understood it except for the context, but it was a way for me to add that in.
Well, I think that's fantastic. I'm searching my memory banks now, but I think you may be the first surfer in history to make reference to your wedding in their own film. That's really something.
Ha...yeah. I mean it's a huge part of my life and it was a very special day, so it's definitely something I feel like I was stoked to have in there.
Awesome. Now, about the film, why did you film it last year? It seemed that lot of surfers did their longer films during the COVID downtime over the previous two years. With everything returning to normal, why choose 2022 to film?
For me, it hasn't really changed over the years. During COVID, I was still filming a lot and I put out something in 2021. I film most of the time when I'm at home, and we ended up getting some really good stuff this last year where I thought I could push the issue a bit more and take Jack with me to a few events.
I really love Portugal, and Hawaii too. I was lucky enough to have already qualified by that stage, so the pressure was off and I wasn't solely focused on getting results. So it was a good opportunity to have someone there filming, and because we could travel after COVID I think it was just a great excuse to get back on the road.
You did some great trips, even fairly local trips down to the NSW South Coast where you scored. Got any more plans to chase big slabs or whatnot?
I'd love to. A couple of those waves...they really got me excited to go back. I don't know if that was as good as they get or not, but they were pretty damn good. So they definitely got me excited to chase waves down there.
I go down there quite a bit, but that trip was just another level, and it showed the potential that's around Australia. To chase waves here, at the right place on the right swell, it got me excited to keep shooting for the moon.
OK, I'm going to swing it back to competitive surfing for a moment, because the season begins in a week or two. What's your feelings on the mid-year cut?
Ha ha ha...[Ryan appreciates the pointed nature of the question, having missed the cut last year]
I think it's going to work itself out. It's obviously super harsh, you see guys work their entire careers to get on the tour, and then suddenly they're off it - and the first five events aren't the easiest events to figure out either.
But yeah, it works for the WSL in ratings and building hype and keeping people engaged. But I think, as a surfer, knowing it's looming, it's pretty daunting. I guess you're always searching for good results, but it just adds a little bit of extra pressure to those first five events.
It does indeed. So is there anything that you're doing differently to prepare this year?
It's such a cliché, but I'm just trying not to think about it. But everyone thinks about it because it's hard to not. Last year, obviously, I was injured for Pipe [Ryan had a broken wrist], so I missed that event, which put me on the back foot. So I'm just excited to have a full swing at all five events this year, and then hopefully all the events of the year.
Then again, with all that happened last year, it made me realise that it's not the worst thing in the whole world if you fall off tour. Obviously, I don't want to, but there's other things you can do with your time and it gives you a little bit of a break in between events. It's coming up fast though, and I'm definitely going to be pushing hard and trying to get some bombs at Pipe and Sunset.
Yeah, it would be really nice to make the cut and go through to G-Land, wouldn't it?
[Ryan hesitates answering] Yeah...it would.
On your frontside in a long tropical left.
[More hesitation] Yeah.
Hang on. G-Land's not on the tour this year, is it..?
No, no, it's back to the Surf Ranch unfortunately.
OK, I won't ask for your opinion on that. What about Sunset, how much have you surfed out there?
Sunset I've surfed a lot. I wouldn't say I'm very good out there, but they used to have a lot of QS events there. I've known it's been one of my weaknesses and since it came onto the CT, I've been really trying to put in some time out there.
I used to hate the wave but after spending more and more time out there I'm slowly growing to love it. I still don't think I've mastered it, but I'm definitely improving and enjoying the challenge of it.
Have you got any mentors that you can guide you around?
I have spoken to a few people out there. I haven't particularly got a Hawaiian that's taken me around or anything yet, but I think that might be a great thing to do. As it is, I just try and watch the guys that I think are really good out there: Billy Kemper, Barron, John John, whenever they're out there I see what waves they're looking at, what they're taking off on.
Also, Lowey...Mick Lowe, he took me out there a few times when I was younger and he did really well there in his career. I also surfed with Barton there last year. We just happened to be out in the same session and he was giving me some good tips.
OK, let's talk about when you were younger. While watching Beneath A Pear Tree this morning, I recalled a Billabong film from a long time ago, can't remember the name, but you were a young grom and you did a huge closing move. A big backside air 360. Do you recall the film that I'm talking about?
Yeah, yeah, I think it was called Blow Up.
That's right! Blow Up. At the time, that move caused a bit of a stir. You copped a bit of shade because you seemed to be punching so far above your weight with that move. I'm not going to name names, but I recall a few sly words being said...
I do too.
The reason I bring that up now is because, rather than just one big move, this new film is full of moves like that. They're big, they're tweaked out, and they cover a lot of distance. Even better, you're linking them up. Does it feel like your surfing has gone onto a new level?
Yeah. First of all, going back to those younger days, they were incredible for me; growing up with all those movies and wanting to be a part of them. They really pushed me to want to do big things. Looking back, I feel like there was an era where the focus was on the single biggest turn or air that you could do. I guess I was a part of that when I was younger.
But if you're competing, as I do, you just can't do that. You need to throw everything at a whole wave, and you also need it to flow really well together. I feel like the two worlds, which I've been going back and forth between, have really helped me in this sense. Just forcing me to go for the biggest things I can, but also trying to link it with other nice things as well and putting whole waves together.
Over the years, I really feel like it's come to this point where, even though I didn't make the midyear cut last year, I feel like I'm surfing better than ever. That's the most exciting part for me; just to go out there and feel like I'm still improving.
Unreal. Do you like the fact that you're an elder statesman now? Hate to say it, but you are.
Ha ha ha...I am. Yeah.
Much as you were a grommet who once looked up to older surfers, do you think you occupy that position now?
I hope so. I guess you never know. There's a few grommets around Merewether and I feel like they're pretty stoked to surf with me, which is really cool. And hopefully around the world I can be someone that people look at and want to watch me surf.
I guess that's why I love making these movie, as well as competing. It's to put myself out there. Let people see everything I can do, and if people like watching me then hopefully it can inspire some younger surfers.
OK. And with all that in mind, how many more years of competing do you think you have left in you?
Ha...great question. As long as I keep improving and feel I can keep up with everyone and push everyone, then I'm keen to keep going.
Great answer. OK Ryan, I'm going to leave it there, mate. Good luck this year