Filmmaker Interview: Chris Burkard
The Ogden Film Festival is excited to share Chris Burkard’s beautiful film “Under an Arctic Sky” on June 2, 2017, at the historic Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden, Utah. Check out this interview with Chris about the film what inspired him to create the film and then be sure to watch the trailer below. And if you haven’t already purchased your tickets, they are only $5 at the box office or buy online at Smith’s Tix.
Q: How did the film come to fruition?
A: Under An Arctic Sky was years in the making. While the trip didn’t take place until December 2015, Chris Burkard and his long-time collaborator Ben Weiland knew they had an important Islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Faroe Islands they knew they wanted to focus on more than just surfing in their next film. Elli Thor Magnusson, an Icelandic photographer, and Chris’ good friend had told Chris of a remote region in the Northwestern-most part of Iceland that he was eager to explore for new waves. With surf culture becoming more mainstream and brands catering to a larger audience, Chris and Ben saw the perfect opportunity to usher audiences back to the excitement of the sports adventurous roots. When the swell finally showed promise – Chris and crew departed to Iceland, just as the worst storm in twenty-five years approached.
Q: Why suffer through such cold conditions just for a wave?
A: Whenever you ask someone what they picture when they think of a surfer they’d probably say a long-haired blonde kid from Southern California. There’s this stigma that the best places to surf are in warm, tropical places. This isn’t entirely true. Sure you can go to Hawaii and surf the North Shore, or Australia and watch perfect waves curl in crowded line-ups, but this isn’t what attracts people to surf. Big wave surfer and cold-water pioneer “Doc” Renneker says that it wasn’t about finding a perfect wave but that “surfing was just an excuse to get to these incredible places”. There’s so much joy when you find success after going through the proverbial (or in our case literal) storm. When you go to these places, there aren’t thousands of people onshore watching, or fifty surfers fighting for one of the many perfect waves, it’s just one or two surfers out in the wild having fun and enjoying the beauty around them. The water may be 34o, it may be snowing and miserable 99% of the time, but we go for the 1% when everything comes together and we’re surfing a mushy wave under the northern lights with our best friends. In the end, that’s what matters – those singular moments that we can look back on and say, “ya, that was all worth it”.
Q: What are your hopes for the film moving forward?
A: Ultimately our main goal is getting as many people to see the film as possible. Directly after the Tribeca release, we’ll be touring the film across North America, beginning on the West coast. We’ve been getting incredible feedback from fans around the world asking for us to come to their cities to show a premiere so we intend on doing just that. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign we’re incredibly excited to share that we’ll have the means to travel all over to screen the film. In September we’ll launch the international tour which will run throughout Europe, Australia and South America as well as select countries in Asia. After the initial tour has subsided we’ll release a digital download that will be available across multiple platforms.
The film follows six surfers along with adventure photographer Chris Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland as they seek out unknown swell in the remote fjords of Iceland’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Chartering a boat, they depart from Isafjordur on the cusp of the largest storm to make landfall in twenty-five years. With the knowledge that storms bring legendary swell the crew are optimistic but face failure when the storm forces them back to shore. Making the decision to carry the expedition on by road they experience the brutality of Iceland’s winter and begin to question if searching out the unknown is worth risking their lives for. Despite setbacks, the team pushes on and finds that uncertainty is the best ingredient for discovering the unimaginable.