TSJ 29.4’s “A Center of Gravity,” writer Travis Ferré spends an afternoon with professional surfer and artist Nate Tyler and family at their hand-built Central California home. As showcased, when he’s not launching off local wedges, Tyler builds kinetic sculpture—an art and trade passed down from his father.
The film presented above, “Arbutus,” adds motion to both his surfing and sculpture work, following Tyler around as he surfs his locals on an asym and welds steel in his studio—the two being different but relatable mediums of artistic expression. Shot and edited by filmmaker Matt Payne, and captured entirely in 16mm, it also serves the purpose of presenting Tyler not only as a surfer, but finds a through-line to a California of the past, a type of living Tyler lives and breathes.
“I think shooting in 16mm captures Nate and this section of coast in a very natural way,” says Payne. “I tried to really slip into Nate’s world. He lives a certain kind of life—in both surfing and his sculptures—that really fits with the landscape. I think making a longer film that’s quieter and a little slowed down reflects that. I also wanted to pay homage to the filmmakers from the past who shot California in the same format, like Bruce Brown and Sonny Miller. Filming on a Bolex camera means you’re going to have flaws, but those flaws are part of what makes it interesting. And the moments you do get mean that much more.”
At 13-minutes, “Arbutus” is anxiety relieving viewing in a world of short attention spans made content with a million single-wave clips. And for more about Tyler and his home on the Central Coast, pick up a copy of the mag for the full read and still frame trip.