We sat down with Blake Thornton and Matt Gilsenan, the two epic lads behind Australias newest Adventure flick Chase That Feeling
What inspired you both to make Chase that Feeling? And where were you when you decided to make it?
We’ve both always had a passion for filming and storytelling. When we were young teenagers we would go on road trips and surf trips and always have a camera along to capture the action and the journey. Early on in Blake’s partnership with Mambo we were creating branded content for Mambo to use in their marketing. I think the simple joy and pleasure these videos brought our friends, family and the greater public were a big part of the inspiration behind Chase That Feeling along with our general spirit of adventure and addiction to exploring the unknown.
As for where we were when this all started. I think the light bulb moment for us was in Mexico in 2012. We had just finished a stint in California for the US open and decided to go to Mexico for a month to surf. We had a base set but with the amount of swell on offer we ended up traveling up and down the coast in search of waves through small villages, up streams on boats and long haul bus trips. These experiences in themselves were what we knew people would love to watch along with some good surf action. The end result was an edit called “The journey begins” which gained more traction than any of our straight surf edits. This is when we knew our adventures needed to be documented in greater detail and Chase That Feeling was born.
How did you approach making the film? And were there any learning moments during its creation?
In all honesty our first trip to Canada and Alaska we knew we just had to film as much as we could and give as much info about where we were and what we were doing so we could engage the viewer. We didn’t have an outside cameraman so we were just taking turns filming, interviewing one another and hustling labeling and arranging clips. I think the biggest learning curve after this trip was that we needed an additional cameraman for our trips and a bit of an itinerary and story board so we weren't shooting from the hips so much. We continued to evolve the way we captured our exploits in the trips to follow and I really feel you can see this whilst watching the film.
What were some of the biggest challenges of making the film?
There were many challenges along the way. If you can think of something that can occur whilst you're on holidays or vacationing, chances are we encountered it although we were under the pressure of making a feature film. I think a consistent challenge for us was luggage and dealing with airlines. Most of the locations we visited were a little colder in climate so when you factor in your individual clothing for a trip like that you’d be doing well to stay under the weight limit. Throw in all our land camera gear, drones, surfing equipment, snowboarding equipment and sometimes skydiving equipment let’s just say more often than we’d like to admit we were pulling all the tricks in the books to trick the scales at check in, including having a carry on backpack well in excess of the 7kg weight limit.
One of the other challenges we had was the weather, we book the trips so far in advance so we just hoped for good conditions. On each trip we had a short weather window to achieve everything we set out to do.
When it comes to the post production of the film I think the biggest challenge was finding music. Between myself, Matt and Colin (our editor and co producer) we would have logged hours and hours of searching our audio library looking for the right tracks for the right part of the film. The juice was worth the squeeze though as the soundtrack works so well in all parts of the film. We were also lucky to get a couple of tracks off some good core like minded local bands which helped.
What is one moment from the film making you just can’t forget?
One of the most unforgettable moments was on Vancouver Island, Canada. We had a local surf guide Raph Bruhwiler taking us to a remote surf break by boat up the inside passage and out into the open ocean. We weren't able to land the boat on the beach as it was too rocky and bouldery with waves crashing onto the shore line. We had to put all of our camping gear in dry bags then Blake and our Canadian mate Noah Cohen had to swim it all to shore in the frigid 8 degree ocean. The last thing they had to get to shore was an esky full of all of our food and beer. The boys mistimed a set and got smashed onto the rocks with the esky and we lost about 80% of our food and beer for the next 2 days! Matt filmed the whole thing and couldn’t believe what he witnessed haha. We then had to put all of our camera gear into a dry bag and hope to god it didn’t leak! It was early on in the trip, probably around day 3 of our 3 week trip, with the plan to drive to Alaska after this adventure - so if our camera gear were to take on water at this point, our whole film trip would have been ruined. Matt managed to get the camera gear to land without any issues. But then he had to swim the glide cam, camera slider and tripod individually from the boat to shore as none of these items fit into the dry bag.
What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? Any messages in particular?
We like to think this film will inspire the viewer to want to get out there and Chase That Feeling. That feeling is different for every person and can be relevant in a professional work sense, an athletic sense or even just an adventure sense much like it is for us. We think a fulfilled life is measured by experiences and the more unique and abundant your experiences are the more fulfilling life can be.
What was your favourite location you visited while shooting?
BT; Iceland was the most memorable for me. It was such an unknown country so far away from Australia and a place I didn’t think I would ever go to. The landscape was so dynamic and as we went in summer we had 24 hours of daylight to play with and we pushed our bodies to the limit over the 2 weeks we were there.
MG; I would have to say Alaska was my favourite location. I am obsessed with massive mountains and they don’t get much bigger and more dramatic than in Alaska. It was our first time in a helicopter as well. To be flying around these gigantic mountains in a chopper and picking out lines to ride was such a surreal experience. The size and scale of the mountains made you feel so insignificant. It was by far the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen and truly an unforgettable experience.
When you aren’t exploring where can we usually find you both?
BT; I enjoy surfing as much as I ever have and you’ll usually find me in the ocean somewhere on the NSW coastline. I am fortunate enough to have access to the south coast and mid north coast so I’m able to escape the city regularly. Another passion of mine is Golf so if the waves are flat or average I’ll likely be the guy screaming “FOUR” from the other fairway.
MG; The ocean has always been a huge part of my life and surfing is just so much fun. When I’m not in the ocean I have been getting into a bit of rock climbing in the Blue Mountains NSW. It’s nice to learn something new, and some of the spots you find yourself in out there are really beautiful, peaceful and completely different to the beach lifestyle.
If you could have a surf with one person Alive or Dead who would it be?
BT; As I was fortunate enough to have a professional career in surfing for many years I have been able to share the water with many of this and the last generation of greats. My dad and Matt’s dads were school friends and shared the water together many times over the years and this is how we met initially. If I could have us all in the water again for a surf on the south coast of NSW that would be the best session I could imagine.
MG; Following up what BT said, it would be nice to be able to surf with our dad’s again.
So what’s next for you guys? Can we expect a Chase that Feeling 2?
The initial release of the film went so well, and we look forward to the film circulating both nationally and internationally and we can’t wait to hear the feedback. This whole experience was such an amazing one however this film did take nine years to make which is a huge commitment. And when you factor in work responsibilities, a global pandemic and the cost of the production we definitely had our work cut out for us. We think a second film is well and truly achievable. We have some amazing ideas, countries in mind and dreams we’d love to share with the world. We’re still relatively young and fit so physically we can handle it and after coming out the other end of Chase That Feeling we know we can certainly handle it mentally. Now the playbook is out there we don’t see why Chase That Feeling couldn’t become bigger and better the second time around.