REDirect Winner Aaron Lieber: on Filming “The Wild”


The Wild‘ featuring Noah Beschen is the 2015 REDirect Surf Film Festival Grand Prize Winner.

“Presented by RED Digital Cinema & Surfer Mag. REDirect Surf was a filmmaking competition to see who can create the most unique and original surf short of the year using RED Dragon 6K cameras provide by RED. 11 film makers were hand selected to participate and after 10 weeks of filming and 4 weeks of post production all films were submitted. The distinguished panel of judges included Taylor Steele (World Renowned Surf Film Maker), Jarred Land (CEO of RED) as well as Director of Point Break 2, Grant Elis (Editor of Surfer Mag), and Jamin Jannard (Founder of RED son).”

Aaron Leiber won the competition for his short film featuring 15-year-old prodigy surfer, Noah Berschen, REDirect announced a few weeks ago. The winning film, The Wild, is appropriately titled. It opens with footage that manages to seem peaceful and ominous at the same time and closes with footage of Noah expertly navigating through the waves on his surfboard. According to RED’s site, Aaron brought home an EPIC DRAGON valued at $50,000, as well as all of the RED gear he used to shoot the winning film.

Aaron told us a little about what it was like to make The Wild:

W: You swam with sharks to get some of this footage. Did you have to take any precautions to stay safe?
AL: We went out with a boat tour called @islandviewhawaii and they had a diver in the water to make sure we were “safe.” Obviously anytime you get in the water with sharks and are not in a cage there is risk involved. But it’s calculated risk and for the most part the type of sharks we were swimming with get scared and swim off if you make a lot of splashes. Its all about staying really calm and relaxed so that the sharks feel comfortable and then they will swim up close and check you out. Its really an awesome experience. Sharks are dramatized in the media and are seen as this evil creatures lurking in the dark just waiting to attack you. And that just is not the case. Sharks are curious creatures, they make mistakes, but humans aren’t their source of food.

W: At first, The Wild is really surreal, and then at about 2:31, the vibe really changes. Things really speed up. What do you think you accomplished when you set up the footage this way? Can you walk us through your creative vision?
Well this was a film making competition and I felt that there were a lot of boxes to check in order to win. Although this was a “surf film” specific competition I knew a lot of the judges weren’t just going to be looking just at that aspect of it. So the intro for me was an opportunity to tell a visual story. Tell a short story of where Noah is at in his life, the world he lives in, a vision of how he wants to conquer his world. Then the shift to action is to be true to the sport. To showcase every possible angle I could get with a RED in 10 weeks and showcase Noah’s talents at 14 years old. I also used the intro as a way to draw in viewers who aren’t necessarily surfers, I wanted the intro to be something everyone would want to watch and if I did it right, hopefully re-watch.

W: You’ve shot surfers like John John Florence and Bethany Hamilton. What was it like to work with Noah? What made him the right fit for The Wild?
I’ve been working with Noah since he was 9 years old. I’ve made 1 or 2 short videos with Noah for the last few years. So for me this was an evolution of that. But simultaneously I knew that all the other competitors in this competition would be making a project with adults. Noah being half everyone’s size makes him stand out so for me it was a unique opportunity to create something that look and felt similar to everyone else’s projects, but completely different because Noah is so much younger.

W: You say that The Wild represents how teenage years can be pretty wild. Was Noah the inspiration for this theme?
Noah was totally the inspiration. But my own life, everyone’s teenage years are Wild. I really enjoyed reading Lord of the Flies in high school. And I wanted to rift off that a little as well. One quote I really liked from the book was “The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.” And I think that says it all.

W: How did you choose the music for the video? Did you have the tracks selected before you started filming, or did you add them later?
I chose the music during the making of this project. Then I had Nash Howe come in and do all the sound design. Without good sound design the visuals just aren’t as appealing.

W: Why do you think you won? What is it about your submission that you think stood out from the others?
I think my entry stood out because of the sound design and all the post work my friend Octave Zangs helped with. He did all the color correction and took 3 different locations (Hawaii, Mexico, Tahiti) and made all the water color look similar. I tried to produce a piece that was more of an experience than just a short film… something you want to share with your friends. I don’t really know its kinda an awkward question. I am just really passionate about what I do and it was so much fun to have an opportunity to create exactly what I wanted.

W: In what ways has this win impacted your career? What’s next for you, career-wise?
I am not sure how it will impact my career. I was invited to be on G-Technology G-Team which is really exciting. Hopefully I’ll get hired to do more cool projects! Time will tell :) Career wise I still am working with Bethany on Surfs Like A Girl, that will come out late 2016, spring 2017. Also working with Alana Blanchard on a short project and LifeProof phone cases on some stuff as well.

Connect with Aaron:

or on Instagram: lieberfilms

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