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Riding The Perfect Wave

The Perfect Wave is Bruce Macdonald’s feature film debut as director. Based on a true story, it’s a coming of age movie about a twenty something - played by Scott Eastwood, son of screen legend Clint - who travels the world in search of the greatest wave. KFTV spoke to Macdonald about some of the challenges he faced when making the film, from shooting underwater to raising finance, which he stresses, is not for the faint-hearted…

perfect wave

This is your first feature, were you nervous?

Absolutely I was nervous, very nervous in fact, especially because I was going to work with Scott Eastwood and Cheryl Ladd, who I have admired ever since I first saw her in Charlie’s Angels. But it was good to be nervous because I took nothing for granted and spent hours focussing on the pre-production stage which gave me confidence, so that before the camera rolled, I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve and how.

Religion plays an important part in the movie. Do you have to be religious to see it?

Not at all – it’s a travel film, with a love story and some stunning surfing. It’s a drama at heart, but we decided to underplay the religious aspect as we want the film to be seen by a broad audience.

How did you raise finance for the film?

Raising money for a film is not for the faint-hearted – it’s the hardest part of the process, and worse still we were inexperienced in fundraising. We chose to do it the hardest way - private equity - which was a real journey. We did presentations internationally and after two years we had raised the money.

Funding came from the UK, South Africa, Singapore, Germany, the United States, and the South African DTI [The Department of Trade and Industry], which in effect was soft monies from the South African government. We raised $2.2m in the end. When you consider most South African films do not have budgets that exceed $1m, what we achieved was a miracle.

How is the film being released?

We have a theatrical release in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand set for February 2014. We have also had several offers in the US and we’re looking to find the best partner for the film over there. In the US we have a distribution deal with Mission Pictures and Film District to handle domestic and foreign and will also have limited theatrical across Europe.

There are several scenes shot underwater. What were the challenges of this type of filming?

Water work is extremely hard. We purpose-built the housing for a Red Epic camera, but it overheated and we had issues with the record button, but we learnt as we went along how to fix these problems. Also the rig is not small (not like a GoPro), so our water DoP Wayne De Lange did really well - he trained by swimming daily in a pool to increase his endurance and ability to spend long periods in the water, which paid off,

What’s the one tip would you give to a budding filmmaker wanting to make it in the industry?

Endurance and perseverance are character traits you need as getting a project off its feet, no matter how good the idea, is very hard.

You’ve also directed commercials. Are they easier than films?

They are really different. I’ve directed a couple of commercials since we finished the film and I found I have grown so much as a person and gained more confidence and more of an understanding of the business as a whole.

I realised that as a filmmaker the commercials just have a different pecking order, with more chiefs. In a feature film, being a director is liberating and free and people support your vision, whereas commercials have clients. It’s a challenge and the expectations are high, but it’s still an enjoyable process. The commercials business is such a good training ground and I would like to continue working in this field as well as film.

To read more about The Perfect Wave, click here.


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