Newport Beach Film Festival – Filmmaker’s Five with Paul C. Barranco

By Kelly Strodl

Today we talk with Paul C. Barranco, director of two action sports shorts showing at this year’s festival. The films SURFING THE SILVER DRAGON, and CONFISKATE, will screen at the Actions Sport Shorts section of the festival.

SURFING THE SILVER DRAGON: The program is based around China’s Qiantang River Tidal Bore where surfers Jamie Sterling and Rusty Long take on the beast, a.k.a. “The Silver Dragon” and surf it for miles through the city of Hangzhou. In addition, we get an inside glimpse of Jamie and Rusty’s experiences on and off the tidal bore in China.

CONFISKATE: Confiskate features pro skater, Josh Campos along with a handful of his closest friends as they session a handrail. The FUEL TV Network ID is a comedic narrative that toys with the synergies between street skaters and a security guard.

Q: How did you hear about the Newport Beach Film Festival?

I live in SoCal so when the festival happens I always hear about it and track its happenings. I want to also say that’s it’s an honor to be involved this year.

Q: Tell a little about the story of your film and the production of it.

On CONFISKATE… it was an idea I thought of a long time ago, maybe 5 or 6 years ago and just jotted it down in a journal that I keep for ideas. I was always interested in the synergies between security guards and skaters so I came up with this concept. Well a few years passed and I got busy with other projects but in the back of my mind I knew I should be carving some time out to build up my director reel. My Co-producer Celina Meites basically loved the spot and ended up pushing me forcefully into making it. Then we gathered a small crew ran out and shot the thing with the help of her and my cast. So needless to say, I’m glad she shoved me.

On SURFING THE SILVER DRAGON I was approached to go out to China in 2009 with a group of surfers and a few good friends that I work with. We were welcomed by the Chinese officials and treated like royalty. Every meal and activity was planed for us down to the hour. The food was something I wasn’t used to, from duck tongue to the ants but I soon found out we we’re being treated to China’s finest cuisine. It took a little getting used to but after a few sittings it was all good; we not only ingested the food but also to all the culture around us and were guided by some of the most humble people ever. When it came time to get to work, our guides started off by showing the river in which I’d be shooting from, showing us some of the potential pitfalls it offered, so when the wave turned “on”, we’d be well prepared and we were just that. On game day when the wave hit, the surfers got on their skis and I jumped on the boat while the editor Dave Gallegos was captain and driver of the boat. We outran the tidal bore wave for upwards of 10 miles down the river taking us around 45 minutes to complete our run. The surfers would have to line up with a good part of the wave and we’d need to be close to them in the boat to shoot it. It was tricky to say the least; I was shooting handheld off a boat doing at least 20 mph with a giant wave coming at us. Just a little nerve racking. Anyway we made it out unmarked and to this day I am grateful for the memories it offered.

Q: Tell a little about yourself and your story in filmmaking.

Well my Pops shot stills professionally and so I got a lot of insight to the craft just watching him in is meticulous ways. I shot stills leisurely for many years all while I was at heart, a surfer. If I wasn’t in the water, I was shooting or at Costco getting my film developed; it was then that I knew I had a deep affinity for photography. A few years later, my dad bought a video camera. It was a full size VHS camera and I can honestly say that purchase changed my life. I became beyond hooked on video. I shot everything and anything I could taking my knowledge from stills on over to video. I made everything from surfing experimental films on down to comedies on makeshift sets to weird abstract shorts. I’d edit from camera to VHS Deck and even tied in an audio channel as well, usually Jane’s Addiction or Soundgarden. Anyway, after freaking out my family, cause I still lived at home, I finally jumped into SDSU film school program got my diploma and headed to LA. Over the years I’ve worked at Fuel TV on their weekly action sports news show for 2 years and was at Globe Int Ltd as their Media Marketing Manager for 3 years creating and producing their global surf and skate event TV programs from Fiji, Oz & Micronesia as well as their commercials all for Fuel TV. More recently, I have gone independent with my production company Fluid Films Productions Inc. where we create media for core and mainstream categories specializing in commercials.

Q: Your take on the performances of the lead actors, (set backs, triumphs, impressions, good surprises, etc.)

On CONFISKATE the forces were definitely on our side that day of shooting. We shot gorilla and no one hassled us and no one was hurt the same. Josh Campos had to kickflip a 12 stair, which had me a little concerned since he was padded up to look plumper. But he killed it. In fact, all the dudes this day were insane to work with. Andrew White the lead skater isn’t an actor but he listened to and trusted me & he pulled it off with flying colors.

On SURFING THE SILVER DRAGON Jamie Sterling and Rusty Long were absolutely on point. Rusty had been there the previous year so he knew the wave and Jamie jumped right in with no hitches as well. Both surfers were taking some risks by surfing this natural phenomenon and they were professional and considerate which is key to making any project work.

Q: What do you do when not making a smash indie film?

When I’m not shooting, I’m usually doing a few things. I surf, swim laps, snowboard, I try to skate the Glendale park from time to time but I suck pretty bad, I hang out with my daughter & lately we’ve been racing go karts at K1 Speed every other week religiously, now that’s a good time.

 

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