Blake Mellross: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Interview by Dan Caban
Every year when structures of scaffolding and signage start taking shape over the car park of Bells Beach, signalling the start of each year’s Rip Curl Pro, you know the region of Torquay is going to be a bustling surf Mecca filled with every pro and ‘next big thing’ for the next few weeks. But after that, when the signs are taken down and the tour moves along on its dream circuit, all that is left are the locals to enjoy their icy winter. One of those locals is 17-year-old Blake Mellross, a filmer who works at his local surf shop and shapes boards for fun. What a legend! Meet Young, Free, Alright! (lucky) number 13.
CW: What are some of the best and worst parts about shooting down in Torquay?
BM: I was actually thinking about that just the other day. It’s good in a way because it’s not as crowded and all that kind of stuff, but it makes it really hard to get exposure compared to somewhere like the Gold Coast ‘cause all the stuff I want to be involved in is either there or on the Northern Beaches in Sydney. But I’ve had a few opportunities with Tracks when the Rip Curl Pro is on down here at Bells, but that’s just about all that happens down here.
What about some of the guys who rip from Torquay, have you shot with them?
Yeah like Cahill Bell-Warren and Todd Rosewell and guys like that. They are a couple of the top guys around here and it’s cool because it’s a pretty tight community and it means I get to meet and know them all which helps a lot. It’s been really good shooting with them; not only because they are such good surfers, but they are such nice guys.
Are there many local guys you get to know through filming?
I know a few really good photographers like Ed Sloane and Nick Alcock but there aren’t that many filmers that are trying to get into it. There are a few older guys who film a bit, but no young guys that I know of that are really coming up.
You're into taking photos as well? I've seen some nice ones on your blog.
I mainly just shoot film. I take a few analogue cameras wherever I go, just because instead of digital it really feels like you're making something yourself. You have to really work on the photos rather than just editing it to make it good.
But filming is the way you’re going?
Yeah filming is the way I want to go over photography, for sure.
How did you actually get into it at the start?
I started off using this JVC camera, but I could never work out how to put it onto the computer (laughs), I just filmed a bunch of animals and stuff on my farm. Once I figured how to put it onto the computer I was hooked!
What are your thoughts on being young in the film industry and working for yourself before anyone picks you up?
Well last year when the Rip Curl Pro was on I got to do the Fingers in the Bowl with Tracks Mag and I’ve just been locally filming the boardriders. Just making a few clips for them gets me a bit of money, but I haven’t really had much of a break yet.
And to pay for all this you’re working at a surf shop?
Yeah well I’m only in year 12, as I’m 17, and I’m also doing a little ding repair business and then working at Strapper Surf Shop part time and filming the boardriders. A few weeks ago I bought a 60d, I had a d5100 but that was getting a bit old. I’m really stoked to get the new one, but I haven’t had a good chance to film on it just yet, hopefully the next couple of weeks the waves get good.
Have you travelled around much?
I’ve only done little trips down the coast at the moment, I’ve never really gone out of state or anything just yet, but I would definitely love to travel in the future.
Is there anywhere in particular you had in mind?
I’d really like to go somewhere around say Mexico or even do a season in Hawaii. Just because a lot of the guys that are around there are such good surfers and that’s where the whole industry goes at different parts of the year so to get exposed that’s where you have to go. To see some of the best filmers and some of my favourites would be awesome as well.
Like who for example?
I have a few. I really like Toby Cregan’s stuff, he is so good. But there are so many to look at! Guys like Nat Lanyon, Jack Belli, Jon Frank, and Nathan Oldfield… any of them are so good.
What about surfers? Any in particular you'd like to film?
I really like guys like Ellis Ericson, Al Knost and Ozzie. Any of those guys would be so cool to film, and then I like the Gudauskas brothers. It would be really good to do something with any of those guys, and it would be so sick to have my name on a clip with them.
On your Instagram you have some pictures of a few boards you shaped, is that something you’re into?
I shaped a couple last year, and I stuffed them up completely (laughs), but I shaped a single fin a few weeks ago and it just got glassed. It's real fun to do and it’s something I have been getting into lately.
And do you think it influences your filming at all? Like, does it change how you look at surfing?
It totally gives you a different perspective on things compared to someone who doesn’t really surf, and know what it is like to ride waves and what waves really are. It gives you a bit of knowledge about where everyone will be surfing and where to film and the conditions and all those things.
Are you working on anything at the moment that you want to mention?
I started doing a documentary at the moment actually on one of my close friend’s bands called Cosmic Trash and I think we are going to be doing that a lot over the next few weeks. That will be fun to do, do something that’s not surfing and get a new perspective of filming.
Is school your focus right now, or are you just waiting to get out so you can film more?
I’ve always been planning to take a year off after school and just cruise for a bit and try and film as much as I can. Hopefully meet heaps of new people in the industry and that. But then I was hoping to go study at that SAE Institute in Byron for a couple of years and improve. That’s just something to kind of learn and meet new people.
What are some of your best clips to date? And have any been put online?
Nah, not really on any of the big sites, which I really would like, but I have been talking to a few guys from smaller sites, nothing too major. Hopefully something will come up soon.
Young, Free, Alright! is a fortnightly editorial series presented by Coastalwatch and Arnette showcasing and profiling a young and up-and-coming photographer, filmmaker, blogger, artist, musician, shaper, surfer or whatever that we've been digging. The rad and creative groms of Australian surfing. Alright!
To see more fine work from young lensman Blake Mellross, bookmark his Tumblr.
To see more Young, Free, Alright! profiles click here.
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