Tyler Will Be There With Bells On
The Movie Magic Of Bagic Murrito
Director/Cinematographer Tyler Bell
Music Cypress Hill
When Tyler Bell threw down his visual gauntlet in the form of a quirky short film called Bagic Murrito more than a few big-shots stood up to take notice. Not the least of them being legendary surf director Jack McCoy who was so impressed by the young two-time finalist he awarded Tyler first prize in the 2016 Reelers Youth Category. The film is a spicy blend of surf and Mexican recipes, as fresh as it is mixed, which left many wondering how an unknown kid from Manly could cook up such a concept? Now Tyler’s ready to bring us in on his secrets of movie magic that netted him the most prestigious award in Australian surf cinema…
CW: So Tyler, what makes a good surf flick for you?
TB: Good surfing and good waves are the obvious elements. Then there’s the music as well as the concept. I’m lucky I have a lot of good people around me who are pretty talented in that respect. I actually had a friend help me remix the track to fit the vibe I was going for with Bagic Murrito because the shots were cutting against the beat, so we adjusted the song to work for the vision. Aside from that, something a little bit different is always good.
It’s pretty wild how you were able to turn standard waves into a really solid surf clip. Were you at all concerned about the summertime slop while shooting your footage?
It didn’t need to be ten out of ten amazing surfing, but the footage needed to match up. I had a scene with each trick and I knew how I wanted them to match up in that way. When I was first storyboarding the film, I put post-it notes up on a wall in my studio saying things like ‘lettuce cut’ and then what the next turn should be, or for example, the squashed avocado, I knew that I wanted it to cut to a stack there. Most of these scenes happened naturally but there were a few where we had to really plan ahead, like ‘I need you to do this move, because it needs to tie in to this shot.’ We had it all planned out from the very start. Looking at it visually in front of you like we did with the post-it notes was very useful too.
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Do you have a magic trick to finding these solutions in filmmaking?
Not really. I don’t even know where the Magic name came from [laughs]. I think we were sitting around with a bunch of friends and we thought it would be funny to call it Magic Burrito. One of my friends, would swap the first letter around of the two words while we were talking, I believe the term is called spoonerism. He was doing that a lot of the time and he just spat out Bagic Murrito and without even thinking we were just like ‘Wow! That is without a doubt what it’s gonna be called.’
It seems like there’s some unrequinted love in the storyline. Did this unfold naturally too?
I think the burrito is a little bit magical because it doesn’t unfold. I don’t know if there’s any special ingredients that make it magical or not but the girl is quite magical too, and yes it does keep you guessing, because a lot of the time it’s unclear who the love interest really is in this story. The whole vibe is magical, or tragical should I say?
Was this your first major project?
I’ve worked on a couple of things with one of my friends who runs a shoe company, who also helped me a little bit on this story. I guess my movie the year before was a similar sort of vibe where I knew from the start how it was going to pan out.
Were you expecting to win? Or was that a total surprise?
I really wanted to win, no word of a lie. After last year finishing runner-up I was pretty eager the whole time. Especially because that was my last year in the youth category. When it came time to release it I was pretty confident. I wasn’t thinking I was going to win or anything, but I knew I was in with a bit of a chance of making the finals at least.
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I really like the water footage in the closing scene. Had you any experience with that style of shooting prior to this?
My friend shot those scenes, and I was out in the water next to him with a storyboard, with a sheet of paper actually. That was heaps of fun, we filmed it at Freshie, surpisingly. At the time that was the only spot that had a little wave which was easy enough to swim out with the camera and shoot a girl swimming while still capturing good surf footage. I had to adapt and act accordingly.
Was it at all daunting to have your work critiqued by an iconic filmmaker like Jack McCoy?
One hundred per cent. I look back at Bagic Murrito now and there’s so many things that I look at thinking ‘ahh that bit sucks,’ or wish I’d done something better. There’s so many moments like that, and it’s all a part of learning. It was so epic to have Jack watch my movie, that’s one of the best things about Reelers, to have those guys looking at your stuff. It’s a prize within itself.
What did you takeaway from the whole experience?
I knew from all of Jack’s movies that he likes water footage and using different angles. With my film I thought ‘if I want to win, I’ve got to have water footage.’ I knew I had to adapt to the style that he’s known for, I guess.
What’s the next project you’ve got on the backburner?
There’s always heaps of things happening, I’ve got a creative studio with a few friends, and we’re always working away. It depends on each project, who you need to include and what needs to happen. We live in a pretty good area on the Northern Beaches, and there’s so many people around who are doing cool stuff and are always keen to get involved. There’s a shortage of good waves but there’s plenty of talented people.
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Did you find it competitive in the Youth Category?
One hundred per cent. I’d say that for all the categories, everyone was super keen to take it out. The first year set the standard, so people came into that event knowing what was out there, and what you had to do. There was definitely some competition. We met all the filmmakers on the night which was cool, couple of dudes from the south coast and it was sick to meet everyone that entered. It was epic that everyone travelled up for the night from all different areas. It’s such a cool night, and you get to meet filmmakers that you’ve only ever seen online.
With the new awards night screening at Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park this year, is there any chance you’d take another crack at Reelers?
I’m so stoked on that. I’m going to enter for sure. I want to be there on the night to have a yarn with everyone and see a big crowd turn out for it. It’s sick to have it at an outdoor cinema. Bummer I can’t walk there from Manly, but it’s all good. I’m stoked to see it somewhere that will take it to the next level. I’ll be there with bells on. I stuck my first post-it note up the other day, so I’ve got a month to get something sorted. I think the hardest part is getting the surf footage. Especially over summer time.
What advice could you give to crew entering the Reelers Youth category this year?
Write down all your ideas. A note pad is crucial. Try to think of something cool or funny, and have a good track. Nothing too poppy. Just something different and easy going. If Jack’s judging your category have a mix of everything between water and land footage and cater to your audience. At the end of the day if you’re stoked with it then that’s all that matters.
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