An Interview with Filmmaker Perry Gershkow
Local filmmaker and friend of San Franpsycho Perry Gershkow is currently working on a new surf film featuring waves from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco and a roster of killer surfers. “Vertical Lines” is set to premiere next summer, and we’re stoked to announce that we’re teaming up with Perry to debut the film in San Francisco.
In the meantime, we caught up with Perry to chat about his background, latest projects, and of course, “Vertical Lines”. Read up below and stay tuned for more news on the film premiere!
SFP: Tell us about your connection with the ocean.
PG: I’m from Marin County where you’re always surrounded by the beauty of mountains and wild terrain, and you have to search for cold waves. It makes surfing more of an experience when you have to drive more than five minutes to the beach and throw on a thick wetsuit. Nothing beats that feeling of surfing in cold water, then getting out and feeling refreshed and energized.
My connection with the ocean has always been strong. Surfing, photography, film, and body surfing have all contributed to that connection. Ever since I was a kid, I gravitated toward the coast. Whether enjoying beach days with the family or just watching the sunset, I’ve always been happier near the ocean. It’s a place where I feel relaxed and don’t have to concentrate on anything else but what I’m doing at that exact moment.
When did you discover your passion for filmmaking?
I had an interest in filmmaking long before I went to school for it. I remember in high school, I never touched a camera in my photography class. All I wanted to do was joke around and hang with my buddies. I still look back at that and laugh. I recently went back to that class as a guest speaker and talked about my success with filmmaking…
Anyway, back to the question! When I was around 19, I picked up my buddy’s camera and started filming random things: skateboarding, surfing, funny skits—anything where I could get people involved I filmed. As I started editing footage, I became infatuated with the process of putting clips together and creating a piece out of it. Two years later, I applied to film school at UC Santa Cruz and got accepted. I eventually received a degree in film production and things started to pick up a lot. I went from owning a Canon t2i when I was 21 to now owning a RED and a plethora of other equipment. I now shoot commercials, videos for outdoor companies, footage for professional athletes, as well as work for a company making micro documentaries.
My success with filmmaking can be attributed to picking up a camera and going out and shooting everything I could. It boils down to experience: the more you film and edit, the better you get.
We know you’re still filming, but what can you reveal so far about “Vertical Lines”?
I couldn’t be more excited. Kyle Buthman and I have both been working with some of the top guys in California for the past few years, and finally decided to team up to create something that people will always remember. I don’t want to give too much away, but what we have so far looks mental. We’re currently working on a storyboard and have some ideas that I think people will really find original and captivating.
Our first goal is to make it look visually amazing. We’re going into it with 2 RED cameras, a drone and water housings.We want to capture places that haven’t quite been seen before. We’re showing our audience Fall and Winter in California through our eyes, and want every shot to inspire people to surf and explore as soon as they leave the theater.
Who are some of the surfers you plan on shooting?
So far we have a great group of surfers. We’ve been shooting Nat Young, Noah Wegrich, Nic Hdez,Shaun Burns, Austin Smith-Ford, Derek Peters, Pat Curren and a few other guys. We also have Nate Tyler, Griffin Colapinto, Izaiah Hansen, and local guys Matt Lopez, Marty Magnussen and Robin Caddell. With all of this talent, it’s going to be tough to not score some epic sessions moving forward.
Where do you find inspiration?
Oh man, I’ve been inspired by so many different people and places. Luckily, I was mentored by some very successful and creative humans who not only taught me a lot about filmmaking, but also business. Being a freelance filmmaker requires you to know a lot about how things work business wise. I watch at least ten videos a day on the internet for inspiration, ranging from surf videos to documentaries to company videos..
What inspires me most is seeing my fellow colleagues’ work and trying to keep up with the amazing output they’re creating. This includes Breton Carasso, Kyle Buthman, Adam Warmington, Blake Myers,Ryan Moss and more. These guys have made such a name for themselves in their communities and it’s so awesome to work alongside such a talented group of individuals.
Lastly, I’m inspired by my friends and family who push me everyday. Their support has gotten me to where I am today, so thank you!
Aside from “Vertical Lines”, what projects have you been working on recently?
I just went to Spain and Morocco with Nic Hdez, who’s competing to be on the World Tour in the next few years. In the last year, I also did a project called “Just in Time” with WCT surfer Nat Young, and another project with one of the best free surfers in California Noah Wegrich called “The Kiddo”. I also made a feature film for The Surf Channel called “Llevame de Vuelta” that takes place in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
What is your go-to local surf shop?
It’s not only my local surf shop, but the best surf shop in the world: Proof Lab in Mill Valley. They’ve been a huge support system for me. From hooking me up with gear whenever I need it, to helping me premiere my films, to funding projects, they’ve always been there. Not to mention owners Nate McCarthy and Will Hutchinson are both legends!
They’ve turned Proof Lab into the spot in Marin. Everything from buying gear, skating the insane mini ramp, taking music lessons, and hanging out with your buddies in the parking lot—it’s the spot! I recently made a Volvo commercial and we featured Nate as one of Marin’s inspirational figures. He absolutely killed it and the commercial is now playing all throughout California!
What are some of your passions outside of surfing and filmmaking?
I’m not sure if this counts as a hobby, but I really enjoy taking down a few cups of coffee and talking story with my friends. Whether its base jumping or fire fighting or playing in the NFL, I’m somehow surrounded by the most diverse, action-packed group of best friends. I can’t get enough of hearing about their lives.
I also really enjoy grabbing a couple beach cruisers with my girlfriend and watching the sunset over a couple beers.