There’s just something about Tofino – the star of Ryan Struck’s new film.
Situated on the rugged Pacific coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island, this tiny seaside town is as unique as it is remote. With its vibrant women’s surfing scene, laid-back vibe, and stunning natural surroundings, Tofino has been a rich source of inspiration for filmmaker Ryan Struck.
In his latest project, a documentary short titled “Tofino is a Place,” Ryan captures the essence of Tofino and its female surfers. “I have travelled all over the world for work as well as pleasure. But when I first visited Tofino, it revealed itself to me right away as someplace different – a world apart,” Ryan says. “It’s a haven for artists, entrepreneurs, and adventurers, but its soul is surfing.”
A passionate surfer himself, Ryan has well-honed expertise in surfing cinematography, both under and over the water. In Tofino, he teamed up with local resident and surfer Jen Thorpe to learn more about the women’s surfing scene. After three separate trips there, he executive produced and directed “Tofino is a Place” with a focus on Chrissy Montgomery, another local surfer who founded the “Queen of the Peak” all-female surfing content. “I was incredibly inspired by this amazing group of creative women who have really put women’s surfing on the map,” Ryan says.
Once again, Ryan depended on his Anton/Bauer Dionic XT batteries.
Ryan and his crew shot the majority of the above-water scenes with an ARRI ALEXA Mini camera. His Dionic XTs provided dependable mobile power not only for the camera but – with the built-in USB and P-TAP ports – also powered a SmallHD 502 Bright monitor with Wooden Camera Follow Focus and a Teradek Bolt 500 XT wireless transmitter and receiver. “We spent a lot of our time on the beach, on the water, and in the woods, and I never had to worry about whether I’d have enough power to get us through the shoot,” Ryan says. “If I had any doubt about runtime, a quick tap on the Dionic XT battery would light up the onboard LCD display to tell me the remaining runtime to the minute.” Adding, “Anton/Bauer batteries are not just super-rugged but compact and lightweight, which really makes a difference on an outdoor shoot like this.”
On one particular occasion, the crew was out in a very remote location, canoeing on a river to find a salmon spawning ground. “We were out for eight hours in some very rugged conditions – climbing through brush and over rocks and portaging the canoe.”
“But once again, the Dionic XTs came through for me – they lasted all day and then some.”Ryan Struck
Staying power to get the shot
Another time, Ryan and his crew were out on the beach in late afternoon. The rest of the crew was shooting the surfers ashore with the ALEXA, but Ryan planned on getting some underwater surfing footage with his Canon 5D. He relates, “I got my wetsuit and fins on, put the camera in the underwater housing, and got into the water – and just as I started to film a bit, the little Canon battery died,” he relates. “I had to stop what I was doing, get out, and walk almost a mile to the car to get another battery, and in the meantime, I was in danger of missing this perfect, almost-sunset light.”
All the while, Ryan’s fellow crew members were on the beach, capturing a broad range of surfing footage with the ALEXA. They were able to keep going with the same Dionic XTs all through the sunset and into the evening, and they even caught a time lapse of the moon rising.
“That’s the thing about the Anton/Bauer batteries. They’re so dependable that you will never miss a shoot because you had to go back to the car”Ryan Struck
Capturing a sense of place
For Ryan, the qualities that make Tofino so unique brought an interesting twist to the project – a location that inspires a film, versus a film concept that requires location scouting to bring it to life. In the first few seconds of “Tofino is a Place,” surfer Chrissy Montgomery sums it up this way: “Tofino is a place where you can lose yourself and find yourself.”
“It’s not often that the place defines the project for me, Tofino really got a hold of me in a visceral way. All I needed were tools like the Dionic XTs to help me bring the vision to life and fuel my creativity.”Ryan Struck