Words: Michael Lenane
It’s broad daylight. I’m naked. There are six cameras filming and pointed directly at me. How the hell did I get myself into this situation? It all started with a day dream…
I was sitting at home, nursing a pretty savage hangover. Horizontal, couch-ridden, watching David Attenborough documentaries with my brain in a very fragile state. All of a sudden, I thought, “This guy should make a documentary about stand up paddle boarders… a documentary about a SUP boarder, born in the wild, tracking its progress through life in the wild.” I shared this idea with my wife the idea, with the response of, “You’re an idiot, Mike. Get some sleep.”
A month after the couch session, my dad and I set off to a secluded location a few hours from Perth with tripods, cameras and a script in tow. SUP racing icon, Michael Booth, agreed to star in my film, acting opposite me as the antagonist ‘Boothius Maximus’.
We set off on the 400m river crossing to reach the huge sand dune that was our set. With thousands of dollars’ worth of filming gear on board, it was a nerve-racking paddle. We successfully reached the other side and prepared to shoot.
We climb to the top of the dune and everyone is praying we don’t have to film many takes as our calves were burning with pain. We set up the cameras, started filming the Boothius Maximus reveal scene and realize no-one remembered to put sunscreen on. With the Australian sun burning into us second by the second, we complete the shots as fast as we could.
Shooting the chase scene
Boothy and I have to run down the beach, parallel to the water, racing for ‘alpha male ownership rights’ to the new board (Starboard Starlite Freeride). Before we start rolling film, I say to Boothy, “Hey man, let’s just do this at 80% intensity and I’ll speed it up in post-production.” Boothy agrees. The cameras start recording and I call ‘action’. We start running and I suddenly realize that:
- I am not a professional athlete.
- Boothy’s 80% effort is my 100% effort.
- I won’t be able to keep up.
- I should probably drink less beer.
That scene when we both dive for the SUP is gold. I overshot the jump in the first take and nearly smashed my face into the board. Boothy’s reaction to me losing the race is priceless too. I slap the water in disgust and he bursts out laughing. As a result, I kept the footage in the film.
It was a great experience working with Michael Booth. With an outstanding work ethic, adapting to new situations well and he works quickly. I quickly understood why he is a champion.
Several months and several shoots later, the filming was complete. Now it’s time to edit and lay narration over the top. My two options for narration were:
- To search through the 100+ hours of David Attenborough footage to find and edit his speech to fit my script.
- Learn how to speak like David Attenborough.
I chose option two. This meant watching hours of David Attenborough films and countless hours imitating his voice. The most enjoyable part was selecting the music. It is so powerful in how it makes the audience connect with the film on multiple levels.
The Australian release
We threw on a big party in the Australian summer and premiered the film in our backyard, outdoor cinema style with a bunch of friends and family. It was an amazing night, but little did I know, that my life would never be the same after that night. Within one week, the YouTube link was shared by friends, family and strangers. One week later, my documentary had been seen all over the world.
Flash forward to six months later. I’m heading to California for the Santa Cruz Paddlefest, as my film is being shown at the SUP Film Festival. From a vision in my mind, to now living my wildest dreams, I am blown away by the journey that I am on.
Follow your dreams
Looking back, it’s been an amazing ride. I have put in well over 100 hours filming and editing, endless hours practicing how to speak like David Attenborough and been through almost every hurdle imaginable along the way. And you may ask why?
Why not? It’s been the best business card I could have ever dreamed of. I am promoting the sport that I love. But it’s more than that. If you love something, you should go all out, balls to the wall, with 100% intensity, until you’ve reached your goal. There were times that I wanted to give up on the film. But my love for the sport and my desire to make people laugh kept me on track. If you have a dream in life, no matter how unrealistic or ridiculous you may think it is, you should go after it. You never know, you may just achieve it.
When you’re in pursuit of a dream, it creates an intense focus in your life. All of a sudden, that obnoxious twit at work doesn’t bother quite as much. You start showing up to work on time. You become more present in the moment. Insignificant problems do not affect you as much. Great things then start to gravitate towards you. It all begins with baby steps. Sometimes it is two steps forward then one step back. It sounds cliché, but it worked for me. And it can work for you, too.