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new look, same lust

Patrick-Rynne-243x300The SA Innerview

Over the past couple of years, the incredible videographers and creatives at Waterlust have set the bar incredibly high for the ultimate in waterborne sports video, and there are few brands stronger than theirs.  They continue to grow in many ways, and tomorrow we’ll release a brand new video that really shows what they’re all about.  We took the chance to grab founder Patrick Rynne to answer a few burning questions we have about Waterlust in this SA Innerview.  Go over and sign up for their newsletter now so you never miss another lusty adventure.
SA: Can you explain how Waterlust actually evolved? In other words, how did you go from being a science student to creating the most recognizable brand in nautical filmmaking?
PR: It really started with that first Kite vs. Moth video we did back in 2010. Kite racing had just started to get popular and we were all curious how it would stack up against other high performance classes on a simple windward leeward course. I somehow drew the short straw of being in charge of logistics and filming, but through it, I discovered a love of filmmaking that I never knew I had. I was a grad student at the time working on my PhD, and realized that many of my sailing friends had the same passion for the ocean as my science friends. Film is a great way to capture those mutual feelings, and I thought it would be fun to make videos that did that. For the rest of my PhD I spent every spare minute I had making films about things I thought were interesting. Every time I made a new one, I tried to make it better than the last. I still feel that way.
SA: How did you see the existing video landscape for sailing and other maritime adventure sports when you jumped in, and how has it changed since?
PR: For guys like me, who don’t have any background in film or photography, I think the technology has really enabled creativity. Without simple point and shoot cameras like GoPros and iPhones, I probably would never have gotten into this. In my opinion, good equipment shouldn’t get in the way of the experience. I chuckle when I see people using camera kits that cost more than a car to get a shot that you could get with a phone. It’s sort of a double-edge sword in that sense. Technology is always changing and it’s fun to be at the leading edge: 4K, 8K, spherical, drones, whatever the trend may be. But at the end of the day, you still need to craft a story that has a nice beginning, middle and end. No fancy gear will make that process any easier.
Lower cost and easier to operate gear has made “wet” storytelling accessible to anybody. When you think about it, taking a camera in the water 10 years ago was pretty risky. Nobody had waterproof electronics besides the pros. It’s been pretty rad to see a much broader scope of work being done in the maritime world now that equipment is cheaper. Everybody is shooting, from the weekend warrior to the professional. It’s pretty amazing how quickly it changed!
SA: How do you fund Waterlust?  What’s your business model going forward? Can events hire you, or would that interfere with your storytelling?
PR: For the first few years we had no funding, we just did it and sort of experimented with things. We always had a mission to inspire people and get them thinking about the environment, and we didn’t want anything to interfere with that process until our identify was well defined. GoPro was our first major sponsorship, later came Sperry. We also have had lots of amazing equipment sponsors that support us with gear. It’s really fun getting to meet like-minded people across different industries…that might be one of the best aspects of my job.
At the end of 2014 we decided to develop Waterlust into an apparel brand as part of a longer term strategy. Sponsorships are amazing, but they come and go. We want to keep doing this for as long as we can, and we needed a firmer business model. Fiona’s sister was working as a designer up in NYC and we convinced her to pack up and move to Miami and lead our apparel team. Since then, it’s been very exciting as we learn to make products that reflect our values. We refuse to rush the process and didn’t want folks thinking that we were just slapping our logo on crap and selling it. We’re taking our time and only releasing products that we’re really proud of.
We don’t do for-hire film or photography work because it gets in the way of telling an authentic story. We’re not a production company. If somebody paid us a bunch of money to cover their event, it would be inherently biased. I’d feel pressure to make them happy. That isn’t to say we won’t cover events, we did a documentary on R2AK last year. It’s just that we pick and choose what we cover based on what we find interesting. It’s a bit of an unconventional approach, but it works for us.
SA: You nearly lost your girl in a very well-known wreck during your trip to Iceland – ironically, your RV turned into a kite, severely injuring Fiona.  What went through your mind when you were upside down in the air?  Did you consider dropping the whole thing and doing something ‘safer’?
PR: The accident was definitely the most traumatic experience any of us have experienced. We had our entire team in the vehicle when it happened, so Waterlust almost got completely wiped out by a gust of wind. Pretty ironic when you think about it! I think at the time we were all thinking that it would just be a nuisance. Maybe we’d have to get the van towed and pick our gear out of the mud, but being killed or paralyzed never entered my mind. Even Fiona talks about being trapped under the car and not thinking it was going to end badly until it started crushing her. It’s funny how you can feel invincible right up to the “oh shit” moment.
We had a lot of time after to reflect and think about whether or not to throttle back. Fiona has a Masters, I’ve got a PhD…there is plenty of other work we can do. But ultimately, we both feel like Waterlust is something special and that the juice is worth the squeeze. Now we’re just a bit more cautious with safety and try to anticipate the curve balls better. We also decided not to travel much in 2016 while Fiona was healing…then we went to Siberia in March, so clearly that didn’t last long.
SA: Will you cover the R2AK this year?
PR: Not this year, but we’re stoked to be fans and stay glued to the tracker! It’s such a cool race! I’ve got my money on Roger Mann, that guy is a beast!
SA: Lots of videographers struggle with creating narrative.  How do you do such a good job of it?  Is there a trick?
PR: Every project is different. I think as the producer you need to take a step back and decide what is the best method to tell the story. A narrator, interviews, text, music only? Once you figure out which method fits what you’re shooting, then you need to figure out your storyline and define it clearly. If you’re interviewing, you need to ask the right questions. If you’re narrating, you need to find the right tone. If it’s text, boil the words down to only those that are needed. My only trick would be that less is more. Only say what you need to say.
SA: You’ve shot mindblowing pieces on kiting, dinghy and offshore sail racing, iceboats, foilers, diving, river kayaking – just about everything.  What’s your favorite to shoot, and why? To participate in?
PR: That’s a really tough question! R2AK was pretty special because we got to have our own adventure in parallel with the racers and had no idea what to expect or really how to do it. It kept us on our toes 24 hours a day which was pretty exciting. In terms of sports, really anything that gets me in the water makes me happy. If I get to participate in the subject, that’s even better. Nobody wants to be the cameraman off in the corner with a big lens missing all the fun.
SA: Can you give us a tease for what’s ahead in 2016/7?
PR: We just got back from Siberia filming ice sailing. I got to try it and was pretty blown away. That video should come this fall. We’ve got a big expedition in July that involves building boats which is something I’ve always been drawn to. We’re also doing a lot more work directly with Ocean Scientists which I think people will find super interesting. There are so many stories to tell! In terms of products, we’ll be building on our legging line and moving into buffs, boardshorts, rash guards etc…fundamental gear you’d want for a day on the water. We’ve got some pretty exciting designs coming that we’re stoked to unveil!
SA: Would you ever do a VOR as a media crew?
PR: I wouldn’t say never, but it’s definitely not on my radar. I don’t have that dream coursing through my veins like the offshore folks. I think I’d lack the drive to do it and editing on a sailboat is miserable work. But who knows….but for sure the only way I’d do it is if Branning was navigating with Enright and Towill driving.