As anyone who has ever been forced to sit at a desk, in a cubicle, for an extended period of time, will tell you, on occasion you may feel the undeniable urge to get as far away from that cubicle as reasonably possible. Somewhere warm. In fact, I’m sorta feeling that urge right now, but since I’m all talk and L.A. is kinda fun, I won’t be going anywhere.
Meet Jeremy Rumas. At age 22 Jeremy was living in Chicago, with a promising future in corporate art, animation, and design; a decent apartment, and a white-picket-life awaiting him.
Then one day he got the urge.
This led to an impulsive surfboard purchase and a solo mission to Samoa where he met the warm Pacific Ocean.
That was some eight years ago and suffice to say, he’s become quite familiar with the saltwater.
He is certainly not the first person to take a leap into the unknown; many have been lured from safety by the promise of adventure, but not many have Jeremy’s ability to capture such incredible images and moods with his camera. Besides his obvious talents in art and design, Jeremy also has a knack for music, playing in a band with his friends back in Indiana, Turbofire to Zenith.
So instead of salty campfire tales from an ex-pat, we get to live his journey from landlocked to amphibious, through his eyes and ears.
Jeremy is wrapping up shooting for his debut surf film, “Hangs Upon Nothing,” a 16mm odyssey which he’s spent the last 5+ years crafting, from film to soundtrack, though at the moment he is nowhere near saltwater. His current whereabouts point to Indiana, far from the Indonesian jungle, where he retreats to work and save money for his next film adventure. No corporate dollars, no product placement, just a pure, objective look at surfing and travel through un-jaded eyes, one of the few you’re ever likely to see.
What started out as a solo endeavor has since enlisted the still-lens talents of Jason Lukas, Scott Goldsbury, and Jem Cresswell, and the surfing of brothers Mikala and Daniel Jones on their ongoing Indo-explorations, along with a cast of local Indonesian young guns, and real life surf-pirate Chuck Corbett.
I doubt even Jeremy could have imagined that an urge could eventually lead him to this.
Jeremy was kind enough to share some reflections on his project via e-mail.
Describe your life/career before you picked up a surfboard.
At the age of 20 I landed my first job as a commercial artist, drawing and animating for an educational software studio in Chicago. I realized I was learning more at work being around a bunch of really talented artists than I was in school, so I left school to go work.
From 22 – 23 I was full time as an artist/animator for a big corporation. I was really grateful to be making a pretty good living, be out on my own, and getting paid to draw. But I’m not sure I really felt like an artist at the time. All my creative energy and time was being poured into products I had no connection to outside of work. I decided to quit my full time job so I could pursue my own art. My plan was to freelance as a commercial artist and work on my own stuff on the side. I still didn’t have a very concrete plan, I just knew I had to try to do something of my own. I also knew I wanted to see some more of the world. Thinking back over the previous few years was sort of a blur of sitting at desks. For some reason with my 24th birthday approaching, I felt like I better make a move quick if I was to try to do something of my own.
It was a few months after this that I bought a surfboard and took that first surf trip.
What made you decide that you wanted to document surfing?
The whole experience of my first surf trip, a solo trip to Samoa. It completely blew my mind and changed my direction in life. Out in the water there I clearly remember the moment I thought to myself, “Wow, this is so awesome, I want to make a film about what this feels like someday.” It was the end of the day, north side of Upolu, I was out in the water with a few local Samoan guys. One was swimming around with a machete and mask, gathering urchins, cracking them open right there in the water and eating them. And we were surfing right over where he was swimming. This guy, Unga, could even catch fish with his bare hands, and he’d chomp them right there. I could smell the cooking fires from the nearby village, the light was golden and the winds light. The ocean was a glimmering glassy turquoise with small swell lines rolling in. I looked up and straight above me is this huge frigate bird just gliding peacefully. It’s black silhouette reminded me of the shape of a pterodactyl. And here I was right in the middle of all this. It was all so different than anything I had ever experienced before. I remember thinking I just really wanted to convey what all this feels like by making a film someday. I had no idea what the film would be, I just knew I wanted it to convey what the experience of surfing feels like to me.
How is your life different now?
I really had to cut back materially to make this film project a reality. I got rid of a lot of stuff, sold my car, moved out of my apartment. I looked at it all, and I said it’s either stay here anchored to this stuff, or simplify and head out and see some of the world. What I do have now is a wealth of experiences from around the world. I’ve made friends in some far corners of the earth. I’ve experienced a tropical cyclone on a small atoll. I’ve surfed perfect waves. I’ve sailed from Hawaii to Kiribati. I’ve listened to whales that sound like dinosaurs. I’ve seen rainbows at night across the open ocean under a full moon. I’ve experienced first hand a lot of what this planet has to offer.
I have this feeling now that if I was stuck in Indiana for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be bummed. Or even if I was to die tomorrow, I’d be at peace with it. I’ve thought about that actually. I feel like I’ve experienced enough in life already that I’m pretty fortunate.
And along the way I’ve been putting together a film. It’s been an amazing experience so far.