WELCOME TO THE BEATING HEART OF YOUR ADDICTION
WE ARE THE SPIT
THE TRADE WINDS
THE HOWLING GALE
WE ARE BACKWASH
It was through a young kid’s awestruck eyes and influenceable ears that I first heard of Runamuk Visuals. I didn’t really know what it was but I knew Jake was the guy that filmed and made videos of the older generation of Sunshine Coast surfers that I looked up to. Guys like Wade, Julian, Lee, Brady, Coleborn. Roll forward a few years and I found myself once again starstruck, a young face in a huge crowd at the LA premiere of Billabong’s epic- Still Filthy. All the big wigs were there matched to their film sections but what really stuck with me weren’t the Andys or Tajs. Lee Wilson blasting for 59 seconds. Wade Goodall matched with heavy riffs and the lyrics “Gimme just a minute, while I fuck the world.” The same guys I had looked up to as a kid presented with a rawness and edge that seemed to fly in the face of what was popular at the time. Jake’s influence was obvious and it captured everything I loved about surf films. It wasn’t long after that Jake parted ways with Billabong as the GFC took its hold on many of the giant surf conglomerates and a reinvigoration of the Runamuk Visuals name became apparent. Brilliant content flowed, the vast majority from Jake, at the heart of RV. Films, photographs, paintings, scribbles and evocative thoughts all capture and continue to impress those that follow Runamuk Visuals. A beacon of creativity and an expression that seems almost compulsive. I caught up with Jake to chat everything from surf films to the environment and mental health.
I first heard about RV as a kid hanging around the older guys at Noosa. It seemed there were a lot of talented crew kicking around that area at the time, you leading the charge. So how’d it all start?
Yeah, for a little town it sure has produced some talent.
I always liked making stuff, ever since I was a kid. Being a single kid with split parents I learnt to amuse myself drawing and taking ideas from my imagination and bringing them to life. Somewhere amongst the flow of high school I lost touch with making stuff and kinda started doing stuff. Surfing essentially took over everything, add in girls and parties and I just keep chasing the fun, but my creative stuff kinda dwindled away. I left school, had a go at Uni, felt like I had done enough school time already and left, picked up an apprenticeship and did my wrists in and eventually found myself out of the water a lot with bung wrists, so I started filming my mates and I was lucky to have a lot of talented surfers and skaters in that crew. We were just having a hell time being kids and I just took my camera along. All the while I was working on drawings and designs and it all started coming together and my creativity returned.
Do you find any difference in the creative process between painting, photography, filmmaking? Or do you approach them all the same?
They’re a mile apart in so many ways but one thing that remains in all mediums is that I don’t really plan things. I rarely pencil out art ideas, and I don’t really do much pre-production on film projects, and I think that has been both a strength and a weakness for me. I don’t like to think about it too much. If there was to be a theme running through my work I’d say it’s “Contrast”
How do you feel about the internet these days as a creative outlet? Beneficial or black hole?
The internet is great, everyone is doing it! One thing about the internet that cracks me up is this; think of the most pointless, ridiculous thing your mind can come up with and that could well be going viral the same day. I love that it makes me laugh, I like that it’s a media platform that isn’t controlled (well it appears so) as much as TV and Print. In saying all that it is another distraction, another place to keep the millions of people with their heads down on the phone while the greedy, fat 1% are making deals with the devil. I hope the day doesn’t come when people are spending more time in the internet than in real life. I know one thing, it’s good to disconnect from it all.
You spent a good few years working with Billabong? I remember Passion Pop like it was yesterday. Was it a golden era or creatively constraining?
My days at Bong were unreal. The early days especially. The surf industry was in a good place, there were a lot of intelligent crew sitting up the top at Billabong, guys who had also spent their lives in the water, I think that’s what held the core intact. I had bosses who were down to take risks and try things that were new. A couple of them gave me the opportunity to step up and make my first major surf film, and yeah, that film was Passion Pop. I was surrounded by really good and talented people inside the brand and then there was the surf team they had in the 2000’s, Andy, Joel, Taj, Rasta, Dorian, Wade, Laurie, Jordie, Margo, Dozza, Woody, the team was bullshit, made my job pretty easy. I just shot what happened over a few years and the film kinda made itself. I met some of my best mates in my time at Billabong.
Yeah, you and Wade have had a pretty solid and longstanding friendship. Do you think that understanding and friendship makes a difference in achieving a successful goal on a project?
We’ve never really talked about what we’ve done for each other, we probably will one day down the line. We had some hell times over the years, and being on the road together so much we really got to know each other. Wade is a special human, super talented and equally as humble. I don’t think I can remember him being stoked on any wave I have ever shot of him, hahahaha, but that’s wade, he’s got no ego and it’s a trait that is so rare to find in people, especially someone who is a professional at something. When we were doing Creative Destruction we had that pressure to deliver, that pressure to perform and make something entertaining and that can get pretty hectic. Now we just catch up as a couple of Dads and hang with our girls and the kids here and there. I've got a lot of respect for Wade.
Looks like your family is charging, has that changed things for you?
Becoming a dad changed everything, and all for the better. Everything that Runamuk Visuals is about now is for my kids. Hopefully they will one day take over and they can do what they want, shoot pictures, make films, paint pictures or design clothes, they can take the brand and business wherever they want. Or maybe they will do something totally different. Regardless I want RV to be here for them if they want it.
The things I’ve learnt from becoming a dad have made me better at doing ‘life’ in general. I save all my pride for my kids. The way in which your kids look at you is the most important thing in the world. I want my kids to want a hug from their old man when they’re 25. My wife, I owe that woman more than anything.
I’ve always appreciated your outspoken quotes and scribbles especially the honest and candid nature with which you talk about mental health. Do you think people talk about it enough or is it still swept under the carpet?
The dark, dark world of mental health… What a ride that place is. Yes, mental health has been swept under the rug for too long. The scary bit, and the one I experienced first hand is the side effects of the meds doctors prescribe you can tear your world apart and its just plain scary.
Ever since going out into the freelance world as Runamuk Visuals I have had moments of anxiety, it’s the double edge sword of being driven and ambitious yet always having self doubt. It started off as a little feeling that would set up shop in my mind and guts the night before a big shoot. Then it started to rear its head more often, sometimes for days, then into weeks. I always beat it with exercise and when delivering a finished project it would all ease off. But eventually it got too much and I went to my doctor and he prescribed me some meds and they didn’t agree and it sent me spiralling. For me it was like an intense sense of worry and doubting of my self, but it’s not a feeling that’s easy to describe to someone who has never experienced it, which I think in part is why mental health is not discussed much, people just don’t understand it completely and it varies so much from person to person. It’s hard to talk about something you can’t explain. But, yeah, things got dark for me, I worked myself into oblivion, then the work stopped for a bit, and self doubt got me, it was scary… But I made it through. I often wonder why it had to go down the way it did and I realised that I’ve never done things in halves, it’s all or nothing with me, always has been and I think my path in life was too experience how low life can feel so I could find my way back and appreciate how beautiful life is and help others. A twisted and extreme sense of balance. It was reconnecting with nature that initially helped let the light shine back through. The concept of mindfulness and living right in the moment is what brought me back. I started living right in the pocket, not thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow, just now. If you’re always worried about tomorrow or dwelling on yesterday you’re never creating your future or past anyhow. Worrying is like praying for something bad to happen, and at the end of the day it doesn’t change a thing. If anyone reading this is battling their minds this is one thing that really helped me.
I started going out into my yard and I’d zone right in on the now, the basics, what you can hear, what you can feel, smell and see right at that moment, then once I was in that headspace I’d zoom way out on life, way past the clouds and the moon and the stars, way out until you look back down and all we are is a little speck… That would help me realise how insignificant my problems and worries were. Then smile, its hard to be mad or sad with a smile on your face.
If you are beyond that, go and seek help. I believe the best way out is communication.
It seems every year the reports get worse on our impact on the environment. I read some pretty shocking figures regarding the barrier reef recently and it seems the Australian government aren’t helping the situation. What’s your take on it?
I wrote something awhile back that kinda leans on this question.
I’ve found dead bees on my drive way every day this week. It makes me think…
Considering that your mother grew you in her belly and we inhabit a massive big blue planet that floats around an endless black space with the stars and moons I think it’s time we all started opening our minds.
I feel that so much of what we currently accept as ‘life’ is so far from reality it’s concerning. Has all of this ‘stuff’ in our lives been created to distract us from what really matters? As humans, we collectively go out of our way to destroy our own environment, often we elect politicians and give them our money so they can destroy it for a profit! that is fucked up! and so often the people who are trying to warn us are labelled as ‘hippies’…
At the end of the day we are the consumer, so if we stop buying their shit they’ll have to stop making it. If we stop listening to their bullshit, they’ll eventually stop dribbling it.
All the best things in life are still free; Sunshine, the ocean, music, love, fresh air, laughter. Turn off your TV, let them have their greed and their fear mongering. Stop believing in the things that divide us. It doesn’t matter what colour you are or what country you come from, whether you like girls or boys or both, we are all part of this human race. It’s time to get back to basics. Love yourself, love your family, love your neighbours, love the land. Love is the key. We only have one earth and once she’s rotten we’re done.
Finally token “what’s next" for RV question?
I just want RV to keep me as far away from the rat race as possible, keep me making stuff and doing things that make me happy. If it can help pay off my house in the meantime that’d be great, hahah. I’d like to create a film project with some real purpose, something that can change things for the better. Im not sure how or what or when but that’s what I’d like to do next.
You can find more from Runamuk Visuals including a new range of clothing at: http://www.runamukvisuals.com
Backwash Issue Two is a surf anthology featuring Japan, the photography of Chris Burkard and Sergio Villalba, Hamish Laing and Woody Gooch. Kalani Lattanzi swims at Nazare, whilst Amy Kotch surfs barrels whilst pregnant and John Peck knee paddles out as he has done since 1958.Purchase