Behind the Lens: Ivan Tanjung

We recently caught up with local surf filmer Ivan Tanjung at The Balcony over dinner. This guy has rubbed shoulders with the best of the best and he’s pretty humble about it. Read on:

How did you get your start as a filmer?

In 2006 I was working for a Japanese designer when my brother Rizal bought a Canon XL1. I started filming the local surfers then around a year later Taylor Steele moved to Bali. He sent me on a boat trip with some “A” guys (Andy Irons, Dane Reynolds, C.J Hobgood, and Shane Dorian) and liked my dedication so he hooked me up with a full-time job.

You must have been pretty excited.

For sure! At the time Bali was a hot spot for the freesurfing pro’s. There was a new scene and the east side was blowing up. They all came here to get the final clips for their video sections. I’d be shooting Taj one week then Bruce the next. All those Bali sessions in Campaign 2 and Stranger Than Fiction came from that period. It was really productive.

What’s it like now?

The waves are still going off but the industry has changed. Taylor is doing music videos and Kai Neville is nailing it but only using selected guys. As a freelance filmer you need to align yourself with a brand – you can’t just shoot with no plan for the footage because you’ll waste your time. No brands are buying footage by the minute anymore.

How’d you go for work this year?

Kai Neville hired me to shoot Jordy for two weeks, then I did some jobs for Nike, DC, a What Youth boat trip with Dane, Taj, Kolohe and crew, the Momentum reunion trip, then some extra jobs in between. I have enough savings to cruise in the wet season and go fishing, I’m stoked.

Which was your best trip out of all those?

The Momentum reunion at Kandui. When Taylor asked me to join them I was so excited. Kelly, Rob, Kalani, Benji, Rizal, Dorian, Ross, The Malloy’s – all my friends that I worked with over the years. The waves were a fun size and the vibe was good. We all had a great time.

Above: Ivan with Kelly & Benji in the Mentawai’s this year. Below: Ivan getting the bird’s eye angle

Who are your favorite surfers to film?

Dane, Jordy, and Andy. It was such an honor to hang out with Andy in his prime. I’m not a big-time guy in the surfing world but Andy always treated me well. He knew I was from a small Island and always checked to make sure everything was ok.

What equipment are you using?

I have a Panasonic P2 and a Canon 7D set up, it’s enough for me. Sometimes the job will provide the camera, like on The Drifter I was using a RED cam which is way out of my budget!

The best part of the job?

Travelling. Filming for Taylor for those years was my ticket off the island and I really loved it. I’ve been to Europe, South America, Oz, California, Hawaii. In Indonesia I have been on maybe 20 boat trips, so definitely the best part is the opportunity to travel.

Worst part?

Swimming to shore with a huge pelican case and tripod and getting nailed on the reef. Then filming for hours in the sun with bleeding feet. That sucks!

Above: Some of Ivan’s fine work can be seen in Rob Machado’s Melali Sessions movie. Below: Ivan rarely misses a clip. Except that one Dane Rodeo at Maccas (ask him about it over a beer)

Best place to go for a swell?

I think Lakey Peak is hard to beat. There are always waves and there’s no distractions. The locals are mellow and the vibe is very laid back. I love it there.

Can you share a story from the road with us?

Once Taylor flew me to Las Vegas for the Billabong Trilogy premiere. I was sitting by the pool at the Hard Rock. Carey Hart was there, 50 Cent was there, the hottest chicks ever were around. We had this VIP area with an open bar and it was so insane. Best party ever!

It sounds like you’re living the good life … Any last words?

I’m just really thankful for all the opportunities that filming has brought me and all the great friendships I’ve made along the way. There’s not much more to say than that.