The Caleb Graham Interview

Have you seen the trailer for the new Parkway Drive DVD? Meet the mastermind behind it all, Caleb Graham.

Can you give us a little run down on how you got into videography?
Caleb:  Probably the pretty common story – started taking turns filming mates surf with my Dad’s camera.  Once I figured out how to edit the footage, I started getting pretty amped on it.  Before long I was filming every session I could get to in the local area!

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What was your first camera?
The first camera I bought was a little Panasonic 3CCD. At that point in time the only advice that seemed to be getting thrown around was ‘make sure you get a 3 chip!’. This was the cheapest ‘3 chip’ option, so its what I got.  I bought a plastic bag housing off eBay for it, but quickly realized it was rubbish so invested in something decent.  These days a GoPro would cost a fraction of the price of this setup and be far superior. Not long after this I upgraded to the camera that I probably stuck with for the longest – a Sony VX2000.  I Wish I had of saved up more money and got this guy in the first place, amazing camera for its time!

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What gear are you using now?
Caleb:  For the last few years I’ve definitely specialized in Canon DSLR’s.  A Canon 5DMKII is the main camera I use, and if you understand what they can and can’t do you can achieve some pretty amazing things with them!

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What’s your involvement in the new Parkway DVD?  It looks insane!
Caleb:  I’m Assistant Director and Editor.  Ive been working closely alongside Ben Gordon (Drummer) in the post production process over the last few months, and its shaping up to be something we are all pretty stoked on! Band DVDs can be incredibly standard, so we’ve definitely set out to do something that hopefully stands out from the rest and can be appealing to a broader audience, not just fans of the band.  James Hartley, a talented friend of mine followed the band around the world with his trusty 5D for a year and captured some amazing footage.  Ben also films, and had a 7D in tow the whole time as well.  Combine this with footage from other filmers the band linked up with along the way, and we have some great footage to tell the tale of a pretty wild adventure! As you can imagine, that means we have had a mountain of footage to go through, but after some solid work over the last few months, we’ve turned the risotta into a feature length film.  There are no set up interviews, the movie is driven entirely by visuals and narration by band members. We wanted to make it as personal and ‘in the moment’ as possible.

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Do you make a living from filming/editing?
Caleb:  At the moment – yes.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a roll on of full-time projects in recent times, but before that I always had another casual job and did freelance film work on the side.  I’ve tried to chase projects that I’ll enjoy working on and that’ll help me improve my skills as much as possible each time.  So if it’s work I enjoy doing, then I’ve never minded if I had to supplement my income by working another job on the side. With that said, its definitely been a great feeling lately to have a solid run of work where I’ve been able to focus purely on the projects at hand and not have to worry about making ends meet too.  I guess it’s one of the reasons I’ve made the decision earlier on that if I wanted to make money from my film work, that I would have to branch out from purely shooting bodyboarding.  Im pretty glad I’ve taken this approach, as its meant I’ve been able to work on a diverse range of projects – everything from music videos to feature films.  This inspires me to try different things when I shoot bodyboarding and surfing; the things that I’ve picked up from different types of productions.  Its also been great to be just able to shoot bodyboarding for fun on the side and not have to worry about earning money from it.  What’s that saying about trying to get blood from a stone?

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How’s Byron these days as far as the creative culture goes?  It seems to be growing with more job opportunities…
Caleb:  As far as creative culture goes, there’s definitely a lot of people around here doing cool things. Artpark, Afends, Taylor Steele, Dion Agius, Thrills etc are all based here, so there’s definitely no shortage of creative culture in the local area.  As far as job opportunies, probably not so much.  It’s a good place to be based if you’re a freelancer, travel regularly etc, but compared to major cities there’s definitely not the same opportunities. Last year I traveled to the Gold Coast, and as far as South Australia to work on projects, so I’ve been lucky to be able to remain based in this area for long and still get work.  At some stage I can definitely see myself relocating to Sydney or abroad to chase film work.

Do you have plans on making a bodyboarding movie any time soon or do you think podcasts are where its’ at?

Caleb:  No plans at this stage, but it’s definitely something I’d love to do!  I shot a lot of footage over winter last year, and plan to make a short film from this once I finish up with my current run of projects.  I definitely have a lot of ideas I’d love to bring to a bodyboarding production and haven’t come close to presenting the sport/lifestyle in the way I know is possible!  I think podcasts are great, they reach a lot of people really quick, but I definitely don’t think they have the same impact as a full length movie.  I don’t think making a movie and hoping to make your money back from sales alone is a profitable venture these days though, and I think if we want to see more high quality movies it will come down to companies within the sport being willing to back these projects and work with the filmmaker to plan and fund the film at a pre-production stage.

Who or what’s your inspiration?
Caleb:  At first, bodyboard films definitely had a huge impact.  The Waldrons first movies and ‘Video’ are probably the ones that had the most impact when they first came out.  But as I’ve gotten older, I find myself being inspired much more by films from outside of the bodyboarding world.  Music videos have always been a big inspiration.  Spike Jonze has always been a big influence, and more recently guys like Krozm and Nabil are doing pretty cool stuff.  Taylor Steele’s ‘Sipping Jetstreams’ and ‘Castles In The Sky’ are definitely favourites, Kai Neville has done some cool things, and recently I thought Riley Blakeways short ‘Thom’ was pretty relevant. Other than that, I’ve always watched a lot of skate videos, and obviously the stuff Brain Farm are doing is huge!

Any advice for young up and comers filmers?
Caleb: From a technical side of things, you’ve got access to everything you need to nail quality videos at a cheap price. Look into how you can tell a story, or create a vibe that’ll set your video apart from the sea of other edits that are uploading to Vimeo by the minute. Volunteer to work on a film set, or to help someone out who is doing cool things. Take influence from people who inspire you, and look what you can take from them and apply to your own work.