I recently had the chance to speak with Executive Producer Geoff Clark regarding his documentary Isolated. I have always been a fan of surfing documentaries and the amazing footage that is captured but after having the opportunity to see this film and speak with Geoff, I found this to be something much more than just a documentary. What started out as a surfing documentary turned into a quest for peace and started an initiative. The people involved with this film went looking for untouched territory and what they found were cries for help that had been silenced. The dangers they faced that were shown in this documentary only show a portion of what they encountered in their travels. They risked their lives to film the “unfilmable” and what they discovered pushed them to try and bring peace to some new found friends because of a request that changed their lives forever. Geoff has put everything into funding this film and after you read this interview and watch the trailer, it would be greatly appreciated if you would visit their KickStarter page and donate what you can. They have some great rewards for those who contribute, on top of the rewarding feeling of helping them to send the message of peace.
The film [Isolated] seems like it is similar to other films we may have seen in the past regarding surfing. Step Into Liquid, Riding Giants, and Endless Summer are all films that come to mind when thinking of the surfing genre. Would you say that this film [Isolated] is similar to those films or is there some underlying factor that distinguishes it among the others?
I think the references you gave are definitely very relevant. Step Into Liquid is a film that tries to give you the history of surfing showing where it comes from and where it’s at today, while Riding Giants takes care of big wave surfing, and what our film focuses on is a separate group of surfers called feral surfers. Feral surfers are very adventurous and almost like modern day explorers and they don’t compete, they aren’t tied to any competition. What gets them off is finding these breaks around the world that are untouched and have never been surfed. Isolated is a very good comparison to Endless Summer, but what our film has that none of these other films have is a cause which is human rights issue and a campaign for peace which we honestly didn’t plan on but once we got there and met the locals as we traveled through the country, it just became so important and relevant to our story. I would say the best comparison would be a little bit of Endless Summer and a little bit of The Cove.
So would you say that this movie evolved into something else once you were on set?
Yeah, we initially went out to find one of the world’s last undiscovered waves and along the way the film started to evolve more towards this cause. We purposefully went to West Papua because it is one of the least traveled to places on Earth and we found these couple of reef breaks on Google Earth where we thought that waves could exist but since no one had traveled there it was kind of a shot in the dark. In order to do this we had to go 100% feral. We had to travel by boat via a local fisherman, hike through the jungle with backpacks, and catch our own food, there’s no catering budget.
What was the event or instance that evolved this film into more of a peace quest?
The defining moment that shifted our focus was a conversation with a woman from a tribe that had been living there for generations. She had been taught how to speak English when she was six years old by missionaries during the Vietnam War. She described to us how the military had come in and killed her brother and sent his head back as a warning to the natives that lived there and oppressing their freedom. This woman had taken care of us for days, we had taught her kids how to surf, and we really began to identify with these people. They were extremely welcoming to us even though a majority of us didn’t speak the same language and we still found a way to communicate. When we left the tribe, the chief of the tribe gave us a letter that was a plea for their freedom and peace that they wanted delivered to the United Nations and Red Cross.
Speaking of the hostility of this foreign country, what were some of the dangers all of you faced while on set?
Survival was the main danger. Animals while hiking through the jungle, being able to find food, and avoiding sickness were all dangers that we faced while filming. Travis Potter, our main hero in the story, actually did contract cerebral malaria which is the most deadly form of malaria. We had to transport Travis to the closest hospital where he spent a good month recovering from the disease. After he was released from the hospital, we took one more trip back to visit with the tribe and they were gone because they had either been moved off their land or were killed. Even though Potter knew the risks of going back, it didn’t matter to him. He still wanted to see his new friends and still wanted to do something to help.
How did Ryan Phillipe get involved as narrator? How did you approach him or did he approach you?
Well Ryan [Phillipe] and I had a mutual friend at the time and I when I was introduced to Ryan showed him a clip of what we had edited on my phone, he loved it. He just thought the story was so different and so unique and liked that there was a positive cause to it and Ryan being a surfer himself understood what surfing is all about and the lifestyle. I think it was finally a cause that Ryan felt a connection to. After he saw the footage I told him that he should be the voice of this and asked if he would be interested in helping us bring awareness to this cause and out of the goodness of his heart he devoted a lot of his time and energy with no real promise of return other than helping people.
Let’s talk about these videos that he and other Hollywood names have been apart of, referring to themselves as Ambassadors of Peace. How did these come about?
Ryan [Phillipe] led the charge and did the first video which made my job easier to reach out to other celebrities. As far as the campaign goes, we came up with the Isolate Ambassador for Peace campaign based off of other campaigns that we had seen with other projects. What we’re really trying to do with this campaign is gain signatures for a White House petition to force the Obama Administration to address the issue. In 2008, Patrick Kennedy, a Congressman at the time, tried to introduce a bill to do something about this situation and because of the lack of public support. What we want to do is not only get the bill reintroduced through our White House petition but through the videos we hope to create enough public awareness so that on top of the bill being introduced other high profile figures will join the cause and push the bill along quicker.
As previously stated, any help would be greatly appreciated because this is more than an movie, it is a cause. You yourself can become an Isolated Ambassador for Peace by uploading your own video and donating to the cause. Ryan Phillipe and Geoff Clark will be on Piers Morgan tonight at 9pm EST to discuss the film.
Related Sites and Social Media
Twitter – @_Isolated