It was the end of 2014 when I really started to come up with the cast for THE ZONE surf movie. There was this relatively unknown surfer out of Australia that I knew of, Bryce Young, he was still flying under the radar at the time. One of the things I pride myself on is looking outside the mainstream bubble for talent that takes a different approach to surfing. I knew this kid had it all, extreme talent, uncanny balance, a willingness to charge, and an iconic bloodline lineage. Bryce comes from a family of champions, his father Nat is basically the Father of Australian surfing, & his brother Beau was a longboard champion whom I used to admire. To get Bryce in my next movie was exactly the type of surfer I wanted to showcase, I had to figure out how to make it happen. His talent level was like nothing I’ve seen in years, alaia surfing, longboarding, shortboarding, fish shredding, music making, skateboarding, snowboarding, and the kid could do it all! My mission was to meet and get him onboard for the project; his presence in the film was exactly what I was looking for in my cast. Fortunately for me - that is when VISSLA approached me to become a part of their family - they had just recently signed the talented unknown surfer and away we all went on our journey.
Every so often a surfer comes along that changes the game, makes you take a step back and reassess what surfing is to you, and others. When I first met Bryce he was a relatively shy soul, who really kept to himself. It was around mid 2015 when people really began to take notice of him, his star started rising quickly. With the international spotlight looming down upon you, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming for a young surfer to take. Bryce didn’t want the attention, he just wanted to surf, skate, & snowboard. To say that Bryce is “Real”, would be an understatement, his approach to everything showed to me that surfing wasn’t the only thing in his life. Surfing was just a small part of what made him, and this impressed me. Not only did he avoid the spotlight of the mainstream, he managed to stay true to who he was, never getting caught up or lost in the false reality of surf stardom.
It took me over a year to finally get the chance to shoot with Bryce. It was in the beginning of 2016, in his wave rich home region of Australia. For me, it was a dream come true to be able to shoot such an amazing surfer in his element slashing open faces on his asymmetrical boards. The kid just so happens to be what a filmmaker calls, “a clip machine”. Just about every wave is a keeper; I was so impressed with how techniqual and fast he was he literally blew my mind wide open. It was one of the highlights of the project looking through the lense and finally capturing moments of the elusive talent after a year and a half of anticipation. Equally as surreal was meeting his father Nat, one of surfing’s greatest legends. Nat would come down to the beach when I was shooting Bryce and cheer on his son like a proud papa. This to me is what surfing with family is all about; it was easy to see the love he has for his son just oozing out with pride from within. Hearing old surf stories from Nat while shooting Bryce was something I will never forget, a filmmaker’s dream. What was so surprising to me was the family unit that he was surrounded by - the Young clan is extremely tight - it was just astounding to see how close they all were to each other. Bryce has the most positive support group around him filled with love and passion - his beautiful mother Ti, sister Nava & her husband Taylor with their daughter did everything together! They would go to the beach together, eat together, and when a family member was gone, it seemed as though they all felt that absence together. I would say the highlight of shooting with Bryce for THE ZONE surf movie was getting the chance to meet his amazing family. I’ll never forget those months shooting around their home, and will forever cherish every moment I was lucky enough to be in their company.
Words by Jack Coleman
Photos by Jack Coleman & Kenny Hurtado