In many ways, Fallbrook local Aaron Lieber’s first and highly acclaimed surf movie, “The Pursuit” mimics his sudden rise to the surfing industry spotlight.
The first surf movie to be released in high definition Blu-Ray, The Pursuit is the story of up and coming surfers and their struggle to make a name for themselves in the industry. Bearing witness to such young, raw talent taking surfing to the next level is as inspiring as the story of Aaron who, at the age of 19, began filming on the yet to be named project. Aaron has been quoted as wanting to be “the next Taylor Steele” and according to some; this is one pursuit he may very well attain.
Ulupono Surf had the privilege of spending some time with the budding filmmaker and getting an idea behind what went into The Pursuit and what’s in store for Lieber Vision, his production company.
Ulupono Surf (US): You surfed for the CSULB surf team during college. What made you decide to get into film rather than embark on a professional surfing career?
Aaron Lieber (AL): Well I grew up in Fallbrook, California, which is about 25 minutes from the beach, so I was involved in a lot of sports. But more than that, I always liked filming or taking pictures of my friends skating, snowboarding, or surfing. So from a young age I just took to the other side. I mean I always loved doing the activities too, but I never saw myself having the natural talent to be a pro. I definitely have the work ethic for success, but if you don’t have the “x” factor you just don’t have it.
US: Before The Pursuit had even been named, you managed to score a session at a firing Teahupo’o in early 2006. How insane must that have been?
AL: Yeah, I started the project without a title because I wanted the title to come from the journey of making it. Filming at Teahupo’o for the first time was amazing. I mean as a fan of surfing its rad because it’s as close as you can get to a wave of consequence without getting hurt. The first few sets that rolled through were a bit scary because you are so close and looking through a view finder. But you slowly gain confidence and just cross your fingers that the boat engine doesn’t die and you get sucked over.
US: Getting to know and see such raw up and coming talent in action must have been amazing.
AL: It’s amazing to be a part of this generation. I knew a few of them starting out, but I definitely meet a lot of them through the process. These kids are the real deal and are super talented. I feel fortunate to get to work with them.
US: Great surfers make their craft look so easy and effortless. I think we, as audience and aspiring surfers, tend to extend this illusion to their profession as well. It seems very easy to take for granted the sacrifices they make to get to where they are.
AL: Yeah, to be a pro surfer is a commitment to surf a lot. Sounds too easy right … but it has to be an obsession, and you have to have some knack for it. You can’t just surf once a day and expect to wake up a pro surfer ten years later. There is a lot more that goes into it.
US: What was the toughest part about making The Pursuit?
AL: Everything is hard about making a film, especially the first one. Any film maker will tell you they need more money, that’s a never ending battle that really never ends. But, coordinating trips with six to ten guys is pretty tough. Music licensing is pretty annoying. Each step to making the film has its challenges, but it’s just the process you have to do in order to have a successful film.
US: Every premiere of the Pursuit from Huntington Beach to New Hampshire has been a hit with enough stoke to power a small island. What was going through your mind before the World Premiere in Laguna Beach?
AL: Before the World Premiere in Laguna, I was like a chicken with its head cut off. There was so much to do, and I had no clue what I was doing. But the night of the premiere was the best night of my life. It was like the ultimate high, I mean I haven’t done crazy drugs but I’d bet all my money that it was a way better feeling.
US: The Pursuit II is in the works. Can you give us a little preview of what to expect? Will there be a spin on the theme from its predecessor?
AL: The Pursuit II is in the works, and you can expect it to turn to performance surfing. I love the big one moves, but I am trying to get the guys to link things together, air, turn, turn, air you know, surf the whole wave to its max. The Pursuit II will also have a few tricks up its sleeve to set it apart from the first as well as all the other films out there.
US: You’ve got another project in the works in the form of surfing’s first reality show. Before this, would you ever have imagined the words “surfing” and “reality show” could ever be used in the same sentence?
AL: Yeah, Simply Simpo is a project I started in January. I think that’s the future, surfing in the here and now. I see commercials for every project that tap into the “surfer” lifestyle its only a matter of time before surfing really goes main stream.
US: What else is in store for Lieber Vision?
AL: I am working on trying to get a TV show going on Spike TV. But that’s going to take a while. Besides that just trying to raise money for Simply Simpo and for The Pursuit II – Evolution Revolution.
US: Got any words of wisdom for the gremmie daydreaming in the lineup wishing to be the next Aaron Lieber?
AL: I am going to quote myself; at the start of The Pursuit I wrote, “You become what you repeatedly do” and if you take that to heart its true. You want to be anything do it enough and you will become it.
US: Between all the projects you are trying to juggle, I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Aaron. I know I speak for everyone at Tribal Surf when I say that you are as much an inspiration to us as the amazing athletes you feature in your films.
AL: Thanks, stoked to have made a surf film and hopefully I’ll get to keep doing it.