Interview with Filmmaker Claudia Lederer | Cold Lines

Cold Lines was selected for the 5th Annual NY Women's Surf Film Festival 2017, directed and filmed by Claudia Lederer. November 2016. Far away from the crowds and far away from temperate climate, Claudia followed Lee-Ann in her search of some waves to surf. Traveling light, she tried her best, with limited means and gear, to relay the particular atmosphere and unique sensations felt in this fascinating island.

ny women's surf film festival cold lines
ny women's surf film festival cold lines

Where did you grow up and where do you call home now?

I grew up on the east coast of France, next to the French Mediterranean sea, far from the west coast’s Atlantic breaks. I left early for my studies, lived in London where I graduated and worked in Finance, then moved to Paris. Urban and office life didn't fit me at all, and I went through a big professional transition. I started a new life in Biarritz & its surroundings, our little french California, and I am so happy to call it home now.

What inspired you to make COLD LINES? 

Iceland is a fascinating land. Its untouched nature, powerful landscapes, misty and cold atmosphere can move anyone to a complete different world. It’s something that can fill your imagination with tales, legends, even magic. Traveling, living and surfing in those unreal landscapes strong feelings that I wanted to capture and share with each viewer, friend, family. So I was directly inspired by this environment re-create the atmosphere and feeling of being out there.

Music also plays a big role. During that trip, I remember we were watching the footages of the day with my friends in a farm located in a remote area of the west fjords. That song, Stofnar Falla, by Samaris suddenly played over the surf images. It has a sort of Icelandic magic, and it kept playing in my head for all the rest of the trip. It was important for me to use this song in this video, so I contacted an Icelander who knows an Icelander who knows their manager, in order to reach them, and voila.

How did you get started in filmmaking and why?

I wasn't really planning to do so, but I have this thing where I am naturally drawn to this channel of expression. Originally I was only using the photographic medium, but both are really close, I see a real continuity between photography and filmmaking.

I'd say that photography has the advantage of being almost instantaneous, and straightforward, relatively easy to achieve, whereas motion can involve multiples components (sound, rhythm, voice, movement) which makes it more complex but also so appealing.  

That's the reason I want to keep doing it, more and more, get better at it, because there are so many things to be said, so many stories to share, everything is possible.

How did you come to meet Lee-Ann Curren and Heidar Logi? 

Lee-Ann is the first surfer I have been working with, she visited Iceland almost 6 times I think ! She has a particular relationship with this place. That's also how she met Heiðar Logi, who is one of the very few local surfers in Iceland. We get to spend time with him and the Arctic Surfer crew every time we visit.

Where was the film shot? Tell us about the surf breaks you featured in the film.

The first few waves were shot in the mouth of Jökulsárlón, or Glacier Lagoon, a unique place where melted ice from the glaciers meet the salted water of the ocean. We knew that a wave happened to work over there, but it needs a bunch of variables to do so, and swell was quite small.

Heading east, we stopped to take a look: it was there, working I felt so grateful to film in such a unique scenery! Then, other breaks featured in the film are close to Reykjavík, and others almost a thousand of miles... west! So we basically almost drove all around Iceland. This place has a lot to offer... for whom has lot of time to explore.

What were some of the challenges in making this film?

Well, I'd say that Iceland is not a 'surf' land. It's not indo where you know you're going to score. After all, the average conditions are those of the arctic : storms, northen wind, big winter swell, tricky waves, or no waves at all... you'd better be ready to be left with nothing to surf ! Also, I said, Iceland is very big, there are a lot of options (north, west, south, east), but conditions are not easy to forecast : no webcam, no app to tell you exactly how the conditions are going to be, very very few surfers, that means no locals to report or confirm the weather, so you just have to drive and check by yourself, which can take up from 1 to 10 hours.

Can I say that there would be no Cold Lines without the support, knowledge and kindness of our Icelandic friends, Ingó Olsen, photographer Elli Thor Magnusson, and amazing Steinar Lár and Heiðar Logi ? Surf in Iceland it is quite a mission, for a surfer as well as for a filmmaker or photographer. Standing in the arctic wind & rain with your equipment for a long time can be very challenging.

Tell us more about the surf culture and scene in Iceland.

It is tiny. The Icelandic surf scene is composed by approximately 20 very motivated people. There are no surf shops so it is complicated for them to access necessary gear, as most brands don't ship to Iceland. But they are passionate and very determined, I feel they would surf in almost any conditions. It looks like more and more foreigners are traveling to Iceland for surfing, but the amount is still very very low, surfing is far from being the national sport, as I said, it is quite a mission. Is there a discrepancy with the number of women and men that surf in Iceland? Well both numbers are still small but I have seen more and more women motivated to get out there.

Do you feel that women’s surfing has improved over the past decade? If so in what ways? Surfing has been gaining a lot of attention, so the level is definitely rising. I also feel that many women are becoming multi-skilled : longboarding, shortboarding, technical turns, competitive surfing, free surf, big wave riding, everything, with style and creativity ! I see groms charging at a young age so I'm looking forward to see these new talents.

Where are some of your favorite places to surf?

Turquoise waters with friends around. But it’s been months I had no time for myself so I wish that happens soon. Where do you find your personal inspiration? Interesting question.. I watch very few surf movies. And I usually don't look at what others are doing. So I guess it's comes from what I am drawn to in my environment : aesthetics, minimal, graphical elements, and certain colors in particular (can't explain why but I am very attracted to the color range from white to blue. I would have a hard time working with orange/red colors).

What can’t you live without when you travel?

Do you mean, apart from a camera? Well, another camera. Haha At the moment, my worse nightmares are situations where I see this perfect, empty barrel and don't have a camera on hand to get the shot. High degree frustration.

What is next for Claudia?

More surf films. Work hard to get good at it, because that's what I like doing the most. I am starting to get some good feedbacks and that is so encouraging, it helps to hold on with the rhythm and make necessary concessions: I have multiple projects overlapping, which is amazing, but I hardly had time for myself for the whole past year. I need to finish 2-3 videos that are still waiting on my computer, then in a few weeks I will follow Lee-Ann Curren in a long-term project in Europe. I also plan to document the women surf scene in France, they are doing so well at the moment.

ny women's surf film festival cold lines
ny women's surf film festival cold lines
ny women's surf film festival cold lines
ny women's surf film festival cold lines