Watch 'Inside This Soft World'
Dave Rastovich and Nathan Oldfield first met back in 2009. “I was doing the milk run with Thomas Campbell’s surf movie The Present,” recalls Dave, “and we did a show at the old Avoca theatre. I was there with Tom Wegener and he was staying with a mate of his… who turned out to be Nathan. Maybe a year later Nathan wanted to shoot some longboarding with my partner Lauren, so he stopped in and spent some time with us, living in a shoebox in the bush. He and I became mates and have been ever since.”
Patagonia Global Sports Activist Dave Rastovich. Photo: Nathan Oldfield.
In the years since, the pair has established one of the most fruitful partnerships in the world of surf film. “We eased into a working relationship,” recalls Nathan of the early days. “I had a sense Dave didn’t like pushy vibes and of course shooting with him was a dream for me, but it all unfolded organically.”
They connected initially around a shared vision of how they saw surfing. “He’s got an appreciation for all types of surfing, it’s all cool to him.,” says Dave of Nathan. “He psychs on the history of surfing, women’s surfing, bodysurfing, shortboarding, all of it. At that time it was refreshing. We were coming out of a time dominated by shortboards and I went great, another outcast like me, another fringe dweller so I don’t have to get laughed at on my own. He rides these 12-foot single fins on the points, not like a longboard though, he rides them like they’re 12-foot single fins.”
Dave surfing on a Wednesday morning. Photo: Nathan Oldfield.
They also connected as much around a more subtle approach to capturing the surfing act. “Nathan’s signature is that they’re gentle and introspective takes on surfing,” offers Dave. “The culture is pretty loud and raw and fast and he’s not a loud and fast-paced guy; he’s chilled and much more of a listener and a talker great listener great asker of questions. His movies are meditations and musings and a deeper look a t the surfing life. His films ask, what does a surfing life look like? He’s also got a different perspective when we go to places that have been shot a million times. He doesn’t go in guns blazing; he’s really considerate and it’s a gentle approach to his subjects, whether that’s film or stills.”
Inside This Soft World was shot on a single North Coast autumn day and is fairly typical of how Dave and Nathan work. “We try and be subtle and zig while everyone’s zagging,” says Nathan, who managed to zig and zag and find enough clear water to avoid a single other surfer appearing in frame. “I’m not really the full-time camera guy so the shooting relationship is more relaxed. We rock up separately and I’ve always got a towel around the tripod and I slip in and slip out. It’s never a production. We try and stay incognito. Dave is the master sandbank bloodhound, he sniffs them out, whispers about a little corner at such and such and he always goes for a little surf check on dark to see what the sands doing for the following morning. We go to the spot with a million closeouts and one good one, as long as there’s nobody there.”
A still from the new clip. Photo: Nathan Oldfield.
Unlike much of Nathan’s other work, there is no higher meaning with Inside This Soft World. It’s simply Dave, surfing on a Wednesday morning… which can be argued implicitly has its own higher meaning. “He’s so unhurried with a real economy of movement,” offers Nathan. “You know how dancers talk about ‘first position’, that stance or pose where they can spring from? Dave has that down. His first position is easy on the eye and he can be standing there relaxed, unhurried, in first position then he’ll just drop a hammer and blow your mind. It’s hard for me to edit it out, it’s the space between the notes, that’s where the music happens with his surfing.”
Banner image – Photo: Nathan Oldfield.