Central California’s Nate Tyler and filmmaker Victor Pakpour recently dropped Mute, a 20-minute film featuring Owen Wright, Dion Agius, Brendon Gibbens, Chippa Wilson, and Noah Wegrich. An homage to straight-forward progression, Mute rekindles our love for honest, no BS progressive surfing. In the interview below, Nate discusses the making of the film, his own personalty quirks, and why he prefers a thick layer of neoprene to boardshorts.
There are some coldwater vibes going on in this film. Was that intentionally part of the fabric of this project?
It just happened and I wouldn’t say it was really intentional. Victor and I were given a budget from Monster for this film and we ended up shooting a lot in California before we went to OZ in winter. From there we did a trip to New Zealand and before we knew it we were out of budget and hadn’t surfed in boardshorts once.
Coming from Central California, would you say that you’re more comfortable surfing in a fullsuit?
Yeah, I would say so for sure. It seems that whenever I plan a trip, it always ends up in cold water. I’m not sure why that is; maybe it’s because I don’t do super well in big crowds and the cold water lineups tend to be a little sleepier.
With the Internet opening up this giant platform, how hard is it to be unique these days?
It can be a challenge for sure. I’ve been really fortunate to have been a part of some really great projects with some really creative people in the past, but I’ve never set out and started a project from scratch like Victor and I did here.
It feels like you’re someone who avoids the spotlight. How nervous were you being the center of attention for this film?
Yeah, it’s a little weird, but that’s part of my personality. The one thing I didn’t want to have this project turn into was a profile. That gives me the craziest anxiety. I think profile films need to be saved for really well-rounded surfers like John John. For me, I just love to surf the waves that I always surf— which are usually shitty! There’s no footage of me as a grom and we weren’t setting out to surf the world’s best waves. I found the right headspace knowing we were just going to travel and surf with our friends on an eight-month journey.
How were you able to shoot some of the more sensitive spots in your flick?
We traveled a lot for this trip to some remote places and met some great people. But for the most part, it was really just me and Victor and maybe one other surfer from that area shooting. One of our goals was to keep some of these lineups “unknown,” which is near impossible these days.
Do you think it’s worth putting all the time and energy into a short film like this rather than making a three- to five-minute edit?
Yeah, I’ve had way more fun doing this. I mean, it’s still a movie for the Internet, which is so expendable, but it feels like we made something that is a good watch and sucks you in for a little while— at least that’s what I hope. But it’s all a wash though as this will be forgotten in a week; that’s just how fast we move these days.
Where did the name Mute come from?
The name came from Victor explaining my personality. He says that I’m quiet, humble, and can sometimes be a little moody.
Were you trying to ride the coattails of Strange Rumblings?
[Laughs] I’ll always be trying to ride the coattails of these larger projects that I get to work on. Those are the things that stick around forever.
What’s it like juggling your time between filming for Mute and Volcom’s new movie?
It was fun because Victor also had a few other things going on. So there were a few times where this took a backseat. Not in a bad way, of course, but it took some of the pressure off and allowed us to be a bit more creative. Also the new Volcom movie has a lot of surfers in it, so I didn’t get to go on every trip, which allowed us plenty of time to work on both projects.
What’s the hardest thing about hitting the road all the time?
For me, it’s hard because I love home and I have a great little family these days. Mix that in with the standard five-hour commute to the airport and a semi-serious case of neurotic OCD and it can get pretty weird. [Laughs] But I’m so happy that I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel and hit the road. It’s one of those things where you can get caught up in it all and get spoiled, but I just constantly check myself and keep enjoying it.
You mentioned that you made this movie on a limited budget. Did you use that to your advantage?
If we had more of a budget, we would have traveled more and the film would have been longer and we would probably lose the attention spans of viewers. So yes, I think we used a smaller budget to make something that people can stomach. I think 20 minutes is way more of me than people need.
Did you have a favorite location for this film?
I really enjoyed this wave we hit up Australia. It water was colder, but we scored some of the best surf. It’s the last part of the movie.
What’s next for you?
I’m still working on the new Volcom film, Psychic Migrations, which is going to be rad. Also, we’re starting a new Globe project in the next few months as well. So there are things in the works and we’re putting out the new Octopus edit soon.