Who is Olivia Williams?
I’m 17 years of age. I was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and moved up to the Sunshine Coast (Australia) when I was really young. I’ve just finished Year 12 – it was a mental 5 years of education, but I graduated, so – shit yeah I did it. I like Michael Jackson. I hate pickles on McDonald’s cheeseburgers. I’m kind of semi-vegan, and my dream job would be a Zoo Keeper, as I love wildlife and conservation. We need to keep our earth in good shape so pick up your rubbish!!
Toothbrush colour? Blue.
Word you overuse too much? Ahhh it would have to be “God Bless” or “egg”.
#1 thing always in your backpack? My RARE VISUALS stickers.
When, and how, did you get into water-based videography?
I’m pretty sure I got my first GoPro in 2013. I was shooting anyone and everything at the beach, and I started saving up for a Nikon D5100. One day, I was up at Noosa for the Noosa Festival of Surfing 2013, and I was shooting at Little Cove. There were heaps of people out, it was low tide, and I was perched on a rock waiting to get this shot of Jake Bowrey… which ended up getting published in Smorgasboarder. I was stoked!
I was watching a lot of Kai Neville, Taylor Steele and Toby Cregan, and that’s how I got more into filmmaking, but I still enjoy photography.
The MS crew, featured in most of your videos – how did you meet them?
I started up my business, RARE VISUALS, to make something out of my work. I started meeting heaps of people through who I was filming and shooting with, and I got to know some of the locals, such as Mitch Surman (owner of Mitch Surman Surfboards and Glass Coffee House and Surf Gallery). He’s taught me so much about the surf business, and he helped me connect with the whole MS crew, including Michael Lay, Jordan Spee, Hudson Ritchie and Sam Crookshanks. They’re like big brothers to me, always driving me to shoots and pulling my head into line. I bloody love them all to bits.
What’s it like shooting out in the ocean?
Way better than shooting on land. I’ve always enjoyed being in the environment with the surfers… being able to connect with them is sick, and I’m meeting new people everywhere I shoot.
How long are you usually out there for?
Depends on who’s out, but usually around 3 hours. I went on a surf trip this year to Christchurch and SHIT it was cold, I was trying to press the buttons on my waterproof housing with fingers I could barely move.
In ‘Full Throttle’, you tell a story over a long period of time spent filming. How do you piece that story together when editing?
Full Throttle – yeah, that was good fun. With a few of my films there’s no meaning, no story… but sometimes that’s how I like it to be. When editing, I like to sit down, listen to some Michael Jackson, eat some sushi, and start with the song. Everything just sort of follows.
When I’m trying to edit a movie that goes for 10+ minutes, my computer will always crash. I lose a lot of work sometimes, which sucks, but I’m thankful I have a computer in the first place. My school just took away my access to Premiere Pro (since I’ve graduated), so that’s put me on hold for a while. I have to figure out a way to get more editing software. I don’t have $50,000 dollar equipment, you know – I use what I have.
Everything I know about editing, I’ve learnt off Youtube. When I first started, I was using the GoPro editing software on my dads PC. I just think my work is never finished, and I always want to keep progressing with everything I do.
Unglued Vacation was the Official Selection at the Noosa Surf Film Festival – what’s the story there?
Well, firstly, my mom questioned whether “Unglued” was even a word, and I honestly have no idea, but it suited the movie. A bunch of us traveled to Christchurch, and we had a few days to free surf and meet up with legends like Cam Haylock, Minnie Robberds and Ambrose Mcneil. I was always planning to make a movie from the footage I took, but I ended up having too much of a blast over there, and shot only a bit of footage.
Luckily, Kieran Harris from OuterPathFilms called me up and sent through some footage he wasn’t using, The editing was on and off over a long period of time … I didn’t really know what outcome I was going for, but I guess it worked!
Crazies thing that’s ever happened to you while you were out shooting?
Ahhhh, I’ve lost my fins and had my water-housing knock me in the head. But it would have to be this year at the Noosa Festival of Surfing. Heaps of us were out at Tea Tree, and I’d been shooting for three hours when my camera just stopped working. So I thought I’d go ask some random on the rocks if I could use their towel to clean my water housing before I got my camera out, instead of walking all the way back up the beach to get my towel.
I took off my fins and was holding them in one hand with my housing in the other. Walking across these slippery rocks with waves coming in was pretty sketchy, and I was nearly to the shore when I stood on what I thought was a rock, but was actually a meter long stingray. It darted off, and I sprinted back to shore. I’m kind of terrified of stingrays.
What draws you to documenting the surf scene?
Probably all the legends I’ve connected with over the years. The Noosa surf scene itself is crowded and over-populated. But it’s one of the best logging waves in Australia, and I’m happy to live just 40 minutes away. Compared to what everyone else is expected to do at the age of 17, I’ve realised you have to do what you want, and not give a shit what anyone else thinks. It’s boring if you’re doing what everyone else is.
Females in the surf scene. Thoughts?
I feel that hardly any other females do what I want to do. Sometimes I get chucked around, but I always feel that I fit right in and have an epic crew.
I shoot males way more than females, but now I’ve finished school I have the opportunities to travel to the Gold Coast and down to Byron to shoot some of my lady sliders. The women-surfing movement is growing, and I’m all for seeing what 2018 will bring for it, and so keen to be shooting women more! I think it’s epic that the girls are final getting recognition for what they’re doing.