“At the edge of Europe, spiritual harmony seems to have been long forgotten. Has surfing become so soulless, banal and political here that there is no longer space for experimentation? Have we become a sequel factory? This short film explores a young surfers spiritual journey towards the rediscovery of the self through a lullaby that seems to coexist within a looping daydream.”
We caught up with the young Portugese surfer/film maker power duo, Lourenço Gatinho and João Carmo on their latest creation; ‘Lullaby Dream Lullaby’. Once you’ve dived into this 23 minute visual delight scroll on down and read through our recent interview with the two…
Lourenco, Joao, for those who aren’t familiar with you, please introduce yourselves…
L: Hey guys, I am just a 19 year old trying to figure out who I am, but what I already know is that my passion is free surfing, sometimes skating and I also love creating art.
J: My name is João and I am currently figuring out my place as a photographer and filmmaker.
Where you are from?
L: I’m from S. João do Estoril, a town between Lisboa and Cascais, located near the sea. I love it here! It’s the perfect combination of good waves, an amazing skatepark, full of interesting people and much more! We see a bit of a European California lifestyle.
J: I was born in Lisbon, Portugal. For the past 8 years I have lived in the UK, it is such an open minded environment and mecca for creativity.
And what you do both do for a living?
L: I’m supposedly studying sculpturing, but in reality I did a gap year to focus more on surfing. But I don’t want to be just a surfer, my dream is in a way to connect my art with surfing. I am going to came back to university this year, life is about balance and this year I learnt that I can do both without harming the other. If I need to bail some classes because the waves are pumping, I will for sure!
J: This past year, I have been working as a freelancer in filmmaking (influenced by my academic studies in Media Productions), releasing my first projects to find my place within the area. It has been a fulfilling experience so far as I’ve had the pleasure to work on a lot of different projects surrounding photography and film in and out of the surfing world.
And your involvement in this project?
L: It’s a bit 50-50, at first we divided the tasks, we thought it would be the best strategy, but we were wrong, with time our ideas were going in different paths, there were highs and lows, it’s part of the process, fortunately we realised it and we changed it. We need to learn from our mistakes, that’s what matters. In the end we were in this together. With that, we tried to meet our ideas in the middle, leaving everyone happy.
J: There’s two sides to my involvement: on one hand, I partnered with Lou on the development of the concept, the look and the atmosphere of the project; with that in mind, I then wrote a script that could be easily adapted as the film progressed, also having the pleasure to direct, film and edit the captured imagery making our ideas come to life.
How did this film project come about?
L: It’s kinda’ funny, but before our friendship begin, I already was amazed with João’s work, I had dreamt of one day creating something with him. Martim Franca, was the one who connected us, he always talked of us doing something. But before we got to work with each other, we created a friendship, a really good bonding. And when the time was right, we jumped on that idea and made it happen. Thank you Tio!
J: Lou and I have been friends for quite a while now, and we have always spoken on how the Portuguese surf culture acts within a very strict bubble and the soulful side of surfing gets lost. Therefore, we wanted to swiftly create a satire targeting that bubble, by making something that was completely off from what was being made here in Portugal.
What inspired you to go down this conceptual route rather than your standard fast paced surf movie or edit?
L: What is the fun of doing what everyone else is doing (laughs). Plus I know João and his vision goes beyond editing surfing videos, I always try to make him feel comfortable, giving him space to create what he is feeling too – I trust him. The biggest inspiration for this short movie for me was “Ceremony” from Craig Anderson and Kai Naville. We wanted to make people feel something after watching it, leaving with more than they had come with and connecting people through feelings.
J: Over my short career, this kind of film has always felt more natural than faster-paced work. Not only does such a route allow for space to wonder, but also to immerse myself in the process and growing as the work progresses. If you’re lucky, you may reach a point where you know exactly what you are looking for. In the end the creative experience becomes way more fulfilling than sticking to a fast paced imprisoning format.
Did you always see this piece being such a long video, or was it something which grew longer over time?
L: We always wanted to do something longer than usual, the project had a script, like a guide to help us trough the process. The result you can see, is a bit different of what we had plan, for example: in the beginning I was working on a stop motion satire, but at the end it didn’t make any sense to be part of it, it would be too much for one video, the rhythm of the movie is similar as the rhythm of our breath – slow, nether less creating an impact. But focusing more on the question, I always had in my mind that it would be a long video, between 15 and 20 minutes, but it grow a bit more than we expected.
J: Initially, we were hesitant. We spoke of a specific duration for the film surrounding the 10 to 15-minute mark. But as the project progressed, we noticed that it would be longer than first expected – we opted to let the shots linger and flow along with the music.
Who are your biggest inspirations both in and outside of surfing when it comes to video work?
L: When it comes to video work, for sure Kai Naville, Yentl Touboul and Guillem Cruells. For me their work is more than just a surfing edit, for me it represents what I want to be a part of. It’s still surreal to me, that I met Yentl and Guillem this year. The connection that Kai and Craig Anderson seems to have it’s beautiful, it’s not a surf video, it is art.
J: Most of my inspirations come from outside the surfing world, and they vary greatly depending on the type of work I am doing. For instance, I find myself coming back to Mazzy Star, Darren Aronofsky, Andrei Tarkovsky just to name a few. There is this ambiguity and spirituality to their work that fascinates me.
Within surfing, I tend to draw mostly from Joe G, Dion Agius, Guillem Cruells and Yentl Touboul, with ‘The Retreat‘ being the trigger for me when it came out in 2020; it was very inspiring to see such a great film being made here in Portugal, which allowed me to see what was possible to do and I haven’t stopped creating since.
Have you worked together filming and on other projects in the past?
L: Yes, we did one edit together in the past, at least we tried, but we weren’t happy with the result to show it to the world, we wanted to do it in the right way. At that time, João was finishing his last year of uni, he didn’t have much time to dive into it, so we just delayed it – this edit is kinda the evolution of that failed project.
J: Even though our first film together never saw the light of day as none of us were happy with the result, I have always filmed and photographed Lou from the day we met. Nonetheless, it was a great start to our partnership, having learned a lot on how we want to work and understanding how we can push each other in and out of the water.
Where abouts did you film in for this video part? Was it only in Portugal and if so why?
J: The project is entirely filmed in Portugal mainly Lou’s decision. He knew exactly the kind of waves he wanted to surf, and it just happened that they were here in Portugal. Some waves are close to where he lives, but we mostly went south or north whenever there was a swell.
L: Yes, one of the purposes of this video, was to show who I am, with that where I live too, what made who I am today, how I see life, and Portugal is part of me, so it made all the sense to show the viewer that. You can kinda’ see my daily routine, the path I take to my home skate spot, me chilling in my unwinding spots, my childhood beach, etc.
You had Melissa Rose do an original score for this film. How did you end up working with her on this project?
L: Melissa Rose and James Richards, her boyfriend (a musician too), are really good friends of João, in fact, I only knew James before this, but I knew who Melissa was and her work, the ideia of having them doing an original score for the film was João’s, as in his last movie previous to this one had some trouble with the music copyrights, therefore this was the solution for that. So we asked them if they were up for it, and they loved the ideia, I remember hearing the first sample of “Moon Water” and I instantly knew we were all in the same page. They caught me off guard, I was so amazed with the song and the course we were taking, I still am today, they are amazing.
J: Melissa produced the score, having also written and performed it along with James Richards. During my last year of Uni, I met James through skating and Mel from the local music scene. They are both amazing artists and really good friends of mine. James and I had always spoken about working on something together, so I immediately thought of him when Lou proposed making this project – not because we are good friends, but due to their remarkable music and writing sills, essential to create something amazing and beautiful.
Did you give much direction on the music and audio or was she given free reign?
J: We had a number of meetings to pinpoint the score’s concept, feel and atmosphere so that everyone was on the same page. I know them quite well so I knew they needed their space to work and really get lost in the music, so I tried to
be as less intrusive as possible. Once the first versions were ready, we had a couple extra meetings and a studio session for the final changes – as expected the final score was mesmerising. Overall, both James and Mel created something really unique, they are a beautiful team and two really talented artists whose work elevated the film to another level, I can not thank them enough.
Lourenco – we see a snippet of you shaping a board. Is this something you have done a lot of? Do you ride your own shaped boards often?
L: Actually it was my first and only one at that time, I always dreamt of shaping a surfboard since I was a child. The time seemed perfect, in this last 2 years it’s been a shit show for me, I had 2 ligaments tears, then last year it was my right ankle, plus this year the left ankle. So, with that I had plenty of time to study surfboard design. When I enter the shaping bay it’s like if I switch off from the world, I even forget to lunch. The owner of the bay just gave me the keys and left me there all by myself.
If you want the viewer to take one thing away from this project, what would it be?
L: We wanted to emphasise and not forget why you ride a surfboard or whatever makes you happy; people usually forget why they’re doing things because they are to much in that they become blind, including me, it’s like a bubble that you need to pop.
J: Be true to yourself! It’s very cliche, but truth is I’ve learned that it is very easy to get yourself lost in your work, specially if you are doing something you love and are very passionate about, as nothing but the best is acceptable. Subconsciously, you may stop enjoying the process and forget why you are doing it in the first place. Then a storm inside takes over and you can’t really see the beauty ahead of you. It happened to me. That’s when it’s really nice to work with friends they know you inside and out wether you like it or not. Lou, James and Mel really helped me keeping my head up. If you watch the film and pay attention you can see that part of me in there.
What does the rest of 2023 look for you both? What trips, project and do you have coming up?
L: My primary objective for this year is to film as much as I can, I want my next project to be only A+ clips, now that I show who I am, I want to show what I can truly do. Plus shaping more boards, for sure. Future trips I still don’t know for certain where, but we will see!
J: I love working with surf films and hopefully I will for a long time, but at times they do feel limiting creatively so I want to explore another aspect of this art form. Maybe cinema. But Lou and I have been speaking on possible locations out of Portugal and the kind of work we would want to create next, but nothing is concrete for now.