Miller Sharpshooters

Epic Surfing Adventure ruled by diversity!

At the beginning of June, Miller’s Heidi Tobin caught up with the diverse Scott Needham from SNP about his latest surfing epic that was filmed in Sumatra. Scott uses the Miller DS10 Solo System and mounts a variety of cameras as he shoots both stills and video while on assignment.  

scott needham in Sumatra

HT:  So what was the program you worked in Sumatra, Scott?

Scott: For Quicksilver International it was a global shoot of all the “A” athletes in surfing which are the surfing subject matterlikes of Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater, Troy Brooks from Australia, some young guy’s and the actual main focus of the production was called Young Gun’s 2, which was a sequel to what we did last year, and a follow up will be cover mounted on several magazines around the world.  Japanese Surfing Life, I believe Waves in Australia, and in Amerca it will be Surfing Magazine.  It will also simultaneously release with their global range of board shorts for the following Northern Summer Range.  So the graphic’s on the DVD that was produced will actually tie in so you buy the trunks you get the DVD and you can see that everything in action and the whole art direction and the feel it all sort of synthesis’s in to one big campaign.

scott needham tredding water

HT: From the photo’s you sent what were the challenges you faced getting all your boarding & photo/video equipment to dry land?

Scott: Funny you should ask that because I use pelican cases for water proofing  and they’re very good in 99% of situations,  however if you’re in a boat and you get swamped by a wave or whatever and you come to rely and those products to keep your stuff dry , they generally do, but in one situation we had I got washed out of the boat and I had to swim ashore because you can’t get in the boats between the breakers and a wave actually hit my bag and knocked it out of my hand.  It just caught me off guard and it also managed to open the latches and it was just floating about, literally probably about 2cm above the rolling surface of the water and the bag was semi-submerged with the weight of all the cameras in it! It was like that scene in cliff hanger, I was like noooo…., and I just swam for it.  I was only about twenty feet away, and I must have swam twice as fast as Thorpie, and got the thing and pulled the lid down and snapped the lid closed just in time to hold it under of my arm before the next wave hit us and washed us onto the reef.  I could have lost everything then and there so I sent those picture’s to pelican and they returned with torque pressure tests on latches and all this sort of stuff, and I said “hey labs aren’t the real world buddy, no text book knowledge here- you can prepare for things in a lab but where we actually use some of the stuff, it either works or it doesn’t.”

HT: So why did you choose the Miller Solo DS10 System for your project?

ds10 with film cameraScott: First and foremost versatility! There’s requirements for stills, film and video and whether I’m shooting with a six hundred mil lens and a still body, on that head the loading is fine, it’s great, it’s very versatile, I can easily swap it out, with another filler in the dish, so I can put a three way head, so if I’m doing portraits or other shots it’s great for that because I can attach the 3 way head and have centering ability.  For video it’s again the same thing, not too heavy, not to light, it’s just a great all round unit and I can even put 16 and super 16 rigs on there, we had A minima, we had PD 150’s, Super 16’s, Photo Sonics, high-speed stuff, in this day and age with travel and everything if you can only take one thing it’s kind of got to be multi, you know you got to be good at everything in your job these day’s, you’ve got to have something that does everything and that tripod has worked perfectly for me on all end’s of the spectrum, regardless what I’m shooting or what I’m shooting with. And it’s taken a fair beating too I might add…


HT: So did you get all the pictures, you needed for your project?

helicopter on assignmentScott: You always want more. .. Yes I think given, that we were there for 12 day’s, we would have liked more blue skies obviously, and clearer water, because you always want everything, because we have all the resources, at our finger tips, you’ve got a fantastic boat, you have tender’s, jet skies, helicopter, you know, everything! So you really try and make it work, to produce as good work as you can, yeah things generally do look good, but you always want more! We didn’t quite get the epic blue skies or the epic sunsets just to put the icing on the cake. The film premieres first week of July and it’ll be great.

HT: What advice would you to give to other media traveling to this area?

more filming in SumatraScott: Less is more, because they just look at you and say it’s a couple of thousand dollars in excess, every time wherever you go, plus the less equipment you have, the less you lose, the less you get tampered with, you’ll have less chance of being a Chapelle Corby, so you’ve got to be lean and mean these days and that’s the way it is.  So if I have a tripod that does everything that’s great cause it means I don’t have to take a big tripod and a small tripod and other accessories, you know everything’s in one, and everything’s converging to the point where its getting smaller and it’s doing more and I’m enjoying that cause I don’t want to pick up heavy pelican case’s and heavy old millers and all that sort of stuff. They’re great they’ve served their time but they belong in the back of the car or in the backyard.

HT: So what new projects do you have coming up?

Scott: Hmm…where are we now, we’re in May. Came back from Tahiti recently, which was lovely. Tahiti Moorea again straight after the Sumatra trip, where they just had another earthquake today.  Going to China in July, which should be quite interesting as a skateboarder is going to jump the great wall, then back to Indonesia again, if it’s still there and if we’re still aloud to go. Doing Africa again to do some game park stuff, some travel and surfing, is the main focus of it, for about 10 days and that will be for Billabong. Then back to Indonesia and then its snow-time for the Southern Hemisphere winter. We look forward to these assignments cause it’s a great time and great  places to go, such as New Zealand and Australia, Mt Hotham is really good, so again more stills, and some video and possibly some more film work.


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