Mikey DeTemple and Picaresque
Mikey DeTemple is one of those guys that just cruises comfortably under the radar, doing his own thing, whatever that may be at the moment and doing whatever it is quite well. These are the type of people that when they seem to branch off into random directions you are always eager to see what results come of it, knowing that whatever path they choose to go on they bring their own style and skill to it. When I first heard that Mikey was working on a surf film I had these thoughts in mind and was eager to see the fruits of his labor. His film Picaresque is currently making the rounds so if you get a chance go check it out. After catching it here at one of the first stops we were able to get him to answer a few questions to dig a bit deeper into what was behind the shift from a pro surfing career into that of a film maker. Here’s what Mikey had to say…
Q. We’ll get the formalities out of the way, what’s you name, age and a quick rundown of your surfing background.
My name is Mikey DeTemple and I’m 25. I grew up on Long Island – lived there for 14 years. I then moved to Florida in 1999 where I’ve lived ever since. I started surfing at age 12 and won my first professional contest at 16.
Q. You rode for arguably one of the most well known shapers, Al Merrick, trudging along on the pro longboard circuit. Then you moved on to a somewhat obscure, yet renowned, underground shaper Chris Christenson, and quit the pro surfer drudgery to travel the world and make a surf film. What’s the thought process there?
That’s a really great question. One of the best I have been asked in a long time. I was really happy surfing for Al. It was like a big family over there. I would visit a few times a year, get new boards, surf Rincon, and hangout with some pretty influential surfers of the last decade. I couldn’t ask for more. I had my own little niche with them.Â But something was missing. I wasn’t being fulfilled. I liked my surfboards, but I didn’t love them. I felt my surfing had gone stale and at the same time I was getting discouraged on where the pro longboard tour was going.
I was losing to people that wouldn’t touch the nose the entire heat. To me, that’s just not longboarding. I needed to do something that made me happy. That was riding forÂ Chris. He’s been a longtime friend and had asked me to surf for him a few years prior. I called him out of the blue and just kinda asked if that invite was still open. It’s been 3 years and I couldn’t be happier. With the whole change of pace for me I really found myself seeing a different side of surfing. Not just logging, but alternative equipment. I really wanted to document what I thought was surfing — what I was seeing on these trips but in a different way – an up-beat way.
Q. There seems to be an underlying movement toward surfers being much more open-minded towards equipment and riding things a bit out of their comfort zone and looking for new experiences. Having traveled all over the world surfing and riding all sorts of equipment, what is you take on this?
Absolutely, the quiver is in full effect. I hate to admit this, but when I was younger – my late teens, I would travel around the world with a bag full of 9’0’s – all the same with 4 oz. glass and sanded finish. I missed out on so much.Â Now, I feel guilty if I have two boards that are too similar in my bag. Being from Florida especially, I really try to take advantage of going on trips, surfing perfect waves, and getting to ride whatever craft I please.
Q. On that same vein of alternate surf craft, anything you’re particularly stoked on riding these days?
I have been a long time fan of Tom Wegener. I grew up watching Bare Butt Adventures, Toes Across America and Siesta and Olas. I always catch up with him when I’m in Australia. So, when he started bringing the Alaias back I wanted to try one. I got hooked and ride them a ton now. Finless surfing is amazing. Tom’s brother Jon actually just made me a little 5’11 “peanut” that goes great in peaky East Coast surf. I have also been riding stubbies a lot. They are great for when the surf is clean and lined up. The lines you can take on those are so different. I really enjoy different – keeping it fresh while keeping it real.
Q. You have an interest in photography as well, how did that experience translate working on the film?
I have always loved to shoot photos. Medium format has always been my favorite. The texture of film is great. I knew that going into this project and Dustin Miller really helped me to decide that shooting as much film as we could was the way to go. I wanted something beautiful but not boring. I feel like so many surf films are lacking that combination.
Q. So now that Picaresque is wrapped up and on the premiere circuit, what have you learned from the experience? Are you already storyboarding the next one or did you dump the equipment on Craigslist?
No doubt I have ideas for something else. But right now my main focus is trying to get the film out there. I want as many people to see this as possible. Were about to start a 25 stop East Coast tour, in the middle of that go over to Japan for the Greenroom Festival and a few other premiers then over the West Coast and UK after. You learn so much when you jump head first into a project like this. Especially when you decide you want to do it the right way. It’s like running a business and though extremely difficult the end results have been very rewarding. I was pretty lucky to be able to work with Dustin Miller my DP and editor, and all the equipment was his – so nothing is on craigslist. But I have been scouring for a super-16 Bolex on ebay.
Q. You’re into classic motorcycles and turbocharged cars, what other kinds of toys have you been playing with lately outside the surf world?
I love German cars. I have had a few in the past 6 years, but actually just sold my two most recent ones to buy a big Ford van for the tour. I’m sure after the tour is over and things start to settle I’ll jump back into a German wagon. Other then that I’m always looking for older motorcycles – I had a 1972 Honda 350 in my garage that I was starting to tear into but I traded it to a friend to build out the inside of my van. I guess I have just been really focusing on the film and trying to get my priorities strait. But, not that were almost at the finish line – toy’s are just around the corner. I have my eyes on another bike in the very near future.
Q. Any last thoughts or shouts out to executive producers?
None of this would have been possible without the total support of Dustin Miller and his family. They are truly amazing people. And of course – The back bone of this project my executive producers Paul Daily and Jay Alaimo.
You can check out the tour dates or pick up a DVD at highseasfilm.com
Check out their blog at highseasfilm.blogspot.com
Edit: Just stumbled upon another good interview with Mikey over at EasternSurf.com
Dec. 2015 Update: Cool Surfline “Influencers” feature on Mr. DeTemple – Surfline Influencers: Mikey DeTemple