Tony Nagy, Knutson’s longtime buddy and a Hollywood cameraman, was able to get Knutson on set and at his side each time a big-time production materialized in Hawaii. “I figured if I understood the world of Hollywood cinematography, it would only better our production of surfing,” explains Knutson. “So I shadowed Tony when he was working on Godzilla, The Hunger Games, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
He swapped lo-fi for hi-fi and started working with film veterans in both the surf and Hollywood film industries to develop his skills as an all-around cinematographer. “As John [Florence] came in, Ian [Walsh] turned to me and said, ‘Wow, that was the most incredible session I’ve ever witnessed on the North Shore, and you got to film it? ’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I do every single day!
He feels the same way that we do when watching Florence surf. “When you’re watching him, or in my case filming him, he’s so good that when his session is over, you feel like you were the one surfing,” says Knutson. “Last winter, Ian Walsh showed up at the beach to surf, but didn’t even end up paddling out.
This year, Knutson donned his director’s hat with Being A Surfer Is Fun, a seven-minute montage for the REDirect Surf filmmaking competition featuring Florence jumping off waterfalls, picking his nose, and surfing peaky Australian beachbreaks.
The thought of traveling around the world to document the most mind-boggling surfer of this generation hadn’t even occurred to him. “When I was younger, I would make lo-fi, homemade films just for fun,” says Knutson. “When I was 15, we made a short movie starring Mason Ho and John and we called it The Future [Laughs].
But then one day, while hanging with Florence and his mom, Alex, at the beach, the two suggested Knutson turn his hobby of filmmaking into a career and join Florence’s filmmaking ensemble (which, at the time, consisted only of Florence and Blake Kueny). “The rest is kind of history,” says Knutson.
As John came in, Ian turned to me and said, ‘Wow, that was the most incredible session I’ve ever witnessed on the North Shore, and you got to film it? ’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I do every single day! ’ It still blows me away to get to see that level of surfing firsthand.
Read more here: Surfer Mag