The Rolling East


Interview by

Ted Delano

Film by

Ben Potter

Longtime friend and creative collaborator Ben Potter has screened his film, The Rolling East, at multiple film festivals and public spaces over the last six months. It comprised years of footage, direction and drive on his part to create this visually stunning piece that highlights surfing in New York. We were honored to work with Ben on the logo, identity and poster for this film in the spring of 2022, led by friend and collaborator Hugo Vale.

Ben described The Rolling East to us as a celebration of the beauty of the harsh surf conditions during winters in New York. The weather is cold, the wind is aggressive, and the sky is cloudy, with an almost real-life sepia tone to it: nature at her best.

You can now watch the film here

Where/from whom have you found the most inspiration in your aesthetics and style of filming? I’ve always admired the surf films of Joe G, Taylor Steele, Kai Neville and Jason Baffa. These films and the experiences they created for my friends and I watching as teenagers are imprinted in my mind. Each film with its own approach, but always celebrating quality cinematography, surfing and visual montages of the places along with the surfing itself. Apart from the genuine stoke that watching good surfing provides, there is also an escapism aspect that I think I partook in making The Rolling East. It’s no coincidence I started shooting it in March 2020.

What are your favorite types of shots in filming surf? Any other insight into types of waves/environments you love to find? While I like shooting tight and straight on, which can present the action pretty objectively and also reveal how well someone is (or isn’t) surfing, I really prefer to find angles that tell more of the story, whether that’s with some foreground or at an angle that shows some of the geography of the place. Shooting from the water always adds an immediacy and scale, and when it’s big, doing so is no small feat.

What's the difference between shooting in a place like New York, that you know well, and a place like Mexico, that you don't know? I know New York, and I’ve often found places on days where there’s no swell and considered how it may look with good surf. You have an advantage of familiarity at home, but in ways that may lead to imagery that’s redundant. So, traveling and capturing new places, I’ve found myself taking things in without the lifetime of preference and well, bias, I have at home. It’s always fun to see how visitors capture New York and our experience here, often capturing things in ways a local may not have thought to see.

Is there anything in surf films that has been less explored, or that you would really like to explore in the future? There are plenty of more story-focused opportunities in surfing I may explore down the line. Films like One California Day (dir Jason Baffa) did such a tasteful job of presenting Southern California’s history and variance of personality. I feel like something of that nature for the Northeast would be fascinating;- it would just take a few years to get all that captured.