We’re t-minus one week away from the premiere of ‘A View from the Blue Moon’ (trailer here!) and John John Florence is making media rounds to, presumably, ramp up chatter and excitement for his film. Though I don’t think it’s needed, because have you seen the trailer? That poetic ode of blissful point and beachbreaks thrown in a boiling stew with broken boards, crisp Pipeline barrels, kangaroos and catamarans? After a recent visit with Rolling Stone, John John stopped by subreddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)‘s digital sphere to let users ask him questions of all sorts. He didn’t respond to the inquiry “who wins in a fist fight… Laird Hamilton or Ken Bradshaw?, but he did provide us conversational insight about his worst wipeout, his scariest shark encounter, all things on the upcoming film, and why he’s seen Hollywood’s Interstellar 6 times. – Cash Lambert
His scariest surfing story:
My scariest one was when me and my friends surfed this big outer reef wave, and it was just us two, and we didn’t really know how big it was, because it was really far how there. We had the new blow-up vests and all that stuff. And so we paddled out, and we were like sitting there and I was like, “I think we’re in the spot right now.” And we paddled over a smaller wave, it then there was like maybe a 20 foot wave breaking behind it. I was just looking at it like, “We’re not in the spot right now!” It landed on us, and I was underwater for a while and I was trying to stay calm. Finally I was like, “Okay, I’ve gotta go up.” So I pulled my vest, and it blew up, and I slowly started going up. And then right as we got to the surface, another wave hit me and I just went straight back down. I was just like, “Oh no, this is really scary.” And then I was kind of getting rolled with the wave, because my vest was blown up. Yeah, it was just a long time underwater. Two waves. Really kind of scary moment, because we had no water safety or anything.
His pre-contest routine:
I’ve been working on it more and more lately. I kind of started doing more warm ups just to get my body moving. Jump roping and stuff like that, but I would say I pick 2 or 3 songs before each event that I like at that time and just listen to them on repeat and it helps keep my mind off the surfing and the heat and over-thinking it and think about the songs more.
I think I was listening to Eazy-E songs at the last event, but I’m not like a full rap person. My base in music is Pink Floyd and Talking Heads and Sabbath and Zeppelin and all those bands, but Eazy-E was a good one for the last event.
Recent shark encounters:
Haha, I’ve had a few close encounters with sharks. I had one in Africa, where the whole Mick Fanning thing happened at Jeffreys Bay.
I had one where I was sitting there before dark, and I look down and I just saw the head of one kind of come up below my board. It wasn’t a huge shark, but it was still enough to scare me a lot. Like, I mean, I went in as quick as possible, I ran over the reef.
I had another one that wasn’t as scary, but was much more dramatic. At home in Hawaii there were a bunch of us and we were sitting in the lineup, and there was like a turtle outside… maybe 20, 30 feet ahead of us. It was flapping its arms, and a tiger shark just took the thing out of the water in its mouth, and was just rolling right there with it. And we were watched it for a minute or two, and then I just kind of said to myself “Okay, it’s time to go in I think.” And just slowly paddled in! So yeah, those were the scariest moments with sharks.
His most memorable wipeout:
Probably the time I broke my back. That was a scary one. Or actually, there’s two. There’s that one, and another time when I got knocked out, that was a scary one too.
For the back one — I just kind of came up, I wasn’t paralyzed or anything, I was just in so much pain. My whole body was real stiff, and I just kind of paddled to the channel and someone helped me get to the beach. And I just remember my whole back, and everything, was in so much pain and I didn’t know what to think. I knew there was something wrong with my back, haha. It was painful.
About his favorite shaper:
My shaper I have now, Jon Pyzel. He’s from Hawaii and lives down the street from me, and he’s shaped my board pretty much my whole life.
As for picking a board – it’s a personal preference kind of thing. There’s so many things that go into a surfboard — the waves that you’re riding, and, like you said, the size of a human you are… I don’t think about the boards too much, to be honest! I just get boards and tell them how I want to change it and they change it to that, but it’s hard for me to explain how to tell someone what kind of board to ride, it’s such a personal thing.
The changes I ask for vary from big waves boards to small wave boards, all the boards are so different for such different kinds of waves: changing the shape of the tail, changing the concave in the bottom of the board, how much lift you’re getting out of it, how fast the board goes down the line…
When you add things, like, “Okay, I want my board to go really fast across flat sections,” then it’s going to make the board stiffer. So you lose things when you add things, and it’s kind of finding the happy medium. You’re really happy when you finally find a good board for certain kinds of waves!
Small waves are the hardest, but when you find a good small wave board if feels amazing, and I won’t ride it until I have a heat because I’ll just end up breaking it. My boards last probably two weeks, haha. Yeah, they don’t last very long. The other winter I broke 38 boards. I surf a lot, and the waves we surf in Hawaii like to break your boards.
His favorite non-surfing film:
So it can be any movie? My favorite non-surfing film would probably be Interstellar. A great movie, I’ve watched it probably five or six times. And another movie would be Rush, it’s about Formula 1 drivers, don’t know if you guys have seen that — it’s one of my favorite movies as well.
Point Break is not one my favorite movies, haha. But it’s a cool movie – I’m excited to see the next one!
On A View from the Blue Moon:
Making a film like this.. well, I wanted to make it because I enjoy working the cameras and stuff. I’ve been working just shooting photos and stuff for like the past 8 years while traveling around.
We go to all these cool places so I enjoy shooting photos, so that got me into the camera side of things. Just to be able to work with all these big cinema cameras and lenses and cinema people and helicopters and all kinds of crazy stuff that you never think of- that was one of the main things. Then, you know, getting to surf these amazing places with just me and my friends, I think that’s the second thing for me that’s the biggest draw for making the movie.
We’ve been involved in the editing. We were in Europe just now while we were finishing up the movie and my friend Blake whose editing it was in California so it’s an 11 or 12 hour time difference and he’s sending me these private Vimeo links and I’m going through with timecodes.
I had to do it every morning when I woke up so he could get it before he goes to sleep and it was kind of a nightmare to finish the movie because he’s making such subtle changes in the end and I’d have to go through like a whole 45 minutes of the movie just stopping at each timecode and writing down every single note that I had for each one. So that was pretty hectic, haha.