Swell People: Surf Filmmaker Nate Laverty
Tofino’s resident surf auteur Nate Laverty gets together with Tofino Resort + Marina ambassador Sanoa Olin to shares stories about surfing, good food, great coffee and making friends at Mexican surf breaks.
Sanoa: Okay. What is your full name? And what do you do
Nate Laverty: My full name is Nathan Allen Laverty. The people call me Nate and I work as a filmmaker.
S: What got you into filmmaking?
N: I started filming because I was really into snowboarding and I wanted to be a pro snowboarder, but I was with a bunch of people that were a lot better than me. So I got the job of being the filmer.
S: What’s the favorite film that you’ve ever watched?
N: My favorite film I’ve ever watched might be The Big Lebowski. I love that film.
S: And the favourite film we’ve ever made?
My favorite film that I’ve shot and created…I would have to say is probably our Canada section from our last surf movie [Transition II]. It was just a lot of fun making it and the people were amazing and we got good waves and good weather. I like that.
S: Why are you drawn to Tofino?
N: I am drawn to Tofino because I like small communities. I like small community living. I like living somewhere where everyone is inspired by the environment. Of course, surf and good fishing and the ocean lifestyle are all here—and they might exist in a lot of places—but I think Tofino’s community is the best answer as to why I’m here.
S: Who are your favorite local surfers?
N: My favourites?
S: Let’s say top five favourites surfers in Canada.
N: I’m going to have to say Matheas and Sanoa [Olin] are my two top favorites, and then Pete [Devries], and Dean Petty and Noah [Cohen].
S: Favourite place to walk your dog?
N: Can I go back to that? Last one? Can we make it top sixth and put Vargas Dan in there? Because he cracks me up. [Laughter]. And North Chesterman’s is the spot because that’s where you see all the other dog walkers.
S: Where’s your favourite place to get coffee in Tofino?
N: Tofitian. 100%
S: What inspires you as a human?
N: I think for me there’s a few things that really inspire me, but my mom is my biggest inspiration. She’s very generous and super kind and the most patient person. She never talks about herself. She’s just an amazing person. She inspires me to try to be more like her.
I’m inspired by the lifestyles of anyone who’s using adventure to spearhead their life rather than mundane things.
S: What does a normal day in Nate Laverty’s life look like?
N: I put the kettle on to make coffee immediately. Some days I try not to do this, but I always walk to my backdoors and just stand there and stare for like probably three minutes at absolutely nothing. I don’t quite have a view of the ocean, but I just stand there and stare. And then I get dressed and greet my dog and then me and the dog go and play.
If the waves are really good, I’ll usually go to your place [The Olin’s house] and figure out who wants to go surfing with me or who wants to film. Maybe one day a week, I end up at either Shelter or the brewery for a beer at some point. I’ve been trying to spice it up a little. I always want to try and go boating because that’s always quite nice. And then I just do a bunch of like DM’ing and Instagramming. [Laughter] I’m just kidding. I don’t do that stuff.
S: What is the funniest story from one of your trips?
N: We were in Oaxaca [Mexico] last year and we went to this spot and pull into the lot and this little fiery Mexican guy came up and said ‘who you here with?’ I was like, ‘you’re looking at it.’ He’s like ‘who’s your guide?’ We didn’t have a guide and we didn’t realize you’re supposed to have a guide for this wave. He tells us we can’t go out.
We were like ‘okay, whatever buddy.’ We looked at it. Went up this cliff and started looking at another spot. He went over the cliff to go surf with the guys he was guiding. He says ‘Oh, I better not see you out there’ then he goes surfing. We decide to surf the inside of the cliff that he wasn’t at.
We set up and in 10 or 15 minutes into filming, he had broken his board and he comes by and I hear him yelling. I’m filming Noah at the time and he starts screaming. I’ve tried to ignore him and then he comes up and he’s super aggressive and he tells me he’s gonna throw my camera in the water. “I told you you can’t film here, told you can’t surf here either.”
The guys had said when they went out that if the guy came back they’d see him on the beach and they’d come get my back. This guy yelled at me for like ten minutes.
I hear him again and he’s coming at me with a club and I didn’t know what to do, so I was I try to act tougher than him. I just started walking towards him, not aggressively but at a quick pace. He sees this and kind of stops and he’s sizing me up, holding the club.
He tells us to go back to California. I said, ‘We’re not from California.’ When I tell him, I am from Canada he immediately puts the club down. He’s like ‘Oh you guys are Canadian? My girlfriend is from Kelowna.”
It was so funny. And then he tried to be my friend for the rest of our time in Mexico, and he texted me every day and I never responded.
S: What is your favourite wave to film?
N: I think any wave that I can shoot in the water. Any wave with a good barrel section, or a good air section. I can’t decide if I like filming barrels or airs more in the water. I think maybe barrels but I also really love lining up on airs.
We do have a wave that we go to a lot in the winter—it always seems to be me and Pete [Devries], and Marcus [Paladino] in the car—it’s a right tube and it has a narrow section. So, it’s best of both worlds and it’s beautiful from land because it’s close to shore. We usually go early morning and it gets beautiful light through the back of the wave, but it’s just rare. So if the stars align, that’s my favourite wave around here.
S: What is your best meal to cook when you’re having people over?
N: Halibut! Fish in general, but mostly I like cooking halibut because it’s one of my favorite fish to eat and it usually comes out pretty good. Roasted vegetables, carrots, rice and asparagus on the side. If I’m not doing that, I love making homemade hamburgers. I make a pretty bang-up hamburgers by the way.
S: What is your favorite fish to eat?
N: Tuna. I love tuna, raw or seared.
S: Where are your favorite places to eat in Tofino?
N: My favorite places to eat in Tofino are Long Beach Lodge, Wolf in the Fog, Shelter, 1909 Kitchen and Wild Side. Does Chocolate Tofino count?
S: Who are your favorite people to travel with?
N: I like traveling with Mathias and Sanoa. Most of the surfers that I’ve traveled with. I like traveling with Pete, because he’s a dad—and I’m not a dad—but I’m sort of dad vibes. I love traveling with Chris Rasman. But yeah, my favorite memories are with you, probably.
Weird “Would You Rather”, With Sanoa and Nate
S: Would you rather have thumbs for biceps or biceps for thumbs?
N: Biceps for thumbs
S: Would you rather have toes for fingers or fingers or toes?
N: Fingers for toes.
S: Would you rather never be able to eat fish again or never be able to eat eggs again?
N: Never be able to eat eggs again.
S: Would you rather have hair for teeth are teeth for hair?
N: Teeth for hair.
Sanoa Olin is the Canadian Surfing Champion in the U18 Girls Category.
View more of Nate’s work on his website.