Compassing, The Movie (and Interview)

Cyrus Sutton ( has released Compassing. A travel diary through Baja and Mainland Mexico based around the relationship he has with the natural environment and his continued reaction to dumping the rat race in search of some kind of fulfilment.

Second to surfing itself, this two month wend and bend provides a timely reminder to get off the computer and start doing. Stop watching. Even if it is flat get out in the sea and swim for the horizon, it'll make you feel whole bunch better. Also featuring Kepa Acero and Rob Machado, Compassing is now available for download or you can watch screenings taking place across the world. We caught up Cyrus to delve behind the scenes.

Tell us a bit about your new project Compassing? Where did you go? Who did you travel with?

Compassing is a film I made for Reef's Just Passing Through series. I've always wanted to take a trip down to mainland Mexico and just spend a lot of time in some of the heavier beach breaks down there. So the film is just about spending a little over two months in my van driving around down there.

Was there a fixed plan when you set off? Did you propose the idea or was it a Reef thing?

Reef asked me to make a film about travel. I haven't been able to spend much time in one place with all I have going on, so it was a goal to get away and surf good waves for a while. Just sit on the beach and watch the tides change and see swells come and go you know? So I proposed taking a road trip with my van and Reef supported the idea. Not a bad gig!

What do you hope to achieve when making a surf flick? Do you have a specific audience in mind? Or a rationale when you are creating it?

I always just try to approach things in a way that people can relate to. I'm 30 now and have spent the majority of my last 10 years behind a desk dreaming of getting tubed. I think a lot of surfing these days features guys who've been bred to perform at a level that most of us can't relate to. Personally, it's hard for me to get super excited watching 200 technical aerial moments. Maybe I'm an old man now but I just get excited by clean waves and good stories.

How do you come up with ideas for a new project?

I have a ton of ideas, but at this point I just do things that are practical for whatever's being asked. My bucket of thoughts morph into whatever project presents itself. Filmmaking used to be very personal for me, I've made over 300 shorts and four features about surfing and a lot of those were exactly what I wanted to do. Now I just enjoy the collaboration aspect of projects as much as trying to actualize something that purely came from my head.

What do you love/hate about travelling in Mexico?

When you drive down there, the living is very slow and peaceful but at the same time life and death surround you. There's a lot of heavy stuff you don't see in California or Western Europe. It makes me feel alive. On the other hand it definitely tests your patience, disorder and chaos are a part of daily life and it can be frustrating.

Hablas Español?

Not as well as I should!

Where would you like to go for your next “two months off”?

Home. I'm writing this jet-lagged in a Basque Hotel at 3am, so just getting back to my routine sounds pretty good right now.

Do you sometimes feel that filming can get in the way of a good surf adventure?

Yeah for sure. I was down there doing what I wanted but I also knew that I had 3 weeks after I returned home to deliver a finished film and tour it around the world.

How has the internet altered the way you approach a project?

It's mostly the same just the time is condensed because our attention spans on the web are so much smaller than in a theatre.

How has the funding model changed over the past years?

Well my first film (Riding Waves, 2003) made a good amount of money directly from the viewers. Now everybody can make a surf film and we don't expect to pay for our entertainment. In order to continue to do what I love I've connected with companies I like to back my projects. It's nice because I've created my own voice so I don't have any pressure to conform in a way that hinders what I want to do. In the end I just get the tools to continue to make work in a professional way.

Do you stay in contact with your site or cross your fingers and hope for the best when you are away?

I set a plan with the Korduroy team before I left. I'm pretty surprised with how organised we've gotten after years of throwing stuff together at the last minute. I can't take credit for that though, I work with an amazing crew.

So you're going to be guest editor of Magicseaweed sometime in the future...

Yeah! I saw what you guys did with Spencer. It's a great concept and I think we'll have some fun with it.

Ed Temperley

MSW editor. Instagram @edtemperley