Tracks writer Matt George caught up with Ian in the Mentawai.

After the hit premiere of his new film CRANE BRAIN, Ian Crane’s love affair with Indonesia continues. Here Crane sits down for a surprisingly thoughtful interview expressing his views on why Indonesia is sexy, why he is quitting competition, his new projects, the new movie and the book THE LAST CRUSADE, , the Kandui resort as the “Ultimate Top Gun testing facility” and the evolution of the freesurfer into what he calls today’s “Modern pro”. The interview took place at the Kandui Resort in the Mentawai where he was test piloting a new quiver of twinnies and filming clips for the new LOST movie 5’5” x 25. He disappeared into the wilds of Sumbawa not long after.

How are you feeling about the Mentawai since you were here for the Reckless isolation movie and the book The Last Crusade.

What came from a desperation surf trip to get out of the Orange County Pandemic lockdown nonsense…I mean we were the luckiest people on earth to be able to break free during that time. And then we get to Mentawai on special business visas, because surfing is our business and its empty and the waves just start pumping for weeks. It was like a great gift or something. We were all best friends and all these incredible things came from that trip. Kolohe’s movie and this giant leatherbound hardcover book that will last forever about that one trip. My best friends and I were able to go on a really incredible trip during the biggest global upheaval of our generation. We haven’t been through wars or the draft, but we were going through this Pandemic and we made something really beautiful happen within a really ugly time. I am really proud of that. That it happened in the first place and that all these things came from it and that I will be able to watch it and read it and re-live it for the rest of my life. So amazing to live that short time together, the best of my life, and to have it documented in such a professional way…outrageous.

You have dropped all the competition ambitions to become a freesurfer, yes?

Well, I think that term needs to be re-defined. I am not so much becoming a freesurfer, I am becoming a modern pro, a project surfer. A freesurfer just goes on trips like some trained seal from Seaworld. The modern pro has a lot more sh*t going on.

Very do-it- yourself. Films, test piloting, designing boards and tackling a social media presence that you create yourself. Not just meaningless stunt vlogging, but a well rounded approach to expressing your life. And that is the best description of my current job. Expressing my life in a meaningful way. It’s a commitment to your craft, your surfing and being authentic. It’s a great time to be alive as a surfer and I plan on taking full advantage of it. And a lot of this has to do with the fact that you can’t do it the way you used to. You cannot rely on surf media anymore like in the past when companies would send you on trips for a brand video. You know…and magazines and photo incentives… there is none of that anymore. Now you have to be creative, self motivated, distinctive and real and a bit of a business man…except that you are the business. You gotta use your brain. You can’t just expect someone else to pay you and twist you into something that sells their shit. With social media today, you can spot a fake a mile away. Now you need a real work ethic. Like Mason Ho. It all looks like fun and games, but you gotta understand how hard that guy works and the time he puts into it and his own money. I mean we all know the internet killed the magazine star, so today, being a modern Pro means taking it on yourself. And I look forward to a real honest representation of myself. 

You are here at the Kandui Resort getting clips for the new LOST Movie 5’5” x 25?

So much fun. Yeah, this movie is a redux on the 25th anniversary of 5’5”x 19/14, The original fish movie with Cory Lopez and Chris Ward and Andy Irons just going nuts on the fish that Biolos designed at the time. Remember that one? It’s an insane little movie. I mean that was my favorite movie as a little kid and now I get to be in the new one? Stoked! And plus, getting to surf perfect Indonesia with Cory Lopez on fishes is just so damn much fun. A surf trip on killer boards with a childhood hero of mine in a project that shaped me as a child? So dreamy. But Cory and I are also test piloting boards out here. This place is the ultimate Top Gun Testing Facility. But don’t get me wrong, it’s the most fun in the world (Laughs) . I mean being on the LOST team and being part of Matt’s (Biolos) master plans is the best thing in the world as far as I’m concerned. It’s inspiring. And on top of that, I am very lucky to have grown up on what I consider the the best surfboards in the world.

(Ian & Cory)

What is it about your new Movie, Crane Brain, that you dig the most?

Last year me and my friend Gabe Garcia pitched Oneill a video project to make a profile film on my new direction in life. The concept was to find meaningful waves and surf them in a really meaningful way. Like just finding empty perfect surf and digging the power and ripping hell out of them. Not to just make a frantic clip with endless airs and a bunch of close-out air reverses. Real waves, real surfing, take off to kick out. And it was also a chance to surf interesting places with other interesting people.  I was so stoked to get Cory on board. And I mean that guy has not lost a single step with his surfing. He’s like Kelly. What’s with those East Coast guys not ever getting old? And Cory has kids and big responsibilities? He’s gotta be the best family man surfer in the world, I think. And we really wanted the film to inspire young surfers to get off their phones and go out on surf adventures of their own. And having something that would hit home for people that want a surf film where the surfing is big and powerful and radical and not just have a series of tricks. Real surfing. It started out as a video on Indo. I was shooting with Scotty Hammonds and Nate Lawrence and it was Nate who really convinced me we had to extend the concept. And so I went to Ireland with Cory (Laughs). My earliest surf trips were with Cory, so it was sick to go on a new one in 2022 with him. To go full circle. And the last contest events I did were the euro challenger series, and we got some of that, but we stayed after the events and got Portugal and France too and that was when we caught up with Caity Simmers. And she is the most badass, punk rock, female surfer ever. She had her 16th birthday with us and her mom was cool enough to let her travel and shoot with us and the footage of her is just mindblowing. So good that we gave her her own sneaky part in the film. You gotta see it, she is an insane surfer. She will be a world Champion, for sure.

What is your Beach head project about?

Its just a word that’s been stuck in my mind for years. The literal meaning is a term for a secure place that has been established on a beach. And I can dig that, but it can have so many other meanings as well. Like maybe you have thoughts of the beach in your head, stuff like that. I’m not really sure what it is exactly or where it is going, but its a creative outlet and a place to store creative concepts. I will make a run of tees or stickers or make a little clip and call it beach head or call it that in a different language. And I use it to encourage a few little kids around the world, make  them feel sponsored so they keep ripping until they can find a big sponsor. It’s like a depository of ideas. Someday I will sink my teeth into it but I am not exactly sure where it will go. I think its important to have a place for ideas and concepts under one umbrella and that is what I am using it for. I basically keep it around for some potential fun and excitement and hopefully someday I can turn it into what it is meant to be. But that is really up to it, not me… I know that sounds weird, but I think the right messages come to you if just sit back and keep your mouth shut. That right there is probably what it is really about.

You spend a lot of time in Indonesia.

It just suits me. And the adventures you get into are just nuts. Indonesia is the best place ever as a surfer. Best waves, no rules, free and easy. The culture is amazing, the people are nice, the expat community is absolutely hilarious. It has a little bit of everything and for me its just the best creative environment in the world. Plus, c’mon, the waves? There is no better place to surf and enjoy your surroundings. It’s fun and sexy and soulful and fascinating and exciting. You want more than that out of a place?

Ian Crane’s future?

I’m going surfing, man. No more contests, or guidelines or schedules. I am into letting my surfing inspire my brainstorms now. And to inspire concepts and to complete special creative projects. Its about an open door now and I’m walking right through it. Or maybe more like a Backdoor and I am going for it! (Laughs)

Watch Ian’s new film Crane Brain below.



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