From surf documentaries to music video clips, filmmaker Peter John has worked with some of the world’s most diverse talent for more than 20 years. He tells Jessica Morris why God is his ultimate source of creativity.
What inspired you to begin filmmaking?
I always loved watching music videos as a teenager, which inspired me to start a band. Both music and film play such a big part in each other’s worlds. When the two complement each other perfectly then amazing connections can be made with the audience.
You create music video clips as well as cinematic documentaries and live concert films. Which is your favourite format and why?
A combination of live concerts and documentaries put together. There is so much energy and emotion that can be drawn by doing this.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Trying to stay healthy and fit; I surf when I can, but having no consistency whatsoever takes a toll on my body. Aeroplanes, Ubers, hotels and couches and, worst of all, constant time zone changes. It all adds up and hits you every few weeks.
How does your faith influence your work while still remaining true to the artist/actor you’re working with?
My sole purpose with all of the content I produce is to inspire. To flip mindsets, challenge the conformity we are saturated with daily and bring people out of the world of darkness. I do turn down jobs that don’t tend to align to this, and make it a priority to seek out the artists and clients who are also championing this cause.
What would most surprise people about your job?
I get to travel the world and hang out with amazing people in amazing places, but it’s all of the things you don’t see. Not many people understand the hours you have to put in when no-one’s watching, the way you treat people, and most importantly, making sure everyone wins in every situation. When we stop and think about other people’s best interests, they end up promoting you and the opportunities that arise are simply amazing.
You’ve worked with a lot of people, from surfer C.J. Hobgood to Simple Plan. Who was the most memorable and why?
All these people have had such a massive impact on my life. However, C.J. sat me down on the beach at North Shore, Hawaii, and said, “You want to make a difference in the surf scene? Then you have to put in at least five years. Are you willing to do that?” He made me reassess my priorities in life and helped me make a clear vision for where I wanted to go, so thank you C.J. for getting real!
If you could work with anyone on a film, who would it be and why?
Taylor Steele. I would just love to hear the stories about all the bands and surfers he’s worked with. In Tahiti a few years back I had the amazing experience of being an extra in the Samsung virtual reality commercial that he directed. I spent 45 minutes in a boat with him and couldn’t spit out a single word of conversation!
How has your creativity enhanced your experience of God?
I find the less I consume—be that social media, TV, advertising or just plain noise—the more freedom and contentment I receive in return. Lately I’ve been forcing myself to just lie on the ground and look towards the clouds and let my mind wander and listen. My diaries are full of crazy, creative ideas because of it. The more I hang out with God and his amazing creation on Earth, the more creative I become.