I was walking on a secluded beach about two-and-a-half years ago when my life took an unexpected turn.

I was spending the summer in the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway. In truth, I had gone there in search of something, or perhaps it was to get away from something — it’s hard to remember now. Either way, I found myself surrounded by mountains that jumped out of the sea and majestically towered over the small fishing villages, my two favorite things — the smell of salt water and tall peaks.

I was helping a friend with a regional travel book she was writing at the time. We spent our days hauling camera gear to the top of the mountains, riding bikes through the small towns and countryside, kayaking throughout the surrounding chain of small islands. On our days off, we’d work our way to the tiny rock islands and lay on the slabs like lizards, soaking up whatever heat we could.

I was in love with Lofoten, a stronger love than I had ever felt before.

This place is so pristine. Perhaps the most pristine place I’ve ever been. I began to shift my focus and point my lens toward something that could compromise that — offshore drilling. The camera is a powerful tool, and I wanted to use it before it was too late by showcasing the Lofoten Islands as they are now. I interviewed local business owners, naturalists, fishermen, climbers — anyone who would directly feel the effects of offshore drilling gone wrong.

That’s what brought me to the secluded beach. I was walking with a friend, talking about the complexities of protecting such a special place, when she saw two of her friends in the distance coming down from a hike. She yelled to them, and we met in the middle. After exchanging introductions and small talk, we asked Léa and her boyfriend Vincent if they’d like to stay on the beach with us, but they said they needed to head back home first. Assuming I’d never see them again, my friend and I took a seat on the beach, laid out our picnic, and got ready to watch sun move across the sky as it does on a midsummer night in northern Norway.

About an hour later, we heard Vincent and Léa. They had come back with beer and a basket full of food. The sun never set that night, but danced on the horizon line before it began to rise again, which provided a golden hue throughout the sky. It felt like our small group of travelers was meant to cross paths that night, on that beach, and share stories with each other.

Léa is a professional surfer, and she and Vincent were spending the summer exploring Lofoten. I asked her to be a character in the piece I was working on. She clearly loved this place, and would offer passionate commentary on why it was worth protecting from the standpoint of someone who spends much of her free time in the water. Vincent was leaving town, so she asked me to come stay with her for a few days and we would wait until the surf got big enough to do some filming.

As we got to know one another better, it was clear that we wanted to expand things further than the original concept. Léa’s passion for surf mixed with her love of Lofoten was contagious, and I wanted to make a short film that embodied those feelings.

We would wake up early to check surf, come back home and bake bread, drink coffee. Then head back out and check surf again. We did this for four or five days straight — back and forth at all hours of the day, no matter the weather, waiting for the waves, all the while continuing to talk about our passions, simplicity, life on the road, and the magical Lofoten Islands.

Catch It is the product of my time spent with Léa, and it is our love letter to Lofoten.

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