Avaunt Presents: Secret Waves Photographer and filmmaker Tom Cockram discovers the hidden world of Arctic surfing

In his first short film, Tom Cockram set out to capture the unique lifestyle of Ingo Olsen, a native Icelander who runs the only surf school in the country. Together with his team, Cockram spent five days travelling around the rugged, Arctic island, searching for the secret surfing spots and crowd free waves. Here, Cockram tells Avaunt what inspired him to capture Olsen’s story on film, and the challenges he faced while shooting it.

Where did the idea for the film come from?

Surfing has always been a passion of mine. I grew up surfing in the Channel Islands and I thought this would be the perfect subject, something that I am passionate about.

What drew you to Iceland?

It is a very interesting country. Surfing in Iceland has been covered before but you really need inside information to find the surfers’ secret spots. I thought that was an interesting story in itself. There was a bit of a risk involved – the best places aren’t always accessible and then there might not be good surf that day. I just had to trust Ingo to find the right spots.

Obviously there’s also the beauty of Iceland. On the Internet there are so many beautiful shots of the country – the black sand beaches, for example – but I wanted to show Iceland in a different light. 

Aside from not having good waves to film, what were some of the challenges you faced?

The kit and the long drives – there were five of us in a jeep and we were driving for hours on end. And then there was just so much to capture. I was often carried away by the breathtaking landscapes but I had to focus on what we set out to shoot.

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