The Outer Limitless of Logan Marshall
Except for the award winning surf films, Logan Marshall is a pretty normal teenager. A senior at Manteo High School, he’s slim, nicely groomed and is very articulate. His grades?
“Pretty good,” he said. “They’re not bad, they’re not great. Typically A’s and B’s with an occasional C.”
The films though—the surf films—those are what set him apart. There have been two so far. His first, Limitless, was a 22-minute short that came out in 2017. His newest movie, Outer, an hour long, just had its Outer Banks premier in July.
The movies feature some great action shots merged with music, interviews and a coherent storyline with a clear point of view. In the world of surf films, which usually consists of 20 minutes of surfers, waves, music and no dialogue, what Marshall is creating seems almost radical. That is the view of former pro surfer Jesse Hines, who is interviewed in both movies.
“Most (surf) movies and videos now are at the most just 20 minutes long for youtube or five minutes if it’s for Instagram,” he said. “It’s all for the web. And Logan wanted to make an hour-long movie for DVD. That’s like a shocking concept now.”
For Marshall, it may not be radical so much as it is what he wants in a surf movie.
“As a viewer it’s more satisfying to watch a progression and a story line than just surf clips. I hate it,” he said. “Especially if you’re not really into surfing and you watch that. It’s boring and I think it’s kind of lazy. I think the story is better.”
He bought his first movie camera after winning first prize for his still image Glassy Look in the 2016 Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce My OBX photo contest. At the time he had been volunteering at the Dare County Arts Council (DCAC) Art Gallery. With the Surfalorus Surf film festival on tap the following year, the DCAC was hoping to include a student film and Marshall was ready to take on the challenge.
Working at the Outer Banks Surf Company, Marshall was getting to know surfers, from the youngest to some of the oldest. That experience became the theme of Limitless. Through interviews, the perspective emerges of how three surfers from three different generations approach the sport.
Nathan Greenlee, 20 years old, just wants to get out and surf. Hines, the father of two young children and owner of a thriving business, finds it more difficult to get away.
“He was always like, ‘Hey let’s film tomorrow.’ But with two kids and a business to run, it’s just not that easy,” recalls Hines, owner of Surfin’ Spoon Frozen Yogurt Bar.
And Lynn Shell was eloquent in describing the surf scene 30 or 40 years ago on the Outer Banks and how it has evolved. The film earned Logan the 2017 Carolina Surf Filmmaker of the Year.
His latest film, Outer, examines some of those same themes, but focuses more on the stories of the surfers and how they have gotten to where they are today. In his second film, through action sequences and interviews, he explores an emerging younger generation of surfers. The interviews are particularly effective in Outer.
Beau Raynor, who may be the next rising star on the Pro Surf circuit to come from the Outer Banks, is visibly nervous when interviewed, but he also knows his sport and speaks knowledgeably about it.
Hines’ interview is revelatory, telling about a car accident when he was a teenager that led to a metal rod being inserted into his leg, the excruciating pain it caused and the decision to continue surfing anyway on the pro circuit. “He had something in mind that he wanted to portray to the audience,” Hines said.
Marshall did his research on the accident, contacting Hines’ mother and interviewing her, although the interview did not make it into the film.
Yet as good as the interviews or the story line may have been, it is Marshall’s editing, his marvelous blending of music and action and a remarkable understanding of how to film surfers in even the most extreme conditions that make his movies memorable.
It is those extreme conditions that seem to attract Marshall.
“I have the most fun when everything is like that. That’s why I like winter so much,” he said. “It makes everything more extreme. It makes for a better story later.”
He then adds a comment that shows an uncommon understanding for storytelling and film.
“If you watch a soap opera, it’s conflict and resolution and all that,” he said, going on to explain that filmmaking calls for a blending of skills and knowledge.
“With the film you have to learn the rules of it, but at the same time it’s an art thing,” he said.
He has a third film planned, an outline that includes following the fortunes of the best of the Outer Banks young surfers as they progress through their sport.
“[In] this one, the guys my age are all getting better,” he said describing his next project. “They have the opportunity to be as good as Jesse or Noah (Snyder, another Outer Banks former professional surfer). To watch these guys go to Hawaii. The whole goal is to film interviews during the swell. Coming from the Outer Banks what are your thoughts. I think it would be cool…to show how they’ve progressed.”
There are other plans as well. College is certainly a possibility. He’ll be graduating early from high school and his plans are to take his basic courses at COA next winter.
“Then I would like to go to Cape Fear Community College and go to film production there. It’s like almost the same course as UNC Wilmington only it’s more personal…with six people or maybe seven people in the class,” he said.
His work, however, is getting noticed and he has some decisions he will have to make.
“We’re still trying to figure out if it would be smart take some time off. There are so many opportunities coming up where I can go on trips and get paid to do this,” he said.
It appears to be part of a master plan, one that involves film and the sport he loves.
“The goal is to never have to officially leave surfing, but that’s hard to do. At the same time, I’m in the right generation right now. It’s growing all around” he said.♦
Kip Tabb is a freelance writer living on the Outer Banks. He has covered a wide range of community interest stories as well as environmental and related topics for a number of publications.