Having just announced his move from Liquid Force and being one of the big names in the film industry attached to kite surfing, we interview James Boulding about kites, cameras, chemistry sets and Cabrinha.
KSm: Hi James, feel free to introduce yourself as only you can.
JB: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to want to get to know a bit about me. I’m 27 years old and have been kiting for the past 9 years.
KSm: Your road to kitesurfing began with your parents buying you a powerkite for your birthday. Are they very proud of this choice of present and its effect on the direction of your life, or do they wish they bought you a chemistry set instead?
JB: I think I already had the chemistry set when I was younger! I’ve always been into sport and fairly early on I got hugely into climbing, my parents loved walking and every holiday we would go to the Lake District or Scotland to walk, to me climbing was a cool and higher adrenaline form of this and that was the progression for me. As I got older I got more into ice climbing and started to spend holiday time going to the Alps to climb. Knowing the dangers involved, my parents thought buying a kite like this might ween me off this addiction, it definitely did although my energy and passion just shifted from one to the other.
KSm: We are not sure if they also bought you a camera for another birthday, but you have made quite a name for yourself over the past few years behind the camera shooting for yourself, Liquid Force, Naish and many more including the promo video for our friends at Sensi Bikinis? How did this all start?
JB: I bought an old film SLR when I was younger and went through a stage of shooting stills, I really enjoyed it and I think it appealed to the other side of my brain, one part was about the adrenaline and rush of sports, the other was more relaxed and calm side involved in photography. When the digital age came in it became a bit more dormant and it all passed me by until I bought a video camera at university, this is where the creative side of shooting came back and I started getting into video.
KSm: Did you have to spend a lot of time learning about shooting and editing techniques or is a lot of it just the product of raw talent?
JB: At the beginning my products were very basic and the same as anyone else who’d just picked up a video camera, but over time I used the skill set I’d learned with photography and combined the two to push the videos. At first, it was all a bit of fun and documenting the things I was getting up to. After graduation I did a couple of seasons kitesurfing and snowboarding and this was a great way to show friends and family what we got up to. After sometime I just wanted my videos to be better and I did some work experience with the guys down at Fatsand in Brighton and they taught me a lot about how a production company is run and the work of a videographer/editor. This slickened up my editing and shooting and helped me to standout at a time where digital SLR video cameras hadn’t made their influence yet.
KSm: What’s in your camera bag?
JB: I’ve just actually bought a new video camera and lenses as I really want to step up the production value of my work so if I sit down with everything I own it’s becoming a long list! Certainly more than you’re allowed on the average aircraft!
I’m now rolling with:
All sorts of lenses (macro, fish, wide angle, 50mm, 70-200, 400, 24-105)
crane, dolly & fig rig
The trick is definitely to decide what I need for a trip, bringing everything would leave me no room for kite equipment so I have to think long and hard before I pack!
KSm: As an international team rider with media obligations do you find it difficult to balance your time on either side of the camera?
JB: It can be hard and very frustrating. It’s easy when I’m doing some work as I’m standing behind the camera for a reason and I know I need to be behind the camera, when we’re just filming for videos and things though it’s hard as when the wind and conditions are right the only place I want to be is in front but I’ve learnt to deal with these situations. I find I only like to ride for around an hour at a time nowadays so it gives me plenty of time to do both. Thats why it’s nice riding with the boys as the others are similar and we rotate so everyone gets their time.
KSm: Although there will always be a need for high profile competition riders, would you agree that these days a sponsored riders biggest obligation and pressure is to deliver quality media exposure and marketing material?
JB: I think every rider offers something different and in the well constructed brands they have the guys that hit the competition side hard and there are guys that focus on the media. Sure the media still want to know about the top guys too but they have to really train hard when they ride and I think there are very different skill sets involved with riding in a shoot compared to just hammering out competition moves. The industry is still very young though and there isn’t as much money involved as our sister board sports so someone delivering quality media off their own backs for their brand is a useful person to have on the payroll.
KSm: Does this change the skill set required be a successful team rider and if so, what advice would you give to those trying to get noticed, sponsored or have just found themselves a sponsor and are eager to please them?
JB: I think nowadays it’s so competitive, there are hundreds of talented riders out there and the kids are doing all the tricks the pro’s are doing. I always thought that you needed something to set yourself apart. For me it was the videos as at the time there wasn’t much going on. Now everyone has a Digital SLR so can bang out average media, so things need to be stepped up again, I still think a rider that can do things with style and differently to others is worthwhile, everyone can do mobes and doubles nowadays but not everyone can hit a wave kicker properly or throw in real nice grab variations into their tricks and i think that’s where things help you standout. You do have to work hard though and the industry is very competitive these days.
KSm: Your not only talented when attached to a kite or a camera but we hear you are also a bit of a mathematics geek as well. Where did this interest come from and are these skills you get to use these days?
JB: My dad was a maths teacher and all through school I worked hard. I had no aspirations to doing what I am doing at the moment so I worked hard so that I would be able to get a good job when I left university. Maths was just the obvious choice when i was deciding what to study at university. I hated writing essays and with Maths you learn to be logical and problem solve and have 1 right answer, regardless how you get to it. It was also very broad and without knowing what I wanted to do in later life this gave me time and plenty of options.
KSm: In your own words without using Google please tell us… What is Pi?
JB: It’s an irrational number, and a very useful one, without it we would certainly would not have some of the things we take for granted nowadays. I just watched the Life of Pi at the cinema the other day actually and was pleasantly surprised when they talked about it in there combined with some great cinematography as well, so 2 of my interests rolled into 1!
KSm: We regret to inform you girls that James is spoken for as he is with the beautiful Manuela Jungo. How did you guys meet, and does it help you have a girlfriend with the same passions (and kites) as you?
JB: We met in Maui last year whilst kiting on a photoshoot. It’s nice to have someone that enjoys the things you do and understands your passions. It’s also not easy though as we both have places we must go to compete and ride and you have a lot of intensive time together and then long time periods where your far away but in the end we’re both lucky to do something like this and be able to enjoy each others company where we can.
KSm: We hear you also have some rather important news that you would like to share with our readers and the world?
JB: Yes, I’ve just signed with Cabrinha and will be coming on board this year.
KSm: Can you tell us a little bit about the reasons behind this choice?
JB: Cabrinha are a great brand and really aim to let their riders push the sport and support them as they do it. I’m getting more into my videography and free riding and they’re keen to support me and open up some fantastic opportunities to go to places and document trips. It’s got a family feel and I was ready to think towards the future too. I had 4 incredible years with Liquid Force and we leave on the best of terms. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am now and I have nothing but love for the brand and hope that they continue where they’re heading as they’re a credit to the sport.
KSm: What other projects and surprises do you have on the horizon that we should be looking out for?
JB: There should be some great videos coming out this year and I’m going to be busy in front and behind the camera. We’re making the FreeRideProject II and have started doing some filming for that this year which should be finished at the end of the year and I’m going to be coming out with a series of videos for Cabrinha so keep your eyes open for those as I’m hoping to push the production value through the roof.
KSm: James, thank you so much for your time. We wish you all the best for the future and we look forward to see your lastest videos soon.
JB: Thank you too.