Posted on May 27 2020
Get to know this North Shore based cinematographer and take a virtual voyage through his latest project
If you’re looking for something to watch right now, we highly recommend VELA, a four-part series that follows world champion surfer John John Florence and his crew as they embark on an open ocean sailing voyage from Oahu to the Northern Line Islands.
We recently caught up with the man behind the lens of VELA, Erik Knutson
Where are you from?
I grew up on a sailboat in Waikiki. Growing up, my family and I sailed throughout the South Pacific and even up to Alaska. I moved to the North Shore of Oahu for high school, which is where I live now.
Describe what you do.
I’m a cinematographer. I focus primarily on surfing and shooting from the water. The storytelling I do is based around competitive surfing, travel, and sailing.
How long have you been filming?
Growing up I always had a camera, but I didn't really get into filming until I was in high school. During that time, I started shooting surfing videos and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. When John John Florence qualified for the world championship tour of surfing, he needed another shooter to travel with and he chose me.
What is your favorite thing about what you do?
I enjoy the feeling I get when we capture a good shot. The feeling of collective excitement when we all crowd around the camera and play back a big barrel, crazy air, or wild underwater scene is the best. I also enjoy sharing what I get to witness every day with the rest of the world. Bringing happiness to people that are not able to experience travel or surfing is so rewarding.
VELA, a project you filmed, recently made it’s online debut. You captured an amazing adventure sailing from Oahu to Palmyra. How was that experience?
We were aboard VELA, a 48 foot catamaran for over a month. It’s hard to capture all that goes into a big trip like that, but it was fun being able to film and take part in such a voyage. I really felt like I was part of the crew and that we were all collectively helping each other reach a destination. What continues to impress me is the courage, focus, and determination that the Florence brothers have to learn new things. John has been interested in long distance sailing for a while now, and he follows all the big boat races around the world. He has big goals and I know he is looking beyond the horizon for the next one.
You’re known for always wearing a Spooner. When did you get into our Aloha shirts?
Growing up in Waikiki has a lot to do with it. The crew I met when I started surfing at Kaiser’s and Ala Moana Bowls were a group of Hawaiian uncles that had rad Volkswagon buses and old beater trucks. They always wore super nice aloha shirts and the best prints were Reyn’s.
What’s your favorite fit?
To be honest, I wasn’t introduced to anything but the classic fit until recently, so that one is my favorite. I also have a tailored fit and that feels amazing, too.
Spooner Kloth or Cotton?
What are your current favorites?
Deep Sea Jive and Lush Grotto
And lasty, what have you been up to during quarantine?
I’ve been working in my garden and I also built a covered deck with my dad. We shared some laughs and beers, and I got rousted with every nail that I set wrong.