I remember when I was sixteen, the drama, the boys and my shitty little slide phone. Like most of us, that’s how we remember our high school years but Olivia Williams is stepping up the game. An aspiring photographer and filmmaker, Olivia is a teen prodigy, collaborating with the MS Surf Team, Luka Raubenheimer and Runamuk Visuals. Snaking a traineeship at Glass, Olivia surrounds herself with mates for a rate, ha.
With a buffalo wing in one hand and a coke in the other, we blabber about Rare Visuals being her personal getaway from school. Smashing into some loaded fries myself, I listen as she reveals what’s it like being 16 years old and filming some of Sunny Coast’s best longboard surfers.
What is Rare Visuals?
I started when I was 13, that’s when I got my first camera and then I kinda branched out and doing more filmmaking and not always shooting the ocean. There can be no waves someday, so I started to shoot skating and other shit.
Do you prefer film over photography?
It depends. I always try to do both, whether I’m shooting surfing, skating or an interview with someone, I always try to shoot in a different formats. With filming though, you gotta have editing skills, right angles – there’s a lot to take into account.
There seems to be more techniques and areas you can work with within film.
Yeah, probably filming but photos are pretty cool too.
So I saw your film, Full Throttle was shown at the Noosa Surf Film Fest in October, how’d it go?
Yeah it went good. The MS Glass team came along so that was good having that support network, helping me out. They put on such a good event up there to show what actually goes into filming and give recognition to filmmakers on the coast.
The creative community on the Sunshine Coast is pretty small, what do you think about the support in the community?
Yeah so Jake Donald from Runamuk Visuals has been helping me out with his clothing label. He’ll give me some stuff to shoot and I’ll just try and shoot as much I can with that. Also, Mitch Surman and Sebastian Robinson from Glass, they help me out so much. I’m so thankful to have such a good support network to make me do what I wanna do. Probably sounds so cheesy.
How did you come across these connections? Did you reach out to them or did it was just come natural?
Well, in my school, you have a subject called Program Challenge. I was doing photography and you had to have a mentor and I remember wigging out because I didn’t really know any photographers that’d wanna help me out. Sebastian knew my mum’s friend that she’d work with, he helped me out and then I got my traineeship at Glass.
Those connections. Now, back to Full Throttle, what’s it about?
It’s a bit sketchy but I think that’s kinda what I wanted.
I think there’s a culture to it. Very old school, not everything has to perfect.
Yeah, the people that can do it in the best quality is like amazing. But having something that isn’t the greatest quality or best sound can also have an impact on people when they see the video.
It’s a very raw way of filming.
Yeah, so Full Throttle was filmed on Sunshine Coast. It was kinda just following the MS team. Mike lay came over from England and I just pieced everything together. Sam Crookshanks from Noosa helped me out a lot, such a rad guy. It kinda has a little story to it.
So you’re 16?
Do you think a lot of people restrict themselves within their age?
I find it a little restricting cause I can’t always do what I want. I want to go to Bali soon though and I’m hopefully planning to do a trip to New Zealand next year.
Is that for just a chill out session?
Yeah, well there’s a surf comp over in Christchurch called the Single Fin Mingle which I’d like to over and do a film for them. I dunno. Or maybe film like a little documentary on Jordan Spee, a guy from the coast over in New Zealand.
That’d be sick. Go for it.
What cameras do you use?
My Canon 60D and my little Sony Handy Cam.
How’s the Handy Cam?
So good. The zoom is like x60 so you can just pin it. There’s a few shots like that in Full Throttle, it’s pretty funny. Sometimes I’d use a GoPro but I lost it in the water.
Was Full Throttle your first film entered in the Film fest?
I got one in last year but it only went for like a minute and was real sketchy.
Are you ever satisfied with your finished work?
Full Throttle didn’t really come out how I wanted it. It was hard cause the surf would be good when I’m in school so it was a bit hard to work around.
With school, do you find hard to keep a balance?
I’m not very good at school. I don’t think I do have a good balance just cause I’m always trying to shoot rather than do school work. I’m not doing OP so when I’m filming, I feel like that is what I’m meant to be doing.
Would photography and film be the field you’d like to succeed in?
Yeah, for sure. It’s pretty hard to get into, there’s heaps of people doing it.
Is there a lot of people your age doing similar things like you?
There’s a few. There isn’t many girls going into film on the Coast.
Do you think there’s many girls your age pushing the boundaries of what’s expected from them?
There’s a lot of girls pushing themselves to get a grade and like not having fun at school, or on the weekends. I’d rather not have my head in a book. I dunno, sometimes I feel like there’s the idea of a girl should be doing or that. It’s kinda like when people say pineapple should go on a pizza or pineapple shouldn’t go on a pizza, I’m like they can put whatever the hell they want on the pizza.
I know, who cares right?
Yeah, I don’t really care about that anymore. I do what I wanna do. If I wanna play rugby, I’ll play. I’ll play but then I got a concussion so that messed my head up a bit. All I could remember was this avo joke and the cook. Ha. Same applies to film.
Do you feel like people sometimes don’t take you as seriously because of your age?
Yeah, I’ve reached out to a few surfboard shapers to see if I can film and I have gotten no replies. But I mean not everyone wants to get filmed by 16 year old girl. But when I got hooked up with Mitch, he was frothing.
Do you surf?
I use too.
I realized that I was crap.
Haha, I think everyone has a go at surfing once in their life.