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Inspiration

November 7, 2020

A Lifelong Dream

Interview by
Joel Fuller

Inspiration

November 7, 2020

A Lifelong Dream

Interview by
Joel Fuller

Zac Turgeon is a filmmaker and director living in Quebec City. Growing up Zach was a skier before he was a filmmaker - taking his GoPro and iPod Touch everywhere filming his friends and experiences. Year after year, his creativity, ability to tell stories, and his persistence led him to where he is now - a film director in Quebec City and Montreal. One thing has never changed for him though: his love and passion for telling stories. These stories have taken him 4000km across the US filming a music video, touring Asia with nothing but his camera and laptop in his nap-sack, surfing and cycling in Oregon, and most recently freezing his fingers off for the film “Far Far Est”.

“Far Far Est” is a finalist at this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival - The world’s premiere outdoor film festival. We caught up with him in Tofino, BC during his 2 month mountain bike/surf trip across Canada to discuss his film and the lifelong dream he’s had of having a film in the festival.

What sparked your passion for filmmaking? 

I was very lucky to receive a GoPro one Christmas when I was still in highschool from my parents. This was my first camera and is what sparked my interest in filmmaking. I was already very interested in art, making music, drawing, and engaging my creative mind at the time, but the GoPro opened a whole new world of motion for me to explore. I started recording literally everything, cross country ski races, trips with my friends, all my outdoor adventures etc. My first film was me cleaning the house the day after I got the GoPro actually. As time passed and I made more and more films, I quickly realized that I was much more interested in the storytelling side of filmmaking than the technical side. I figured I had a special talent as a storyteller and the process of creating ideas.

How long have you been making films for?

I’ve been filmmaking for about seven or eight years now and the last five of those years I would consider myself a professional as filmmaking has been my sole source of income.

Zac Turgeon filming Far Far Est

Why is the Banff Mountain Film Festival so important to you?

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is the world’s premiere outdoor film festival. I remember my dad taking me as a kid when it toured Quebec. Every Year I was awe-struck at how amazing all the films were and totally addicted to the inspiration they made me feel. I never really thought one of my films would be good enough to make it, but it’s been a dream of mine for a long time now. 

I’m still young and have a lot of freedom in my life. I wanted to capitalize on these freedoms, make something I was proud of, and submit this year.

Tell us about the concepts and motivations behind your film “Far Far Est”?

Far Far Est is a film about a road trip I took with two of my best friends surfing and skiing on the East Coast of North America. Far Far Est is not about conquering huge mountains, surfing huge waves, and skiing crazy lines, it’s about real adventure, real friends, and enjoying life. We made it to inspire everyone out there who isn’t a pro to do the same. We quickly realized when we were younger that going pro as athletes was unfortunately not our destiny. This pushed us away for a while from thinking a film of ours could be in this festival and inspire people. However, in the past few years we realized that we don’t need to be pro skiers or surfers to make films people want to watch and this is what we came up with.

Charles-Antoine Beudry and Oliver Lapointe

Was there a lot of storyboarding and planning to make the film? Or was it off the cuff?

There was definitely a lot of planning involved to make this film. For us to get into the festival I felt like we needed to put a lot of time and energy into the pre-production. To make our film compelling not by insane feats, but through humour, story, and creativity.

What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

It’s easy for me to say it was our limited time and money - we’re students and the film was shot in just one week. But in reality I think these limitations were advantages that gave character to the film. We were all super motivated and the three of us worked so well together. I think that the biggest challenge was believing in my own idea. So many of my ideas have been struck down by people or by myself. Self-doubt is a filmmaker's worst enemy, but also the energy often needed to elevate your ideas. There was a lot of doubt that I had to overcome to go through with this concept.

Charles Antoine Beudry, Oliver Lapointe, & Zac Turgeon

Were you nervous submitting to the festival? Have you submitted a film before this one?

I was nervous to see the film get rejected after all our time, energy, and money had gone into it. If it was refused - that would’ve given fire to my self and peer doubt. At the same time I wasn’t so anxious because this is the first film I ever submitted and it's a super competitive festival. To be honest I think I am going to feel more anxious submitting future films now since Far Far Est got accepted. 

Why is storytelling so important to you?

So many adventure films are caught up purely focusing on sport with no story, there is nothing wrong with this, but I think story is what connects an audience to a film. I think good storytelling has the ability to change people's minds, get them interested in new things, and spur emotion. Telling good stories is a superpower.


Have your passion projects helped you get professional work?  

Yes absolutely - my passion projects and professional ad work are interrelated. Sometimes it seems counterintuitive to spend personal money on passion projects, but that’s absolutely not true. A lot of clients have looked at my personal work and hired me because of it. Choosing a director for a project is often emotional, not rational. I’ve gotten hired for totally irrelevant work based on my passion projects. It’s so important for any filmmaker to keep making projects you’re passionate about.

We’re doing this interview with you in the Far Far West - Tofino, BC - What are you doing out here? 

I’ve betrayed all my Quebec friends haha, I’m always saying the East Coast is better than the West Coast, but I had to spend a couple months out west here to see for myself. The surfing and mountain biking has been unbelievable. I’ve been travelling with my best friend Simon Tasse in the van I built with my dad. We’ve been gone for two months now.

Zac Turgeon & his van 'Django'

You built this van with your Dad? Tell us about it!

Django is her name, it’s a used ‘08 Chevy Express. We tried to build it with as many recycled materials as possible. We built it during confinement. It was the perfect way to spend this strange time together father-and-son, without the lockdown we wouldn’t have had the time. Hopefully I bring it back in one piece.

Simon Tasse & Zac Turgeon

Any advice for new filmmakers? 

Trust in your stories. If there’s a story you’re passionate about - tell it. There are so many reasons, excuses, and doubts trying to prevent you. Put something on paper and make it happen with your own time and money - having a final result from your concept, even if it didn’t really work out is the best way to improve yourself. Far Far Est is probably my 10th or 11th film with these two guys. We’ve tried so many different things, many of them weren’t great, but I learned something new every time.

Mountain biking on Vancouver Island


What’s next for you? Work, personal projects, road trips etc
It’s a goal of mine to produce a film on my own terms each year moving forward. My dad is an incredible ultramarathon runner and I think we might put something together next summer about this huge challenge he wants to do. I want to start being a little bit more selective with the projects I take professionally moving forward - with companies I share similar values with.

Zac it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you, thanks for your time.
Joel so good to talk with you - let’s go surfing now!

Simon & Zac in Tofino, BC - Coffee then surf

Far Far Est premieres on Nov 2 during the Banff Film Festival’s Radical Reels and will also be touring with the world tour come next year. The full film will be released after the festival.

While the full version of Far Far Est isn't released yet... Check this one out ↓









Zac Turgeon is a filmmaker and director living in Quebec City. Growing up Zach was a skier before he was a filmmaker - taking his GoPro and iPod Touch everywhere filming his friends and experiences. Year after year, his creativity, ability to tell stories, and his persistence led him to where he is now - a film director in Quebec City and Montreal. One thing has never changed for him though: his love and passion for telling stories. These stories have taken him 4000km across the US filming a music video, touring Asia with nothing but his camera and laptop in his nap-sack, surfing and cycling in Oregon, and most recently freezing his fingers off for the film “Far Far Est”.

“Far Far Est” is a finalist at this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival - The world’s premiere outdoor film festival. We caught up with him in Tofino, BC during his 2 month mountain bike/surf trip across Canada to discuss his film and the lifelong dream he’s had of having a film in the festival.

What sparked your passion for filmmaking? 

I was very lucky to receive a GoPro one Christmas when I was still in highschool from my parents. This was my first camera and is what sparked my interest in filmmaking. I was already very interested in art, making music, drawing, and engaging my creative mind at the time, but the GoPro opened a whole new world of motion for me to explore. I started recording literally everything, cross country ski races, trips with my friends, all my outdoor adventures etc. My first film was me cleaning the house the day after I got the GoPro actually. As time passed and I made more and more films, I quickly realized that I was much more interested in the storytelling side of filmmaking than the technical side. I figured I had a special talent as a storyteller and the process of creating ideas.

How long have you been making films for?

I’ve been filmmaking for about seven or eight years now and the last five of those years I would consider myself a professional as filmmaking has been my sole source of income.

Zac Turgeon filming Far Far Est

Why is the Banff Mountain Film Festival so important to you?

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is the world’s premiere outdoor film festival. I remember my dad taking me as a kid when it toured Quebec. Every Year I was awe-struck at how amazing all the films were and totally addicted to the inspiration they made me feel. I never really thought one of my films would be good enough to make it, but it’s been a dream of mine for a long time now. 

I’m still young and have a lot of freedom in my life. I wanted to capitalize on these freedoms, make something I was proud of, and submit this year.

Tell us about the concepts and motivations behind your film “Far Far Est”?

Far Far Est is a film about a road trip I took with two of my best friends surfing and skiing on the East Coast of North America. Far Far Est is not about conquering huge mountains, surfing huge waves, and skiing crazy lines, it’s about real adventure, real friends, and enjoying life. We made it to inspire everyone out there who isn’t a pro to do the same. We quickly realized when we were younger that going pro as athletes was unfortunately not our destiny. This pushed us away for a while from thinking a film of ours could be in this festival and inspire people. However, in the past few years we realized that we don’t need to be pro skiers or surfers to make films people want to watch and this is what we came up with.

Charles-Antoine Beudry and Oliver Lapointe

Was there a lot of storyboarding and planning to make the film? Or was it off the cuff?

There was definitely a lot of planning involved to make this film. For us to get into the festival I felt like we needed to put a lot of time and energy into the pre-production. To make our film compelling not by insane feats, but through humour, story, and creativity.

What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

It’s easy for me to say it was our limited time and money - we’re students and the film was shot in just one week. But in reality I think these limitations were advantages that gave character to the film. We were all super motivated and the three of us worked so well together. I think that the biggest challenge was believing in my own idea. So many of my ideas have been struck down by people or by myself. Self-doubt is a filmmaker's worst enemy, but also the energy often needed to elevate your ideas. There was a lot of doubt that I had to overcome to go through with this concept.

Charles Antoine Beudry, Oliver Lapointe, & Zac Turgeon

Were you nervous submitting to the festival? Have you submitted a film before this one?

I was nervous to see the film get rejected after all our time, energy, and money had gone into it. If it was refused - that would’ve given fire to my self and peer doubt. At the same time I wasn’t so anxious because this is the first film I ever submitted and it's a super competitive festival. To be honest I think I am going to feel more anxious submitting future films now since Far Far Est got accepted. 

Why is storytelling so important to you?

So many adventure films are caught up purely focusing on sport with no story, there is nothing wrong with this, but I think story is what connects an audience to a film. I think good storytelling has the ability to change people's minds, get them interested in new things, and spur emotion. Telling good stories is a superpower.


Have your passion projects helped you get professional work?  

Yes absolutely - my passion projects and professional ad work are interrelated. Sometimes it seems counterintuitive to spend personal money on passion projects, but that’s absolutely not true. A lot of clients have looked at my personal work and hired me because of it. Choosing a director for a project is often emotional, not rational. I’ve gotten hired for totally irrelevant work based on my passion projects. It’s so important for any filmmaker to keep making projects you’re passionate about.

We’re doing this interview with you in the Far Far West - Tofino, BC - What are you doing out here? 

I’ve betrayed all my Quebec friends haha, I’m always saying the East Coast is better than the West Coast, but I had to spend a couple months out west here to see for myself. The surfing and mountain biking has been unbelievable. I’ve been travelling with my best friend Simon Tasse in the van I built with my dad. We’ve been gone for two months now.

Zac Turgeon & his van 'Django'

You built this van with your Dad? Tell us about it!

Django is her name, it’s a used ‘08 Chevy Express. We tried to build it with as many recycled materials as possible. We built it during confinement. It was the perfect way to spend this strange time together father-and-son, without the lockdown we wouldn’t have had the time. Hopefully I bring it back in one piece.

Simon Tasse & Zac Turgeon

Any advice for new filmmakers? 

Trust in your stories. If there’s a story you’re passionate about - tell it. There are so many reasons, excuses, and doubts trying to prevent you. Put something on paper and make it happen with your own time and money - having a final result from your concept, even if it didn’t really work out is the best way to improve yourself. Far Far Est is probably my 10th or 11th film with these two guys. We’ve tried so many different things, many of them weren’t great, but I learned something new every time.

Mountain biking on Vancouver Island


What’s next for you? Work, personal projects, road trips etc
It’s a goal of mine to produce a film on my own terms each year moving forward. My dad is an incredible ultramarathon runner and I think we might put something together next summer about this huge challenge he wants to do. I want to start being a little bit more selective with the projects I take professionally moving forward - with companies I share similar values with.

Zac it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you, thanks for your time.
Joel so good to talk with you - let’s go surfing now!

Simon & Zac in Tofino, BC - Coffee then surf

Far Far Est premieres on Nov 2 during the Banff Film Festival’s Radical Reels and will also be touring with the world tour come next year. The full film will be released after the festival.

While the full version of Far Far Est isn't released yet... Check this one out ↓