Inspire Friday Issue No. 52

Remembering the surf legend Da Bull, a heart-shaped lake in Japan, a mysterious giant “sea worm,” 48 reasons to be optimistic, and more…



What it takes to capture humpbacks on film. Patience is a virtue, especially when trying to capture exquisite footage of humpback whales in the wild. In this behind the scenes video from our film Humpback Whales (now streaming on Vimeo On Demand), we go on location to Tonga where the MFF crew had to wait out days of rain and illusive whale behavior before finally capturing beautiful footage of a mama humpback and her calf. Tonga, a former whaling nation, is now focused on protecting its local whale population. That couldn’t make us any happier. Watch here.


Remembering big wave surf legend “Da Bull.” According to big wave surfing pioneer Greg “Da Bull” Noll, all you need is a surfboard, some wax, and a pair of shorts to have the time of your life. Loved by many, including us, Noll was a masterful surfer at a time when big waves truly were an unknown frontier. He was also a notable longboard shaper and skillful raconteur, whose signature black and white jailbird shorts capture his larger-than-life personality. Enjoy this profile by Adventure Journal and short 5-minute doc. R.I.P., Da Bull. Watch here.


A heart-shaped lake found in Japan. Surrounded by lush forest and located in a remote area of Japan’s Hokkaido island, Lake Toyoni is breathtaking not only for its stunning, unspoiled beauty but because of its unusual shape—a heart. Once a hidden gem but now a travel hotspot, the naturally created lake is an Instagram favorite. Ah, love, it’s a beautifully natural thing. Read more.


Giant “sea worm” not what it seems. Videographer Steve Hathaway and his friend Andrew Buttle were diving in New Zealand when they came across a very rare occurrence—a pyrosome, made up of free-flowing colonies known as tunicates that consist of thousands of tiny creatures called zooids. And while this creature seems like something out of a sci-fi film, it’s very much real, though usually only active at night. We’re just happy these divers didn’t mistake the sea animal for a pool noodle. Watch here.


48 reasons to be optimistic. With many parts of the world slowly starting to resemble something closer to normal, Outside Magazine compiled a list of 48 reasons why we should feel optimistic, including the fact that the outdoors is becoming more inclusive, people continue to adopt more pets, biodegradable gear is finally here, outdoor schools are thriving and turns out that people are actually pretty decent after all. Get your feel-good on with this inspiring read and then get outdoors and explore! Read more


Every week, MFF president Shaun MacGillivray shares what is inspiring him now, his favorite book recommendations, podcasts, articles, short films, docs, quotes, trends, innovative companies, people, and entrepreneurial stories.

An epic tale of a daredevil female aviator. “I’m currently reading Maggie Shipstead’s book Great Circle. I haven’t read fiction in a while, and this is a book that is hard to put down. It tells the story of a female daredevil aviator who takes full charge of her own life. The book has great characters and is a New York Times bestseller for a reason. I highly recommend it.” Available here.

And for further inspiring reading recommendations…
Visit Shaun’s “Never Stop Learning” reading list.


For this week’s “From the Archives,” we invited longtime MFF collaborator, composer Steve Wood, to contribute a photo and memory from his many years crafting the music scores for our IMAX films, including the score for “Journey to the South Pacific.”  

A working friendship continues in West Papua. “When I heard that Greg MacGillivray would be shooting a film in the amazing location of West Papua, I came up with a plan to convince him that I should go there to “absorb” the local music so I could make a more compelling score. When I told him he should take me along, he said, ‘Great idea!’ before I could even begin my well-rehearsed sales pitch. Two trips there found me working with the chief of a small island village, jamming with locals in a cave full of bats, working with an incredible array of local musicians, and diving in one of the most bio-diverse marine environments on our planet. And in the end, I believe it actually did make for a more compelling score.

Also on the trip was Steve Judson, pictured here with me (I’m on the right) in 2013 on location in West Papua. Steve was our main film editor, spell-checker, refiner, and what I would call our intellectual janitor. He gathered up all the little pieces of various creative material that Greg and I left lying around and organized them into a compelling and cohesive whole.

Steve, Greg and I had an incredible working relationship based on years of hard work together, constantly refining our approach and deepening our trust and friendship. Working for Greg was not a corporate experience. We were not working towards retirement where we would someday hopefully get what we wanted. We were not trying to copy the current trends so we could eventually be successful. We were living close to each other in Laguna Beach (where we all still live and have no plans of leaving) and we worked every day to express how we wanted our universes to be ordered, trying to get things just right. In the end, our successes were the result of our passion and commitment to what we genuinely cared about. In my book, you can’t beat that.”

— Steve Wood

Coming soon!

Greg MacGillivray’s memoir, Five Hundred Summer Stories, will be released next year. A fascinating story chronicling Greg’s journey as an artist, self-made filmmaker, entrepreneur, father and conservationist.

We’ll keep you posted!

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