The pro surfer, the filmmaker, the New Yorker.
A life between Brooklyn and Montauk.
Combining his athletic prowess and strong eye for style, Mikey’s been able to harness his talents. That, and he doesn’t mind surfing in cold weather – he actually likes it. We spoke with Mikey about his experiences growing up in the great state of New York, what he loves about both Montauk and Brooklyn, and how his surfing career transcended into a filmmaking career.
Daily routine: beach.
Tell me about where you grew up.
I grew up in North Babylon, which is an hour and 40 minutes just outside of the city in central Long Island. I was born a couple towns away from there in West Islip, and I lived there until I was 15.
What was it like growing up there?
The best, that’s why I’m still here, because I had an awesome childhood. My parents met surfing in Babylon in the early 1970s, and they were both beach people. My dad was a commercial clammer, and my mom lived and grew up in West Islip right at the beach, so that was my upbringing. The beach and the ocean were a part of it all since day one.
Juggling two careers.
So you had a very ocean-centric childhood, is that what brought you into surfing?
Yeah, very ocean-centric. If I wasn’t out on my dad’s boat or fishing with him at the beach, I was surfing or boogie boarding, it’s just how it happened. I think my dad tried to get me into it really early, like four-years-old. I just wasn’t into it and then he kind of left me alone. And then when I was twelve I just really took to it.
What’s a day in the life like for a professional surfer/filmmaker?
The slash part is the difficult thing. Right now it’s like juggling two full careers, which I can’t complain about. I’ve gotten to direct a couple of commercial projects recently. I turned 30 a couple weeks ago, and the surfing side of things isn’t slowing down whatsoever.
When did you decide to go from being strictly a professional surfer to dipping into the surf filmmaking industry?
As a professional surfer, I was going to these great places around the world, but only to do contests, and once I lost I would change my ticket and go home and not get to experience anything else. I was only there to do one thing. By the time I was 24 I was really burnt out, I had already been doing it for ten years. I did a trip to the Maldives the next year. It was one of the first photo trips I did. I was like, “This is unbelievable. How does nobody video this? It could be so cool.” There are so many different ways you can make a surf film. It doesn’t have to be an hour and a half long with just jazz music. So I had this idea to make something different. And that year I had my good friend Dustin Miller come with me and we made my first film. It was 2004 when we started it, and that film was “Picaresque”.
Through the city with a police escort.
And that evolved into High Seas Films, your production company?
It was the first film we did under High Seas Films. From there, I made another one, “Sight Sound”, which came out in 2010. And then a bunch of little shorts; I think I’ve done four or five shorts.
You were recently in a short film in collaboration with us. What was the best part of that shooting experience?
That was quite the experience. The raddest thing was probably when we were driving in the Mercedes through the city with a police escort and a camera follow car, shooting stuff, going back and forth on walkie-talkies, like, “Take a left here. Turn your blinker off.” It was really fun, I’d never done anything like that before.
Living in two places.
And you shot it with some of your friends?
My girlfriend Lisa was in it, and my good friend that I’ve known since I was 12-years-old, Trip Patterson , and our other friend Lisa from Long Beach. It was the four of us and it basically tells a story about leaving New York City and going out east toward Montauk to go surfing.
You have dwellings in Montauk and Brooklyn. What do you particularly like about living in either place?
I don’t think I could live in New York without each of them. Montauk is pretty amazing and the waves get great. There’s a ton of creative minds out there that are all running off each other. Lots of great energy and positive vibes. Back in the city, it’s the same thing. It’s also awesome to be here for surfing; I get to surf New Jersey, Long Beach, and Rockaway in the winter months.
'Everything kind of goes silent.'
You like surfing in cold weather, don’t you?
I like how it cuts down the crowd, it really empties things out. From Montauk to Maine, and even a lot of places in New Jersey, are just summer towns. When it’s snowing it’s probably one of the most magical experiences, from how the snow changes the acoustics of the surroundings and how you really stop hearing the ocean when it’s snowing. Everything kind of goes silent.
What do you hope to contribute to the surfing community?
If I make a surf film and it makes someone want to go surf, that’s basically the whole reason right there. Or if it just puts someone in a good mood and makes someone happy. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that the films that I’ve inspired them to go surfing, and it’s what gets them through flat spells. That’s pretty amazing.