Professional surfer. Activist. Mind Surfing and Another Eight Seconds: The Stetson Lawrence Story director. Describing Keith Malloy isn’t just some neat, one-sentence affair. In fact, he’s one of those dynamic individuals who fits into just about every creative category you can think of. And each one is more impressive than the last. 

In a way, Keith’s life is an ongoing play currently settling into its third act. The first was as a professional surfer who gained global notoriety by making their mark on the world tour. The second act saw him pivot to advocating for reconnecting with surfing’s values. And now, he’s picked up the camera and is taking lessons from his time on the one side of the lens to share stories from the other side, properly. Considering the awards he’s received for his Life of Kai (2023) series and films like Come Hell or High Water (2011) and our own 805 Beer original film Mind Surfing (2022), we’d say he’s settling into this relatively new endeavour quite comfortably.

But we wanted to see what really makes someone as impressive as him tick. So, we asked him a few questions about his process, his thoughts on his two recent 805 Beer films, and everything else in between. Settle in with a few cold ones and get ready to enjoy reading every bit of wisdom he imparted to us in our latest conversation together now.

805: Keith, what’s up, what’s life been like lately?

KM: Life has been good! Three kids have been keeping my wife and me busy at home. Work-wise I’ve been staying busy with a few different films in the works while also surfing as much as I can. I still love surfing every chance I get. 

You’ve been making films for quite some time now. Give us a bit of background on that. How’d you get into it and where do you see it going from here? 

Yeah, I’ve been lucky to have a career in surfing turn into a film production career. Being in front of the camera allowed me to understand how films work and it helped my creativity on projects before I was even behind the lens. At first, it was all just working on surf movies and then a lot of those surf movies gravitated towards documentary-style projects as well, often digging into personal interest stories. I feel like that’s my strength now. 

Can you walk us through your creative process when starting a new film project? How do you approach storytelling?

So much of the film preproduction process is actually finding an outstanding story to start with. It’s important to have all the elements come together so that your film has a full ark to capture people’s imagination and pull at their heartstrings as well, if possible. For me, a big one is having someone with a unique story who does something completely different than anyone else would do. We’ve all heard the same story a million times, so an outlier is what catches my attention these days.

Who are some of your biggest influences in filmmaking, and how have they shaped your style and approach?

As far as my influences go, there are so many great films and good material out there these days it’s crazy. I honestly haven’t honed in on one director that influenced me. If anything my older brother Chris started with films that inspired me for sure. I learned a lot from him. The first film he made was called Thicker Than Water, and it was groundbreaking at the time because it was more of a documentary-style project and less surfing action paired with some loud music. 

How do you think your storytelling has evolved over the years? Can you pinpoint any pivotal moments that marked a shift in your approach?

The first film I did was called Come Hell Or High Water, which is a body surfing film. Body surfing is such a niche sport. I had no idea if anyone would come out to see it. But it ended up being a success. The hard-core body surf scene really liked it so for me that was reassuring. 

Making that film was a huge accomplishment for me and made me realize that I could continue in that direction. And I’ve been lucky to be able to work with companies and pitch ideas and make a film that way. Companies like 805 have been supporting documentaries for quite a while now and it’s really, really great. Otherwise, these films would never get a chance to be made.

We just launched our 805 Beer film, Another Eight Seconds: The Stetson Lawrence Story. What did that mean to you?  

I felt really lucky to work on Another Eight Seconds. I’ve always been a big fan of rodeo and the cowboy lifestyle. I’ve had horses since I was a kid and run my own small herd of cattle now. I have a decent understanding of that world and rode calves in the rodeo as a kid, so I was all in when I heard about the opportunity of working with Stetson on this film. Bull riders are some of the grittiest humans you will ever meet which is what you are looking for when it comes to telling an inspiring story.

And Stetson Lawrence, what was it like working with him on this film?

Stetson and his family were a true pleasure to work with. He’s ridden so many bulls and is such a tough guy but he wears his heart on his sleeve. He was quick to get emotional when talking about his life story.

When someone is willing to share those emotions and pull down their guard it’s a pretty endearing quality. I enjoyed getting to know him and I’m hoping to stay in touch with him and have him out to California. My goal is to get him surfing for the first time. 

It’s been some time since we’ve filmed it. What’s been inspiring you these days?

Our latest project at Bimarian Films has been Life of Kai. It’s about Kai Lenny the big wave surfer. The project has been great and hugely inspiring. 

We’ve spent a lot of time on Maui and Oahu shooting some of the biggest waves in the world. I used to live in Hawaii so it feels a little bit like home when going back there. I always enjoy doing surf-related films and connecting with all the folks I know in that world. 

What’s next?

What’s next for me? Well, I love what I do and I hope to continue on this path. Almost every film we do is a true interest of mine and usually in some out-of-the-way, awesome place. The high-end short-form commercials are more lucrative but usually you are shooting a shiny car on the side of the road or something, and that’s pretty uninspiring to be honest. Sometimes you need to take those jobs to pay the bills, but I really look forward to true documentary-style storytelling.

Okay, so, trick question here, but 805 or 805 Cerveza?

I’m a big fan of the Cerveza, you can’t beat Mexican-style beer and 805 nailed it. 

And before we go, what advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who look up to your work? 

My advice for young filmmakers would be to put as many hours into your craft as you can. I really think it takes ten years to get excellent at something. Don’t let that discourage you, though. The learning process is awesome and there will be rewards along the way. 

I think we’ll wrap it up from there. Thanks, Keith!