Deus Ex Machina has always celebrated the spaces where motorcycling and surfing co-exist. And this breathtaking film takes the escapism to a new level, set against the surreal backdrop of Indonesia.
Directed by award-winning photographer Dustin Humphrey, South to Sian blends elements of a bike film, surf film and travel documentary into one awe-inspiring experience.
The film follows Harrison Roach and Zye Norris as they do what we all long to: escape the shackles of modern life. With a quiver of surfboards and a couple of dirt bikes piled into a 1970s Land Rover, the two travel from the south of Bali, up through the Indonesian archipelago to Northern Sumatra.
Along the way they connect with friends old and new—hitting stunning off-the-beaten-track surf and riding spots. We’ve seen the film, and it’s spectacular—from the locations to the cinematography and fantastic soundtrack.
Dustin himself is the co-founder of Deus Indonesia, and Deus’ International Director of Surf. He’s been riding bikes since the age of six, and boards since nine, and has spent the last twenty years living in Bali.
We caught up with the man himself, and pitched him a few questions.
South to Sian is hard to define—what type of film did you set out to make? I didn’t intend the film to fit into a specific genre. You could say it was more of a documentation of what we get up to over here. I have been friends with Harry and Zye for a few years now.
They are Deus ambassadors and spend a lot of time here in Bali surfing and riding. We have worked on other smaller projects together which have had some success, so we decided to go a little bigger.
Having an in-house media team here at the Temple—Anthony Dodds for photography and Andre Cricket for video—the project was born from just shooting the things we wanted and were able to do.
It was a bigger undertaking than things we had done in the past but was just the logical next step.
Obviously Indonesia’s an ideal location, but how did you pick the specific route that the film follows? Basically we wanted to start at one end of the Indonesian Archipelago and end at the other.
I really wanted this next generation of surfers and creatives from the Temple to experience what I had been doing here in Indonesia for the better part of the last 20 years, and in the way I used to do it.
Indonesia is made up of thousands of islands, all linked together by various forms of ferries and all different road types, from perfect tarmac to sketchy goat trails.
How many of the surf and riding spots along the way were familiar, and how many were brand new? Some of the surf spots were well known, some off the beaten track—it’s a gamble when it comes to chasing waves. To find pumping surf is a combination of a lot of factors: wind, tide, swell direction, etc.
There were three surf spots that we had not been to before. All of which didn’t have any accommodation near by, so they were a mission to check. Most of the other spots Harrison and I had visited before, but all the spots were new for Zye.
As far as the riding goes Mt Batur here in Bali is one of our local riding spots. We ride there quite often. It’s a combination of loose volcanic rock with some forest trails and sandy hills.
But the volcano up in Java was new for all of us, its quite an amazing place, the terrain is very different for Indonesia. Think Kauai mixed with Iceland: Dark sand dunes leading up to enormous green cliffs with pockets of clouds hanging around. It really is the best playground when it comes to off road motorcycling.
You describe yourself as a ‘hobbyist filmmaker’—but this is a rather bold effort for a ‘hobbyist.’ What inspired you to take it on? Again, this film is more of a curated documentation of what we are enthusiastic about in life over here. It’s what we do in the day to day. So for us, this year-long project was a bit bigger than some of our others—but it’s just the next step in the progression of things.