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Five Minutes With: 15-Year-Old Filmmaker Hunter Cooney

Whangamata surfer Hunter Cooney is the guy responsible for producing Flightless Obsession – that’s the Kiwi surf film that was borne out of our Covid-19 Lockdown. New Zealand Surf Journal caught up with the young creative along the iconic shoreline of Kaikoura.

Flightless Obsession editor Hunter Cooney at Kaikoura. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: Hello, Hunter. What are you doing standing on a beach with the mountains behind you?
Hunter Cooney: I’ve come down to Kaikoura for the New Zealand Scholastics Surfing Championships as part of the Whangamata Area School Academy Team. It’s actually really nice to come down south and experience the cold weather – you couldn’t ask for a better spot really.

NZSJ: You’ve started to make a few surf films recently, tell us about that?
Hunter: I started playing with cameras when I was young – just making short little movies and all sorts. I started editing and making little films when I was 10 … probably quite lame ones. Then it just turned into wanting to make more films. I enjoy all the aspects of filmmaking – especially the creativity and freedom.

Hunter Cooney in heat mode. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: You released a really cool New Zealand film recently that was kind of a user-generated content movie. How did that come about?
Hunter: Flightless Obsession came about through Ben Kennings – a good friend of ours. He asked me about an idea he had had over the Covid-19 lockdown to crowdsource a film about New Zealand surfing and surfers. He offered for me to make it and I was really excited about it. It was wicked. I got footage from all over New Zealand – from up north and all the different spots around New Zealand. It was great to check them all out.

NZSJ: Was that difficult to piece together?
Hunter: One of the challenges putting it together was probably around the amount of clips people sent in. Some people sent in so many, but they should have cut it down to just the best three to five clips. It is always good to have a lot to select from, but I had to be brutal at times. I haven’t had any messages from anyone wondering where their best clip went to … well, not so far anyway.

NZSJ: What’s next for Hunter Cooney?
Hunter: I’m pretty keen to head down the path of filmmaking and photography. It’s just about making the most of any opportunities that arise. If I can that would be my preferred career path. I’m pretty set on doing something along those lines. I’m pretty interested in learning more about it and I really have a lot of fun doing it. There are a lot of people making films, so I am aware I have to be unique and different to everyone else. If you want to make your mark you have to show something different, which is also fun and something I like to do.

The Cooney boys on a surf adventure together. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: Any companies on your radar?
Hunter: I’m just waiting for the guy at New Zealand Surf Journal to offer me a job and I’m there. I’m super keen (laughs).

NZSJ: We’ve heard you might be the youngest hipster in Whangamata, is that true?
Hunter: I’d say so, might have to claim that one (laughs). I like hunting for barrels, but where I am from that doesn’t happen too often. I look for those sunny days with crispy A-frame spitters and all the rest. I’m all about the retro twin fins, too – can’t say no to it. Love a good soul arch.

NZSJ: Thanks for your time, Hunter.
Hunter: Thank-you.

Coach Dylan Care with Hunter Cooney and his father ahead of a heat at the Scholastics. Photo: Derek Morrison
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