Daniel Fonseca’s New Movie Is Proof of Portugal’s Reign

There’s no denying that the tables are turning – and Daniel Fonseca’s flick Please, Have A Seat is a fine example of why Portugal is regarded as the new bodyboarding super power. Fonseca takes centre stage in the film, who seems to have adopted the best techniques from Hawaii and Australia to form a new kind of balance that is oh so easy to watch. We caught up with the man himself, and the talented film maker, Miguel Assis de Castro, to talk about the idea behind the movie’s intriguing name, Portuguese surf politics and the future of bodyboarding in the wave-blessed nation.


MM: We just finished watching ‘Please, Have A Seat’ and we are super impressed. How long did it take to make? 

Daniel Fonseca: Since I returned from Australia back in September, 2016. I have been filming some of the best sessions around home over that time, but the majority of the footage is from the last winter in Portugal. After I organised all the images and sent them to Miguel to edit into this clip. 

Miguel Assis de Castro: As I was not on a schedule to edit this film I took it slow and spent a heap of time. Maybe three weeks to edit and grading all up. Having time to do anything these days is a rare privilege.

Concerning filming I guess it took about two years to gather all of the waves of Daniel from different filmmakers. (and I only used half of it for this film…!)

How did you come up with the name, Please, Have A Seat

DANIEL: I think Miguel might give a better answer, but I reckon that nowadays is hard for people to stop and relax and appreciating something. So this name is an invite to enjoy four minutes of pure bodyboard. 

MIGUEL: More than half of my viewers on Vimeo last year watched my videos with a mobile device. That’s a big issue for me - small screen, horrible sound. And that means that you don’t have any control on the environment and conditions where your film is being watched and everything can be a possible distraction. Of course that is also true for laptop or desktop viewing. But at least with computer viewers you know that is very likely that they'll watch the film on a bigger screen and sat somewhere.

Thus the title is an invitation to people stop what their doing, sit down and enjoy 4 minutes of some excellent bodyboarding.

Are there a lot of guys filming bodyboarding these days in Portugal? 

Daniel: I would not say yes, but we have a good number of them here in Portugal. Some of the best filming guys I know, like Gustavo Carvalho, Nuno Dias and Timelapse (Luís Pereira) started by shooting bodyboard.

Miguel: Here in the North of Portugal there definitely is not. And by looking to the quantity of videos produced each year in Portugal I would say there aren’t that many film makers dedicated to shooting to bodyboarding. At least non with that entrepreneur and passionate mindset required to produce good bodyboarding clips. Although the few ones are very good.

Gustavo Carvalho also lives here in Porto and he's been a mentor to me. You may have heard of "The Bela Arte". Gustavo managed to fill two cinemas (Porto and Lisbon) with bodyboarders to see his movie (with multiple full sessions). It's difficult not to be inspired and try to do something similar.

How long have you guys been working together on films together? 

Miguel: This is just our second film. Last year after we released "UPTHERE", Daniel approached me to edit a clip about his "2016 NSW Trip". The result was great I quickly sympathised with Daniel! This year Daniel was keen to put together a clip with the footage he had gathered from Portugal and spoke to me again. We live 270km apart and we still haven’t met hahaha. He goes to college during the day and I work on public television (RTP) doing day and night shifts. So it’s tricky to have time to meet up… But I already said to Daniel that this is our last film without meet each other haha. And I’m definitely looking forward to meet him and go out filming some more films - I miss filming too! Maybe we can do something more substantial who knows.

Where was Please, Have A Seat filmed?

Daniel: Most of the footage is from Peniche, specifically Supertubos and Molhe leste (the right wedge that I love).

We saw that gnarly fight between a local bodyboarder and surfer Joel ‘Parko’ Parkinson a few years ago at Peniche. Is localism heavy there? 

Daniel: There is a strong group of local bodyboarders that are around 30 to 40 years old right now, and they used to rule Peniche’s waves. So they created a hard image of Peniche localism. But currently a lot of them surf less or do not surf at all and that image has been disappearing.

Miguel: I witnessed that via internet like most people. Daniel knows it better. I live up north, in Porto. Around here I feel localism less and less over the years. Of course there are always those guys who like to alpha male you but it’s been super mellow in recent years. I would say that around Peniche and other notorious spots due to all those quality waves and huge crowds that the reality may be a bit different. In the end what matters is to be nice to each other.

Is there much rivalry between surfers and bodyboarders where you guys live, or was the fight just because Parko was hassling too much? 

Daniel: No, that fight just happened because Parko did not respected one of the biggest Supertubos locals. In Portugal we don’t feel that rivalry, actually in general I think surfers respect bodyboarders and love the “go for it”.

Miguel: In Parko’s case I guess it was different. It was during a ASP event so the lineup was particularly packed. Everyone wants to surf good waves. Good waves are a scarce resource. As surfers we all have in some degree sharing issues hahaha do the math!

When I’ve started bodyboarding I witnessed a surf school teaching kids to ignore bodyboarders and just run over them. Since then, and like localism, I feel less and less rivalry. Now it's not rare a to have mixed lineup with all people enjoying watching each other surfing. I guess finally the vast majority realised how stupid this was… Still there are and always will always be stupid guys out there… (on both sides) 

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Daniel, who are your sponsors? 

Daniel: Currently I’m riding for a Portuguese brand called Deeply and I have some support from Electric sunglasses and my osteopath Tiago Boto.

What are your goals with bodyboarding? 

Daniel: My goals are to continue to travel around the world and surf good waves while making new friends and meeting new cultures, to make a professional movie with unseen images of Portugal’s waves, and I also aim to run the world bodyboard tour for at least a year.

It seems like bodyboarding is huge over in Portugal, why do you think it is? 

Daniel: In Portugal all wave sports are growing a lot and so Portugal is an increasingly popular surfing destination worldwide. Unfortunately, bodyboarding has not grown at the same rate as surfing. Although, Bodyboarding is a big sport here in Portugal because there are good schools and a large number of competitions for the younger classes. And also good organisations that bring world and European events to Portugal often sponsored by the local councils.

Another thing that you might notice here is a strong culture of bodyboard implemented from North to South covering all generations. And for the number of people who live in Portugal we have a great population of bodyboarders that love the sport, and also some of them gave credibility to Portugal on an international level, guys like Manuel Centeno and Hugo Pinheiro. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bodyboarding in Portugal, but there are few athletes making a living from the sport, most make ends meet other ways. 

I watched you surfing up in France recently and was stoked to see how good your style was. It seems like all of the Portuguese riders have great styles these days, would you agree and why do you think that is? 

Daniel: Thanks for saying that, I appreciate it.

I agree that my generation and the younger generation give great importance to style. Especially in free surf where a good level is always associated with great manoeuvres and a good "Aussie" style. I think the main reason for that is linked to the movies and bodyboarders we grew up watching. Movies like the Ben Player project, The Mitch Vid, Hardlyfe II and all the pro clips like Sam Bennet, Nick Gornall and PLC.

For me, my coach Helio "Laranja" Conde had a great influence on my style, and even some say that I have Helio’s style. The trainings with Laranja have always been about improving my technique combined with the right line and explosive moves.

Interesting to hear that you have a coach? I was surprised to hear that a lot of top Portuguese riders have coaches as I’ve never witnessed anything like that in Australia or the USA. Is it pretty common in Portugal for elite bodyboarders to have coaches? 

Daniel: Usually the coaches that introduced the kids to bodyboard follow them to the comps until they become more independent. I’m in that group because I have been training with Laranja since I was 15 and he is still a very important part of my training.

Miguel: Most of all successful competitors here from the North have or had coaching. Thinks it's the same for the rest of Portugal.

Do you get coaching just for competition training, or is it also for your free surfing? How does it help?

Daniel: Laranja works with me in both and we try to show the same level in both situations. But usually I am not training, I am just having fun and looking for good waves. Sometimes when the waves are not that good I look forward to train with him because I can focus a lot more in specific goals and still improve my level.

Do you think having coaches is part of the reason why there is so much great talent coming out of Portugal?

Daniel: I don’t think so. I would say that main reason for that is the fact we have great and all kind of waves and a lot of people bodyboarding.

Do you think that is why you have all of the 2018 world champions living in Portugal, or is it something more? 

Daniel: Are you referring to the fact that PLC, Joana Shencker and Isabela Sousa live here in Portugal? Yes, Portugal is also a safe country, with relatively low cost of living, good climate and food and also world-class waves, giving all the conditions so that they can live in peace and train a lot

Every day we see new names of guys ripping over there. Who is the best up and coming guys from Portugal? 

Daniel: A lot of younger kids are ripping, I would say right now Miguel Ferreira is the name that stands out, specially because the way he competes and his technique. Also Joel Rodrigues, just 14 years old, is on his way to became an excellent bodyboarder. Other names that stand out are Rodrigo Lopes, Pedro Grácio and Afonso Silva.

Around my age I would highlight my friends António Cardoso, Dino Carmo, Miguel Coelho, Steph Kokorelis and Ricardo Rosmaninho.

And lastly, do you guys plan on doing any more movies together?

DANIEL: I really identify myself with Miguel’s style so I would love to do more clips or a short movie about a trip together.

MIGUEL: Definitely yes! As I’ve just been editing these past two films, I really want to grab my camera and go out film him. Hopefully we’re just getting started.

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