Photography courtesy of Kristen Dunn.
Kristen Dunn may have grown up in a landlocked state, but when she fell in love with surfing and the sea, her path took a new direction. Inspired by the ocean and her passion for storytelling, Kristen has created the FreeSouls documentary series in order to inspire women and give them a voice. She is adventurous and creative, with a caring spirit and endless stoke. We were intrigued and quite happy to have the opportunity to chat with her a bit more about herself and her work.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Kristen Dunn, and I am a born adventurer! Growing up in Kansas, I found the outdoors to be my playground. Between playing in the trees, hay bales, and under the starry night skies, I found a sense of peace and love for nature’s beauty. When the time for college came, it was a no brainer to move to California, where the playgrounds expanded from the ocean to mountains! I studied Film Production at Chapman University in Orange, California and have used that knowledge to help share and inspire people through my filmmaking!
How has your journey brought you to where you are now, doing what you do?
It’s so funny – five years ago I never would have guessed I would have loved the ocean so much! I’ve always had the curiosity and adventurous spirit, but I grew up in Kansas – a landlocked state! A friend from church took me out one day on her surfboard, and the next day I bought my own board, and I haven’t missed a week of surf since! It’s undeniable how your faith in God will lead you to the most unexpected places. He created this passion and love that I’ve never experienced before and I want to share this incredible stoke that the ocean has given me!
Word has it you are the lady behind an inspiring documentary series. What is that all about?
As I started to become more involved in surfing, I would read articles and magazines to see guys doing 360s and getting barreled, then maybe on the inside cover there would be a girl in her bikini sitting on her surfboard. This brought up so many more questions, [like] why are women athletes paid more to pose in bikinis than actually winning championships? We’ve created a social craze for bikini looking bodies, perfect skin, etc. that women often miss their own value and beauty. So I wanted to create this documentary series to give women a voice and show that we can be strong and beautiful!
Can you explain what “FreeSouls” mean to you?
“FreeSouls” are two words that have so much meaning in my life. What does it mean to live a life that is free? How do we free ourselves from our own judgments, others’ expectations, and listen to what our souls are saying? This documentary series gives me an opportunity to explore and share different people’s lives and see how they are able to find that sense of freedom and live from their souls.
If film making is your canvas, what are you trying to paint?
One of my favorite things about filmmaking is underwater photography. Not only is the ocean a beautiful canvas to capture, but I love to film people in the water! You become so vulnerable in the water because every wave is different, so you can’t predict or expect anything. You have to be completely open to what is given to you in the moment. Seeing how people react in the moment is the most beautiful gift of filmmaking that I am able to share!
What inspires you and makes you so excited that you cannot contain it?
When filming other surfers, I love seeing their faces after a great ride! They turn around and look at me, and it’s just the most genuine smile spreading ear to ear. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grommet, have traveled to every surf break, or out for the first time. Everyone gets so excited when they feel the ocean pulse beneath their feet and they’re able to glide across the water!
If there were a film about you, what would it be called?
Hahah probably Indiana Jane! I like to discover new paths, take risks, and live a life of adventure!
Do you have a particular quote that has stuck with you recently?
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If “impossible” were not a word, what would the future look like for you?
I would love to turn FreeSouls into an organization and hub that gathers women’s stories, articles, photographs, and videos from all over the world sharing the stoke and experiences they face to help shed light onto different issues around the world and even our own backyards.
Where can we see your work and learn more about FreeSouls?
Maddie Buresh is a writer and photographer with an unquenchable desire to explore the great outdoors, from the ocean to the mountains. She finds joy in trying new things, living in community, and crafting stories that encourage people to go outside, have adventures, and enjoy this big, beautiful world.