Redefining the Surf Film
Imagine the typical “surf film” — it features a handful of celebrity and/or very young pro surfers, idyllic tropical locations, and extreme surfing mashed together with radical adventures in driving, partying and beautiful women. The soundtrack is loud and continuous. “Energy” drinks are consumed. This film is perfect surfers, surfing perfect waves, in perfect exotic locations. These elements are repeated on screen for up to 45 minutes (or longer in its worst versions). Corporate sponsor logos and the latest board shorts are prominently featured in slouchy “lifestyle” scenes. Cut to images of fishing, underwater reefs, sunshine and trees. Excited soundbites emit from the mouths of pumped up dudes. Thanks to modern wetsuit technology these days, the idyllic tropics are sometimes replaced by an exotic snow covered surf destination. Very little, if any, character development occurs in the film. We learn nothing about the “stars” in what is essentially a sports highlights reel. We watch them surf perfect waves, perfectly, to the tune of loud and repetitive music, until the credits roll. Occasionally there is a funny skit. No narrative. No plot. No story arc. Nothing changes. Just surfing with a decidedly pornographic nature.
I’m sure you’ll agree that surfing is so much more than this. Most surfers I know are deeply nuanced characters with an incredible perspective on life. Some are addicts or criminals while others are saints or hard working mortals, but all have spectacular and real stories to tell. Surfing and our coastal experience are not a “lifestyle” to be exploited on screen by clothing companies. Surfing is a relationship with nature, sometimes frightening, often exhausting, occasionally glorious, always inspiring. Surfing sometimes reeks of urban pollution and floating trash and at other times it has the aroma of tropical flowers and fresh water.
Surfing is our constantly evolving experience with a vast power – the ocean – that is infinitely more powerful and full of life than anything we are as individuals. And yet… and yet… after 50 years of surf filmmaking, our films still do not show us this. In fact, I believe things have gone downhill since the original Endless Summer was made in the 1960s. And Hollywood? After countless attempts they still haven’t even gotten close. Instead, we are bombarded with neon logos and the latest “style.” We are told “the future is now” and “youth is real” or a dozen other meaningless yet catchy statements.
However, there is a grassroots movement afoot that is vastly improving the “surf film.” Artists, athletes, writers and ocean scientists are collaborating to create a new style of surf film. Surf film festivals all over the world get better and more numerous every year. This inspired us in 2009 to create Save The Waves Film Festival. In 2009 Save The Waves Film Festival hosted eco-pirate Captain Paul Watson who introduced the powerful and controversial film “The Cove” to a packed theatre in San Francisco. In 2010 we held the world premiere of “Chasing the Swell” — an honest journalistic look into the hard world of big wave surfing through the eyes of Los Angeles Times video journalist Sachi Cunningham. In 2011 we hosted Keith Malloy and his brothers for the San Francisco premiere of “Come Hell or High Water” — a genre-busting bodysurf film in which not a single surfboard was ever seen. This year “STWFF” seeks to continue this run of unique films by traveling on the road to three California cities in November – Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and San Francisco – and we are looking to exhibit new, provocative, eco-surf-documentary-adventure films.
Save The Waves Film Festival is excited to announce the official 2012 call for film entries for its fourth annual film festival. Save The Waves Film Festival is a one-night film festival event featuring documentary surf films, ocean activist campaigns, live music, and honored guests of the ocean world that highlight the environmental and human elements of surfing, ocean conservation, and the coastlines we know and love.
Save The Waves Film Festival is not restricted by film genre; however, we encourage filmmakers to explore unique and personal stories that link surfing and the environment, environmental activism, surf culture and the cultural value of waves and surfing. We encourage and welcome submissions that explore all aspects and angles of surfing, coastal environmentalism, and cutting-edge artistry from documentary to animation to engaging, experimental and unique works of ocean-inspired art. Narratives with a captivating story line and engaging content are encouraged and sought after. We discourage films of a pornographic nature, including what is known in the insular world of the surf-industrial complex as “surf porn.”
Aspiring filmmakers from all walks of life should visit savethewaves.org/filmfestival to learn more about the film festival, read the festival rules and guidelines, and submit a short or feature length film. The deadline for film submissions to Save The Waves Film Festival 2012 is August 31, 2012. A $20 film submission fee and a completed film submission form is required along with 2 copies of your film on DVD. These documents and all information are available to read and download at our website. Filmmakers can submit films early and often.
Help us abolish corporate surf porn, and usher in a new wave of inspired surf films! The complete Save The Waves Film Festival guidelines, rules, application information and the film submission form can be found at savethewaves.org/filmfestival