So: a UFC mega stud as our EP, flying to Hawaii, I kept thinking, how in the hell is this happening? We’re making a freaking surf movie! But there we were. With Hamel’s spirit, Lara’s drive, and Urijah’s money guiding us, we were unstoppable. And the footage – contrary to my fears – was gorgeous, even sans rodeo flips.
The rest of the filming – in El Salvador, California, and Costa Rica – seemed to just flow. Surf for Life, the non-profit that gets surfers to build schools in Central America, agreed to help us with lodging as long as we were willing to lay some concrete for their high school projects (it was an honor). Borrowed Lenses donated equipment; Las Olas surfboards made us a gorgeous custom 7’2” with a Japanese Enso emblazoned on the nose; Nine Pound Shadow, Jim Klar and Michael Eaton, donated music; Sanuk kept the shoes flowing; and O’neill gave us wetsuits at cost. Every little bit helped.
I think it was in El Salvador, the film crew laying concrete bricks in 95-degree heat for Surf for Life’s El Cuco high school, that I realized, whether the film actually got made or not, didn’t matter as much as the fact that we were making it. It has been said far too many times that the journey is the destination, but on that fourth and final trip, the feeling overwhelmed me. Not only did we get cool and talented surfers like Holly Beck, Danny Hess, Jay Nelson, Andy Olive, Alex Fang, Brian Lam, Mark Lukach, and Ward Robinson to come with us,
Urijah even showed up to help build the school, intimidating the locals just by removing his shirt. And the coolest and most unbelievable part? Hamel’s daughter, Lorrynn, now 17, came too, bringing the light and love that I’m sure her mother exuded.
Now that I’m not surfing in El Salvador’s warm water, doubt and fear often start to root their way in again. We have two terabytes of footage. How in the hell do we order it? And how do we get the remaining cash to take this movie on the road? (PLEASE GO TO OUR KICKSTARTER PAGE TO HELP NOW!) The remaining challenges can seem insurmountable, especially if I think in the way I was in the beginning of the project.
But then I think of how far we’ve come, and of Hamel – Saltwater Buddha’s guardian angel – and I know we’re almost there.