Where politics lead and fortune leaves, the ocean rages on. That is the northerner’s song.
“The waves are best in the winter, when there’s a bigger swell but you can come out with icicles hanging off your face,” British documentarian Tom Elliott told NOWNESS, the distributors of the short documentary by filmmaking duo A Common Future (of which Elliott is one half). “We shot the film in December and January, when guys go in wearing 5mm to 6mm thick neoprene suits, hoods, gloves and boots.
“There’s a famous surf spot called The Gare at the mouth of the river Tees that has world-class waves. You can look back across at the factories, and it’s the most uninviting place to surf ever.”
There, at The Gare in North East England, you’ll find the so-called smokestack surfer dude. What once a prosperous stretch of industrial coastline is now a bleak shadow of its former glory. But while glory had fled, pride remains in spades.
And in the whispers from these smokestack sufer dudes, you hear that pride…
“People don’t talk much. You can feel it — they’re part of this absolute, wonderful life.”
…alongside a raw relationship with the surrounding sea.
“All the shackles and that tie you up in life… all just fall away.”
This is not a wasteland. This is home.