The Inertia

A few years ago was asked if I wanted to make my book, Saltwater Buddha, into a film. Lara Popyack and Mike Madden have made some gorgeous ocean documentaries for the BBC and National Geographic. Mike is also a Guinness World Record-holding cave diver. I’d just written a book about zen and surfing that I had been paid so little to complete I’d had to live on my girlfriend’s dad’s sailboat in order to finish it.

In our first conversation on the phone I played it cool. I told Mike and Lara, “Thank you for the offer. Let me think about it.”

Then I hung up, screamed “GEEEEAEAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” and stayed up all night dreaming of being a movie star.

I called them back the next day.


“We can probably work something out,” I said.

And so it began. But we quickly realized this wouldn’t be easy. The book starts off when I ran away to Hawaii at sixteen to surf, then rolls into international zen monasteries, communes, and universities, all spanning ten years. To do it right, we’d need actors, pro surfers and millions of dollars. We didn’t have these things, and watching me surf is a bit like watching President Obama bowl. So we launched a Kickstarter campaign. Then my old friend Urijah Faber, a professional UFC fighter who is more ripped than Sylvester Stallone (back in his Rocky IV days obviously), said he’d like to be the executive producer. That gave us a boost. And soon, rather miraculously, we were making a film.

Since we couldn’t take the big budget approach we fell back on the good old-fashioned surf movie tradition: tell a story by having the dude on camera tell a story. Then, add waves and music.

That process brought us to Hawaii, New York, El Salvador and Costa Rica. And though we had a blast filming (we even got some pro surfers to participate), we were never sure we’d actually finish all the rest: edit, music, sound mastering – a movie poster.

Today, with the help of so many creative and generous souls (especially Director of Photography Roberto Vezzone and editor Jordan Dozzi) I’m proud to say we’re headed to the silver screen.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 15.43.53

Editor’s Note: Here are just a few of the confirmed showings for Saltwater Buddha to date. You can also learn more about the author’s film here.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016 9:00pm – 10:00pm
Asilomar Conference Center, Monterey, California


Tuesday, May 24th, 8:00 – 9:00 PM
Misfit Pictures HQ
565 Pearl St #100
La Jolla, CA 92037


June 9-12
Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Time and Location, TBA


June 15-19
Grand Wailea Hotel, Maui, Hawaii
Time and location TBA


June 30th, 7-10 PM (with music and after party)
Details TBA