Morgan Maassen has made a lot of surf films. He’s made them with some of surfing’s biggest names, from Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore to Bobby Martinez. He’s been around the world pointing his camera at water-related things and at people who do things involving water that many people can’t. So when Morgan Maassen says Imogen Caldwell is “unquestionably the most rugged woman I’ve ever pointed my camera at,” it means something.
In his latest film, an eight-minute flick starring Imogen Caldwell that is simply titled Imogen, Maassen takes the viewer from her home of Western Australia to places like Iceland, France, and Indonesia. And in typical Maassen fashion, it is a work of art in and of its own.
Caldwell grew up where the ocean meets the sea. Hours from the nearest city, homeschooled, and in a family of seven, her childhood was far from the norm, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way. “My upbringing is one of those ones that’s really hard to explain,” she says in the first few minutes of the film. “It’s so much easier to just see it. It is what it is; it’s rough, it was rugged, and it was nothing short of amazing.”
Maassen and Caldwell first met in 2016 in a pretty idyllic place. “I first met Imogen Caldwell as we groggily-boarded Martin Daly’s infamous Indy’s Trader 1 in the unforgiving heat of a random Marshall Islands sand atoll,” Maassen remembered. “Most everyone in our crew navigated to a flat surface to find sleep after the grueling journey, but I watched with great fascination as this still-teenage woman explored the ancient vessel, brimming with both wide-eyed fascination and the confident knowledge of someone who had spent more time on the sea than land. We chugged slowly towards Martin’s paradisiac island Beren, where we spent the week shooting, of all things, fashion. Imogen proved herself to have the beauty akin to those who walk fashion shows for Karl Lagerfield, and the work ethic of someone with unfettered hunger for opportunity… but continuously, in random moments of free-diving or exploring the island’s gnarled clumps of jungle, I found myself watching this young woman show off traits of someone raised by nature, afraid of nothing.”
Since then, they’ve experienced a lot together. “We’ve now forged a relationship that has taken us across around the world,” he continued. “Starting in her mystical home of Red Bluff, Australia, and adventuring out to the fjords of Iceland, ferry rides in Indonesia, and forests of France, we’ve shared many moments with both friends and wildlife that will stay with me forever. To be able to capture her on film was both an immense challenge and honor, and my humble attempt at making a scratch on the tip of the iceberg of her remarkable story.”