10 Surf Films You Need To Watch Before You Die
What do you mean you've never heard of Five Summer Stories?
Forget Endless Summer and Point Break. These are the surf films you should have been watching in your youth.
From classic Americana through to Australian psychedelia and a monumental three years in Fiji, these are ten properly amazing surf films you need to before you bite the dust...
1. Single Fin: Yellow
Surfing is a very simple pursuit, which is why we love it. Few films give texture to this simplicity as well as Single Fin Yellow.
Produced by Jason Baffa back in 2003, this timeless piece of surf cinema brings to light in vivid detail, the countless and exceedingly wholesome challenges offered up by surfing.
It does this by way of following the journey of a vintage hand-shaped surfboard as it passed around the world between surfers, each applying their own style and interpretation of riding it to various different kinds of waves - from Australian point breaks to the Hawaiian North Shore.
2. Blue Horizon
No film better encapsulates the two-headed beast that was professional surfing in the mid noughties than Jack McCoy's Blue Horizon.
"Together, these two are a powerful balance of pure energy"
Travelling the world alongside three time world champion Andy Irons - the foremost competitive surfer at the time and a firebrand to boot - and Dave Rastovich - the famous environmental crusader, surfer and spiritualist - McCoy vividly captures the two dominant threads of progression in the sport.
"Andy is a totally focused professional who excels in both large and small surf. Dave, on the other hand, is already a wise soul who, at 22, looks at the all aspects of the surfing experience, where it has come from and where it’s is going. The two together are a powerful balance of pure energy that we are hoping to capture."
3. Five Summer Stories
If you really wanna know what surf culture was all about in its sacred home of California in the late 1960s/early 70s, this film is for you.
Set against a backdrop of the Vietnam War and President Nixon, Five Summer Stories offered a feel-good antidote to the anxiety of the times.
It's classic mix of feel good surf tunes, vibes and imagery is guaranteed to put a smile on your dial. Feeling like shit? Whack this on.
4. Stoked and Broke
A classic travel story that reminds us of the irrepressible spirit of adventure that has defined surfing since the dawn of this modern era, and yet all without leaving the hustle and bustle of suburban California.
"It's equal parts brilliant, comedic and damning of American culture"
Local shredders and childhood friends, Cyrus Sutton and Ryan Burch hatch the seemingly idiotic idea of travelling by foot/skateboard/bike with a load of boards and camping gear up the SoCal coast.
The results are equal parts brilliant, comedic, damning of American culture, and all in all, a vivid snapshot of the contemporary Californian surf scene.
You can't really go wrong with two hours of giant Cloudbreak captured in the glorious high-definition of a RED camera can you?
"Instead of necking cheap port with hobos, these guys earned their wisdom riding 20ft atomic ice sculptures"
Thundercloud is the feature film by Talon Clemow that charts the entire history of this famous wave - from its tribal origins all the way to the quantum leaps in big wave paddle surfing witnessed there over the back-to-back-to-back swells of 2010, 2011 and the famously postponed Volcom Fiji Pro of 2012.
Equally as mesmerising as the footage is the experience of listening to the underground heroes of those swells tell their stories.
Guys like Mark Healey and Kohl Christenson, whose insights contain the eloquence and spiritual clarity of say a Jack Kerouac in his Zen Buddhist phase. Only instead of necking cheap port with hobos, they earned their wisdom riding 20ft "atomic ice sculptures," as Mark Healey calls them.
Thundercloud is set to premiere in the USA and Europe shortly.
6. Morning of the Earth
Directed by Albe Falzon and released in 1972 against the backdrop of Vietnam War conscription and the implosion of the so-called Summer of Love, Morning of the Earth provided a new wave of inspiration for would-be drop outs, creatives, surfers, and anyone else looking to skirt the mainstream path.
"A new wave of inspiration for drop-outs, creatives, surfers and anyone looking to skirt the mainstream path" Filmed along Australia's New South Wales north coast, southern Queensland, Indonesia and Hawaii, it not only showed the world's best surfers, such as 1966 world champion Nat Young and the underground hero of the time, Michael Peterson, performing their hitherto unseen dance atop the waves - but offered a snapshot of a way of life that would become one of this nation's most defining.
All of it set to remarkable soundscape that remains one of Australia's most cherished.
7. Spirit of Akasha
Billed as the sequel to Morning of the Earth, and made to be released on the film's 40th anniversary, Spirit of Akasha has proved a worldwide surf movie hit.
The idea, according to the film's director Andrew Kidman, was not to try and create something that stood up to the original Morning of the Earth, rather put it out there to anyone who was influenced by the film and see what the result was.
"That's sort of what made the project really valid to me. It was just all these people giving back to what the original thing was," says Kidman.
One of the first to answer the call was three time world champion Mick Fanning. "I was honoured," he recalls. "The whole spirit of the original is inspiring and the soundtrack is still one of my favourites."
8. Second Thoughts
Long before the GoPro epidemic, Travis Potter, Timmy Turner, and Brett Schwartz travelled deep into the depths of remote Indonesia and used handheld cameras encased in chunky fibreglass waterhousing to film inside the barrel.
"The footage caused a mini-revolution in surf filming"
They would paddle into the wave, clenching the leash between their teeth before negotiating the take off and filming popping coral heads through long psychedelic sequences of tube.
The footage caused a mini-revolution in surf filming. When combined with some amazing storytelling and a killer adventure tale, it became the feature film, Second Thoughts, considered the first exploration of surfing's "feral" subculture.
Watch the full movie above.
9. Sea of Darkness
Sea of Darkness, the greatest surf film you've never seen, tells the story of G-Land pioneer, Mike Boyum and his merry band of drug smugglers who operated throughout Indonesia and the Pacific in the late 1970s.
"This is the greatest surf film you've never seen..."
It's no secret that surfing and drug culture intersected pretty heavily over the years. A lesser known fact is that many high profile surfers in the late seventies were actually big time drug smugglers, moving commercial quantities of drugs across borders.
Boyum was the mastermind behind much of the drug smuggling. He was also one of the first to surf the now world famous G-Land aka Grajagan before starting a surf camp there.
He was forced to flee Indonesia, however, after he became the target of numerous drug investigations. He later did time along with a number of other figures in this controversial film.
Mysteriously, the film was never released internationally. The reasons for which have never been made public.
10. Strange Rumblings In Shangri La
This modern epic from the creative genius, Joe G, is a kitsch, fun, hi-fi extravaganza that could be described as equal parts Endless Summer, a Wes Anderson film, and a modern athletic masterpiece.
The film takes the world's best surfers - Creed Mctaggart, Dion Aigus, Nate Tyler and Brendon Gibbens - from Iceland to Mozambique, Brazil, and Sumatra, all of it hilariously narrated and layered with heavily stylised sets and settings.
It's as quirky a take on pro surfing as has ever been made, and a surefire hit. It's premiering around the world as we speak.