Silver Screen Surfing Scene

Silver Screen Surfing Scene

Lebanese-born American actor Keanu Reeves and American actor Patrick Swayze stand on a beach as Swayze holds a surfboard during the filming of the action movie 'Point Break' directed by Kathryn Bigelow, 1991. (Photo by Richard Foreman/Fotos International/Getty Images)

Whilst we’re all jazzed on actual surf films Hollywood and surfing have never been easy bedfellows. To represent our zealously guarded subculture to the masses has rarely worked out all that well. Surfing, like the extreme sports subcultures it inspired, don’t favour being paraded for the mainstream. Sure the recent big wave documentaries have kind of worked but the great Hollywood surf feature film remains to be made.
Actual surf films, like the international assortment being shown at the London Surf / Film Festival (see you there tonight!) are of course well catered for … the mainstream is slim pickings.
Join us on a romp through the celluloid highs and lows of Tinsel Town’s dalliances with the glide. This list is by no means exhaustive, just the films that have had an impact.

GIDGET (1959)
Few of you reading will be old enough to remember the first foray of Hollywood into the fledgling Californian surf culture.
Inspired by a real girl, Kathy Kohler, Gidget was based on the half million selling book written by her father Frederick. He wrote the book after listening to her tales of the Malibu scene. Cheesy as it was the tale of a cute girl discovering boys and surfing was a nationwide hit. It’s widely regarded as the film that alerted America to the fact there was more to the beach than just sun-baking and swimming; ushering in the classic ‘surfing sixties’ era when the Beach Boys and Californian lifestyle were the envy of the world. Legends like Mickey Dora, Mike Doyle and Micky Munoz featured as stunt doubles. Ironically the ‘Malibu’ tale was filmed up the coast as Malibu was already too busy. Perversely Surfer magazine debuted the following year.
Factoid: Gidget is a contraction of girl-midget as she stood a towering five foot tall.


ENDLESS SUMMER (1964, theatrical release 1966)
Bruce Brown’s iconic all-time classic is that rare beast: a pure surf movie that became a mainstream success. Even though stripped back it’s a simple travelogue following Robert August and Mike Hynson searching the world for the perfect wave it captured the essence of surfing like no film before or since. After being toured around the beach towns, as was the way in those days, it was test screened in Kansas in winter. It went down so well it was blown up to 35mm for the proper cinema crowd and put on general release. The one man crew film cost $50,000 to make and went on to make $30 million. Not a bad for a filmmaker in his late twenties. Even today the imagery, narration, music and poster design are timeless. It’s one of the few essential movies every surfer should watch.


Big Wednesday is beloved by many. Directed and co-written by John Milius it’s coming of age theme hits home with all surfers. Weirdly it was a flop at the cinema and became a cult success once home video took off. It’s one of those films that’s gifted us with many much repeated quotes. In the limited pantheon of Hollywood surf films that aren’t stinkers this is probably the most rounded feature film. Surfing is the one thing that can glue friendship together no matter what life throws our way.
Factoid: Milius and friends George Lucas and Steven Spielberg exchanged a percentage point of the income from their upcoming movies 1977 Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They were both convinced it was going to be a huge hit. So while the surf movie tanked that deal must’ve been quite a zinger as those other directors did ‘okay’.


Surfing is an element, not the focus, of Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary film. But it is possibly the strangest bit of surfing committed to celluloid. The classic ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’ scene is delivered by Colonel ‘Charlie don’t surf’ Kilgore in the midst of a battle to secure a Vietnamese beach village so they can surf the river mouth peaks. People surf as shells explode around them. All kinds of bonkers. Written by Big Wednesday man John Milius it was nearly directed by George Lucas but he got Star Wars green-lit and went on to do that instead. The film is also credited with introducing surfing to the Philippines where the ‘Nam scenes were filmed.


Possibly the best cheesy surf movie ever. Rick Kane’s odyssey from Arizona wave pool hero to the learning the ropes on the fabled North Shore is essential viewing for all surfers. Mainly so you can know when other surfers are dropping one of the many quotable bits of dialogue. That and it’s a handy guide to learning Hawaiian pidgin. It features cameos from many legends like Occy, Pagey, Laird and Lopez. A perfect time capsule of eighties surfing and something you gots to see.
Also increasingly relevant now that wave pools are back in vogue.


The best slash worst surf B-movie ever made. Surf Nazis was made seemingly on a budget of about a tenner. The surf ‘gangs’ tend to have a maximum of four people in them and it’s utterly hilarious in it’s own mad post apocalyptic way. The eighties was the era of home video becoming a big thing so polished turds like this could get released straight to video without having to be good enough to be in cinemas. A definite winner of the so bad it’s good category.


Kathryn Bigelow is more famous for the epic Iraq movie The Hurt Locker but she cut her action teeth on this crime surf caper that has a place in our hearts no matter how wrong it might be considered by some. The late Patrick Swayze is perfect as the groovy villain Bodhi and Keanu is as wooden as ever but it works. It’s a pop corn film about bank robbers that surf a bit. You have to have seen it, just so you can have an opinion. It does feature the immortal line from Utah, ‘Wars of religion always make me laugh because basically you’re fighting over who has the best imaginary friend.’ Keanu actually learned to surf for the movie and still does. Swayze also did his own skydiving stunts. We obvs won’t mention the insult to the Swayze’s memory that was Point Break 2.

The reboot of Endless Summer followed Robert ‘Wingnut’ Weaver and Pat O’Connell on a modern version of the original. Whilst appreciated by surfers it didn’t hit the box office like the original. Bruce Brown’s son Dana went on to make Step Into Liquid which is kinda Endless Summer 3.

Blue Juice : Cinema Quad Poster

The lone Cornish entry in the mainstream movie field has, in retrospect, a pretty heavyweight cast. Catherine Zeta Jones and Ewan McGregor went on to be global megastars. It’s actually a good film, funny dialogue and a story that all surfing couples can relate to. The pressures of growing up and being a productive member of society versus the head in the clouds surf obsession. Many local Cornish faces are in there as extras.

You know… There’s a wave…
Shane Dorian might be an all time surfing MVP and hero to many but in some surfer’s closets is an embarrassing Hollywood outing. This was Dozzas. The surfing at least doesn’t involve stunt doubles and is well shot. It’s only the dialogue that’s ugly. Directed by an erotica specialist, Zalman King, more famous for 9 & A Half Weeks, it was written by surf journo Matt George who also starred. It tanked hard at the box office. Reviews featured words like: turgid, pretentious, abysmal, tepid, bogus and vapid. Suffice to say it never made the 10 mill back it cost to make. It did at least feature the likes of Shaun Tomson, Brian Keaulana, Darrick Doerner, Brock Little and Mike Stewart.
Factoid: The production company was owned by Charlie Sheen and that Bret bloke off of Poison. So they could afford to take the hit.

Seeing as the first surf movie was about a girl surfer it’s pretty poor it took over forty years for there to be another one. Whilst the story is forgettable the surfing is well shot and it inspired a generation of women to get in the water. We were there on the North Shore they were shooting it and somehow the shot Sonny Miller took of Sharpy pretending to shoot photos never made the final cut… The swines.

A rarity as a documentary that made it to big screen. If there’s one thing that really works on the big screen it’s big wave surfing and Stacy Peralta didn’t disappoint. The film charts the evolution of surfing from its humble origins to the state of the art of big wave surfing in the mid-noughties. It was the first documentary film to open the Sundance Film Festival, introduced by Robert Redford himself, which after Peralta’s Dogtown and Z-Boys is no great surprise.


SURF’S UP (2007)
Yes. It’s an animation. But some of the best work in Hollywood is being done by the animation studios and this penguin based surf odyssey had the pull to get Kelly Slater and Rob Machado involved as cameo commentators. It’s similar tale to North Shore as the young outsider learns from a wise old surfer to beat the establishment while learning lessons on love and life along the way. It’s charming and the perfect first kids surf flick with enough surf smarts to keep adults happy.

The tragic story of Maverick’s legend Jay Moriarty should’ve been left well alone.
Factoid: According to six Red Epic cameras were lost during filming. Not cheap that.

So there you go. Over fifty years of surfing in the cinema and we’re still waiting on one that we can really be truly proud of.

London Surf / Film Festival Shorties Are Live … Get Voting!

London Surf / Film Festival Shorties Are Live … Get Voting!

The London Surf / Film Festival is looming at the end of the month (22/23 Sept & 30 Sept/1 Oct … full line up announced soon) and the legendary Shorties comp is live.

Featuring the cream of British and Irish filmmakers the entries up for being shown on the big screen and in the mix for the career boosting Shortie of the Year are all HERE so check ’em out and vote for your favourites. But cast your vote by Thursday as voting closes then.

Short films are a central pillar of modern surf culture, a creative outlet for sharing stories and inspiring stoke. Here at the London Surf / Film Festival we wanted to celebrate the short and give home grown filmmaking talent a platform to bring their visions to the surf world so we established ‘The Shorties’ which has fast become one of the most prestigious short film competitions for surf filmmakers in the world.

While the main festival is a showcase for international filmmaking, The Shorties short film contest is open exclusively to filmmakers from or based in Britain and Ireland. Surfing and surf culture are wide open to interpretation so we welcome film entries of up to 5 minutes in length that explore all aspects and angles through documentary, stop-frame, animation or anything in between from both emerging talents and leading lights.

In this competition, it’s not about whether your waves are big or small, it’s about the way you chose to shoot them. Or don’t. After all there’s more than one way to tell a surf story…

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Comfortably Numb

Comfortably Numb

If you’ve got the current issue of Carve you’ll have seen the Ice Breakers article featuring Mick and Mason having a hell of a time in the frozen north. Here’s the companion film to go with… Proper multimedia and stuff innit. See the issue for the full story of Mick finding solace in nature at its finest.

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Submissions to the 2016 London Surf / Film Festival Shorties short film competition open!

Submissions to the 2016 London Surf / Film Festival Shorties short film competition open!

London Surf / Film Festival x REEF is delighted to announce that submissions to the 6th Edition of the prestigious Shorties short film competition are now open.

“We established the Shorties to showcase for the wealth of homegrown creatives on our shores, providing filmmakers – from emerging talents to established names – with a platform on the world stage,” says Festival Director Demi Taylor.
Until 29th August filmmakers from or based in Britain and Ireland are invited to submit their short films of up to 5 minutes in length that explore any aspect or angle of surfing through documentary, narrative, animation or anything in between. It’s not about whether your waves are big or small, it’s about the way you chose to shoot them. Or don’t. After all there’s more than one way to tell a surf story.

“Each year, the entries continue to raise the bar and explore new genres from arthouse to action to side splitting comedy,” says Festival Co-Founder Chris Nelson. “It’s a testament to the quality of filmmaking that each year, the winning Shortie has gone on to make an impact globally, films like ‘Uncommon Ideals’ by Chris McClean and Mark Waters,  ‘The Shaper‘ by Crayfish Films, ‘Sea Fever’ by Tim Davies,‘Out of the Black and Into The Blue’ by Luke Pilbeam and Winter Glow from Kev L Smith.”

Shortlisted entries will be showcased on the big screen this September as part of the 2016 London Surf / Film Festival x REEF programme and considered by the screening panel, comprised of some of the most influential names in surfing, for awards including LS/FF Shortie of the Year and Emerging Talent.

For more information regarding the London Surf / Film Festival 2016 Shorties

The London Surf / Film Festival

22 September – 1 October  the 6th Edition of the annual London Surf / Film Festival presented by REEF hits the UK, bringing to the capital the very best in international surf / film / art / culture. Showcasing international surfing’s hottest releases, underground hits, independent features and premieres, as well as the pick of short film productions from Britain and Ireland’s leading surf filmmakers London Surf / Film Festival is one of Europe’s most creative and relevant celebrations of surf culture. Hosted at The Genesis E1, and The Regent Street Cinema, W1 and accompanied by gallery shows, music, talks, workshops pop ups and more, LS/FF is a celebration of the cream of contemporary surf culture and the must attend event for purveyors of the glide.


Approaching Lines International Festival of Surf 2016 x REEF And the winners are…

For the three nights of the 2016 Approaching Lines International Festival of Surf x Reef, Newquay shone brightly as a beacon of stoke gathering together surf communities from across the southwest for a celebration of the cream of international surf culture.

The Festival opening party hosted at Gilmore’s Mexican Cantina went off and what started out as the AL XXL Big Brain Surf Quiz Challenge ended up as a big night attended by a who’s who of British surfing, raising £200 for The Wave Project Charity.

After a nail biting tie break situation Team Pendeen made up of Mike Lay, Jack Whitefield, Matt Travis and Luke Pilbeam  took down local  favourites John Isaac, Darren Cooledge, Jamie Humphries and Archie ‘Vintage Grom’ Cross, taking bragging rights home to West Penwith.
#ALFEST2016xREEF brought to Newquay’s state of the art WTW cinema two nights of the very best surf films from across the globe which included a World Premiere, a European Premiere and a host of award winning features. “ We were delighted to be able to host such an incredible line up of talent here in  the Southwest and pack the cinema to the rafters with stoke,” says Approaching Lines co-founder Chris Nelson. “It’s also great to be able to showcase the work of so many talented homegrown filmmakers, including the likes of Jimmy Pinfield, Ben Skinner, Anthony Butler, Chris Case and the multi award winning 2 Eyes Films on the big screen.
After two nights, 10 films, a plethora of stoke balls and hundreds of Sharp’s ales, the winners are:

REEF Best Film: Dirty Old Wedge Dir. Tim Burnham

SHARP’S Best Documentary: Fish The Documentary Dir. Joseph Ryan

XCEL Viewers Choice: Fish The Documentary Dir. Joseph Ryan

CARVE Best British Film: Freezing

APPROACHING LINES Froth Factor: Dirty Old Wedge Dir. Tim Burnham

MSW Best Short Film: My Canvas Dir. Anthony Butler / Mr. B Productions

Many thanks to the hard charging UK Surf Community for turning out and bringing the stoke, as well as friends at REEF, Sharp’s Brewery, Xcel Wetsuits, Gilmore’s, Clean Cornwall, Carve, Surf Girl, MagicSeaweed, Foam Agencies and Alasdair Lindsay for his display of vintage UK twin fins. See you next year!

Approaching Lines International Festival of Surf x REEF Returns to Cornwall

May 12 – 15 2016, 3rd Annual Approaching Lines International Festival of Surf presented by REEF comes to Cornwall. Bringing the very best international and homegrown surf films to the big screen, from European Premieres to multi award-winning features, the Approaching Lines International x Reef celebrates filmmaking on a global scale.


“We’ve worked with the very best filmmaking talent across the globe to curate a line up of the year’s most inspiring and exciting movies, bringing two night of stunning cinematography, cutting edge performance and inspiring documentaries to the Southwest,” says Festival Director Chris Nelson. “Hosted at the state of the art Lighthouse Cinema, Newquay, this year’s programme takes you on a waveriding journey that will stoke the fires for the season ahead. For many of the films this will be the only chance to see them on the big screen in the southwest, watched as they were intended to be seen, surrounded by an enthusiastic and amped crew.”

Accompanied by the inaugural Approaching Lines charity surf quiz night hosted at Gilmore’s on 12th May plus the UK’s most exciting alt wave riding contest, The Slyder Cup hosted at the Lusty Glaze shred wedge, 15th May, The Approaching Lines International presented by REEF is a celebration of the cream of contemporary surf culture.


Full line up to be released soon.