I was at my local coffee shop here in Venice when an article in the local paper caught my eye. Storm Surfers 3D Movie premier! Sweet, I said! Of course I read the whole article, stoked on the knowledge that I would be heading there for the premier. Of course, maybe I should have purchased tickets in advance because it was all sold out, but hey, there was the next showing..... Also sold out! And the next. But I did manage to squeeze in on the third or fourth showing. I was a little bummed that I would miss the stars giving their two cents on the film after, but I guess that's the price you pay for being completely unorganized. In any event, I got to see it and in the end, that was all that really mattered. The last time I saw a surf flick on the big screen that wasn't at some buddy's house with a keg and a few eager bodies was when Endless Summer 2 came out in god only knows when! '94 maybe? Who knows. Storm Surfers 3D was at an entirely new level of surf cinematography, and here is our review.
Filmmakers Justin McMillan and Chris Nelius’ new three-dimensional surf documentary, “Storm Surfers”, premiered with some familiar faces on July 20th at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Topping their previous 2005 film, “The Sixth Element”, McMillan and Neilus rejoin with the subjects of their last movie and multiple Discovery Channel features: Australian surfing legends Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones, now in their early 50s and late 40s, respectively.
Carroll was big in surfing in the mid-1980s, particularly in 1984 and 1985 when he won two consecutive world championship titles, despite boycotting the South Africa leg of the 1985 world tour to demonstrate his protest against the current apartheid. Clarke-Jones is known as one of the spearheading forces behind tow-in surfing in the mid-1990s. Tow-in surfing is a technique in which the surfer uses outside assistance (often someone driving a personal watercraft, such as a Jet ski) to allow them to catch larger, faster waves that cannot physically be caught with paddling alone. Clarke-Jones’ triumphs include riding beastly 90-foot waves, as well as riding up the dangerous, murky Amazon River in South America. He was also the first non-Hawaiian to ever with the Quicksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Contest at Waimea Bay in the 2001 tournament.
Using unique, tiny 3-D cameras strapped to the surfers’ boards, as well as larger landscape cameras, the film documents the buddies’ search for the “Great Wave” (The Argonaut) up and down the coast of Australia in the 2011 winter months. With a team of 25 people composed of a meteorologist Ben Matson, local surfers, cinematographers and even charter boats and a helicopter and over 2,000 pounds of equipment, Carroll and Clarke-Jones embark on eight different “surfing missions” (The Hollywood Reporter) throughout Australia and the surrounding Southern Ocean.
From May to August, the crew tracks some of the biggest storms in Australia, with the film culminating in a trip to Turtle Dove Shoal, located almost 50 miles from the coast of Western Australia. In this rarely visited area, Carroll and Clarke-Jones attempt to tackle a wave that has never been documented, much less ridden.
For Carroll, the risks associated with big wave riding have begun to make him more wary. With a wife, three children and previous surfing injuries, he has lost much of the free-spirited, careless energy Clarke-Jones still enjoys. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Clarke-Jones explains his thought process when he is caught underwater by a giant wave. “I imagine myself in a nightclub,” he says. “I see all the pretty girls. After I’ve done some dancing and romancing and looked at all the posters on the wall, it’s time to come up.”
The film is narrated by Academy-Award winning Australian actress Toni Collette, known for her performances in The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine. Pro Surfers Kelly Slater, Mark Matthews and Paul Morgan also make appearances throughout the movie. Australian composer Richard Tognetti composed music for the film. “Storm Surfers 3D” will be available on DVD starting Tuesday, August 6th.
I took my girlfriend who wants to, but does not surf, along to watch and the one thought I took away from it is, I'm not sure how they are going to top trying to explain exactly what it feels like to catch a wave. Storm Surfers 3D goes a long way to portryaing the stoke to someone who does not know the sport. It was for me an absolute sensory overload and very well worth a watch.