When I was a grom 20+ years ago I used to watch surfing films all the time to get me amped for the next surf but they also helped me improve my technique and to give me some insight into what surfers were doing at the time and how they did it! There was another part to watching surfing videos - the Music! The combination of Surfing and Music lit the path for what I wanted to do... Surf and Play music!
Me at 12!
Gripping Stuff and Gripping Stuff 2 were 2 films that I used to watch over and over when I was around 10 yeas old. Before these early 90's videos there were others that my Dad had on tape that I remember watching but it wasn't until I got older that they had more impact on me, these were films like Crystal Voyager and Morning of the Earth.
These 'Classic' surfing films brought you to places that you have never seen or heard of, the site of people surfing perfect waves in Boardies and crystal clear waters captivated the audience. Maybe one day you might even get to visit these places and surf the waves for yourself.
As I got into my mid teens (mid 90's) surf films were becoming more energetic in the style of surfing, the music and waves being surfed. Every Saturday morning in the winter before a surf me and a couple of friends would put on our favourite surf video and get amped for the surf, which either ended up with a lift to Wembury or a walk to Bovi.
The Taylor Steele Collection of films of the Momentum Generation from Momentum 1+2, Good Times, The Show, Loose Change, Hit and Run and Campaign 1+2 (and many more) gave us another view of surfing and music, mixing the profiles of the top surfers along with bands like Pennywise, NOFX, Sprung Monkey, Bad Religion, Blink 182 and Offspring to name but a few. Taylor Steele also introduced us to the quirky 'film' like structure when the starring surfers would act out different roles and characters with humour and general cheesiness and then come out and put in some of the best surfing of that era. This was a brilliant mix and made the whole surf film watching experience even more enjoyable and entertaining.
The surfers that featured heavily in these films were Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian, Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, Taylor Knox, The Malloy Brothers, Benji Weatherly, Donavon Frankenreiter, Barney Barron and many more. These surfers were the ones pushing the limits of surfing and bringing new styles and progressive surfing manoeuvres along with their personalities to us all through the TV screen.
The Lost and Volcom movies would also have punk, grunge and rock music blended in with explosive surfing from other, more underground surfers as well as the more well known crew and the experience paved the way for the style of surfing I wanted to do.
Me at 20!
On the Road with Spike opened my eyes (in more ways than one) to Sublime and Frank Black, travelling and new styles of surfing. Spike’s film following Strider and other surfers adventures exploring with friends and having a good time showed a lighter side as well as a more relaxed and care free approach to Surf Travel.
Litmus was another mid 90's surf film that was a little bit different, it captured the thoughts and feelings of some of the most iconic surfers and mixed it with a alternative sound track and some world travel to unusual locations, surfing strange boards and shedding light on some more obscure themes.
Lost’s 5’5 x 19’1/4 inspired me to surf small, fish like Surfboards and experiment with a more eccentric and aggressive form or surfing... going as fast as possible and launching into a big turn or air. At 36 my boards are still in the 5’5”-5’7” range... ‘normal’ boards just don’t suit me or excite me!
Taj Burrow was the surfer, for me, that brought it all to another level altogether. Sabotaj and Montaj were 2 films I watched more than any other in my late teens. Taj was not only an amazing contest surfer he was just ridiculous when free surfing. When it came to being an all round surfer Taj ticked all the boxes, he could surf 2 foot beach breaks with speed and flare and 8 foot slabs and make it look effortless.
I would watch these surf films over and over again and I would use them as a tool to help me improve my own surfing. Not everyone reading this will appreciate it but sometimes having to use fast forward and rewind on a VHS tape to get to your favourite section or to watch a clip again was not the easiest thing to do, but it was all part of it. I would spend hours watching these films when I couldn't surf and I really believe they helped me because I would be looking at what the surfers were doing and I would be trying to visualise it myself and mind surf through the video.
Out of all the surfers I watched, Tom Curren, Martin Potter, Taj Burrow, Rob Machado and Benji Weatherly always stood out and they were the ones I wanted to emulate. Their Style, Progression and Personality stood out amongst the rest and they were a huge influence on the way I surf today.
Tom Curren at Backdoor!
Me at 35 at Bovi!
In Part 2 we'll look into the nostalgia of surfing films and other ways they can have an influence on the viewer.
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