Chasing surfboard dreams
Reviving a tradition popular in the 1960s and 1970s before the surfing craze hit full throttle, Thomas Campbell, a California-based director and surfer, is taking his new documentary, "The Present," on a nationwide tour. The tour will allow audiences to watch stunning, retro-style surf footage, featuring various styles, including high-performance tri-fin shortboarding. The film succeeds in capturing both the exhilaration and tradition of the sport.
The Martha's Vineyard Film Festival (Martha's Vineyard Film Festival) is sponsoring the only Massachusetts screening of the film on Sunday, April 26, at the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven. Live music by The Mattson 2 jazz duo will precede the film, and a hand-shaped Alaia surfboard will be raffled off.
"The Present," which features surfing locales in West Africa, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, California, and Hawaii, also looks at sustainable surfboard construction and the revival of 1,000-year-old Hawaiian Alaia boards. Shot on Super 16mm film, which features a wider frame than conventional 16mm, the film emphasizes the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the sport, in addition to the gripping wave-riding sequences. Down-tempo background music, hallmark of the director's style, accompanies much of the footage.
"Doing a tour is a long-time tradition in our culture," said Mr. Campbell, whose tour focuses on coastal cities where enclaves of surfers exist. "It's also the most surefire way of bringing the film to the surf community directly, and people love it...It's a really nice exchange." His last film, "Sprout," explored a variety of surfing equipment and toured 30 cities in 2004.
According to Steve Pezman, publisher of The Surfer's Journal, "Until the advent of surf films in the late '50s by guys like Bud Browne, Greg Noll, Jon Severson, and Bruce Browne, the cross-pollination of information and new ideas between surfers was limited to the odd road trip, beach party, or surf competition. The films gave us input on what surfing was, how it was done by the best guys and what exotic places like Hawaii were like...They gave us dreams to chase."
Before the advent of live web cams and online surf reports, surfers had to read the ocean's weather patterns and do surf checks. Surfboards were built by hand instead of mass-produced overseas, as they are now.
The Mattson 2, who will perform Sunday night, consists of identical twins Jared and Jonathan Mattson, a California twosome who were nominated for Best Jazz Band in San Diego by City Beat Magazine. In a recent interview, drummer Jonathan described their music as inspired by traditional and modern jazz, along with the Chicago post-rock scene. The group has toured worldwide, most recently in Brazil, and has a large following in Japan.