A life's work almost cleared from the history books!
Surf film is such a wonderful part of our culture. We find our definition somewhere between The Endless Summer and In God’s Hands. Momentum, Year 0000, Modern Collective, Morning of the Earth… I could go on all day. But who is your favorite contemporary surf film director? Joe G? Kai Neville? Taylor Steele? Vaughn Blakey? Chas Smith?
“Chas Smith? But the film you are directing hasn’t come out yet…” you say.
“What?” I respond. “What are you talking about?”
“Surfline…” you angrily bark. “I read it on Surfline in a piece, wonderfully written by the now iconic Nathan Myers, about five surf documentaries set to premier in the upcoming year.” And then recite word for word (from your iPhone):
Trouble: The Radicalization of Lisa Andersen
WHO: Vice, Surfing and now Beach Grit rabble-rouser Chas Smith makes his directorial debut.
WHEN: Summer 2018
WHAT WE KNOW: In the early ‘90s, 4-time women’s surfing champion Lisa Andersen rebooted women’s surfing in ways we’re still experiencing today. But, according to director Chas Smith, this is a movie about the ‘80s. About abuse and broken homes and the strength to rise above it all. “After she starts winning we know what happens,” says Chas, “but how she got to that point is an amazing and timely story of women’s empowerment.” Working closely with Anderson, Chas says he’s steering clear of typical documentary conventions and doing things his own way. Which shouldn’t surprise. We know how he feels about stirring up a bit of trouble.
“WHAT?” I shout. “THIS IS BULLSHIT!”
You look at me confused.
“Directorial debut?” I continue. “DIRECTORIAL DEBUT? Have you ever heard of the Surfer Poll award nominated film WHO IS JOB? Joel Patterson wrote this in the holy pages of Surfer magazine.” And then recite word for word (from my memory):
Several months ago, rumors circulated that the JOB film project had spiraled out of control due to some internal tumult in Jamie’s camp. That was when Charlie “Chas” Smith—a gonzo surf journalist you may remember from the article he wrote about an interaction with Mick Fanning hours after he won his second world title last year for Australia’s Stab Magazine—was named director and given the responsibility of getting the film over the goal line. If those rumors were true, Charlie, along with editor Dayten Likness and music editor Pete Nussbaum, seriously saved the thing.
Though it’s essentially surf porn, it’s surf porn with a twist. The organizing principal of the film is a series of simple “Chas-ian” statements about Jamie, answering the question posed in the title. Chapters include, “Jamie Is A Dick,” “Jamie Was Deaf,” “Jamie Was A Retard,” and “Jamie Surfs Pipeline.” Taken on their own, these statements demean the subject, but when you add in interviews, archival photos and footage of the star as an awkward kid, an incredibly amping soundtrack, and three years of amazing surfing almost exclusively in waves of consequence (from Teahupoo to massive Cloudbreak and, of course, his beloved Pipeline), the result is a rare look at the talent, background, and mindset of one of the best and most misunderstood surfers of the post-Momentum generation.
You look at me unconvinced.
“Cancel your plans…” I scream and force you to sit down by kicking your kneecaps. “…you are spending the next hour soaking in a work of singular genius* Roll the film!”
*The film’s editor, Dayten Likness, is the singular genius. I was the film’s special needs helper.