I spent a good chunk of the last two years working shoulder to shoulder with the talented editor Jesse Schluntz on a documentary about Lisa Andersen. Here’s a li’l synopsis…
Lisa Andersen is one of surfing’s few transcendent stars. She is grace and beauty coupled with tenacity and fearlessness. She is as punk as she is elegant.
Her accomplishments are undeniable. Four time world champ, first woman on the cover of Surfer, six time Surfer of the Year, face of the brand Roxy. Outside Magazine wrote, “She was the first woman to cross over into surfing celebrityhood.”
Born in New York, her father moved the family to Florida when she was thirteen. It was there she discovered surfing, though it was not what her parents wanted her to do. They felt the beach was dangerous, home to drug addicts and bums. Lisa did nothing to ease their concerns and eventually wound up in juvenile hall, staring at five years of house arrest and no surf.
Her father smashed her surfboard, for good measure, and Lisa hatched an escape plan. She decided to run away to Huntington Beach, leaving only a note behind that read, “Going to California to become world surfing champion.”
She lived on the beach and in her car before being taken in by an abusive local surfboard shaper. She was, in fact, often abused in relationships, running away time and again when things got too bad. Or when she felt trapped. Or when the system threw up barriers.
In the water, she was something else entirely, raging and fighting and surfing like a gorgeous disaster but could never quite put it all together, competitively, until career suicide presented itself in the form of an unexpected pregnancy. Over objections and common sense, she decided to have the child and in so doing magically broke through and achieved her dream of becoming a champ.
Trouble follows Lisa on her all too human journey. Surf is a beautiful backdrop but the real story is the epic poem of her life. It is the struggles, abuse, pain and joy. It is the story of a modern, self-made American woman.
It is a story of today.
The film is finally available on iTunes. Would you like to pre-order? You can, right here!