A fine idea.
(Surf film is currently experiencing a golden age and since you are stuck indoors, alone, depressed, scared it will be a fine time to watch some. The following piece appears in the latest Surfer’s Journal. Subscribe here.)
At the last surf film screening I attended, I expected to be horrified and perhaps sickened by what I had been told would happen to the directors. Everything I’d read online about modern surf film insisted that it was a stupid, brutal, outdated business. Most surf journalists who wrote of surf film condemned the genre as utterly dead and worthless.
Even those who wrote well of it, as a historically significant exercise, deplored actually screening new films and were apologetic about the whole thing. The public shaming of the directors, in what were certain to be empty theaters—nobody there because nobody watches surf films anymore—was considered inevitable.I suppose that from a modern point of view, an Instagram point of view, the whole surf film charade is silly.
Who has time for anything more than a minute long? The best clips aren’t held for some archaic, long-form nonsense. They are instantly run up the flagpole, gathering likes and starry-eyed emojis by the megabyte, bringing a euphoric sense of self that psychologists at Cosmopolitan refer to as the “reward cycle.”Likes and starry-eyed emojis trigger the same dopamine receptors as winning money or eating chocolate, Cosmopolitan’s psychologists say. Likes and starry-eyed emojis, or sometimes heart-eyed emojis, that come straight from the user to the surfer himself or herself.
There is no need to wait months or years for clapping hands, loud whistles and “yew” shouts. No need for anything to be filtered through a director.I should not try to defend surf film or the surf film director, but I must tell honestly the things I have found to be true. I went to the Florida Surf Film Festival to see surf films and write about the various films for myself.
I thought they would be simple, boring, outdated, stupid, and that I would not like them very much. But I still had to go and learn and know what modern surf film truly felt like. I had to keep my eyes open, longer than a minute, and force my attention span to track along. I couldn’t allow myself to turn away when the directors went on stage to introduce their various surf films, gazing out at an audience of four who all also happen to be surf film directors.
Also, I went because I accidentally directed a surf film that would be playing at the festival, the second accidental surf film that I accidentally directed, and being on stage and gazing out at an audience of three who all happen to be sound engineers or possibly producers, letting the shame wash over me, would be a valuable exercise no matter how horrifying and sickening.
And subscribe to The Surf Network then binge ’til your eyes fall out!