Sit down, get comfortable and reacquaint yourself with the ancient act of watching a feature-length surf movie.
Back in the days before the internet ruled our worlds, there were surf films. Close to an hour-long, big casts, full of the individual feel and flavour of whoever had dedicated a year or more of their lives to putting the thing together. It was a grand era where a single DVD or VHS could be played upwards of a hundred times and it wasn’t unusual for the film’s owner (and likely a few of his mates) to know every wave and turn by heart. Now there’s Instagram and YouTube vlogs and the WSL with its endless attempts to win our attention. But if this whole coronavirus lockdown has got you craving something with a little more meat on the bone, thankfully some of the classics of yesteryear have been uploaded and left for your viewing pleasure on YouTube.
Here we share five great surf films to get you through self-isolation.
Trilogy was Taylor Steele at his commercial best. Contracted by Billabong to produce a blockbuster featuring their three marquee riders at the time - Andy Irons, Taj Burrow and Joel Parkinson - he didn’t disappoint. Neither did the film’s stars, who, along with Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, were easily the best surfers in the world in 2007. The movie mixes strike missions to select locations with top-notch individual sections, a touch of insight into each guy’s personality, and a killer soundtrack featuring Jamie T, TV on the Radio and Silversun Pickups among others. The opening section, featuring the trio trading waves at a pumping Mexican point, is worth the watch alone and will remind anyone who’s forgotten just how good Andy was in his prime.
Secret Machine (2006)
Globe filmmaker Joe G continues to be one of the true auteurs of surf movies, and his 2006 film Secret Machine is up there with his best. Featuring the Hobgoods, Taj, Nathan ‘Noodles’ Webster, Yadin Nichol and Dion Agius, the film strikes the right balance between great surfing, beautiful cinematography and a storyline that doesn’t get in the way of the fact that the movie’s main purpose is to psych you up for a surf. The Hobgoods are awesome in it, with Damo, in particular, doing some serious ripping in chunky waves. Add in Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Knife and you’re on a winner.
Frame Lines (2002)
Bali Strickland was the new kid on the block of surf filmmaking in the early 2000s. Following his debut Evolv, he made a string of films for Billabong, starting with Frame Lines. Combining a soulful, psychedelic editing vibe with great music and great waves, the film is a pleasure to watch from start to finish. And man, what a team! Andy, Parko, Taj, Margo, Rasta, Occy, Luke Egan, Shane Dorian, Dylan Longbottom, Donovan Frankenreiter, Mick Lowe and Ace Buchan - the Bong roster was easily one of the strongest and most diverse teams any brand had ever created at the time, and as such, the surfing is top-notch.
Lost Atlas (2011)
Lost Atlas features some common Kai Neville themes, namely big airs, exotic locales and surfing’s ‘it’ generation of the time. Even if the ironic, too-cool vibe acts as a slight put-off for some, it’s hard to argue with the hi-fi surfing and slick editing. Among a stellar cast, a young Owen, an even younger John John, and an absolutely on-point Dusty Payne stand out as the film’s best. The less-than-perfect surf in much of the pic is also refreshing, adding to its status as a great pre-session amp vid.
Fairy may not be old or contain the big-name casts of the other films on this list, but just the sheer fact that some young up-and-comers decided to put all their energy and effort into making a free feature-length film in this day and age makes it a worthy inclusion. Hats off to Jamie Krups and co for breaking the mould. And wouldn’t you know it, the film stands up. The surfing is rock-solid, the editing is tight, and just the act of sitting down and watching 40 minutes of curated surfing for a change will make you feel better than the endless scrolling you’re used to, we promise. Get into it.