Long-form surf film?

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
July 2, 2016

Shortly after writing the Social Contacts post I realized it was a huge mistake and I almost took it down.  In it I stated that I would self-edit and produce the Progression Project Origins film.  I wrote the post so I’d be forced to complete the project and almost yanked it when I realized the daunting task ahead and that the post would actually work and hold me to it.

That’s what you get after a great surf session and an espresso…

Since writing that post I hadn’t touched the project, and then yesterday John followed up to make sure I was working.  I woke up at 4am feeling bad that I said something I wasn’t doing, and started to create a project outline.  See, social contracts work.

I promise the journal won’t turn into a venting session about the project. Today’s post servers a purpose.  I’m trying to figure out how to make the most valuable film for the paddle surf community.

This rabbit-hole, what is valuable to a passionate paddle surfer, has led me to an unexpected outcome.

I might be an outlier, but I prefer long-form content.  The current platforms for media, InstaTwitBook, cater to the lowest common denominator.  I like long blogs, podcasts and documentaries -the more raw the content, the better.  It’s closer to the truth.

My question is whether the same premise holds true for a surf movie?

Would there be more value to have a long-form surf movie.  To take the best waves from each session and let them run.  Edit the interview audio on top.  Instead of a bite-sized best-of-the-best edit, the nobody-ever-fell-on-this-trip mix, create a long-form reference for solid, technically sound paddle surfing.  And we have that content.

It may not be a movie to release at a film festival.  It would be a movie to watch before you surf to be inspired by beautiful lines that Colin draws.  Or to reference when you’re working on frontside cutbacks or backside bottom turns.

That’s been the value in these projects for me.  I use both Progression Projects’ videos for inspiration and technical understanding.  I don’t generally use edited videos.

That said, we could do an epic 20 minute edit – but if I think back to what I would have wanted 2 years ago, when I was craving every little bit of paddle surfing knowledge I could find, I’d 100% opt for long form.

What about you?  Let me know in the comments below…

Either way, we have 8 days to decide, maybe longer.  I’ve committed to reviewing one day of footage every day.  Day 1 done.  7 days to go.  The next blog might be about tackling a massive project by breaking it up into manageable steps.



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  • Pete

    Long form for sure! I think showing full, start to finish waves is really important. It’s the best way to use footage to learn from. It’s real. Super fast edited clips give a false sense of reality. I can’t watch that type of surf movie anymore.
    I’m really looking forward to seeing these movies that you are working on. The SUP surf world needs inspiration and support. I think you are the only one doing that right now online. Keep it up and thank you for doing it!

  • Shane

    Im with you . The more footage the better. Wouldn’t worry to much about the edit , most people looking will enjoy what ever you put up. A bunch of similar turns from different riders back to back would be cool. Less surfing, more coffee and more movie editing 🙂

  • Jon

    +1 for long-form!

    The last thing we need is any more surf porn. The surf mags have always favored that kind of stuff over substantive content, and Facebook & Instagram have just swung the pendulum even further in the direction of fluff and click-bait.

    It’s actually very difficult to find any footage of expert athletes paddling into waves, dealing with closeout sections, getting caught inside, etc. — and yet all those things are a big part of any real-life session. Also, even on the fantasy waves that are the staples of most surf videos, all of the jump editing and artsy camera angles make it very hard to learn anything non-trivial about technique. This is one of the big reasons that I prefer watching live video feeds from surf contests: Even if the cameras are hand-held and too far from the action, at least you get some sense of how the athletes handle an entire wave, from start to finish.

    And don’t even get me started on all of the gratuitous travelogue footage (airport baggage carousels, backlit palm trees, etc.) that are such a cliche in most surf videos… 😉

  • Duncan Sibley

    Love the idea of a long form movie and I agree raw could be really interesting. For me personally long form would need a strong story line though to capture the personalities of those involved, the sense of lifestyle and the sense of attention to detail and the detail in preparation to achieve such great skill. You want to create something for people to aspire and connect to.
    Enjoyed the trailer, looking forward to seeing whatever path you take with it.

  • Fausto

    I’m another one in favor of long format. There was a comment above here that I fully endorse: show real life stuff: getting to the line up, trying the same turn two or three times, how the athletes approach the waves and not only what they do after they catch them. I’m not sure if that sort of footage is available but a combination of gopro-style, drone and regular filming from the beach would not only make it interesting but also provide different points of view to the same maneuvers, improving the learning we could get out of it.

    Congrats for the initiative. It was already daunting before you invited us to comment, so guess now. Don’t give up though.

  • Joeblack

    Im a fan of the long form. Watch the paddle out, drop in, full wave, kick out wash rinse repeat. While i do enjoy some back to back segments it does get old pretty quick. A good storyline helps a lot. My favorite surf film is single fin yellow by jason baffa. I think its about time we got our own similar style sup paddle surf show.

  • John

    I love the idea of showing full wave rides from beginning to end. Great surfing is not about how hard you can hit one lip, but how well you use the entire variable canvas of the wave to create rhythm and flow.

  • Rick Lummer

    I also agree long form is the way to go. Surf films are all the same. Paddle surfing resembles surfing but it can be argued it’s a different sport. The paddling side of it is important. This would be very dependent on the footage you have, but it would be fantastic see a breakdown of the various techniques of the athletes. For example show how Kalama stands when he paddles compared to how Mcphillips, and the difference in how they grip the paddle and so on and so forth.
    I’ve spent a large amount of time looking through videos of the techniques used before the drop in. It’s great to watch someone rip a wave apart but the truth of the matter is those thing aren’t as replicable. The techniques and styles before the drop in are what can really improve a surfers surfing and it’s almost impossible to find footage of that. Everyone cuts that bit out.

    I say the more info the better!

    Also voice overs of the surfer themselves describing what they did on the specific wave and there thought process would really aid to the film and separate from the “surf porn” so rampant today. I also think it would really mirror what you are doing with the progression journal.

    Stand-up is a sport that is only in elementary school. The best way to move it along is things such as your journal and hearing the why from surfers on what they do in the water. The more discussion and knowledge that is shared the faster it will progress.

    It’s like fmx, it progresses because the best guys in the game share there knowledge with the other guys. Those guys learn the harder stuff and then everyone doing it and as a group it cause the level to move up a notch in order for the best to stay on top. Thomas Pages taught Josh Sheehan how to ride and quarter-pipe and now those two are the best at it and it naturally causes progression.

    Thanks again for all the work and energy you put in to the podcast, site, and the sport.

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