Monday, September 24, 2012

the sun and the barrel

Just finished the rough cut of Hangs Upon Nothing a couple days ago.  This is a custom dvd case I made for the very first film fest submission as a documentary feature film.  There's a ways to go with tightening up the edit and finishing up the original score, but I feel like we are now past the most difficult part of the creative process.  Really happy about this.  I'm also really happy with how the film is turning out.  It's turned into more than I envisioned when I first got the idea to make this.

I keep thinking about all the places, all the experiences, and all the people I have met while making this.  Watching the footage from places worlds away from where I am from, it almost feels like it was all a dream.  I keep thinking to myself, wow, did all this really happen?  What I have left from it now are memories, some vivid, some faded, footage burned into 16mm film, also some sound recordings.

There's usually something interesting about anyone's journey in life.  But I also think that surfers have more amazing journeys than most people.  The things one sees and experiences as a surfer are just on a different level than anything else.

I've had flying fish jump out of waves and just miss my face, rocketing past me.  I've been wrapped up in powerful clear barrels watching and filming as my friends flew by right in front of my face.  I can't even put into words what that feels like.  It makes me feel alive, really alive.  Right there in that place you feel the earth's raw energy all around you, passing through you.  You are a part of it.  There have been times I've even felt the energy of the surfboard through the wave as a surfer passed right in front of my face and camera, it's like a wake of energy you can feel.  I've seen dolphins leave trails of glowing phosphorescence in the water as I stood on the bow sprit of Chuck's boat, the Tuaraoi, as we sailed through the night.  I've looked into those dolphin's eyes from a few feet away as they swam excitedly, turned sideways to look up at me, illuminated by the moon and the stars.  I sensed a connection with them, like when you look into a person's eyes and feel something.  What I mean by this is that I sensed these dolphins were thinking something, I sensed I was looking into the eyes of an intelligent creature.

I've been out there in the water after sunset surrounded by skies that just lit on fire 360 degrees.  There was one in particular I saw in Samoa that I don't think could ever be topped.  It was as if the entire sky was painted with billowing beautiful fire, in every direction.  

I've been out there on my board when a water spout came right through a crowded lineup.  It trailed down from the sky like a tornado, all the way down from the clouds.  We watched as it worked its way slowly down off in the distance until it touched the surface of the ocean, and then it slowly approached.  Everyone out there just kept surfing.  And it came right through the middle of the lineup, with everyone hooting and hollering.  It reached shore and flared and then dissipated with the setting sun shining right through it.  With the light shining through it reminded me of the end of The Raiders of the Lost Ark, when they open the ark and spirits and energy swirl through the screen.  It was literally no more than 50 feet away from me when it passed by, and there was a guy riding a wave right in front of me as it passed through.  Would have made a spectacular shot, riding down the line with a water spout 40 feet behind him.  I thought it might lift us up and slam us into the rocks, but I barely felt anything from it.  This was at Honoli'i, Big Island of Hawaii, during the time I was crew on Chuck's boat.  I probably would not believe this story had I not experienced it.  I swear that's a true story.

Surfing to me is so much more than just riding waves.  It's also everything that comes along with it that makes   surfing throughout life such an amazing journey.  It's the people you meet, the friends you make, the music you hear, the music you make, the food you eat, the stories you hear, the stories you will have to tell, the close calls, the risks, the setbacks, the experiences that make you feel very mortal and humbled, the energy you feel in the ocean, the energy you are a part of.  

This is all what I've been trying to capture and convey with Hangs Upon Nothing.  What this experience feels like.