THE SURFER > NOTES
AlthoughThe Surfer was spawned by true affection for 60s surf documentaries and teen beach movies, it was also intended to be an inversion of those influences. I described it as Gidget as though directed by Wim Wenders. I craved a film that didn’t exist and so decided to make it myself. It began with the simple notion of a black-and-white drama taking place on a beach; with a hero who essentially does nothing.
It’s ambiguous, which some like and some don’t. The key to it is that the plot happens off screen. There is a conspiracy working against the protagonist ‘Sandy;’ one that involves his estranged, billionaire father, an anthropologist who has taken him under her wing, and a secretive radical group calling itself the ‘Straw Brigade.’
Sandy radiates something to which others respond. That is what the film is about. They question him, befriend him, seduce him, and recruit him. Nearly every character spouts clichés about how to live, but ultimately Sandy ignores them all. I always wanted to make a film in which the hero’s most decisive action is to refuse to take any of the paths that others present to him.
The Surfer will always be closest to my heart because it was my first feature and the project that introduced me to many key people with whom I’ve continued to work since; including Kyle Rutchland, Malorie Mackey, Caleb White and Matthew Arnett. It is rough around the edges, but this coarse style is a deliberate reflection of the film’s theme and intent, which is to critique presentations of heroism in film and in life.