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Australia

Reviews, Surf, Surf Reviews

Film Review: Under The Sun

November 29, 2013

To review Under the Sun as a surf film wouldnt give the movie its due credit. The film by the young director of Stoked & Broke and Riding Waves needs to be viewed as a documentary that enlightens and informs. In Suttons film he discusses the contrast between Australias Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Under the Sun continues to illuminate Sutton as an artist but more importantly we see Sutton growing as a filmmaker who asks his viewers to rethink the conventional ideals of the surfing community.

Juxtaposing Australias Gold Coast and Byron Bay, Sutton creates a wide crevasse with the contrasting images of Competition Surfer and Soul Surfer poised on each divided precipice. First Sutton gives a detailed history and emergence of each group: the greedy commercial industry sprouting from Gold Coast competition surfing and the bongo-drumming hippie pushing organic marmalade from the Byron Bay. Although I use these generalizations and stereotypes, Sutton does a great job of remaining passive and nonjudgmental. These two surfer types are then taken through their evolution into the 21st century. Gold Coast competition surfing grows into a cold and mechanical shit show in which the surfing industry sees an opportunity on which to fully capitalize. And then, surprisingly, Sutton shows the Soul Surfer for his/her true self. A point is made that Soul Surfers cannot live or surf without the aid of sponsors and all the free boards and accessories that arrive at their La Jolla bungalow free of charge. I think this is a truth we tend to disregard due to the free-spirited persona of the Soul Surfer, which we envy. Sutton illustrates soul surfing as something attained by money and commercialism ? the very evil for which the Gold Coast competitive surfer is so harshly judged. So what is Cyrus saying? What wisdom is this film trying to impart?

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I believe Under the Sun is a film of middle grounds. Even though surf competitions have devolved into events as vapid as Keeping Up With The Kardashians, they still maintain some importance. In the film we hear that surfing competitions are places where young kids can focus their energy and learn social interaction and friendly competition (to say life is void of competition would be foolish). These are valuable skills for the young surfer, and the sport (depending if you ascribe to the idea) keeps the youngsters out of trouble. Also, as is stated throughout the film, surfing competitions allowed surfing to become visible to the outside world and therefore disseminate. Right now next to Lake Erie there is a group of friends shivering around a campfire, drinking seasonal beer, and recapping their days session ? to me that is a pretty awesome thing. Stoke is meant to be shared and competition surfing did exactly that. And, even though the Soul Surfer jet sets around the world on someone elses dime and poses nonchalantly, yet consciously, in a dangling palm branch for a photo-op, surfing is still the better because the soul surfer acts as evidence that a greedless, nature-oriented life of surfing is possible. It is a job just like anything else.

Under-The-Sun-Surf-Film

There is no need to demonize these two groups, which is why Suttons passivity is so important. Even though Sutton lightly brushes on environmentalism and population growth I believe Under the Suns true goal is to reveal the whole reality of both the competition surfer and the soul surfer. We tend to lump judgments into categories of right or wrong, black or white but there is a mammoth grey which is inherent in everything. The waves we ride are not concrete and rigid – why should our perceptions of our fellow surfers be? The surfing community has learned and will continue to learn a great deal from both of these groups. Commercialism and shitI dont knowġHippism? Beardism? Machado-ism? Either way we are all surfers under the sun.

Film, Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Steve Cleveland: A Paradigm Shift

June 15, 2012


I was first turned on to Steve’s work about three years ago, when I picked up a copy of Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables. Recently, he worked his way back in the tube with A Paradigm Shift.  APS has a killer soundtrack and includes some of my favorite surfers; Kassia Meador, Alex Knost, CJ Nelson, Dane Peterson, Tyler Warren, Chris Del Moro…and more. Here’s our interview with the man behind the film.

Where did you grow up, and when did you start surfing?
I was born in Redondo Beach Ca. That’s the area where I had my first experiences with the ocean. I was like a moth to a flame; I was just drawn to the ocean. I remember my aunt would take me to the Palos Verdes cove when I was 4 yrs. Old, and I’d wade in the tide pools. My family moved to the Big Island of Hawaii when I was 7 and that’s where I started riding waves…body surfing and belly boarding. We moved back to the mainland (Redondo) when I was 11 or 12. That’s when I got my first surfboard; an old Velzy/Jacobs 9’3″ balsa, for $20. That must of been around 1963 or 64.

When did you first get involved with film?
I got involved with filming in the early 70s when I was taking photography at Maui Community College. That was my foundation. I started my first surf movie in 1989. It was called On Safari to Stay, and featured a 13 yr. old Joel Tudor, Wingnut, Donald Takayama and Skip Fry. I made it with my good friends Chris Ahrens and Greg Weaver. Spider Wills was a consultant.

What was it like working with Greg Weaver and Spider Wills?
That was a kick in the arse mate!!!!!!!!! So many stories that I can’t tell ya all… but when I’m with Joel and Wingnut, we always relive a couple of the episodes. The stories keep gettin better and better. Weavers da bomb mate, and Spiders a total legend. I learned a lot from Greg and spider! I’m very appreciative of that experience

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Your most recent project is A Paradigm Shift, can you tell us about that?
Well, A Paradigm Shift is a relatively fast paced, tightly edited movie with a bitchen soundtrack. It’s a bunch of great surfers in I guess what you’d call “the alternative” vein of surfing. Ya know…great surfers riding all types of boards, in all types of waves. We shot it in Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, Micronesia, and California. I worked on it for a little over 2 years and am stoked on how it turned out!

How do you go about picking the surfers for your films?
I have been very fortunate in that regard! The surfers in my films are people that I’ve met over the years… friends; guys and gals that I get along with and work well with. It’s not that I pick them, really…because they all can pretty much work with any of the alternative surf filmmakers out there. My crew of surfers is a pretty eclectic group. They are relationships that I have developed organically over time. It’s a symbiotic thing! I feel lucky and blessed to get to work with the “A” list surfers in our longboard/alternative (longboards,fish,hulls, eggs, retros, alaia’s ect.) genre. For what I do, it’s all about the surfers. You can have the best surf in the world to shoot, but if the talent level isn’t there then all ya end up with is a bunch of bitchen waves being ridden by so-so surfers. Nobody really wants to watch a film like that, do they?

Any favorite surf flicks?
Yeah, I really liked Ozzie Wright’s 156 tricks. It changed the way I looked at what I was doing at the time. CJ Nelson turned me on to it. In the beginning I was also influenced by Bud and Bruce brown’s films. Mac/Freemans films are also always a good watch… many others too!

Any other filmmakers you would like to collaborate with?
I respect a lot of the film makers out there, but for now I prefer to do my own thing…. but if Steven Spielburg came calling I’d be all ears. ha ha

Any hope for a third Safari movie? :)
Funny you should ask, thinkin about it…. Looking for funding… anyone out there want to be an “executive producer?” Call me, well see!!!!!!!!!

What’s next for Steve Cleveland?
Like I just said, thinking about going back to my roots. A story driven movie? Ya never know…just doing my own thing, with a lot o help from my friends!

Check back in a few weeks for Renick’s forthcoming review of A Paradigm Shift. You can connect more with Steve over at SurfCraft Media’s Official site.

Cheers,
-Shawn