Take a little trip to Barbados with Cyrus Sutton.
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?
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.
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.
A short film in search of freedom. Written and Directed by Cyruss Sutton. A KORDUROY Production
Cyrus Sutton is making waves with his new film, Compassing. This 25 minute movie is about his two month long search for surf and all the adventures encountered within.
Watch the complete film here.
I was blocks away from my house before my parents realized I was gone. It took less than half an hour for them to find me in a cul-de-sac carrying a backpack filled with cans of SpaghettiO’s and a Swiss Army knife. When you are 7 life is confusing. Sometimes you gotta take to the open road even if you only make it within earshot of home. The young guys from Stoked and Broke seemed to be going through the same motions. However there are a few major differences – Cyrus Sutton and Ryan Burch don’t believe that they are setting out on a journey that will last years, involving multiple pirate battles and concluding with the rescue of Kathy Ireland. But these differences are the aim of Stoked and Broke. The young gents of “Stoked and Broke” are being raised in the Red Bull generation where everything is FUCKING INTENSE!!!!!!; where bigger, faster, louder and richer are most desirable. This type of thinking is now part of the fabric of our society; so, unlike my younger, more imaginative self, Cyrus’ and Ryan’s concerns are legit.
Herein lies a horrible problem, which I believe, Cyrus and Ryan are trying to cope with: what if you don’t want Vin Diesel to punch you in the face with a fist full of twenties, downing a Four Loko while being scored by the Harlem Shake? What does a 20-something (hell, a 30-something, 40-something…) do when he or she just wants to surf? Spend time with loved ones? Enjoy this fleck of time we call “existence”? Stoked and Broke looks at this question from multiple angles while under the guise of a tongue in cheek surf flick.
In La Jolla beach the boys meet Steve Ferguson, a knee boarder living in a rust eaten VW van. I am aware that that last sentence sounds adventurous and cool… and I am sure it is… until it isn’t. Mr. Ferguson seems to be on hard times – a cautionary tale to the stoked and broke. I am sure that thirty years ago Steve must have looked a lot like Ryan: blonde hair and blue eyes – a kid with a lot of promise. But somewhere in the miles on his VW’s odometer there was a disconnect, a reason for what he calls “not a good situation”. Perhaps he didn’t know how to balance his societal roles with his want of surfing and freedom, much like the Stoked and Broke bros. Of course life isn’t simple enough to link specific causes to specific life events, such as Ferguson’s hardships and his prior decisions, but it is difficult not to think that something similar might be in the future of all of us who would rather ditch our responsibilities and go to the beach.
So where does a free spirited surfer find his or her place in this fickle world? A heartfelt interview with Richard, a legendary surfer and friend of Ryan and Cyrus, gives us some insight. Richard stresses responsibility and dedication as being the source of happiness and freedom: “Responsibility really gives you freedom in
the end. Irresponsibility puts you in a prison.” A life centered around surfing and happiness is possible as long as you have attainable and fulfilling goals that are achieved through dedication and work. Richard doesn’t seem to measure wealth in dollars but in family, relationships and surfing – a middle ground to the societal
highs and lows Cyrus and Ryan are trying to navigate. I think Richard’s argument is summed up in a quote from Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk: “What good is honor, my dear, if you have nothing to eat?” I believe Richard would say: “What good is freedom, my friend, if you have nothing to surf?“
These two detailed scenes from Stoked and Broke are just small portions of the film. There is some great surfing, some gnarly foam boards and hand planes but I found these scenes and themes to more thought provoking. I could easily have said “cool flick, great surfing” but isn’t our goal to act as a community of surfers? To look after each other and to aid one another in our journey? This is what Cyrus and Ryan are doing with Stoked and Broke – presenting their views of surfing and life to the world, offering their understanding to others. Think of it this way: would we have the thruster without the fish? The fish without the log? The log without the alaia? The knowledge of the old timers has been passed down through generations and then added to and reworked. This knowledge is not just about board shapes, it also includes surfing philosophy and ideology, surfing principles and ethics. Cyrus and Ryan are contributing to this tradition with Stoked and Broke.
O.k., Yankees game is on. Later.
New York comedian Todd Barry has a dry wit. I love it. He is sarcastic, lethargic and fucking hilarious. Here is a transcribed version of one of my favorite jokes…I’m paraphrasing…
I like the Chipotle Mexican Grill. Every time I bring up the Chipotle Mexican Grill in conversation someone goes “Oh, Chipotle Mexican Grill is delicious. Can you believe it was started by McDonalds?” – I reply “uh, McDonalds is delicious… so, yes I can believe that”. It is the world’s greatest restaurant chain taking a stab at another kind of food and hitting it out of the park…”
This is my sentiment towards Almond’s recently released “Whitecaps”, filmed by Cam Oden and Jack Belli. Almond surfboards, the new name in quality surfboards (and a lasting one, I bet my Hobie on it), takes a stab at making a quality surf flick and hits it out of the park… solidly.
This isn’t surprising in the least – the film is a straight reflection of the quality of Almond Surfboards: classy, thoughtful, artistic, fashionable and playful. The film is pulled from the oven at the perfect time: no superfluous camera filters, no over production or design – just a well crafted playbook of non-surfing segments that hold your attention then break away before your gills dry out, great tunes, beautiful scenery and of course – gnarly surfing. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Almond.
The unique color schemes of each segment are modest and extremely tasteful. Griffin Neumann-Kyle’s surfing segment is an overcast grey, adequately reflecting the accompanying slack key guitar, while Cyrus Sutton’s segment is a crisp blue, mirroring the glassy morning session that he is surfing. I am not sure if Almond anticipated these great color juxtapositions but either way I am going to credit ‘em. Very nice work.
Moreover, the film feels light and frisky. The surfing is fun: switching boards, slappin’ high fives. I mean, come on, who doesn’t get jazzed off a well-executed fiver? Whitecaps is the type of film that makes you want to paddle out with your friends, not because of deep green rooms or poised pigs on a planket (new term for “hanging-10”, maybe?) but because these gals and guys look like they are having a ball.
P.S.- Schuyler McFerran: Elle est très adorable.
Cyrus Sutton, from Korduroy.tv… testing out Harbour’s Noserider in some Orange County soup. Cyrus and Rich Harbour designed the noserider together. According to Harbour… the board’s exaggerated con-cave simplifies tip-time. It’s an easy paddler, and a “take to the beach on an average day board.”
Film: James Campbell
Music: “Nino Nino” – Shawn Lee