From the antsy youngster to the wise old sage, all surfers have one thing in common: flat days. Yes, even the bountiful Southern Californian coastline loses its pulse from time to time. At RAREFORM, we treat each flat-spell with a heavy dose of surf flicks. Here are a few of my favorites—may they help you cope and fuel your stoke.
Director Kai Neville’s 2009 film documents the travels of six dominant surfers. Breaking the traditional surf flick mold, Modern Collective focuses on progressive maneuvers in mediocre waves to the tune of a bouncy electronica soundtrack. Neville and his surfers showed us that waves don’t have to be clean to be epic.
My personal favorite scene: Mitch Coleborn, Jordy Smith, and Craig Anderson going wild above the lip at Reunion Island.
Joe G’s breakout surf flick won him Movie of the Year at the 2011 Surfer Poll Awards and erased any doubt as to whether there was room for progression in rail-surfing amid the aerial antics of the era. With a soundtrack written and recorded by Black Mountain, this one will have you daydreaming about mean waves and meaner turns.
What to watch for: Nate Tyler putting it on rail and Dion Agius’s heavily caffeinated full rotations.
Another Kai Neville flick, Lost Atlas checks off all the boxes: reeling point-breaks, punchy wind-swell, exotic locations, and a few candid comments from Dusty Payne and Jordy Smith. The original Modern Collective six (plus a few of the day’s up and comers) bring above-the-lip style to the next level in Lost Atlas.
We turn this one on when our surfing has lost its cheekiness. It helps.
Taylor Steele’s Innersection series has propelled a few relatively unknown surfers into glory and simultaneously blessed us with timeless and diverse shred footage. In Steele’s unique platform, athletes from across the spectrum of the professional surfing world compete via video-submission for a $100,000 grand prize and the coveted final part in the movie.
Craig Anderson comes in hot with an air-laden section filmed from a heli, but my favorite section is, without a doubt, Matt Meola’s grand prize-winning closer.
A far cry from the grinding waves and bumping soundtracks of the aforementioned surf flicks, Singlefin Yellow mellows the manic thruster disciples and fires up the longboard cool cats. Director Jason Baffa documents the travels of one longboard as it is sent around the world from one surfer to another, each star bringing their own style and creativity to the same board. Whether I'm looking to get stoked or satisfactorily sedentary, Singlefin Yellow gets the job done.
In Joe G’s follow up to Year Zero, he takes an exotic turn, filming in locations from Iceland to Mozambique. Get ready for freight-training tubes and a shameless amount of airs in both frigid waters and tropical dream waves. My personal favorite element of this film (apart from CJ’s tube-riding) is Joe G’s ability to weave together a surf-travel caricature that feels less like a surf movie and more like a Wes Anderson flick.
After being bombarded by footage of destination surf spots, I like to chase my surf movie libations with a film that is shot entirely in the good ol’ US of A. In Union Express, Ventura County native Timmy Curran takes the Pacific Surfliner Amtrak from its origin in San Diego all the way up to San Francisco. On the way, he scores great waves with a killer cast of friends like Connor Coffin and Keith Malloy. Let this surf flick be the light at the end of your waveless tunnel, and get ready to score in your own backyard.