Inaugural Carolina Surf Film Festival brings surfing to the big screen 

Couch Surfing

Get stoked, Charleston. The first annual Carolina Surf Film Festival is going down Oct. 16-18 at the Brickhouse Party Plantation (1575 Folly Road) on James Island. The first-of-its-kind event in South Carolina features a variety of surfing-themed features and short films from around the world, including two from Charleston. The three-day fest will also include local artists, music, and food and beer vendors. Recently, City Paper caught up with organizers Chuck Gainey, Chad Davis, and Bo Edmunds to get the inside scoop on their upcoming event.

City Paper: What inspired you to create the Carolina Surf Film Festival?

Carolina Surf Film Fest: Last year, Chad attended the inaugural Florida Surf Film Festival and came back with the idea that we should host a surf film festival in Charleston. We've surfed together for over 20 years, and during that time, we've come to trust each other's instincts. We knew Chad was onto something good, so we signed on immediately. From the beginning, we wanted to celebrate the lifestyle and culture of the sport, while engaging local artists and businesses. We also wanted to honor the community that has given us so much love and support over the years. We are working closely with the Charleston branch of the Surfrider Foundation and Charleston Waterkeeper to increase awareness of their mission to ensure clean water for future generations. We are also putting on a silent auction to benefit Surfers Healing, a nonprofit that has spent the last 15 years taking children with autism surfing. Our shared goal is to help foster the understanding and acceptance of autism.

CP: Films about surfing have been around for quite a while and have spawned cult followings, going back to the most famous of them all, Endless Summer (1966). What's the link between cinema and surfing?

CSFF: Surfing and cinema are similar in that they elicit a feeling of being in the moment; there's no better place to transcend your yesterday and tomorrow than in a theater or on a surfboard. Even if you don't surf, there's something about watching the act of surfing a wave that is at once thrilling and relaxing. Surfing is visual, as is cinema. It's a perfect pairing.

CP: The films you are showcasing range from feature length to shorts and from local to international. How did you select the films?

CSFF: We were looking for films that veered from the norm. We wanted to know what filmmakers with a few bucks, a camera, and a heap of passion could deliver. We chose films where the athletes and filmmakers made their own rules by riding and filming whatever inspired them.

CP: People unfamiliar with Charleston may not realize that South Carolina offers surfing or has a surfing community. Is the Lowcountry surfing community unique in any way?

CSFF: We may not have the biggest and best waves, but we do have one of the best surf communities in the world with characters from all walks of life. Our community is tight knit, but if someone paddles out with a good attitude and respects the locals, we welcome them as family. In the recent past, surfing was a bit of a "boys club." You might see a few ladies in the water, but it was a rare sight. We're pleased to be part of a surfing community where you'll see boys, girls, men, and women of all ages in the water having a great time. The Folly Beach Wahine Classic [an annual surfing competition for women] attests to that. I think in that regard, Charleston has always been a little bit ahead of the curve, and therefore different from other surfing communities.  

CP: Tell me about the films submitted by local filmmakers that are in the fest. Were they shot in South Carolina?

CSFF: Two Feet and Classy, by Patrick Willey and his team of guerilla filmmakers, is a short film about traditional longboarding and was shot on Folly Beach. It showcases the talent of amateur and professional local surfers. The Thomas Brothers shot Stoked, which parallels surfing Pipeline, Hawaii with surfing on Folly Beach. It sounds like an ambitious task, but as seasoned filmmakers, Ellison and Bryant Thomas pulled it off.

CP: The soundtrack of any film is important, but it's especially important in surfing films, where it provides the attitude and pacing for the exciting surfing action sequences, among other things. Any cool bands we should be listening for?

CSFF: The official trailer for the film festival features the music of one of our favorite local bands, CODA. Keep an eye on those kids: they're onto something. We weighed the music heavily in our selection process, so the soundtracks in all of the films are on point. Check out Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Dr. Dog, The Allah Last, Timber Timbre. All great bands.

CP: In addition to the film screenings, what else will be going on at the fest?

CSFF: We'll be holding a silent auction on Friday and Saturday to benefit Surfers Healing. We'll have Q&A sessions with filmmakers. There will be giveaways, live music, vendors, artists, food trucks, tasty beverages, and lots of other cool stuff to keep you entertained.

The Carolina Surf Film Fest is no longer just a pipe dream for surf-loving movie buffs. It's a three-day fest of surfer flicks to Charleston. Here's what's on the agenda.

Thurs. Oct. 16

8:35 p.m. – Stoked The Thomas Brothers' short examines the feeling of surfing and being stoked
9:05 p.m. – 70 Et Al The Portuguese feature film by Grupo Sal reminisces about surf life in the '70s
10:25 p.m. – Your Dream The short from Vacation Club and Victor Papkour follows surfer Luke Davis as he travels around the world
10:50 p.m. – Mission A short made by Band Originale

Fri. Oct. 17

7:10 p.m. – Arctic Swell Photographer Chris Burkard and pro surfers Patrick Millin, Brett Barley, and Chadd Konig travel to the Arctic Circle for some cold-weather waves
7:35 p.m. – Beyond The Surface This feature-film follows India's first female surfer Ishita Malaviya as she and her fellow surfing friends travel through India
8:35 p.m. – Rail to Rail Joel Sharpe Productions' short follows an El Salvadorian body boarder.
9:15 p.m. – Death 2 Hipsters The feature-length flick was made by Dark Fall Productions
10:25 p.m. – Surfer Saltado A short that showcases surfer jams set to nature scenes and catching waves

Sat. Oct. 18

7:10 p.m. – Herding Cats Broomsticks & Beavertails' 14-and-a-half minute short mixes music with people surfing, but no cats — although there were a couple of dogs.
7:40 p.m. – Expencive Porno Movie Don't let the name fool you. This feature is still about surfing, but there may be a few shots of some kissing couples.
9:00 p.m. – Still Swell At 85 When we get older, we hope to have the same spirit as 85-year-old surfer Barry "Magoo" McGuigan, who's featured in this short.
9:15 p.m. – Attractive Distractions Take Shelter Productions' feature film follows 12 young surfers as they journey from their hometowns to far-off destinations.
10:26PM – Two Feet And Classy The last short of the fest stays local and focuses on Folly Beach.

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