"Only a surfer knows the feeling."Most surf films follow a few, well worn paths, usually all pumping surf porn and wandering adventures for the initiated.
Toddy & Robinson Stewart are going to create a film series that will be a surf exploration of a different sort: a cinematic journey alongside an eight year old learning to surf and learning about surfing heritage and what it might feel like to be part of a passionate community,
THE BACK STORY
Like most parents, Toddy Stewart struggles with the nagging feeling he isn't giving his child enough opportunities to learn life's most important lessons. He is proud of bringing his boy up in their vibrant, multi-ethnic/cultural/persuasion community in New York City, but having grown up in a Pacific Northwest household obsessed with the outdoors (read: a ski-patrolman father), raising children with a woman of deep familial surfing roots (read: her father surfed 1960's North Shore) and being passionate about surfing himself (a difficult lifestyle to maintain in NYC) he feels like there is a big part of his son's education and heritage that's missing.
In equal part, Toddy's son Robinson loves his life in New York. He gets to play soccer and go to ballet and go to a great school full of interesting kids. But he feels like he is missing something that's really important to his parent's life.
The Boy's Journey is a film series about setting another bit of the record straight and introducing a child to a parent's sometimes obscured value system, then seeing that value system through the child's eyes.
A voyage of discovery through community, respect, history, and the environment, the series will be a memoirumentary travelogue that captures the journey of a father and son exploring a mythic place neither have been, while telling the story of a father showing his son his world view, and following the child while he experiences it.
The film series will follow the family along the east coast of Australia, ostensibly from Sydney to Brisbane, as they stop off to visit their many surf-addled friends along the route.
We'll be renting a camper van and heading up the coast, paying visits to other families along the way. Families that live as differently as one can imagine from a boy's over-stuffed life in New York City.
Each visit will be its own film, documenting how the other kids and their mothers and fathers live. A series of open doors to another world.
The final product will be both a single documentary film from which we will poach a series of short webisodes. A surf film and a surf series from a different point of view.
The funds from this Kickstarter have been calculated to go towards production costs, kombi rental (that's what they call VW Buses), entrance and camping fees and the bits and pieces of the out-of-house post production process that cost a little bit like sound mixing and color correction. We are running this thing on a shoe-string budget, but we are very good at that.
The result will be an exciting series of videos about community, heritage, education and exploration. It will be a journey that will stoke out any budding surfer and every future-traveler.
Not just a boy's journey, but a journey for every kid who's ever wanted to know what being a surfer and a smart, inquisitive and respectful traveler is all about.
Read an interview with Toddy Stewart about this project here.
• "Director/Father/Camera/Co-Writer" Toddy Stewart (40ish years old) has been a commercial filmmaker in New York for the last 15 years and has been surfing for over twenty.
His surf blog "The Endless Bummer" has waxed poetic in both print and video about the rigors and joys of a New York surfing life since 2007. His short film "The Surf Magazines Don't Talk About Lapsed Catholics" has won wide accolades as a one-of-a-kind take on the subject matter. He is a partner, director, curator and editor at Picture Farm, a production company and gallery in Brooklyn, NY.
You can check out some of his professional work here.
• "DP/Godfather/Sound/Co-Writer" Kevin Freeny (40ish years old) has travelled the world for the past ten years shooting documentary nature films in such places as the Antarctic, the Arctic, the Galapagos Islands, Rapa Nui, the Pacific Northwest and Sub-Saharan Africa. He is well accustomed to the rigors of travel, getting "the shot" in the most arduous conditions and palling around with his godson, Robinson Stewart.
You can see a small sample of his work here.
• "Son/Boy/Camera/Co-Writer" Robinson Miel Stewart (8ish years old) has lived his life between New York City and North County San Diego. He trains at the School of American Ballet, is an avid soccer player and has spent more than a few hours in the water with his papa. As an aspiring storyteller in his own right, he will join in the process of filmmaking with his own capture devices.
You can see more about his life here.
Risks and challenges
The possibility for quality filmmaking has expanded in just the past few years. Inexpensively priced video cameras and audio gear have made the product of documentation more and more beautiful.
The trick is still in the eye, the ear and the storytelling. This film, while manned by a couple "old pros" will employ a decidedly visceral, kinetic process. A variety of shooting styles and equipment will be used at different moments to capture the very most out of every situation.
The risks and challenges of a project like this are probably always the same: Will it actually happen? Will the production quality be good? Will it be finished? Is the motivation and ability for real?
To these, we can only be point out via our crew bios that there is a significant amount of "know how." As surfers, well worn travelers and most importantly experienced filmmakers with lots of tools out our fingertips, we are well accustomed to making a product to the highest standards with finesse and a wink.
* UPDATE *
The closer we get to the project, the further it gets along the deeper we are thinking about the nuts and bolts of it all. What will be the POV? How do we transcend the normal surf angles? How do you capture an 8 year old's experience?
It is is a magnificently interesting process to find references, come up with alternative visions and try to plan out a film that will be educational, emotional, well shot and fun.
All those things, of course, are the prime challenges as well.
- (36 days)