About this project
Westerly is a feature length documentary film about surf icon Peter Drouyn and his controversial metamorphosis into Westerly Windina.
Peter Drouyn was one of surfing's first superstars. A true visionary, he dominated the international competitive ranks in the '60s and '70s, changed the way modern surf competition are run, and introduced surfing to China. He was an actor, a lawyer, a father, a ladies' man, an ideas man and most of all, an entertainer.
But there was much that Peter Drouyn kept private. During his competitive years, he was hypersensitive and introspective amid a culture that was often macho, myopic, and sexist. For most of his career he felt ostracized. In the '80s he drifted away from competitive surfing and all but disappeared.
In 2002, Peter suffered a traumatic surfing accident that nearly drowned him. Not long after, Peter's feminine side fully emerged. "It was a supernova," said Westerly. "It just kicked in one night, and suddenly Peter went, Westerly was there."
In 2008, Peter Drouyn announced on Australian national television that he was living as a woman. His new name, she said, was Westerly Windina. The surf community—and Australia in general—was astonished. Since then, Westerly has been living in public housing on Australia's Gold Coast. Her life is not easy. She is alone, poor, and often taunted by her neighbors.
We will explore Westerly's past as a man, document her upcoming gender-reassignment operation in Thailand, and follow her post-op as she acclimates to the newest chapter of her enigmatic journey.
FROM WESTERLY TO PETER
Introducing 62-year-old surfer Westerly Windina! In addition to spending time with Westerly, we meet her family, friends and son. Using Westerly's memories of Peter, we will follow Peter Drouyn's rise to fame as a surfer and interview Peter's contemporaries, showcasing Peter's illustrious career - from 1964 Australian Junior Champion to international acclaim in the early ‘70s. We will also explore Peter's influence on surfing: from surfboard design, to Bob Evan’s 1973 film "Drouyn", to Peter’s invention of Man-on-Man surfing at the 1979 Stubbies Classic at Burleigh Heads in Australia’s sunshine state, Queensland.
THE CHAMELEON AND THE CHIMERA
For Peter, being a surf superstar was not enough. He is accepted into Australia’s most prestigious acting school, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) where his contemporaries include Mel Gibson and Judy Davis. Peter appears as a nude male centerfold in Cleo magazine and stars in Elle Macpherson's first TV commercial as well as films, TV programs and plays. Peter introduces surfing to China - a historical feat, supported by the Chinese government. He invents "The Drouyn Method" surf teaching system, which brings the Method style of acting to the surf. Peter coaches 1988 world champion Barton Lynch. He also launches the Wave Stadium idea - a Vegas meets Sea World extravaganza and founds a modeling school - The Golden Girls - on the Gold Coast. With so much going on you would think he wouldn’t have time for anything else, but in the midst of it all, Peter travels to South Africa to find a wife, bringing her back to Australia. Together they have a son, Zachary, in 1989. Peter fades into obscurity in the late '80s and through the 1990s. This period in Australia is economically tough, described as "recession we had to have" by treasurer Paul Keating. To make ends meet, Peter becomes a taxi driver and does odd jobs, but it doesn’t work. He hits rock bottom.
FROM PETER TO WESTERLY
Although Peter liked dressing in women’s clothes as a boy it wasn’t until 2002 when Peter suffers a fateful surfing accident that Westerly surfaces. Six years later Peter introduces Westerly Windina on Australian television. Westerly wants to study law and sells Peter's trophies to cover her university expenses. She earns her degree in 2009 and starts a practice. However her plan to become a lawyer is short-lived and she is back to square one. Despondent and broke, she moves into a housing commission dwelling on the Gold Coast and lives off unemployment benefits, still surfing and trying to find a way to “complete”. Westerly's big dream is to undergo gender reassignment surgery, to become an entertainer in Hollywood, to become an international superstar. Which brings us to the present - Westerly's new life as a fully realized woman. What will her new life bring?
WESTERLY IN THE MEDIA
In The Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/national/a-lifetime-search-for-the-stranger-on-the-shore-20111029-1mp1w.html
WHY WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT
This is our plea to you to please support generously. Unfortunately filmmaking is a costly – especially when you are going about it on your own. The only way to tell Westerly’s story is independently and while we are experienced filmmakers, it doesn’t mean we have a generous credit line at our disposal. We have begun documenting Westerly’s journey on our own thus far but now we need your help to get to the finish line and bring Westerly’s story to screens big and small.
Westerly’s story is compelling, fascinating, heartwarming and heartbreaking. She is a woman on a journey and we will follow her from life in Australia and on to Thailand in search of completion – her gender assignment surgery – and back again as she embarks on the next stage of her life as a real woman. This takes both time and money.
We need your help to get our crew to Thailand and back again and put the film together once our cameras have stopped rolling. Westerly wants her story told. Please help us make her wish a reality anyway you can – be that helping us with your hip pocket or simply spreading the word – please remember we really do mean it when we say every dollar does count.
WHERE YOUR FUNDS ARE GOING
There are many unavoidable costs in filmmaking and this is where your money will go:
* Archival footage/photo research and licensing.
* Filming interviews with Westerly, her family, friends and contemporaries.
* Documenting Westerly's gender-reassignment operation and recovery.
* Production expenses such as travel and equipment rental.
* Music composition and licensing.
* Editing and post-production expenses.
N.B. Westerly is a documentary film chronicling the story of Peter Drouyn and his transition into Westerly Windina. The filmmakers have no interest in influencing Drouyn/ Westerly's decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery; we simply intend to document the journey as it unfolds. To be absolutely clear the filmmakers are not seeking to raise funds for Westerly's operation but rather to finance the documentary. To have or not have the operation is entirely Westerly's decision.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Alan White - Director/Writer
Alan White has directed two critically acclaimed Australian films, Erksineville Kings, starring Hugh Jackman, and Risk, starring Bryan Brown and Claudia Karvan which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. His film Broken, starring Heather Graham, Jeremy Sisto, and Linda Hamilton, premiered at AFI and went onto wide theatrical release. He has shot music videos for Hunters and Collectors and legendary garage rockers, The Lime Spiders and has won every major international advertising award from the Cannes Lions to the Clios and became the first director to win an Emmy® for "Outstanding TV Commercial". Partnering with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris in the innovative and highly regarded Bob Industries, Alan White continues to be one of the most recognized commercial directors in the industry. He is set to direct feature film Reclaim, written by Luke Davies in 2013.
Jamie Brisick - Director/Writer
Jamie Brisick has written two books: We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations and Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Details, and The Surfer’s Journal. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. He was the editor-in-chief of Surfing magazine from 1998 to 2000, and surfed on the ASP world tour in the late ‘80s. He has directed several films about surfing and skateboarding, among them The Life and Concrete Powwow. He lives in New York City.
Beau Willimon - Producer
Beau Willimon is a screenwriter, playwright and producer. His play Farragut North, became the basis for the motion picture screenplay Ides of March, which he co-wrote with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Ides of March earned Willimon Academy Award®, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. Currently Willimon is an executive producer and show-runner of Netflix’s original series House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, directed by David Fincher. Willimon is a co-founder of Westward Productions – a film and television production company – along with co-founder Jordan Tappis. Among Westward Productions’ current projects is the forthcoming Wally and Andre Shoot Ibsen – a film adaption of Ibsen’s play Master Builder developed by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, directed by Jonathan Demme. Willimon graduated with a B.A. from Columbia University in 1999 and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2003. A St. Louis native, he now resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Jordan Tappis - Producer
Jordan Tappis is a writer, producer and entrepreneur. He is the president and founder of music entertainment company Record Collection, co-founder of Westward Productions a film and television production company, a principle in non-profit organization Waves for Water and partner/co-creative director of publishing company Dark Creek Media (Malibu Magazine, Home - Architecture & Design). Jordan began his career as a professional surfer.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Composer
A man who acts under the name Will Oldham and a singer-songwriter who performs under the name Bonnie 'Prince' Billy has, over the past quarter of a century, made an idiosyncratic journey through, and left an indelible mark on, the worlds of indie rock and independent cinema, intersecting along the way with such disparate figures as Johnny Cash, Bjork, James Earl Jones and R Kelly.
Matt Sweeney - Composer
Matt Sweeney is a musician and album maker who straddles the worlds of "big" records and "deep" music. There's too many Sweeney musical achievements to mention in any brief way, so here are some "highlights". His guitar work is featured on "big albums" albums by Johnny Cash (American V and VI), Adele (21), Neil Diamond (Home Before Dark), Kid Rock (Born Free), Dixie Chicks (Taking The Long Way), and the deathmetal pioneer Josh Groban (Illuminations). He produced tracks by The Black Keys, Kid Rock, and Julian Casablancas for the 2011 Buddy Holly tribute album Rave On. Sweeney's guitar compositions are featured in the movie Blue Valentine.
Risks and challenges
The principle challenge the production faces concerns the costs of traveling from California to both Australia, where Westerly lives, and Thailand, where Westerly will undergo gender reassignment surgery.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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