Writers, surfers and curators Demi Taylor and Chris Nelson founded the London Surf / Film Festival in 2011 as a way to showcase the best of surf culture in Britain’s less-than-tropical-but-still-rad waveriding scene.
Over the years it’s evolved to become a true champion of all things sea-slidey – incorporating art, craft, photography and music into the fold – and the 2013 installment looks set to be one of the best ones yet.
We caught up with the awesome Demi just after the release of the 2013 programme to find out why this salty celebration is worth the odd sleepless night.
Why I Do What I Do
What exactly is LS/FF?
Hammersmith London Surf / Film Festival is a four-day celebration of contemporary surf culture at the iconic Riverside Studios, October 31 – November 3. We aim to bring together the very best film premieres from across the globe with the best UK art, photography, artisans and music. It’s a cross-section of exactly where surfing’s at right now.
Why did you start it?
Chris Nelson and I founded the LS/FF in 2011. We’d talked about establishing an event in the UK that could showcase the best of surf culture for some time, then Chris met Tyler Breuer in New York while writing Cold Water Souls (Tyler was a founder of the New York Surf Film Festival and now runs SMASHfest). We thought the UK should have a cultural happening of that calibre, one that makes an impact on the global stage and helps raise the profile of British and Irish filmmakers. We’ve both been involved in surfing, writing about surf travel and surf culture for some twenty years so it just felt like a natural progression to set up the festival.
How do you hope it will have an impact?
We knew there were some super talented filmmakers here and we wanted to give them a platform for their work. We started The Shorties Short Film Competition, with the aim of bringing nine or ten shorts to the festival’s big screen, and then onto the radar across the globe. The hope was that off the back of these shorts, British creatives could get further projects off the ground. In 2011 a short called Uncommon Ideals by filmmakers Chris McClean and Mark Waters won The Shorties, went viral, received nominations at the Surfer Poll and Video Awards and scooped the board at a number of festivals worldwide. This year we’re stoked to be hosting the world premiere of Mark’s new film The Salt Trail, a full independent feature that will blow everyone’s minds and is sure to be a massive international hit. We hoped the festival would help to facilitate this for UK talent, open doors and provide a showcase and we’re stoked to see it happen.
What’s the existing surf scene in London like?
London surfers are an amazingly committed and knowledgeable crew. They travel the length and breadth of the country on a chart – sometimes a dodgy chart – for the chance of a couple of days surf. They know their boards, they know their surf history. The festival has become a great social gathering of the clans. Those who have come to London for work; those who have lived here all their lives but are super stoked on surfing; those who have travelled up just for the festival. Everyone can come together, hang out, watch some great films and make new friends.
Who’s involved in LSFF and what does everyone do?
As event director, Chris Nelson runs the film side of the festival, liaises with the filmmakers and has the job of introducing the films each night. As creative director, I run the culture side, curating the gallery and Approaching Lines Room –a space to showcase artists, artisans, musicians, makers and doers all inspired by the diverse surf lifestyle. Zander Grinfeld from Venn Creative creates the look and design of the festival, this year revolving around an original oil painting commissioned from the super-talented Richard Bull. We have an awesome and knowledgeable judging panel drawn from around the UK and global surf and film scene.
How can people get involved/show support?
The festival runs from Thursday October 31 to Sunday November 3 and we have a packed programme of films including a bunch of premieres and a host of award-winning features and international shorts. You can buy a ticket to just one screening (£7.50 – £9.50) or get an evening pass which means more films for less cash as well as some exclusive goodies (£16-£21). We curate a diverse selection of films so there should be something for everyone. Alongside the filmes there is a gallery show which celebrates the link between surf and celluloid and the Approaching Lines Room which is open to all.
What have been the challenges in bringing LSFF to life?
It can be a bit of a rollercoaster and there are certainly challenges along the way. Sometimes I’m amazed by the amount of work that goes into pulling the event together – and occasionally I have the odd sleepless night. But that’s events and that’s surfing.
What have been the major inspirations behind the project?
Meeting the filmmakers, hearing about the passion and work they put into their projects. It’s not like anyone’s making big money from surf filmmaking. These are mostly passion projects. Some filmmakers spend two or three years on a feature. That kind of dedication is inspiring. Also, talking to an audience after they’ve come out of a great film and they are amped. Hosting these premieres gives an audience a chance to not only see some really awesome films – but to be the first to see them in the way they’re supposed to be enjoyed – in a social cinema setting. People coming to see the The Salt Trail will be the first people in the world to see it on a big screen. Hangs Upon Nothing has never screened anywhere in Europe before. Bella Vita has probably only screened a couple of times in the world. It’s not like you can wander down to your local multiplex and check them out. And you really can’t beat seeing surf movies on the big screen.
What’s the future for LSFF?
Ask me after the festival haha! We have some big ideas for next year, but at the moment we’re focussed on 2013 and the epic films we have lined up.
The Line Up!
Thursday October 31
Bella Vita, Dir. Jason Baffa, USA (6.45pm)
A much anticipated feature from renowned film-maker Jason Baffa, chronicling the journey of surfer Chris Del Moro and friends as they explore the burgeoning surf culture blossoming among one the Mediterranean’s oldest civilisations. A visual epic and travelogue captured in sumptuous 35mm.
Learning to Breathe, Dir. Rocky Romano, USA (8.50pm)
Award-winning documentary exploring the troubled and changing life of professional surfer and legend Anthony Ruffo. Ruffo is a surfer, but he is also an addict, a dealer and a community leader. An exploration into the oft-overlooked, darker side of surfing.
Friday November 1
Almost Cut My Hair Dir. Ryan Lovelace, USA (6.45pm)
Award-winning film that reignites a culture in surfing based on fun, experimentation, hand-built boards with a stripped down, open-minded approach. Cutting-edge artisans of the glide style their way from single-fin mid lengths to high performance fish variations, all set to an original sound track.
This Time Tomorrow Dir. Taylor Steele, USA (8pm)
Surfing the same wave twice is every surfer’s dream. Dave Rastovich and Craig Anderson, follow a single storm cell from Tahiti to Alaska making that dream reality. Featuring Kelly Slater, Chris Del Moro et al and combining epic cinematography and a rousing soundtrack this is a modern classic from a game changing filmmaker.
Good Morning Miyazaki Dir. Matt Wescott, CAN (9.30pm)
A high-paced and aesthetically spectacular film showcasing a unique corner of Japan. From single-fin cruisin’ to heavy typhoon-produced beach-break barrels and featuring Japan’s most stylish + accomplished surfers it is guaranteed to get you stoked while delivering fresh perspectives on the Land of the Rising Sun.
Done, Dir. Blake Kueny, USA (9.30pm)
John John Florence takes it to another level, Blake Kueny is there to capture the action. Many call him the future of surfing, the heir apparent. One thing is for sure, he’s core and he charges, and he will blow you away with this film. Also featuring his brothers Nathan and Ivan, as well as Matt Meola, Albee Layer and Kiron Jabour.
Saturday November 2
Serendipity Dir. Simon Lamb, AUS (4.30pm)
This documentary shines a light on one of surfing’s fairytales. Tony Hussein Hinde was a 20 year old Australian who went on a surfing adventure at a time when many of the world’s best surf breaks where yet to be discovered. What he found was perfect surf on a chain of tropical coral attols, an eastern Islamic culture and a new personal identity.
Russia Dir. Chris Burkhard, USA (6.10pm)
A film that jumps in at the deep end of surfing’s exploratory boundaries when Keith Malloy, Dane Gudauskas, Trevor Gordon, and Cyrus Sutton journey to the shores of remote Kamchatka on Russia’s Pacific rim, where the only way to scour remote breaks is by Soviet era truck or rickety helicopter. Surfing back to basics, beautifully captured by one of the world’s leading lensmen Chris Burkhard.
Compassing Dir. Cyrus Sutton, USA (6.10pm)
From EMMY award-winning filmmaker, a follow up to the celebrated ‘Stoked & Broke’ Cyrus transforms his van into a unique camper to traverse the west coast of North America with friends including Kepa Acero and Rob Machado.
The Fortune Wild Dir. Ben Gulliver, CAN (6.10pm)
A small group of surfers set out to seek their own kind of riches on some of the most remote beaches of the Canadian coast. Starring Peter Devries plus Reid and Arran Jackson, this is an expedition to the far-flung shores of Haida Gwaii, a chain of wave-swept, lushly forested islands off the British Columbia mainland. Surfing, camping and foraging for food on the area’s unspoiled beaches, the three surfers step away from the modern world and into a quieter, more attuned and more self-sufficient existence.
The Salt Trail, Dir. Mark Waters, UK (7.50pm)
From award-winning filmmaker Mark Waters this visual gem is a cinematic masterpiece that takes us on a voyage and delves into the true meaning of surf travel. Journeying through Indonesia from the crowded points of Bali to the isolation of The Mentawai islands, this film captures the joys and the pains of exploration, and the rewards that will stay with you long after the journey is over.
Daughter Dir. Tin Ojeda, USA (9.35pm)
New York is a place steeped in culture and history. Renowned NY surfer/artist/filmmaker Tin Ojeda delivers a slice of visual shot on Super 8 and 16mm set to a sublime soundtrack. Featuring the wave sliding talents of leading lights including Rob Kulisek, Derek Hynd, Scotty Stopnik, Mikey DeTemple, Andy Findlay, Robin Kegel, Kassia Meador, Marshall Brothers, Erin Wormtown, Billy Death, JJ Wessels, Kyle Lightner, and many more. Filmed on location in New York, California, Mexico and Australia.
Remind Me To Forget, Dir. Jeremy Asher Lynch, USA (9.35pm)
A poetic narrative from award winning filmmaker and ‘What Youth’ friend Jeremy Asher Lynch laid down on mixed media, including 16mm, Super 8 and HD formats, Featuring the radical styling’s of some of waveriding’s most exciting names including Messers Andrew Doheny, Ford Archbold, Kyle Kennelly, Alex Knost, and guest Dane Reynolds set against an awesome soundtrack.
Sunday November 3
The Heart & The Sea, Dir. Nathan Oldfield, AUS (3pm)
Filmed in Australia, New Zealand, France & Spain, and featuring Kassia Medaor, Alex Knost, Ryan Burch et al this is an enchanting film from a highly regarded filmmaker. This film explories the joy that lies at the very centre of a surfing life: family, friends & a shared intimacy with the sea.
Tierras Lejanas, Dir. Cristian Merello, CHILE (5.30pm)
Big waves, barrels, endless reeling points and mind-blowing surfing, this visual epic and journey of discovery will have you packing your bags for South America. Both a charming delight and a radical shred fest from distant lands grow big dreams.
Hangs Upon Nothing, Dir. Jeremy Rumas, USA (7pm)
Jeremy Rumas has produced an aesthetic masterpiece, lovingly captured on16mil. Six years in the making, this is a serene ode to Indonesia, channelling the pastel beauty of Morning of the Earth and mixing it with raw essence of Litmus – fusing together sublime surfing and an original score by Turbo Zenith Fire, this is a must see for our generation.
Innersection Black, Dir. Taylor Steele and Nathan Myers, USA (9pm)
Innersection is back bigger and better than ever with progressive surfers charging the globe from tropical paradises to frigid Canadian reefs. Includes Albee Layer, Pete Devries, Josh Mulcoy, Alex Chacon, Raph Bruhwiler, Noah Cohen, Kaikea Elias, Gilbert Brown, Carlos Munoz, Leif Engstrom, Brett Burcher, Nic Von Rupp and Asher Pacey.