- Text by Shelley Jones
When Cornish surfer Oli Adams stumbled upon a mysterious picture of a heavy barrelling wave on a remote British island, he was instantly hooked. Where was this unknown wave? Why was it unsurfed?
Full of questions, Oli was propelled on an epic eight-year adventure that cut to the heart of what it means to be a British surfer and intrepid waterman, hell-bent on discovering that perfect break.
The film premiered at the London Surf Film Festival this weekend, so we caught up with Oli to find out more.
Where did you stumble across the pic that inspired this eight-year odyssey and what was it about that image that captured your imagination?
I came across it on a surf website. I saw it and it was immediately exactly the kind of wave that inspires me the most, which are really, really heavy barrels. This wave just looked perfect, but extremely heavy. Right up my street. The journey it led me on, the adventure and hunt for this wave spotted on the internet, surpassed anything I could have anticipated.
What’s your experience with filmmaking previously?
I have no filmmaking experience, I’ve made a few edits before, I’ve been making my own edits for the last year or so.
The UK isn’t the number one destination for surf footage. Did you want to present the country in a new light?
I want to show that we have got world-class waves in the UK. It may be not as consistent as some of the more well-known places around the world, but on its day, when the conditions come together, we’ve got as good waves as anywhere else in the world so it would be amazing for everyone else to see that and realise that there are world-class breaks on our doorstep. The journey to them may be more complex and rocky, but the reward at the end makes everything more special.
How would you describe the UK surf scene?
The UK scene is really small but incredibly friendly, as you would expect from most good British scenes. There isn’t aggression like in some countries, yeah there are some areas where the locals are protective, but that’s because the waves are so good.
Were there any major inspirations behind the doc (other films/trips etc)?
I was so motivated to find that wave, THE wave, that the film kind of came after that. It was only an idea this year, I realised I could make a film out of it, that it would be cool to document the last eight years, the highs and lows and the voyage of discovery, what I went through to find the wave.
What are the major things you have learnt from making the film?
I would do everything differently! I would shoot everything with a plan before and with a consistent frame rate through all the footage. I guess the main thing would be to know your equipment and have a plan before you start filming.
How do you hope the film will have an impact?
I really, truly hope that people will love the story. It’s definitely a really different account of surfing, and I won’t know how it’s received or its impact until people see it. It took me off the beaten track and I think I have captured that in the reel.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I’ve just acquired a Red Epic camera so I will be using that to make higher quality surf films. But for now, I’ll move away from filming and just start surfing again for a while! I think maybe in the future I’ll do some more projects myself, but for now I just want get in the water, and go surf.