A Career-Spanning 16mm Documentary on Surfing’s Leading Lady
Filmmaker and surf enthusiast Ava Warbrick was in nearby Honolua, Hawaii, when she heard of Stephanie Gilmore's 2007 win of the Women’s World Title, the first ever to be seized by a rookie. Gripped by Gilmore’s consummate skill and poise, the aspiring director looked to her father, Claw Warbrick (founder of surf brand Ripcurl) for pointers and gained unbridled access to her subject for three years. The result, this month’s documentary Stephanie in the Water, sheds light on the pro surfer’s beginnings at the age of 21, her meteoric rise to become a five-time world champion, and the pressure to sustain it. “Stephanie is radiant and grounded and incredibly fearless,” says the director, who captured Gilmore’s elegant swan dive kick-outs in locations such as her native Australia, Micronesia, Puerto Rico and the US. “I was interested in what allows someone to perform and stay present at that elite level,” she adds. Collaborating with an all-female production team, Warbrick completed the 16mm-shot portrait with an original score by Brooklyn-based producers Fall On Your Sword. On the occasion of the documentary, Gilmore reveals her go-to warm-up music and indispensable style advice from Diana Vreeland.
Who have been some of the women to inspire you over the years?
Stephanie Gilmore: Lisa Anderson and Kelia Moniz, for they are beauty on a wave. I admire Maria Sharapova's ambition and what she has done for the athletic female image and equality in sport.
You ultimate surf music?
SG: Tame Impala is great surf music, Daft Punk just makes me want to party on the wave. And if I'm ever in need to get in the mood to paddle out, I listen to “Sunny" by Marvin Gaye.
One thing we would be surprised to know about you?
SG: My pre-heat warm up song is "100% Pure Love" by Crystal Waters.
Any secret talents?
SG: I will beat you in table tennis.
You've cited Rihanna as a style icon–what's the most glamorous surf get-up you own?
SG: As Diana Vreeland said: “The bikini is the most important thing since the Atom bomb." I guess my whole wardrobe is pretty glamorous.
Stephanie in the Water is available from August 5 on iTunes.
Todd Cole Hits the Ocean With the World Champion Surfer to the Sounds of Liars
Slicing her way through breaking waves, professional surfer Stephanie Gilmore stars in Trestles Forever, filmed on the Pacific Ocean by NOWNESS regular Todd Cole. The 24-year-old Gilmore rose to international prominence in 2007 when she seized the Women’s World Title for the first time, an award she has regained in four of the five years since. “I love working with people from outside the world of surfing,” says the New South Wales native. “It’s so refreshing to see their take on what we do every day.” SoCal-based Cole turned to the famously ocean-adept cinematographer Sonny Miller to swim after Gilmore with a 16mm camera locked into some custom-made underwater gear and loaded with black-and-white reversal stock. “I wanted to create something emotionally true and elemental,” explains the filmmaker. “Light, water, and a strong, talented, beautiful woman, all dancing around.” Overflowing with saltwater bubbles and chiaroscuro the film is set to “The Exact Color of Doubt”, a new track by LA band Liars from their latest album WIXIW. “I’ve had the pleasure of surfing with Devendra Banhart, Megapuss and Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Gregory Rogrove,” says singer Angus Andrew. “They’re real surfers—none of that poser Beach Boys crap!”
STATS FROM THE SET
The Trestles, San Diego County.
One day; a few hours in the morning, then off on a boat looking for clear pools of water, and then another hour of surfing at sunset.
Number of waves surfed
Number of surf choreographers used
One: Sonny Miller.
Two Arri 16mm film cameras in custom-made underwater housings.
Food consumed on set
Bagels and cream cheese, chips, guacamole and salsa.
Drink consumed on set
Water, coconut water and some tequila at the end of the day.
Approximate calories burned surfing
5’9 DHD (Darren Handley Designs).
Bikinis by Zero, Maria Cornejo and Cali Dreaming. Wetsuit by Quiksilver.
Animator Galen Pehrson Takes the Folk Star on a Psychotropic Trip Into the Dark Heart of Hollywood
Avant-folk singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart builds upon his stellar collection of video collaborations with a subversive and moody new piece from rising animator and director Galen Pehrson. Conceived in the tradition of Mondo—the 1960s sub-genre associated with exploitation, death and taboo—Mondo Taurobolium uses the eponymous track “Taurobolium” from Banhart’s latest album Mala as a backdrop. The experimental narrative takes dark and existential turns into the murky underbelly of Hollywood fame and finds the duck-like character Mondo at its center, reeling in a state of disillusionment following a wave of torrential success. Mondo’s counterpart is Gale, voiced by cult favorite Rose McGowan as the beaked female lead who accompanies him through back alleys and night crawls of Los Angeles. “I think it’s easier to trust an animal without scrutinizing its actions,” says Pehrson, who has collaborated with Banhart on the cover of his album Cripple Crow and the video to “I Feel Just Like a Child,” and has recently shot a series of enviable commissions from MOCA, Death Grips, James Franco and Talib Kweli. “I think it’s something we learn while watching cartoons when we’re young. There’s often a moral undertone to them—here, it’s same idea just with more mature and complex topics.”
Hand-drawn 2D animation is something of a dying art. What inspires you to stay the course?
Galen Pehrson: I enjoy drawing and making little worlds. The passion comes from the feeling of seeing a character come to life, or clouds blowing over a landscape. It’s not a passion reserved for animation but for sharing, creating and collaborating.
Is the process quite drawn out and isolating?
GP: I spend months alone. This piece took four months. I counted something like 2,140 hours. The one day I took off, I ran my car over a boulder.
What animation directors have inspired you lately?
GP: I recently discovered Sally Cruikshank—a cab driver turned me on to her work and my mind was blown. I feel like we might be kindred spirits.
What themes do you find yourself exploring over and over again?
GP: I think the biggest theme is nighttime. I work through the night, and there’s a different feeling in the air: a kind of stillness and clarity that I’m grasping at and trying to relay.