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July 30, 2014

Breaking Waves With Stephanie Gilmore

A Career-Spanning 16mm Documentary on Surfing’s Leading Lady

Surf enthusiast Ava Warbick was in Honolua, Hawaii, in 2007 when she first caught word of Stephanie Gilmore, the first ever rookie to win the Women’s World Championship. Gripped by Gilmore’s consummate skill and poise, the aspiring filmmaker looked to her father, Doug “Claw” Warbrick (founder of surf brand Rip Curl), for pointers, and gained unbridled access to the Australian for three years. The resulting documentary, Stephanie in the Water, released this month, sheds light on the pro surfer’s beginnings at the age of 21 through to her prolific rise to become a five-time world champion, and the pressure to stay at the top of the sport. “Stephanie is radiant and grounded and illustrates true poise,” says Warbick, who captured Gilmore’s elegant swan dive kick-outs in locations that included Micronesia and Puerto Rico. “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, the director completed her debut with an original score from Brooklyn-based producers Fall on Your Sword. Here, Gilmore shares her favorite warm-up music and Diana Vreeland’s timeless bikini advice. 

Who have been some of the women to inspire you over the years?
Stephanie Gilmore: [fellow pro surfers] Lisa Andersen 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 needing to get in the mood to paddle out, I listen to “Sunny" by Marvin Gaye.

One thing we'd 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 August 5 on iTunes.

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Gymnast: In Motion

Somersaulting Trampolinists Rise and Fall in Director Steve Harries' Reflective Short

The elegant movements and athletic prowess of five twirling trampolinists are captured in photographer Steve Harries’ new short film, ahead of this weekend’s trampolining World Cup Series event at China’s Taiyuan City. Inspired by German photographer Andreas Gursky, American minimalist Robert Morris’s Mirrored Cubes, and the typography and graphics of British vorticist magazine BLAST, Harries constructed a floating set to capture the multi-perspectival reflections of the bouncing athletes. Performing up to 7.5 meters in the air—shot from a tall camera tower beneath a rig suspending the set, mirrors and lights from the ceiling—professional gymnasts Nathan Bailey, Kat Driscoll, Bryony Page, Emma Smith and Steven Williams’s bodies were broken up into fragmented forms and motions by a bank of six mirrors. “It was always really important that these mirrors existed somewhere that was ambiguous, but also that you could see they were in a space,” explains Harries. “It was a set suspended. We could control the way in which the mirrors were angled to abstract the movement as the athletes passed through them.”

STATS FROM ON SET

Number of athletes
Five.

Height of camera tower
Five meters.

Height of mirrors
Six meters.

Height of the studio
Ten meters.

Distance from mirrors to camera
Twelve meters.

Distance from athlete to mirrors
4.5 meters.

Designers used
Adidas, Calvin Klein Collection, Raf Simons, Sunspel, Wolford, Y3.

Bespoke clothes made for the shoot
Six gymnast leggings, six gymnast shoes, and 12 sports vests designed by stylist John McCarty with patterns made by Fiona Ransom.

Hair products used
Five elastic bands, 25 hairpins, Bumble and Bumble wax.

Snacks
Celebrations.

Camera used
Arri Alexa.

Stills film
Kodak Portra.

Soundtrack on set
The trampolines.

Average number of bounces, per athlete per take
Fifteen.

See the magic behind the scenes at Steve Harries' gymnastic shoot in our Facebook-only video, here.

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Spotlight

Yung Chang: China Heavyweight

The Uplifting Stories of Rural China's Boxing Rings

Young pugilist He Zongli gets put through his paces in the gym and receives the wisdom of his coach Qi Moxiang at a training camp for the National Men's Boxing Championship in this extract from Yung Chang new feature documentary China Heavyweight. Working closely with a local crew, the Chinese-Canadian filmmaker traveled far into the Sichuan countryside to capture the daily routines of coach Qi and his teenage boxers. “The first time we met everyone I was struck by their philosophy of trying to change these rural countryside kids, to instil in them values that would help them in the future,” recalls Yung. “Coach Qi seemed to be almost a cliché of a boxing coach—someone who doesn’t make an income, but is so selfless and passionate for the idea of the sport that he’s dedicated his life to it.” Brought up by Chinese parents in Toronto’s rustic backwoods, the director saw movies as a way of escaping his upbringing, and of connecting with other people and their stories. Selected for the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, Yung’s first film Up The Yangtze told the poignant tale of a young girl taking a job on a Yangtze River cruise ship, set against the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Currently the filmmaker is finishing up a third feature documentary, Fruit Hunters, following the lives of obsessive collectors searching for rare and exotic fruits all around the world. “It’s a celebration of diversity in the face of monoculture,” he says.

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