Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch is the surfing world’s equivalent of the black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Seeing the wave pool for the first time is like seeing a UFO, ever: it just doesn’t quite make sense. A perfect wall of water rising from the desert browns of Lemoore, California…it takes a minute for the scene to compute.
Electric. Sustainable. Cinematic. Performance. “Surfing is a dance” mused seven-time World Surf League (WSL) Champion and future Olympian Stephanie Gilmore, as she entered the water of the Surf Ranch in the middle of the night. Exploring infinite possibilities of electric powered technology, Electric Wave is a surf project that celebrates the connection between performance, innovation, and sustainability
Stephanie Gilmore, Coco Ho and Leah Dawson
Director Daniel Askill, known for his post-postmodern aesthetic and award-winning collaborations with the likes of Sia, had never created a surf-film before. Nor had Stephanie Gilmore, the seven-time World Surf League Champion and veteran of traditional surf cinema, ever paddled such experimental waters. They enlisted renowned composer Aska Matsumiya to score the film and invited world-class surfers Coco Ho and Leah Dawson to join in on the shoot.
The unprecedented quality of this project manifested in both team and context. There’s never been a surf film shot at night at The Surf Ranch, and few-shot anywhere. On a practical level, one can’t surf at night in the ocean: not just from fear of the dark, but from the danger of the sharks who feed each evening. The Surf Ranch had never pushed its technology as hard as this film would demand.
Behind the scenes with Daniel Askill and crew.
“The choreography of the film required an intense level of awareness from the surfers, under stress…”
Most of all, however, the wave at The Surf Ranch offered a unique creative opportunity. Unlike waves in the ocean, this swell is predictable. For the first time ever, choreography on the wave was a possibility.
The vision of three females, collaborating on a next-generation synthetic wave, felt both next-generation and distinctly timely. Surfing is a sport that has long been viewed as masculine, somewhat stoic, and certainly solitary pursuit. It is one surfer and one wave, moving in a powerful union.
Electric Wave turns that perception on its head. It emphasizes collaboration, style, and grace overpower and aggression. The choreography of the film required an intense level of awareness from the surfers, under stress.
As we move into the future, these are the exact qualities we will need: awareness, sustainability, and collaboration. An openness to cooperation rather than competition, and a collective striving to work with rather than master nature.
Electric Wave manifests the qualities we, as humans, must embrace going forward. In a challenging time, this film offers us a high-voltage vision of a better tomorrow.