[MetroActive Arts]

[ Arts Index | Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] Bums and Buddhas

A documentary look at the consumer culture of competitive surfing ends up with a soulful statement

By Rob Pratt

THE PACKET OF CLIPPINGS Marshall Hattori sends out to media to introduce his surf film, Imagine: Surfing as Sadhana, includes a few curious accounts of the dream project that cost the 34-year-old surfer his job, a cozy Santa Barbara condo and a $10,000 stock market investment. Because of who he enlisted as subjects for his film--Stephen Slater, younger brother of the sport's greatest icon, Kelly Slater; Veronica Kay, a familiar figure in surf press not only for her competitive surfing but also for her clothes modeling; and touring pro Christian Enns--surf magazines took notice of the production. Kay wrote a diary of the film's production for Wahine magazine as Hattori and his three surfers traveled the world on a familiar surf-film quest to find the perfect waves.

That's where things start to go wrong. Kay writes in her Wahine diary, which Hattori includes with his clippings, of a creeping ennui while surfing the best waves of her life, of not wanting to catch barrels at secret South Pacific breaks so the camera would get good footage. Soon, Hattori says during a phone interview from the Santa Barbara ranch where he now works as a hand, all of his surfers decided to head home, leaving the filmmaker--who had put his career and his life savings on the line--without a film.

"They all left the trip and wanted to go home, figuring that I wasn't going to make a film," he says. "But I kept traveling."

He made it to India--"with no money and no film," Hattori explains--and found inspiration to complete a film he didn't expect to make. It tells the story of a clash of cultures, he says, the culture of competitive surfing angling for media attention and an endless string of offshore barrels and onshore parties versus the culture of soul surfers who put aside career ambitions for the spiritual journey of a lifelong wave quest.

It's also a story that the film's subjects didn't want Hattori to tell.

"In Morocco, they all smoked hash and went surfing, and they surfed better than they surfed in their lives," he says. Of course, the three certainly didn't want the bit about hash smoking in the film. "But that's kind of what surfing's about. Surfers at this level live like they're bums--they don't really have jobs because sometimes they have to drop everything and go surf, and then they party at night. This movie has actually caused a lot of animosity in the industry for showing all of that."

Hattori, too, has had to deal with unflattering press over his film. Kay in Surfnews after returning from the aborted film trek tells that "the problem started because I wouldn't have sex with [Hattori]. According to everyone else concerned, that was the case" that things went so wrong. After the movie's October premiere in Santa Barbara, Kay filed a suit against Hattori to quash the film. But the two worked things out, Kay dropped the suit, and Hattori's now promoting screenings of the film at locations along the West Coast--when his income allows.

Imagine: Surfing as Sadhana shows at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St, Santa Cruz, Friday (April 14) at 7 and 9pm. Tickets are $8. 420.5260.

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

From the April 12-19, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate