If you want to become a surf filmmaker, 28-year-old Jessie Marley has this advice: "Good luck. You've gotta be friends with [the pro surfers]. A lot of them have that too-cool attitude. I met a lot of them when I rode for Volcom. I put in my time with all these fuckers."
And they heart each other: Ian Cairn and Jessie Marley
Marley -- who says "of course" he's related to Bob -- grew up surfing in Huntington Beach, California. That led to a short career as a pro snowboarder. With the paparazzi on the slopes, Marley got used to "bossing the photographers around." After tearing his ACL twice, he bought a Canon digital video camera and a Macintosh G5 and started filming his friends. No film school, no crew, no fancy editing equipment. "I just pressed the help button a million times" and figured out how to make a movie, he says.
Marley doesn't bother writing scripts or storyboarding his ideas. "I just leave the camera running. All my friends are so funny and out of control." When they return from a trip, he picks the best footage and splices it together. This Thursday, Marley's fourth surfing film, What's Next, premieres at Cinema Paradiso. It features six-time world champ Kelly Slater, current titleholder Andy Irons, and the territorial "Wolf Pack" surfers who intimidate invaders who try to paddle out on Kauai's North Shore. (Marley says that even he has been punched for surfing in the wrong place at the wrong time.) These guys have a right to be cocky, though, Marley says. "When you ride a 50-foot wave and go over the falls, it feels like you got hit by a car. I don't know how they keep going out there."
What's Nextwill be shown along with State of the S: Full Circle, by surfer/director Brian Taylor. It's a documentary about '60s legend George Greenough, who rode fiberglass kneeboards and rubber air mats, thereby paving the way for shortboards to dominate the '80s and beyond. Greenough is now a recluse who sports a surf mullet hairdo and refuses to wear shoes.
If Kelly Slater's not your BFF, don't toss your camera off the pier and cry just yet -- you've still got Ian Cairn. The former number-two surfer in the world and founder of the Association of Surfing Professionals (surfing's governing body, like Major League Baseball or the NBA), Cairn recently launched the Global Sports Project, a company that nurtures action sports filmmakers. Now 53, the native Australian sees himself as the "pragmatic" businessman who is helping upstarts, including Marley and Taylor, market their work. Cairn describes Marley as "a really creative cameraperson" who's "got this MTV video style. But as Jessie evolves, he's going to become more of a storyteller." Taylor, he says, is "more cerebral than you'd think male surfers are. Kind of a tortured artist." Although Cairn warns that "raw video is useless to me -- show me you have vision"-- he's just opened up his website, www.globalsportsproject.com, for submissions. "I imagine," he says, "some really interesting things are going to roll across my desk."