Interview With Dan Moore Producer Of ‘The Essence Of Surfing’

The public image of surfing and surfers has come a long way since the days of Spicoli, Point Break and the stereotypes that preceded them. Not that surfing was ever as cheesy and outlandish as those films, but the sport and culture has evolved in a variety of interesting, incredible and amazing ways over time. At the meaty core of it all, the joy of being in the ocean and riding waves is still the glue that binds this subculture together. It’s this foundation that The Essence Of Surfing, a documentary premiering this Friday at the La Costa Film Festival, is exploring. Produced by surfers for the world, it’s a candid look into the hearts and minds of the sports kinfolk – and a mesmerizing visual journey that takes viewers to some of the most sacred places in the ocean.

This week we caught up with the film’s producer Dan Moore, an award winning Big Wave Surfer himself, to talk about what viewers can expect.

Blue Book: What made you decide to make this film?

Dan Moore: A lot of other surf films have a variety of different surf stories, but we’ve never seen one that tried to address the heart and soul of what it feels like to be a surfer. The movie is made for a wide audience, not just surfers; we’re hoping the message, spirit, scenery and emotion will explain what it feels like to be a surfer to the layman who has maybe never even been to the beach.

It’s hard thing to explain, but the feeling of paddling out, that freshness in the water and then riding waves is a unique thing we’ve tried to bring to the audience.

Blue Book: You’ve pulled together an incredible collection of surfers for the film, from World Champs to renowned internationally renowned Big Wave surfers, long boarders, paddle boarders et al. How long did it take to gather all this great footage?

Dan Moore: We have a production company and a television show we produce monthly (called Soul Surfers Live), which showcases one on one interviews with legendary surfers. So over the course of the last four years, we’ve compiled a long list of interviews, baring in mind that we will use a portion of them for the movie.

Blue Book: Surfing is such a sensory, instinctual thing to do. Was it difficult for everyone in the film to put their thoughts and feelings into words?

Dan Moore: It’s funny, because surfers aren’t really known for their ability to express themselves. You get a surfer in the room and ask them what they think of the sport and they’ll say, ‘it’s awesome.’ and that’s about it.

But our director, Philip Waller, pries and pries and digs it out of them. It basically boiled down to making people people feel really relaxed and comfortable, like there’s no cameras rolling – pretty much an easy going conversation with the boys.

Blue Book: Did you feel like you learned something through this process, in making and delivering this film to the world?

Dan Moore: Absolutely. A lot of these people I’ve known, maybe not very closely but as acquaintances, but after that interview you really feel like you’ve gotten to known something them on a deeper level. You come away from that interview with a whole different perspective about them, usually very positive light. It just somehow enlightens me as a producer and Phil, letting us walk away with something really special about these figures in our sport, talking about surfer, which we can communicate with the world.

[pullquote]If you can influence even one person in a positive way, the movie is a success.[/pullquote]
Blue Book: For people who aren’t familiar with surfing going to see the film, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?

Dan Moore: In a perfect world, the people who watch this film and don’t surf will develop a new appreciation and hopefully a curiosity for surfing. Especially people who have never even considered it or don’t go to the beach often, even people who live inland – we hope they’ll be able to explore a whole new world they’d never considered.

If you can influence even one person in a positive way, the movie is a success. We want to put a smile on peoples’ faces and teach them things about surfing.

Catch The Essence Of Surfing on Friday Sept 19th as part of the La Costa Film Festival. For ticket information click here or on iTunes starting October 2, 2014. View trailer here. Watch for our review of the movie coming soon!


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Clayton Truscott
Clayton Truscott is a surf, travel and fiction writer from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, who now resides in San Diego. His work has appeared in the Surfer's Journal, New Contrast Literary Journal, Zigzag, Fluir, Surf Session, Wavelength, The Big Issue and others.

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