"The best surf movie since The Endless Summer." - Hugo Perez



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"a jewel-like, non-traditional film I’ll enjoy watching (or just listening to) again
and again."
— Scott Hulet

"this is contemporary surfing and surf-filmmaking at it’s freshest."
— Michael Solomon, Water Magazine

"...the genius of Halsband’s wordless documentary is its all-subsuming power, fully immersive and experiential, a post-modern meditation on the oceanic alchemy that takes place where board, imagination, athletics and ingenuity meet the sea."
Carlo McCormick, Paper Magazine

"[SURF MOVIE] is Halsband’s take on surfing, the way it really is—raw and spontaneous"
Devon Howard- Longboard Review


48 minutes of pure, uncut surfing at three legendary surf breaks around the Pacific Ocean. SURF MOVIE: reels 1-14 features everyday free surfing, giving surfers and non surfers alike the sensation of a surf session. There's nothing predictable about this film. The viewer discovers the images as spontaneously as the filmmaker experienced them. With an original music score composed and performed to the picture. color/b&w.

I made SURF MOVIE: reels 1-14 during my travels with world champion surfer Joel Tudor. As we toured various legendary surf spots in California, Hawaii & Australia, I was primarily photographing for a book project Joel & I are working on. However, when the moment felt right, I put down the still camera in favor of a super 8 movie camera.
I ended up with 14 reels of film that I then arranged into a rough chronological order. I showed the film to a few people as it was. Although I hadn’t edited it yet, viewers found the movie engaging and refreshing. This encouraged me to leave the film in its original form, unedited. I told a close friend, Guitarist/Producer, Richard Fortus, about the film and he expressed a serious interest in scoring the picture. After seeing it, Richard insisted on composing all of the music. Warren Kemp, and Prashant Bhargava designed & created the title sequences and the package design to be synchronous with the movie.
This movie is made up of fourteen reels of Super 8mm film, both black & white and color mixed. They have been spliced together in their entirety. The film is unedited (not a frame taken out or added). The music is composed and performed to the picture, creating a dialog that is extremely rare and refreshing. It is unlike music videos where the picture is made to the music, or in a motion picture where the music is used as a dramatic tool. As a result this film has a unique personality.
SURF MOVIE: reels 1-14 gives surfers and non-surfers alike the sensation of a surf session. This experience is created by the combination of picture and music. There is nothing predictable about this film. The viewer discovers the images as spontaneously as I experienced them. It is surf scenes and music combined to create the range of sensations of the surfing experience.

 

Credits


A Film By
MICHAEL HALSBAND


SURF MOVIE: Reels 1-14


Starring the Pacific Ocean


Featuring Special Guests


Windansea La Jolla, California
Joel Tudor
Beau Young
Wayne Lynch

Pipeline North Shore Haliewa, Hawaii
(w/a slight return to Windansea)
Kelly Slater
Rob Machado
Jack Johnson
Braden Dias
Tamayo Perry
Bruce Irons
Kai Garcia
Joel Tudor
Peterson Rosa
Mick Lowe


The Pass Byron Bay, Australia
Bob McTavish
Joel Tudor
Stephen Slater
Kassia Meador
Dane Peterson


Cameo Appearances by:
Jim Russi
Todd Saunders
Stu Kensen
Michiaki Ishida
Daize Shane
George Greenough


This film Is edited in camera all of the reels
are spliced together in there entirity.


End of Film Credits

Produced, Directed, and Filmed by:
Michael Halsband

Music By:
Richard Fortus

Camera Operator for one reel in Australia:
“Wingnut”

Title Track “Hitting The Ground” by Compound

Telecine – The Tape House, NYC

Titles Designed by
Alinear; Prashant Bhargava & Warren Kemp

Special Thanks to:
Donald Takayama & Joel Tudor
for their endless Aloha spirit & Stoke


Shot Entirely on Kodak Super 8mm film

©MICHAEL HALSBAND STUDIO, 2001


Reviewed in The Surfers Journal, Volume Eleven Number Three / Summer 2002
Scott Hulet
, Lo-Fi/Hi-Times

      It doesn’t come more no-tech than this film from New York rock’ n’ roll photographer Michael Halsband. Shot entirely with a cheap Super 8 camera and assembled by splicing the resultant 14 reels together, Surf Movie is garage to the hilt. The whole 48 minute feature was edited in-camera, with no shots added or removed in the post-production—every scrap of film is presented exactly as it was shot, burnt ends and all.
     If that sounds like a recipe for glaucoma, I’ll risk scaring away even more potential viewers by noting that Surf Movie —like a slew of other recent projects—focuses heavily on the surfing of Joel Tudor. No surprise there: the Thin White Duke attracts artistic video projects like Penelope Cruz draws midget Scientologists.
      Halsband, a highly-regarded New York art, fashion, and music specialist with a dopp kit full of references (Mick and Keith hired him to document the 1981 Stones tour), is also a local surfer at Georgica Beach on Long Island. You might know him for his ubiquitous portrait of Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat, his work in the permanent collection at MOMA, or endless photo credits in Interview and Rolling Stone. He’s been traveling with Joel the last couple of years firing photos for a book the two are working on (more on that in a future issue). During down time, he shot Super 8 of JT, Machado, Kelly and Steven Slater surfing Windansea, Pipe, and the Pass at Byron Bay...thus Surf Movie.
     The result is really quite remarkable. Footage that normally ends up on the cutting room floor—missed waves, long paddle-ins, kickouts, b-roll—is front-and-center here. The feeling of an entire surf session is conveyed, and there’s an honesty to that. In the constant quest for All Killer No Filler the baby is too often flushed with the bathwater.
Halsband was easily up to the challenge of the in-camera edit process; after all, there is no plot or narrative to forward here. The payoff is that Surf Movie does, in fact, tell stories. For example, we see Tudor trying out a round, stubby bonzer at small Pipe, and from his early wave fumblings straight through to some Warm Jet tube rides, we watch as he dials in to the boards’ eccentricities. The five-fin, while obviously soap-bar fast, seems to hang up at the end of cutbacks. As Joel adjusts to the new axe, subsequent waves find him gliding through the recovery phase of figure-eight carves like he’s on Pirelli rain tires. That’s something you just don’t get in the average cut-and-paste surf video. (Memo to self: Joel’s bete noire is the way he wipes his eyes with a dorky, stiff hand swipe every time he exits the tube; the only obvious chink in his stylistic armor.)
      The volume cranks up figuratively and literally when Halsband turns his lens to the 2000 Pipe Masters, with Backdoor double tubes, ass-dragging Slater-stalls, and free-fall blood-lettings finding themselves underscored by a spot-on, angular bit of guitar work. Indeed, the music in Surf Movie is worthy on its own. Custom scored by NYC soundsmith Richard Fortus with the goal of “...creating a dialog between music and picture,” the tracks beautifully interpret the visuals.
     All in all this is a jewel-like, non-traditional film I’ll enjoy watching (or just listening to) again and again.

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Mike Solomon, WATER magazine summer issue 7/02

SURF MOVIE: reels 1-14

Surf Movie a film by Michael Halsband, offers up an unusual blend of film genres.
It balances concepts and processes found in art films with surf film’s culture and aesthetic and in so doing creates a new experience for both surf and art film audiences alike.
For those oriented towards surf films: Halsband pushes the envelope in a number of ways. By linking the golden era of surf film-making with the contemporary, if iconoclastic explorations in surfing by Longboard Champion Joel Tudor. Halsband like Tudor, warps the time-space continuum. By working in the same format as early surf cinematographers through shooting on Super 8 Film with Century Lenses, Halsband elicits the archetypal mystical and heroic images of surfing found in the early surf films of 50s and 60s. His frames have all that romance– the sepia tones, the flicker of candied reds and oranges that wash over the warp and weave of footage of turquoise waves and the lonely dance of a silhouetted figure. All these elements bring you right back to the Halcyon days when surfing was still innocent, raw, spiritual and unincocorporated, but actually this is contemporary surfing and surf-filmmaking at it’s freshest.
Halsband jumps out of the box by splicing 14 unedited reels of Super 8 together to make Surf Movie. This procedure reflects his orientation as an artist- photographer and filmmaker and has its roots in the avant garde history of art films, in particular in the film making of Fredric Weisman and Andy Warhol. Used as a device in the genre of surf films it breaks the pattern of films that are over-edited to deliver only the money shots. Warhol was once interested in the surf culture but never produced anything significant from it. If Warhol had made an image of surfing it might very likely be close to one’s memory- after vision of Halsband’s Surf Movie.
Surfing’s activities have so much more to them than what is harvested for film production and Halsband’s film shows us this wider “cinema verite¢” spectrum. We certainly see great surfing and waves, but we also see paddling, swimming, loosing a board, checking the bottom of a board for dings, and all the other “mundan”e incidentals that are so much a part of the core experience of surfing. At Byron Bay we have the goings on in the shore break while surfers negotiate the waves beyond. We see hanging out, walking back to the take off spot up the beach and adjusting apparel. The get back-to-reality, the human quality of the film, is perhaps best illustrated by the sequence of Legendary Master Surfer Shaper Bob Mc Tavish who is well into his 60s, in long-legged contemporary boardshorts having a really nice ride and coming in to the flat wide beach where a little six year old surfer is trying to carry his board up the beach. As they walk down the beach , perhaps most interesting part of the surfing life, is encapsulated in the moment.
The original score by composer/ musician Richard Fortus further color’s the footage through sumptuous guitar and keyboard lines. In two instances where the reels fade out to white leader, the score uses a parallel sound effect, a roll- out and rewind, to break completely, the entire linear movement of the film. This is done only twice in the 48 minutes of the movie. It is thebreath, the inhaleand duck before the mesmerizing flow of variegated amber liquid footage engulfs you.
Halsband likes to demystify the situation by showing us the fringes, while at the same time respecting the excellence and accomplishment of Tudors’s surfing. Though unassuming in its tone, Surf Movie may be the Trojan Horse of surf videos. Its structure, aesthetic and view point are sure to penetrate a fairly one dimensional genre and help it grow up and out and it can and should . Surf Movie is two things; a strait ahead statement about the whole experience and the deconstruction of a genre.

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Carlo McCormick, Paper Magazine


With a twenty-five year career in photography that has brought him international renown in the worlds of popular music, fine art and fashion, Michael Halsband makes his feature film directorial debut in Surf Movie 1-14. More than a master lens-man, Halsband captures the essence of his subjects at those unique moments where verite authenticity meets iconic myth. Whether working with The Rolling Stones, AC/DC or Malcolm McLaren, Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat, The American Ballet Theater or sex industry workers, Halsband is the rare true collaborator capable of entering the inner sanctum of professional surfing and imaging its most sublime and sacred epiphanies in the pure visual language of the surf itself.
Harkening back to the pioneering golden age surf movies of yore, Halsband’s pictorial poetics is direct descendent of America’s lesser-known legacy of avant-garde experimental film-making. Shot in the low-tech obsolete format of black and white Super-8, Surf Movie 1-14 is entirely edited within the camera, as spontaneous and fluid as this ancient sport’s greatest contemporary practitioners. In striking contrast to the hyped up music video action tricks of current extreme marketers, Surf Movie offers the true moves in real time. Conceptually grounded in its structuralist formalism, the genius of Halsband’s wordless documentary is its all-subsuming power, fully immersive and experiential, a post-modern meditation on the oceanic alchemy that takes place where board, imagination, athletics and ingenuity meet the sea.

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Devon Howard- Longboard Review

For a few decades now, a surf film’s formula for success has been the same: Capture world-class surfers in perfect waves and light, then edit the raw footage to sync with a rocking soundtrack. However, Michael Halsband’s new release, Surf Movie: reels 1-14, essentially throws that concept under the tire and proceeds to drive over it.
Halsband is best known for the fashion and editorial still images he’s produced over the past 20-some years from his Manhattan, NY studio. His list of prestigious clients has included Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquîat, Peter Tosh, David Bowie, Hunter S. Thompson and John Grisham, to name just a few. Recently, however, Halsband’s friendship with ’98 World Longboard Champion Joel Tudor has helped expand the list to include familiar surfing faces like Donald Takayama, John Peck, Kelly Slater, Wayne Lynch, Jock Sutherland and many more. But more importantly, it’s Halsband’s own interests and impressions from surfing on Long Island that inspired him to assume this unique approach for producing a film.
Make no mistake, though, Surf Movie is not a “longboard film.” It probably doesn’t even fit into any known realm of the surf film genre. What it is, however, is Halsband’s take on surfing, the way it really is—raw and spontaneous—and the device he uses to express his view is spelled out in the opening credits: “This film is edited in camera. All of the reels are spliced together in their entirety.” Meaning, not a single frame is cut out of it.
While there is some longboarding in it, the majority of the action revolves around sessions of Tudor riding an assortment of board shapes, and includes the rides of friends he encounters at home and while on the road. The 14 reels of spliced Super 8mm film were compiled during some of Halsband’s travels with Tudor while the two were working on a book project together. The result: an unusual approach to visually relaying the surfing experience. For example, Halsband doesn’t edit out the real life happenings of a surf sessoin besides just the act of riding itself—like paddling, losing a board, retrieving it, paddling back out and chatting in the lineup. Equally unique is the score by musician Richard Fortus—ranging from mellow acoustic rhythms to modern rock techno sounds—that was customized for Surf Movie after the reels had already been spliced.
Because of Surf Movie’s unconventional nature, it will likely be written off by some as a failed art experiment. Some may even feel that the raw camera work, grainy film stock and “edited in camera” format hard to digest. However, if given the chance, viewers will find that Surf Movie is like a book that’s storyline seems unsure at first but then fully comes together toward the end. In this case, the scene of Bob McTavish encouraging a very young gremmie, poignantly sums up what Halsband is trying to say.
If you want to compare Surf Movie to other films, by its very nature, it won’t measure up to mainstream expectations, and should probably be avoided. However, if you are not afraid to think outside of the box, and want a fresh look at the surfing experience, Surf Movie is a must see.

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