"I loved it," says a semi-crusty, old lady with Coke-bottle glasses and dangly jewelry. She's a 50-something gypsy with a touch of Venice cool. "I don't surf," she continues, peering cross-eyed out her lenses, "I'm a stand-up comic by trade, but after seeing this movie, I guess I've been missing out."
The movie she's talking about is "The Ultimate Wave Tahiti," a 3D IMAX feature starring Kelly Slater. Somehow (unbeknownst to even her) the comic, along with a couple hundred intrigued, Gollywood-oriented humans, found their way into the California Science Center in Los Angeles's Exposition Park for the film's world premier.
I had the good fortune of pinning Mr. Slater down for a couple minutes prior to the premier. After a long, interview-filled day -- one that started with an 8:00 a.m. appearance on KROQ and didn't end until him and I sat down at 5:30 p.m. -- this is what the nine-time world champ had to say:You've done a few interviews today?
Yeah, just a couple. I guess we talk about the movie. How'd the idea for a 3D IMAX surf movie come about?
It's something that's been in the works for a couple years now. Stephen [Low], the director, had been down in Tahiti and spent some time with Raimana [Van Bastolear], and this idea about doing a film with Tahiti and Raimana taking center stage began to evolve. We did a couple of trips down there, and Raimana's like family and I love Tahiti, so it was a lot of fun. It's never been done with surf before, so there were some obviously some challenges. So, is this the IMAX surf film?
I hope so. I saw a cut of it awhile ago on a monitor, but I haven't seen the finished version yet. I'm excited to see how it all came out. But it's not just for surfers, this is a film that can be shown around the world to any audience. It also deals with some environmental subject matter, correct?
It's not so much an environmental message as it is more informational, more geographical. There's a lot of information explaining how waves are formed, and how things like reefs and tides have an effect on it.
I'm going on the ESPN rebel tour. [Laughs.] Sweet, I'll see you there.
Obviously I'm not going to be touring for another ten years, but a lot of issues were brought to the surface last year with the whole talk of another tour and, you know, a lot of the changes that needed to be brought to the ASP. There were a lot of supposed changes that were made, but when it comes down to it on the ground level, I don't think we're much nearer now to seeing a unified product, a real defined product coming from the webcast, from the media rights, and things like that. So you know, I still think we have a long way to go. Are the changes they've made positive?
A lot of people are under the impression that the tour's going to be real different this year, I don't think that's really going to be the case, to be honest with you. I do think we will see a better product, but we're not going to see one that's the same for every contest. There will be different filmers, a different crew webcasting, that kind of stuff. I think those are important things, and then what happens with the footage, the media rights from each event. I think the ASP or the governing body should be stockpiling their footage and owning it for the long term. Anyway, that's a concern of mine. I'd like to get all the surfers to unite on figuring out what the best way to do that is -- whether it's through the ASP or however it needs to be done. Outside of the tour, do you have any other things you'd like to achieve this year?
Nirvana. I'd like to surf empty, perfect, six- to eight-foot waves every single day. Lefts or rights?
Both, a peak, 30-second barrels each way. Perfect. Anything else you'd like to get up to?
Ummm, I'd like to record some music this year, which I've been wanting to do for a long time, but I think I'm actually going to get serious about it finally -- instead of recording bits here and there on my iPhone. I'd like to actually sit down at my computer and teach myself how to be an engineer. I think I'm also going to start another movie project this year, so I'll probably put a lot of energy into those things and go from there. Shaping more boards?
Yeah, shaping more boards, still trying to figure it all out. You ride the Chunnel yet?
No, I haven't even seen it yet. I mean I've seen the pictures online, but that's as much as I've seen. I talked to the guy who made it, and he kind of gave me his idea behind it. I don't know, it looks pretty cool. Maybe the thing will fly.