Joe Surf: A cinematic ode to surfing's pioneers

May 02, 2012|By Joe Haakenson
  • A still from the movie, "Boardroom."
A still from the movie, "Boardroom." (Courtesy Ron Church )

There is no shortage of good films in the Action Sports series at the 2012 Newport Film Festival, which wraps up Thursday night, but there is one that is more than just a good film.

It's a history lesson.

The documentary "Boardroom," which will play at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at Triangle Square Cinemas in Costa Mesa, and its director, German native Markus Davids, wanted viewers to come away with a sense of appreciation for those who really kick-started the surfing industry as we know it today.

A press release for the film described it as thus:

"Before the growth of big corporations and surf culture, a handful of pioneers built wooden surfboards in their garages. Unknowingly, they would eventually come to develop a lifestyle popularized all over the world. This documentary is an exploration of the humble beginnings of surfboard manufacturing and how the passion of these creators has come to popularize the sport and lifestyle around the world."


Davids said it simply was about time that somebody paid homage to those original board shapers, and he features many of them in the film.

"The main reason I made the film was because I wanted to see a movie like that," Davids said. "I felt that there are so many surfing movies that are coming out and they're very, for a lack of a better term, soft porn.

"They're about the young kids, shredding their shortboards all over the world. And I felt very little was done to preserve the origins of the sport, especially in light of some of those shapers and pioneers passing away. I think it was way past due somebody made a movie like that."

So Davids did.

Davids left Germany in 1997 to go to film school at Cal State Long Beach. He was working at a local TV station in Long Beach, where he met Robert Bell and Robert Jax. Years went by and the three met up again at a trade show, when Davids mentioned he wanted to make a surfing film.

"I was telling them my idea of doing a surf movie and they both said, 'When?!'" Davids recalled. "Three years later, here we are."

The three formed a perfect trio for the project, as Bell is a longtime surfer who grew up and surfed in Palos Verdes and Hermosa Beach, and knew many of the board shapers featured in the movie. Jax is the post-production/editing guru, and Davids had the broader vision of the entire project.

Davids had his own ideas of where to take the film, but after meeting many of the board shapers themselves, he simply rode the wave and went where the shapers took him.

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