Thomas Campbell’s “The Present”

Last night my wife and I went to see the last tour showing for Thomas Campbell‘s new surf film The Present.  (Thanks for coming along, baby.) You’ll recognize Campbell by his other sweet surf movies “The Seedling” and “Sprout.”  (The Present is released through Woodshed Films who are responsible not only for Campbell’s films, but also other favorites like Brokedown Melody, September Sessions and Thicker than Water.)

The viewing was held at the newly opened Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  But it turned out to be a totally cushy, swanky affair.  It was $10 to get in (though I think hotel guest were allowed in for free).  The venue was an intimate little jobbie with squishy chairs, lounge cushions and gigantic pillows ready for any style of viewing comfort.  But that same $10 also included beer and popcorn.  And I’m talking Primo on tap served in a glass and your choice of gourmet popcorn in three different flavors – buttered, garlic truffle and tabasco lime.  So right off the bat, it almost didn’t matter how good the movie was – we were already in hog heaven.

But, no surprise really, The Present was a suberb surf film.  Even my wife, who doesn’t surf, was ooohing and aaaahing with everyone else.  (She loved it!) It was full of great locaitons, goofball characters, breath-taking surfing and unique to surf films – campy transition scenes.

Two things struck me in particular.  First, there was a break they surfed in the film somewhere in New Zealand that had lefts that went on forever.  Oh how I’d love to surf there.  (If you have any idea where that break is, please comment!).

Second, there is a sequence of surfing in west Africa.  On the second day of surfing, the waves became monsterous behemoths.  (How they paddled out is beyond me.)  But lordy, were those dudes hauling down the faces of those waves.  Super sonic speeds, I tell you.  You could feel the whole audience tense up, waiting for the worst.  (They never ate it, but if one had, that surfer would surely have skipped off the water a few times before sinking…I’m talking mad, crazy fast.)  That bit really blew me away.

The film also featured a nice section on the newly emerging phenomenon of alaia board surfing.   Alaia boards are flat, wooden boards with no fin.  Imagine riding a surfboard-sized skimboard out on the waves – that’s what it looks like.  Lots of slippy, slidy freedom, but a heck of a lot more balance.

Sorry I’m telling you about this since the tour is now over, but the DVD is out now.  So get the DVD, buy some Primo, make some popcorn and try and recreate this sweet experience for yourself – you won’t regret it.

Definitely add The Present to your surf video library through

Finally, here’s the trailer to get you stoked.


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