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"Endless Summer," "Morning of the Earth," "Momentum," "Modern Collective," a smattering of the most influential surf movies of all time. All were produced on a relatively grassroots level, all with limited budget and resources to pull from. Hell, the only reason "Endless Summer" became what it turned into was because Bruce Brown figured out it was cheaper to buy around-the-world tickets than it was to visit each destination separately. Ah, and something else they all have in common, not one of the aforementioned features a legit female performing in them.
For pretty much ever women's surfing has been relegated to second-class citizen status in the Kingdom of Stoke. No question there have been exceptions. Jericho Poppler, Margo Oberg, Lisa Andersen and Layne Beachley all come to mind, but across the board, women's surfing plays a sorry second fiddle. One need look no further than the ASP World Tour to see the discrepancy. Wave quality, prize money, the number of events, none of those telling factors even come close to measuring up to what the men get. In other words, we love to see bikinis, just so long as they stay on the beach.
But enter Nike 6.0's soon-to-be-released surf film, "Leave A Message." By the time the spray settles it could turn out to be the most influential surf movie in the history of women's surfing, and quite possibly shatter the gender barrier in the process. Staring Carissa Moore, who at this point in the 2011 ASP season is looking like a shoe in for her first world title, as well as Coco Ho, Laura Enever, Monyca Byrne-Wickey, Malia Manuel and Lakey Peterson, it's what you might call and ensemble cast.
"I think it's really important to show the surf world that girls can rip, especially in the generation I'm growing up in," tells Moore. "Every one of the girls in this film pushed it so hard, and surfs so well, I'm really excited to see how people react."
"We looked at everything else that's been done in surf movie making, and we thought there was a really good opportunity to do something that hadn't been done," tells Jason Kenworthy, the film's director and occasional contributor to this site. "I made Andy Irons' first movie ["Raw Irons"], and that kind of introduced him to the world. I thought we could do the same with these girls. They rip, and I think people will see how good they are and where the sport's headed when this is done."
And as revolutionary as the surfing, the fact that Nike, the world's largest sportswear manufacturer, got fully behind the project speaks volumes about where women's surfing is going. Surf moviemakers have always had to scrape their projects together. A little sponsorship money from the brands here, a maxed out credit card there, but all told, you don't make surf movies to get rich, you make them because it affords a certain lifestyle. And then there are all the films that the big surf industry players produce, but only a few have any traction from one season to the next (think Kelly Slater/Black and White or Searching For Tom Curren). But "Leave A Message" was produced with purpose from Day 1, and should be around for years to come.
"The inspiration was really the level of surfing that Jason and the crew were seeing while on some photo trips," adds Nike 6.0's Zach Boon, who helped produce the film. "It was that recognition, and the void of representation for performance girls surfing that drove us to the decision to get fully behind this project. We want to give the surf world the chance to see these new bacth of girls bring the sport to a new level. We also want this movie to be something that will inspire future generations of girls."
"Leave A Message" premieres in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 19. You can get a sneak peak of the film online on Nike 6.0's Facebook page on premiere night, or wait for it to be available for download come May 24.
"The reaction that the sport and industry has had is something that makes me feel really proud to be a part of," adds Boon. "We have also had a ton of great responses from people who don't even surf. I distinctly remember one Facebook comment from a person who doesn't admit to be a surfer. She said that watching the teaser was her motivator over the weekend and she watched it three times before going to the gym and for a run. I think that this movie is going to inspire a lot of people."