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Monday, January 9, 2012
Updated: January 16, 9:27 PM ET
'Jay' movie rolls at Maverick's


Anthony Tashnick, very much living it like Jay Moriarity.

It's 5:30 in the morning and the sub 40-degree temperature cuts through the crew like a sharp knife. Portable lights pierce through the morning fog as they illuminate a small base camp set up on the north end of Pillar Point Harbor in a parking lot used normally for boat trailers and crab pots.

Gathered around one of the tables in the center of the camp is the production crew handing out assignments, going over storyboards and shots needed to finish off the big-wave surfing production portion of the movie "Of Men and Mavericks," the story of Jay Moriarity. At another table gripping their coffee cups for warmth are some of big-wave surfing's elite water safety teams, including the Maverick's Rescue and Hawaiian Water Patrol teams. Water coordinators and rescuers are mapping out a plan to keep everybody safe for the next couple of days of shooting out in the giant surf.

In the background surfers are filing in as well, some fresh off the red-eye over from Maui where just a day before they were paddling into the 25-foot monsters. Meanwhile down on the boat ramp, it's starting to look more like the build up of a small-scale invasion instead of a movie set. Tons of assets are being readied for the assault on Maverick's. Second Unit Director Phillip Boston called in the big guns including computer controlled steady horizon camera mounts and helicopter rigs that dangle cameras from a chopper and can be dunked in the water; high-dollar gadgets for making movie magic out in the big surf.

"We knew the weather would be an issue, but we just couldn't walk away from this swell," stated Phillip Boston, Second Unit Director. "It had the potential of being something really special. And given the group of surfers and water safety teams we assembled we wanted to be ready for anything and everything ... I'm proud of this entire group and what they've accomplished these past couple of days."

Finally the launch command has been given and the crew heads out. Heading up the regatta is Rob Brown and his specially designed camera boat carrying a host of steady cams, wave spotters, surfers and boards. Other support vessels filled with movie extras, surfer doubles and boards stood by in the channel on the ready.

This is a big-budget production and producers weren't about to miss getting the money shot. Months and months of meticulous planning went into preparing for these next few days. Grant Washburn and Brock Little were in charge of making sure mayhem didn't break out once the six Jay Moriarity surf doubles, The five Rick "Frosty" Hesson doubles, and the ten or so other assorted surfers including water camera swimmers hit the drink.

The swell filled in slow on Thursday, which actually worked in their favor. Crews were able to work out all the bugs and get everybody into position. One thing they did anticipate and which came to fruition was opposition by The Marine Sanctuary in regards to the use of PWC's for safety purposes. The NOAA officer showed up and after some heavy posturing struck a compromise with the movie brass letting them use skis just for safety.

One thing they couldn't plan around was the weather. Mother Nature wasn't going to make this shoot easy, which meant having the skis in the water for safety was even more critical. Along with big waves, 20-knot onshore northwest winds, fog and choppy surface conditions were forecasted for the two-day shoot and made for bumpy rides on most of the waves, not to mention freezing conditions.

Greg Long dons a "face erasing" hood for special effects purposes.

Another huge part of the planning process was lining up the worlds best big wave riders and getting them all to show up on the big day to double as Jay and Frosty. Greg Long, Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Zach Wormhoudt, Dave Wassal, Peter Mel, Anthony Tashnick, Shawn "Barney" Barron were just some of the big-wave heavies hired for the task. They all had to be fitted with specially designed O'Neill wetsuits with face replacing technology built in to the hoods. Once they processed through make-up and were fitted into their suits, they waxed up their boards and then sat patiently in the support boats waiting for their queue to hit the water.

As the surfers finished with their setup shots (i.e. paddling over waves, paddling out to the lineup, etc.) they were free to go chase down some bombs. Their only instruction was no multiple Jays and Frostys on a wave.

Maverick's is notoriously hard on equipment. During both days of shooting boards were lost and broken. They anticipated this kind of abuse, so over a hundred surfboards were reproduced and airbrushed to look like the original boards ridden during the era the movie is filming around. Bob Pearson (Arrow Surfboards) who used to build Jay and Frosty's boards was tasked with building the massive movie quiver.

"I was building boards for every condition Mavericks would be throwing at these guys," said Bob Pearson. "I was calling South Africa, Australia and Hawaii getting specific board orders from each surfer. At last count we were at 168 boards for the movie with more orders coming in."

Friday morning would prove to be the bigger of both days. The buoys were popping and the crew hit the lineup early. Most of the setup shots were completed the day before, so Friday would be all about surfing. The conditions were much the same as Thursday. The winds filled in most of the day, but the swell was considerably larger than the day before.

The radios were cracking and cameras were rolling. Maverick's had that big scary, unsettled chocolate milk looking grossness to it. And there were 20-foot waves breaking out on the third reef. Jeff Clark and Mike Pricket were positioned inside in a small boat near the peak, cliff units were rolling, and the chopper hovered overhead.

The final command came across the radios, "This is all about the Jay shot!" So all the Jays hit the water including some of the Frostys now suited up. A few bombs were ridden, but it wasn't until Anthony Tashnick (a.k.a. Jay) paddled for a macking 20-foot plus set wave that things go heavy.

Tashnick put his head down, paddled hard and got to his feet. He had to navigate a ten-foot double-up at the top of the wave. It was massive wall of water stretching all the way to the north and into the next break, 20-foot Hawaiian. He launched over it, caught air, landed flat and proceeded to surf out of it. The channel erupted with cheers.

All of the planning, all of the late nights, all the hard work by an army of folks, all of the money -- in thirty seconds Anthony Tashnick made it all worth it. The radio cracked again, it's the director, in sheer elation, he yells, "That was f---ing beautiful!" And it was, Tazy nailed it. Just as Jay would have if he was still with us.

There's still a lot of shooting that will take place in other locations, so the actual release date hasn't been set for the movie. No doubt it will be cool to catch a glimpse of heavy Mav's on the silver screen.