In surfing movies, we get to see ourselves in action. We see ourselves searching for new surfing locations, riding endless waves, meeting new cultures, and embracing the lifestyle of surfing.
They all have a few things in common: a sense of liberation, dreamy blue and dreamy waves, surfing adventures and endless moments of fun. To put it another way, surfers like to watch things that they find visually appealing.
One of the earliest examples of surfing in a film was made by Thomas Edison. An American inventor photographed a dozen surfers in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1906, riding small offshore rollers.
However, that was just the start. Since then, the sport has grown in popularity in Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States, and surf culture has begun to take root.
Surf movies have their roots in California, for obvious reasons. For $50 in the early 1950s, many young surfers-artists were eager to experiment with a new medium.
When surfing became popular on the mainland United States, independent filmmakers decided to explore the connection between an outdoor lifestyle, nature, and the sense of freedom that surfing afforded.
Surf Movies: A Lucrative Niche
Surf film director Bud Browne was a pioneer. His first commercial film was “Hawaiian Surfing Movie,” released in 1953, while he was vacationing in Hawaii in the 1940s.
There were 500 people watching Browne’s first performance at John Adams Junior High School in Santa Monica (California) for 65 cents for 45 minutes.
His first feature film made an impression on audiences, but it also opened up a slew of new business opportunities for the film industry.
There was no time to waste. Hollywood explores the beach party concept six years after “Hawaiian Surfing Movie” with “Gidget.”.
The film was a huge financial success. By then, John Severson, Bruce Brown, and Greg Noll had already begun experimenting with the format, combining brief action sequences and interviews with upbeat and humorous sketches to great effect.
The decades of the 1960s and 1970s saw the emergence of new ideas, as well as new approaches to filmmaking. In addition to Walt Phillips and Paul Witzig, well-known non-surfers include Alby Falzon, Steve Soderberg and Jack McCoy.
With the addition of new technologies, contemporary viewpoints, and uncharted filming angles, Taylor Steele and Chris Malloy have recently continued to push the surf movie sub-genre even further.
Creative, originality, and inventiveness are required to produce a surf film that will be remembered, not just the best conditions and the best surfers.
The best way to get our salty veins pumping is to watch our favorite surf movie when the ocean is flat or when we need an additional shot of adrenaline to get us pumped up and moving again.
It was SurferToday’s job to put together a list of the greatest surfing films ever made. All of these elements, as well as the spirit of the surfers, are present in these films.
We’ve assembled the best surf movies for your viewing pleasure. The following list of surf movies is arranged chronologically by year of release:
1. The Endless Summer (1966)
It is widely considered to be one of the most significant surf films of all time.
Surfing partners Robert August and Mike Hynson set out on a world tour. They traveled to places including Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Senegal, Ghana, and South Africa. As directed by Bruce Brown.
2. The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun (1969)
many others, including Bob McTavish, Ted Spencer, Baddy Treloar, Chris Brock, Gary Keys and Russell Hughes have explored the hidden surf spots in both NSW and CA. The shortboard revolution is viewed from this essential point of view. George Greenough directed this film.
3. Morning of the Earth (1971)
One of the all-time great surf flicks. The film, which was shot in Australia, Bali, and Hawaii, explores the bond between surfers and the natural world. It’s an incredible soundtrack. Albert Falzon is the director.
4. Five Summer Stories (1972)
David Nuuhiwa, Eddie Aikau, Gerry Lopez, and Sam Hawk feature in this legendary classic A vibrant, action-packed surf film is the outcome of the high-end production. The Beach Boys and Honk are among the artists featured in the film’s soundtrack. Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray directed the film.
5. Crystal Voyage (1973)
A landmark film in the annals of surf cinema. With a weatherproof housing mounted to his back, George Greenough rides the barrel with the audience in tow. Pink Floyd is featured in the film’s soundtrack, which is a treat to hear. David Elfick is the director.
6. Big Wednesday (1978)
With the help of surf excursions, parties, marriage, and the Vietnam War, three childhood pals — Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, and Gary Busey — navigate the often-complicated world of adulthood. However, they are brought together by the “Great Swell of 1974.” John Milius is in charge of the camera work.
7. Beyond Blazing Boards (1985)
Kelly Slater adores this film and it’s easy to see why. Glen Winton, Mark Occhilupo, Kong Elkerton, Ronnie Burns, Simon Law, and Tom Curren are among the stars of this action flick, which was filmed in Bali, Australia, Mexico, and California. Chris Bystrom is the director of photography.
8. North Shore (1987)
To become a professional surfer is a lifelong ambition for Rick Kane. In order to follow his heart, he decides to fly from Arizona to the North Shore of Oahu. Shaun Tomson, Gerry Lopez, Laird Hamilton, Mark Occhilupo, Mark Foo, Derek Ho, and Ken Bradshaw are among the professional surfers featured in the film. William Phelps is the director.
9. Point Break (1991)
Surf’s Up is one of the most popular movies about surfing ever made. The FBI’s Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) follows up on a string of bank robberies that the surf gang headed by Bodhi has been suspected of committing (Patrick Swayze). Kathryn Bigelow is behind the camera.
10. The Green Iguana (1992)
Mark Occhilupo, Peter King, Sunny Garcia, Munga Barry, and Luke Egan led a stunning visual experience. Documentary on today’s top surf breaks across the world; a love letter to the sport. Jack McCoy is the director.
11. The Endless Summer II (1994)
Pat O’Connell and Robert “Wingnut” Weaver return to the places where Mike Hynson and Robert August were happy in the 1960s for a clever sequel to the original. I can’t get enough of these witty moments! As directed by Bruce Brown.
12. Occy: The Occumentary (1998)
In a high-octane surf flick, an Australian surfing icon receives the due credit he so richly deserves. The comeback of Mark Occhilupo, the 1999 world surfing champion, inspired a generation of surfers around the world. Jack McCoy is the director.
13. The Seedling (1999)
The film is a tribute to longboard wave riding, shot entirely in 16mm. Many of today’s most talented longboarders, including Kassia Meador and Dane Peterson, as well as Skip Frye and Donald Takarayama as special guest riders, prove that longboarding is not a dying art form. Thomas Campbell is in charge of the camera.
14. Thicker Than Water (2000)
In search of the world’s top waves for 18 months, Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Brad Gerlach, Shane Dorian, and others. Each shot is a visual treat, and the film as a whole captures the elements in a new light. Jack Johnson, Emmett Malloy, and Chris Malloy were the three directors.
15. Momentum: Under The Influence (2001)
New tricks and moves are igniting exotic spots for a new generation of surfers. Included in the cast are CJ Hobgood and Dan Malloy as well as Mick Fanning and Bruce Irons as well as Taj Burrow and Damien Hobgood. Matt Beauchesne directed the film.
16. The September Sessions (2002)
It’s a free surfing vacation for Kelly Slater and his mates on the beaches of Sumatra. In the Mentawais, they’re met by perfect waves. It also features bodysurfing and river surfing, which are both included in the film. Jack Johnson directed this film.
17. Billabong Odyssey (2003)
The film’s opening sequence, in which Mike Parsons braves a massive wave at Jaws, Maui, is recognized the world over. In addition to Brad Gerlach, Flea Virostko, Barney Barron, and Layne Beachley, the film’s other stars include Flea Virostko and Barney Barron. Philip Boston was in charge of the film’s direction.
18. Singlefin: Yellow (2003)
One of the best films ever made about the sport of surfing. Longboarding is Tyler Hatzikian’s passion project, and he forms a single fin, yellow longboard that he shares with friends all around the world for free. Australia, Japan, California, and Hawaii are among the many destinations visited by the board of directors during their tenure. Jason Baffa directed the film.
19. Step Into Liquid (2003)
An ambitious $2.5 million surf film from “The Endless Summer’s” Bruce Brown’s son is making waves in the industry. Pipeline, Cortes Bank, and Vietnam were all used as locations for the hit. Some of the documentary’s stars are Taj Burrow, Layne Beachley, and Laird Hamilton. Dana Brown is the director.
20. Blue Horizon (2004)
Australian free surfer Dave Rastovich was made famous by this film, which established Andy Irons as one of the greatest surfers of all time. Angles and blue barrels abound in this one. Jack McCoy is the director.