Trying to nail down an interview time between big wave sets was tough for Maui boy Ian Walsh. He’s been surfing big waves every chance he could get for as long as he can remember. His career trajectory and competition schedule has been distinct from most pro surfers because of these huge swells, and their unpredictability. Somehow, he’s found the time to create a new kind of surf film, in a partnership with Red Bull. This Saturday, Nov. 26, Maui gets to see Distance Between Dreams at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.
“The concept for the film had been brewing in the back of my mind since 2011”, says Walsh. “I had started writing small storyboards down and conceptualizing what I would really like to work on. I was influenced by a few pivotal films. It’s really fun to see it all come to fruition years later. When it’s all happening, it’s happening so fast. Last year, there were so many impactful swells so the production level was moving at such an expedited rate. It’s been a really fun ride. To see it go from notes on a piece of paper six or seven years ago to what it is now, and to be able to share that with the world on Maui on Nov. 26, is incredible.”
In the film, you’ll follow Walsh and his brothers Luke, Shaun and D.K., along with World Champ John John Florence, Greg Long and Shane Dorian during the 2015 winter season where Hawaii saw back-to-back El Nino swells.
“Rather than make a typical surf film that only shows what big wave surfers do, we made a film that shows who these exceptional individuals are,” says Rob Bruce, the film’s director. “Very few people realize what guys like Ian and his brothers go through every day, not only physically, but also emotionally and personally to remain ready and at the top of their sport year-round. It’s a fascinating and crazy lifestyle that creates unique characters and inspiring camaraderie.”
One of the ways the film gives you an insight into what these athletes are thinking is by mic’ing them in the water. “You have real time audio,” says Walsh. “We captured the emotions of what the surfers are sharing between each other, before, during and after these waves. Talking to themselves before a 60-foot wall of water hits you in the impact zone. All of that is just so real.”
Put simply, this is not a typical surf film.
“Usually it’s, ‘OK, show a travel sequence, then queue the music, queue the surfing, queue the location, repeat,'” says Walsh. “Instead, this film shows a lot more of what goes into surfing–the ups and downs we face. Another big thing that’s different for me is that a lot of the times when you see a surf film or a snowboard film, you only see the best of the best shots that make the cut. In this film, we wanted to show some of the sessions in their entirety, to show some of the really horrific falls and a guy bouncing back. I wanted to show how a bad fall can alter the psychology of the entire session when waves are in the 60-foot range.”
The film is part of Red Bull’s Unrideables series.
“The Unrideables franchise is dedicated to athletes and visionaries, who are truly redefining what is possible in their sport,” said Scott Bradfield, Head of Production and Development for Red Bull Media House North America. “Ian’s winter last year represents sport progressing vision and effort at the highest level.”
The red carpet event starts at 5pm. Tickets are $10 and free for ages 12 and under. Showtimes will be 6pm and 8pm at the MACC’s Castle Theatre.
Read Dave Sweedler’s 1999 MauiTime Interview with Ian Walsh here
The film comes out across platforms (DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo, etc) on December 2, links to watch will be live at DistanceBetweenDreams.com.