Steve Cooney was a longtime friend and inspiration to many a Ho’okipa ripper. He died in a car accident in the fall of 2004 at the age of 30, and today you don’t have to drive far on Maui’s North Shore to see “Cooney” stickers stuck on all sorts of vehicles. His style of surfing demanded attention and his friendly nature made him friends everywhere he went.
“After knowing and surfing with Steve for almost 20 years, from Honomanu to Honolua bay, I know I speak for many when I say he is definitely missed,” said local surfer and filmmaker Kaleo Roberson. “But his memory will continue to inspire people like he inspired me.”
In fact, Roberson was so inspired that he dedicated his new movie Ballin’ on a Budget to Cooney. The film also contains many shots of Cooney tearing it up all across the island, leaving an indelible mark on the surfing community.
Ballin’ on a Budget is the creation of Roberson and his photography team of Graham Cromitter, Dennis Early and Kaipo Porgatorio. It will premiere this weekend at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
The film features sick coverage of Jaws and Pipeline as well as some impressive footage all over Hawai’i, Indonesia, Tahiti and California. Basically, it packs in the excitement and thrills of surfing at its best.
When I asked what the best part of making this film was, Roberson said simply, “Living at the Volcom house on the North Shore five months out of the year.”
Also starring in this film are the talents of many surfers who have been entertaining us for years, as well as the up and coming professionals. Some of the featured surfers include Tom Dosland, Ian Walsh, the Irons brothers, Dusty Payne, Nalu Wallace, Granger Larsen, Shane Dorian and Kai Barger.
Many of the surfers featured in Ballin’ first appeared in the 2002 film Easily Amused, which Roberson also made. This is understandable considering the wealth of talent which graces the beaches of the north shore every winter and the proximity to Pipeline created a perfect environment for capturing these extreme moments.
Easily Amused was inspired by the untimely deaths of surfers like Eric Diaz and Justin Roberson—Kaleo’s brother. Justin’s budding career was ended abruptly by a car accident. That film is a loaded with footage from Maui, including Ma’alaea, Ho’okipa, Honolua Bay and all over Lahaina.
Roberson and his photographers are currently working on the next film. They’ve already shot some footage of the nationals in California. With winter approaching, every day holds the possibility of producing the next sick sequence or wave.
“Be persistent and never give up,” Roberson told me. “Do something everyday. This could be your last day to have fun!” MTW