Written by Fumo Verde
In 1987 I started a new hobby that would come to dominate my life and turn it into a style, a way of living that at the time was still considered to be on the outer fringes of society. It was my buddy Rick Taylor who introduced me to the world of surfing. Since then, I have taught many of my friends how to surf and have even learned to make boards. Through surfing I've learned more about our oceans and weather patterns than I could have possibly imagined, all the while dreaming about being a pro-surfer. This documentary pays tribute to those who made professional surfing a true sport.
As we all know surfing was born in the warm waters of the Hawaiian Island chain that the U.S. Government stole form the people of Hawaii. In doing so, Americans from the mainland caught the bug for the traditional water sport and took it back home. Amazingly it wasn't commercialized into the fads that came and went during the 1950s and 1960s, and if contests were held, the winner usually won a can of Spam or a six-pack of Coke. Even in the Mecca of surfing, Oahu's North Shore the surf contests were mainly for locals only and small prizes where awarded, if any.
Surfing started to catch on around the world, and places like South Africa and Australia began to accumulate small surfing communities out of which the men who would change the face of surfing forever. Like it or not, these are the men who were the forefathers of pro surfing and this documentary tells their story and how they tried and made surfing what it is today. Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, Shaun and Michael Tomsom, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, and Peter Towned came form different worlds but they all wanted the same thing: to be the best surfer in the world. To do that there was only one place to go, the proving ground to all of us who have ever paddled out on the foam stick, sat back on the tail, turned around, and charged it: the North Shore.
With incredible surf footage from those early years, injected with killer music form the time, director Jeremy Gosch was able to bring the stories of these men to life. Blending the action sequences of the '70s with live interviews of these men brought you back to the beginning when the thought of being a pro surfer was more of joke than a profession. Interviews with other surfing and Hawaiian legends are prominent in this film and give a good balance. What I remember reading about these guys back when I was learning to ride was they pissed off a lot of people, especially the local crowds. Watching this movie will make you understand why too.
That's why I wrote, "Like it or not." The way they surfed was different then what was going on at the time, a transformation was taking place. It was radical before radical was re-coined for the surfing culture. The deep barrel rides, the wide carving, and quick snaps here all brought to light via the Bronze Aussies and the South Africa crew.
It wasn't just in the water, but on land they took the idea of being a professional to heart. If they had a meeting with the media, they would show up on time, would always dress nice, and act accordingly. They were carving out a sport from an intense water recreation, one that takes over your life and changes who you are. Most people back then thought surfers were just drug addicts who could surf. Tomson, MR, Rabbit and the rest were out to prove that surfing could be come a pro sport just like golf or tennis or baseball. That money could be made and so could a living. Kelly Slater can vouch for this and he does. He thanks these men just as we all should. They had to show off, to hot dog it up, just to get some attention so they could get into the contests. This hot doggin' handed them the attention, and how they handled it comes out in this fantastic documentary.
If it wasn't for surfing I wouldn't be who I am, and if it weren't for these men, I may have never know what surfing could have been for me. If you are surfer and you watch this film, I think you will fully agree with Michael Tomson when, near the end of Bustin' Down the Door, he says it the best, "I will surf till I die!"
Bustin' Down the Door will open in New York, Los Angeles, Orange County, and other select cities on Friday, July 25.