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Surfing Catches a Wave

Aired August 8, 2003 - 19:49   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: "Hawaii Five-O" might have been a cop show, but it was shot almost entirely on location in Hawaii and there was something alluring about that giant curling wave. And I believe it was the Beach Boys who once said, "Let's go surfing now/Everybody's learning now/Come on, let's safari with me."
But surfing hasn't always been such a swinging safari. Oh, no my friends.

Take a look.


COOPER: If you want to know why surfing movies have something of a bad rap, blame it on "Gidget."


COOPER: First, it was Sandra De mooning over Moon Doggy. Then, Sally Field. Not until the 1966 documentary "Endless Summer" did surfing start to get cinematic respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids want to learn how to ride a real surf board so Mike and Robert organized little a surfing school. The biggest problem in the school is selecting one student. They all want to be the student and you can only teach one at a time so you just looked around and tried to find a kid with a pair of trunks, teach him first.

COOPER: The surfers were real and so were the waves.

Since then, there have been endless imitators with big waves and threadbare plots. Remember "Point break"? probably not. Last summer, it was "Blue Crush."

Surfing is now not just about big waves, but big business. Magazines and clothing, TV shows and tournaments.

"Step into the Liquid," which opens today, is likely to bring in a new audience into a sport which has already ridden a very big wave.


COOPER: And joining us now from Los Angeles is the director of "Step Into The Liquid," Dana Brown.

Dana, thanks for being with us.

I've seen some of the images. Haven't seen the whole film. Just unbelievable images of surfing. How do you get some of the pictures that we're about to show?

DANA BROWN, DIRECTOR, "STEP INTO THE LIQUID": Just hard work. Trial and error, a lot of it. And hiring the right people so it's...

COOPER: But I mean, it looks risky. I mean, you have people up close to these waves. It's just -- it's extraordinary..

BROWN: There's a little bit of danger for those guys. I'm the director, so I get to actually stay on the cliff a lot of times and I put those guys out there.

COOPER: Some of the stuff was shot from a jet ski, from helicopters.

BROWN: Yes. We shot from jet skis, helicopters. We had people in the water. We shot off the back of boats. About anything that would float you or get you a little different angle, a little different perspective for the audience is what we were aiming for.

COOPER: And, I mean, the little -- it's not just a little different angle. I mean, the angles are just amazing. There was also a whole -- I mean, a lot of surfing stuff I really didn't know much about. There's this whole sort of new ways to surf. There's tow-in surfing, which I guess is a couple years old now. But describe what that is.

BROWN: Tow-in surfing is -- by using a jet ski they are towed in understood a wave, much like you'd tow somebody on water skiing but they go going fast enough they are able to catch waves that you would not be able to paddle into because they're too big. So it gives them a chance to surf yet even bigger waves than you could possibly paddle into.

COOPER: It was your dad who directed "Endless Summer" back in 1966 when it was released. I know you worked on it as well. There also "Endless Summer 2." I mean, has surfing gotten better? I mean, has -- are the waves bigger? Are the surfers better than they were back then?

BROWN: Well, I think the surfers are probably better because the equipment's better and you learn from people that go before, like in any sport or any activity.

I doubt if the waves are bigger. That would be up to Mother Nature. You know, that comes and goes.

COOPER: I'm glad you pointed out my idiotic question.

We were actually just looking at video from "Endless Summer." I mean, has surfing been in your blood all -- your entire life?

BROWN: Yes. It was -- I don't remember learning how to surf. It was what our family did. My kids surf, so it's -- it would be like other families playing Little League or something. We surfed, you know?

COOPER: It was a couple years ago actually that I saw "Endless Summer" for the first time and there's sort of a real sweetness to it. I mean, it's this documentary that follows these two guys around the world. It's got this great sort of narration, very kind of lackadaisical almost. Has surfing change -- I mean, has it become too commercialized? has it become too successful?

BROWN: Well, it is a -- it's a billion dollar industry, but most of that is the fashion part of it, the clothes. So it's a kind of a strange marriage between an industry that's very temperamental and all about change and surfing itself is like 2,000 years old and very much not -- doesn't change much. The reason people surf is for fun.

COOPER: And in the film you revisit some of the surfers from "Endless Summer." And, I mean, these guys just keep on surfing.

BROWN: Yes. Yes. They do, because it's not like playing football or baseball. There's no real cut -- as long as you're having fun, you can go surfing. So they enjoy it.

COOPER: When was the last time you went surfing?



BROWN: About a week ago for a TV crew because I'm promoting this thing. So hopefully, I will get to do more in the near future.

COOPER: It opens -- does it open nationwide or is it just L.A., New York right now?

BROWN: L.A., New York and Hawaii this week and then it rolls out all the way through August. I think we end up in, like, 40 states by the end of this month.

COOPER: It's been getting just amazing reviews and again, the pictures are extraordinary. Appreciate you coming in to talk about it. Dana Brown, thanks very much.

BROWN: Thank you very much.

COOPER: All right. Good luck to you.


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