Surfing films have been a popular niche documentary genre since the days of director Bruce Brown’s 1960s road trip surfer classic The Endless Summer whetted filmgoers appetites and stimulated their imaginations with the glistening bodies, shimmering seas, and sandy beaches of the then burgeoning surfer culture. Something all of these films have had in common is that, just as the sport of surfing itself has evolved over the years to become more death defying, more thrill seeking, so has the filmmaking to capture it. They have been slowly pushing closer to the edge of what’s possible – larger waves, farther out from civilization, cameras right in the tunnel with surfers.
With Storm Surfers 3D, not only do we get the cutting edge of 3D technology, but we also get two subjects in best friends and Aussie surfing legends Ross Clarke-Jones and two-time World Champion Tom Carroll. The pair have been at the extreme of their sport for decades. Both of them rapidly closing in on fifty at the time of this documentary (Caroll turning fifty and and Clarke-Jones forty-five), they haven’t slowed down much from pushing the sport to its most dangerous limits.
The documentary, similar to The Endless Summer, follows these two friends, the outgoing and still nearly stark-raving mad daredevil Ross Clarke-Jones and the somewhat more subdued family man with three young daughters, Ross Carroll, as they travel throughout the Southern Hemisphere’s winter surfing season looking for the big waves, often in the middle of nowhere, that have made them surfing legends among the younger generation. This big wave or “tow-surfing”, as it is called, is a spectacular feat to witness, requiring the coordination of the team’s personal meteorologist, (and often the inclusion of helicopters and fishing boats) and jet skis to tow them onto the waves.