Words by Leah Dawson
We arrived straight into swell, my dream was coming true right before my eyes. On our way to the waves, I said to the crew, “Let’s make the surf film we always dreamed we could watch when we were growing up and learning to surf—a film that allows viewers to watch over, and over, studying the surfing to learn ways to move up and down the board.”
“No pressure,” Jack Coleman said happily.
The story of “Inner Wild” begins in Malibu, one day that the waves were firing. It was some of the best First Point I had ever seen. As I skimmed the beach for a board to borrow, I ran into an old friend, and someone who I’ve always dreamed of working with, filmmaker Jack Coleman.
Jack is unique. He understands elements of surf filmography that clearly show his studious knowledge of the great flicks made through the ‘60s and ‘70s—films full of soul that invite you to ride along with the waves on the screen. Jack’s focus on utilizing film and long lenses for many years has propelled him into a category of his own.
Filmmaker Jack Coleman
I came in from surfing the Bu after the sun had gone down, riding the biggest wave I’ve ever caught there that stretched from the very outside all the way to the beach. Beaming, Jack said he captured the wave on camera. “Let’s do more,” we agreed. “Let’s go on a trip and make a film.” I truly was speaking a dream out loud, praying it would come true.
A couple of weeks later, I pulled up the surf forecast for Mexico. There it was: a fun-sized swell with good winds. Within hours we had a trip planned and booked with Jack and a handful of Seea Babes.
With his abilities, and the skill of Makala Smith, Karina Rozunk, Mele Saili, and Sarah Brady, I knew all we had to do was ride waves, and Jack’s magic would reveal the dream come true.
When I was growing up, I didn’t have access to women’s surf films. Gidget was all I ever saw of women’s longboarding until Thomas Campbell’s movies came out and Kassia forged a new way forward for women. I wanted a surf film that wasn’t short clips of waves, but one that really allowed me to soak in and study movements and technique. With the talented group of women we had brought together for the project, I had a giddy feeling the entire trip because I knew it was that dream in the making.
We all sat at a taco shop after our first evening surf into pitch dark. “What’s the story?” I asked the group. We all brainstormed that it would be cool to subtly express our inner connectivity to the ocean. By the end of the discussion, two words together stuck with all of us, “Inner Wild.” YES, that’s it.
The days flew by under the bright sun. The waves seemed to just get better and better as the day went on, so we surfed until pitch dark every day, opening the possibility for Jack to utilize a slow-shutter filming technique. Surfing in the dark dusk heightens other senses, relying on muscle memory and intuition to determine the line to take on the wave. As the moon would grow brighter, the wind would settle, and the sounds would only get louder when the sets would come. Otherwise, a soundtrack of evening birds and sea-floor rocks rolling offered a meditation space as we stared out to the darkening horizon.
Each night, we would all gather around the dinner table and watch the videos that Jack took that day. We knew we had gold when all of us would stand for an hour each night watching everyone’s waves. Other friends would stop by, and by our last evening there, we had 15 people glued to the screen. Oohs, Ahhs, and laughter abound.
Following the trip, I recorded a piece I wrote about this "Inner Wild" coming alive inside of us when we are in the sea. Jack performed his editorial magic on the edit, bringing the vibe alive with the music score and tempo of the film. We initially planned to make a short film, but with hours of amazing footage, it was clear that a 20-minute film would give an opportunity to let the footage breathe and whole waves to be shown. Jack and I shared the same vision, a simple story with lots of surfing.
I remember my jaw dropping the first time I watched Jack’s rough cut, which turned out to be the final cut because it was perfect from the start. My inner child’s dream came true, and now we get to share it with you!
Join the Live Online Premiere of "Inner Wild" with us on
Sunday, August 18th at 6PM PST!