In 1971, Australian filmmaker and surfer Alby Falzon made one of the most influential and culturally important surf films of all time, Morning of the Earth. Now, from revered underground surf renaissance man Andrew Kidman, comes Spirit of Akasha, a cinematic and musically brilliant celebration of that seminal film made possible by some of the biggest and brightest and most creative stars in the surfing universe.
How did this project come to be?
Tony Harlow from Warner Music Australia approached Alby Falzon and asked him if he would be interested in making a modern version of Morning of the Earth, Alby didn’t want to do it and asked me if I wanted to have a think about it. At first I didn’t think it was possible, but as I worked through the process I realized how much I wanted to pay homage to the original film and soundtrack and how special this could be once we opened it up to all the artists and surfers that ultimately became involved. It was quite incredible what transpired.
What did Morning of the Earth mean to you?
It meant everything really. The lyrics of the songs and the time capsule that it is, it had a profound influence on my life. I was dubious to undertake making Akasha, but when I realized that everyone I spoke to about it felt the same way I did and just wanted to give back to the original project with their best work it became a joy. As each song was submitted for the soundtrack this became apparent. This was the most exciting part of the project, hearing the songs.
What is “akasha” and explain it’s significance in the context of the film?
It’s written that Akasha is where all life began. So it makes sense as the original film was called Morning of the Earth, Alby wanted to call it Spirit of Akasha, so we did.
Describe the role that music plays in the movie.
The music is everything. It drove the narrative ofMorning of the Earth and it drives the narrative of Akasha. It’s a remarkable collection of work.
What surprised you most while working on Spirit?
Just how honored everyone was to work on the new film. I think Mick Fanning said it best when I asked him if he was interested in being involved. “I’d be honored,” he replied. I thought that was really nice.
How does the phrase “retro surfing” or “retro surfboard” make you feel?
It doesn’t make me feel anything. The boards I ride and make are modern versions of what was. The boards that Dave Parmeneter and Simon Jones made for Stephanie and Mick were modern single fins, the rockers are better, the foils and fins are more refined, the channels make a single fin hold like a multi fin. They are modern boards. I think Stephanie’s surfing in the film is as progressive as anything I’ve ever seen. It’s so unbelievably fast.
Why does this film matter?
It matters because everyone involved contributed their best efforts to pay homage to an iconic film and soundtrack from another time, it’s fulfilled, and incredibly modern. When you watch it makes you feel something, I think that’s important.
Pretty heavy getting the call to pay tribute to one of the best surf films of all time, so what stressed you out the most headed into production?
Nothing really. I was working with Alby, it was a lot of fun.
What were you most excited to get into?
The music. I love writing music for film and seeing the final result.
What, in your esteem, is the difference between Australia’s relationship to surfing and America’s relationship to the same slippery and salty pursuit?
The waves are different, which makes the surfboards different.
Explain the decision to collaborate with Steph the way you did? Was it a tough call?
No. I watched Stephanie surf for a while. She has one of the most beautiful styles I have ever witnessed. She reminds me of Michael Peterson when he was young in Morning of the Earth, I wanted to try and replicate that sequence of Michael with a female. Stephanie understood what I wanted to do. I went to Hawaii and had Dave Parmenter make the board for her, Dave has been on the cutting edge of progressive single fins for the last 30 years, he’s also made surfboards for some of the greatest women surfers ever, Rell Sunn, Lisa Anderson, I knew he would know what to do. The sequence that features in the film is Stephanie’s first surf on the board, from her first wave. It’s breath taking to watch.
What has the response been from the public in Australia?
People love it, they come up to me after the show and thank me for making something so special. Morning of the Earth means so much to so many people. It’s just a respect thing really. It’s nice people understand it and it makes them feel good.