Not long ago, big wave surfing was being taken over by machines, with jet skis towing hopeful surf sliders into massive mountains of ocean. But thanks to the unheralded efforts of Brazilian surfers living in Hawaii, traditional paddle-in surfing is back with both vengeance and controversy. This tells the story of that crew and their underground effort to paddle at all costs.
How did you find this story and what made you want to tell it?
I’ve known Marcio and Danilo (two of the film’s stars) for over 20 years and since they moved to Hawaii, I’ve been following their steps. When Danilo won the XXL “Ride of the Year” award in 2011, my producer and I had a meeting and came to the conclusion that we had a great story beyond what the mainstream media was telling.
What is the origin of the nickname Mad Dogs?
From what I found out, when shooting the film, Maui locals started to call them that way, after the earliest sessions in Jaws. At that time they were climbing down the unexplored cliff and jumping in from the rocks with no rescue team, no safety, no vests, no plan B. Insane.
What do you think it is that drives the film’s stars Danilo and Yuri and Marcio?
These guys are not normal people. They have an appetite for some feeling that only they themselves can explain. I believe they belong to a group of people to whom money is just not enough. They need more than just a regular life based on work, family, and things. And they are ready to give their lives for it.
Do you think the boys are more respected in Hawaii than they are at home in Brazil?
They’re more known in Hawaii. They’ve been living there for many years and, plus, we don’t have huge waves in Brazil so this whole thing seems a little distant from the Brazilians day-to-day life. But the Mad Dogs story is bigger than big wave surf. It’s about three human beings who have risked their lives for years, with absolutely no support, in the name of a dream. And as soon as the Brazilians realize what they have accomplished, they will love them. Many already do.
Why do you think the mainstream surf media has largely ignored the role these guys played in bringing back paddle-in big wave surfing?
Because mainstream surf media is compromised of sponsors, brands and certain surfers who better fit the media’s desired profile. We all know that, right? They want to sell the show, not the truth. They had 6-foot-tall-blond-hair Laird Hamilton towing into 20 waves in less than 10 minutes and suddenly three guys from the northeast of Brazil jump in and say “Get the fuck out, we’re paddling this shit”. They had no sponsors, they don’t like cameras, and they had nothing to offer in return… Nothing but the revolution.