From the Withitgirl Archive: by Georgina (George) Corzine 2002
"It's magic." That statement pretty much sums up how water people feel about wave riding.
Directing "The Source," a film docu-drama about the innate connection between women and the water, was in itself, a revelatory and synergistic experience akin to magic.
My project started in late 1994, before the current resurgence of surf culture. The rise of surfing in popular culture today is reminiscent of the" Gidget Glory Days" of the 1960s.
However, the film incorporates two new threads. First, surfing has become ubiquitous because of the Internet, where everyone "surfs" the web. Second, the most recent rise in interest includes women as reflected by the 40% increase in women surfers since 1996.
Even though people were just being introduced to the web, there were already new technologies that helped low-budget filmmaking efforts. I drew on these to save time and gain more control, things like digital non-linear editing tools. These gave me the ability to create a montage of diverse material including amazing professional surf photography, digital animation, super-8 transfers, archival 16mm, photo-altered production stills, and home-grown garage music. With all these elements, I tried to create a collage that captured a variety of aspects and ideas from the philosophers of the sea. Some of the theories include the idea that we respond viscerally to the ocean since we ourselves are made up of 96% water thereby making us feel “at home”. Exiled Atlantans.
Also, we touched upon the idea that the material world often viewed as a “solid” is actually made up of molecules stimulated by vibrations of which a “wave” is a perfect example. Therefore, the opportunity to engage with a wave puts us more in sync with the seminal patterns in life’s energy.
A SOURCE of Inspiration
The focus of "The Source" was twofold. My first goal was to recreate the sequential experience of surfing, including preparing to surf, picking a surf spot, suiting up, and eventually feeling the ephemeral bliss of "the ride." The film also explores the decidedly feminine nature of Mother Ocean -- her undisputed chaotic, yet hypnotic, rhythms and her link to the chain of creation and care of all life forms. As part of this project, I interviewed a number of women surfers to delve into their passion for the water and to discover what kept them returning to the surf. The women I interviewed echoed all the sentiments I had through my own surf experience. I heard things like the water, especially ocean water, enlivens the body, heals the spirit, and brings us back in touch with the harmonies and rhythms of life.
Surfing is hard work, a craft it takes a lifetime to master, but only a moment to feel and enjoy. It reminds us that all life is tenuous and that the unpredictable is to be expected. It challenges us to face the fear of a watery embodiment of raw, vibrating life energy. And within that realization comes the magic and fascination of gliding down its face.
There were two major shoots each in October (1995 and 1996) lasting about a week. One was dedicated to gathering all the interviews with the surfing women in the Bay Area. We posted signs around the city and met people down in the Pacifica parking lot of Linda Mar. The next year we shot the Super 8 recreation of the surfing experience with our three actresses most of which went relatively smoothly. But on the last day, we had an unexpected trauma that threw the project into jeopardy.
One Day of Disaster
It was a fine fall afternoon for a surfing film production shoot down south in Half Moon Bay, Pillar Point. The dedicated crew consisted of my fearless and exuberant actresses, wetsuited camera people with super 8mms tactfully waterproofed with plastic bags, my film continuity saint, boom handywoman, quick draw still photographer, and mascot surf dog. We finished the majority of the paddling and beach scenes. This required us to furiously propel our motor-less life raft with shoot supplies back onto shore while the waves swelled with greater strength. I had a few last shots left and wanted to use our last dry roll of super 8 to get a couple of cutaways of the surfgirl buddies sitting on their boards. That day, Jon and Kent, two experienced watermen, suited up and waited in the water on their boards by the rock-lined pier for the actresses to get in the viewfinder. They there to make sure the talent didn1t start drifting or bump up against the rocks. I considered them my film production insurance.
By that point, everybody was on their last wind, and the mood was becoming punchy. My actresses, the surfgirl trio, had such infectious personalities that they kept the crew amused all day. We were winding up the show with goofy b-roll I could use in the credits. Then all hell broke loose.
By the time I heard shrieks in the air, I was at the rock jetty with outstretched hands to help pull the cast on dry land. Kent had his arms around Kristi, who played "The Source" mermaid and was our token bodyboarding queen. He helped her back onto the rocks. Kadet, a shortboard rider, had faked a jump to her feet, shooting the board out from underneath her and sending the tip into Kristi’s skull. Our group became the center of interest among the locals, as would any group with cameras, wacky costumes, and bizarre behavior. Now, the cluster of concerned onlookers rushed to gather around as we gently walked Kristi to the car. There wasn’t a great deal of blood. Luckily, she took the hit about a 1/4 of an inch above her eye. The hard bone above the eye socket had served its purpose, but her consciousness was still very shaken. Guilt swept over me like a tremendous wave that drags you to the bottom for a visit in the soundless blue. I only heard one voice that seeped in through the chaos. It was the whisper of someone we passed in the throng. He said to me, "She’ll be alright." It took two weeks for Kristi to finally shake the concussion and months for me to recover from the guilt.
Creating “The Source” gave me the opportunity to collaborate with incredibly talented and soulful people. It made me design for a medium that would easily convey an abstract and often intangible sense of “experience” that I have physically and instinctively felt innumerable times. In terms of making a piece of art that worked, the synergy behind “The Source” was definitely magic.
Director Georgina (George) Corzine is a San Francisco Bay Area filmmaker and director whose work has been presented at numerous festivals both domestic and international. Her work has also been broadcast on public television. Her docu-drama on women surfers, “The Source” won a Nell Shipman Award in Seattle’s Women in Film Group. Her other films and videos include: “Ephemera,” “Trance”, “The Source,” “The Flip Side” and “8mm Lesbian Love Film.”
" The Source" played on public television and Bay TV, as well as various domestic and international film festivals.
The full film can be viewed HERE
20th Anniversary SF Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Publication
Surfer Girls in the New World Order, By Krista Comer: google books
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