Australian surf journalist Angie Takanami has set out to make a movie about a Peruvian surfer and the village he’s trying to save. She has a Kickstarter going and we wanted to get some details on the Double Barrel project before time ran out. Read on for the story of how she met the main character and how she plans to share his story.
How did you come across Harold Koechlin and his desire to build a surf village?
I was recently invited on the first ever surfing press tour of Peru, and Harold was assigned to me as my guide for two weeks. We hit it off straight away, as like-minded keen surfers, gyspy travellers, and we both have two crazy sons! On our travels Harold introduced me to Peruvian surf culture, we surfed some of the world’s best lefts at Chicama and all up the north coast, and it was here I was introduced to the dominance of oil industry in the region. As I shared my concerns about the poverty, pollution, and the shocking number of oil rigs so close to the surf, Harold told me of his long-held dream of putting a dollar value on the waves and turning Lobitos, a village he has visited his entire surfing life and holds close to his heart, into an eco surf village.
As a surf journalist, what stood out to you most about Koechlin’s story?
Harold is a surfer with a degree in eco tourism. He’s guided tours around Peru for years, through the Andes, to Machu Pichu, and up and down the surf coast. He is passionate about his country, Peru’s surfing roots, and the environment. And he loves barrels, and gets a lot of them! He is kind of like a 16 year old in a 36 year old’s body when it comes to surfing, but with the wisdom of an elder. When he told me of his dream, it was such a humble conversation…he trusted me enough to share what some might laugh at as an impossible feat. I guess it was this that really inspired me to come back to make a film that documents what he wants to achieve. I think surfers around the world will see a part of themselves in Harold. He’s an everyday guy, a father, he froths on surfing and every moment of his life revolves around the swell, tides, winds, and his travels.
What is special about this town in Peru? Are there a lot of surfers there already?
The town has a very interesting history, which the film will delve into, but it was basically created by BP as a town for the oil workers. They say it was once the richest town in Peru…
Now, the original town lies in ruins, the oil is running out, but still the drills pump deep into the sea beds. The main wave is a long reeling left hand point break, filled with sand, so consistent and world-class, fringed closely by barreling lefts and all hugged by oil rigs. It’s like summer all year round, the surfer’s who have set up small lodges there live a slow life, the fisherman and the local villagers live very simplistically. Surfers come to visit from Lima, from other parts of South America, but it’s not crowded at all and most days Harold and I surfed some of the breaks down the beach to ourselves. There is the risk that it could become overcrowded, a threat Harold is particularly passionate about avoiding and part of The Lobitos Project is looking at ways to encourage the town’s growth and subsequent tourism sustainably and manageably.
Have you ever made a documentary like this? What are you hoping to accomplish?
My background is in travel and surf journalism, in print and online. Five years ago I visited India with my photographer husband and we documented the early beginnings of the Indian surf scene and published in magazines around the world. I am very passionate about using the media to promote sustainable travel and to use surfing as a means to empower impoverished and developing communities. This is my debut documentary film project but I am very lucky to have my friend and mentor Taylor Steele guide me through the directing process.
Ultimately I want the film to show that dreams can be realized, that surfers need to start re-thinking their over consumption of oil, that sustainable surf travel is the way forward and surfers have a real opportunity to give back to the communities they visit, not just to go there and take the waves. I think The Lobitos Project that Harold is working on is something that can be copied around the world, and I hope our film helps to raise the awareness around the project and inspire other communities to follow suit.
What is the hardest part about running a Kickstarter campaign?
Ha, Kickstarter is like having a full time job, on top of a full time job! It’s a huge risk, it’s all or nothing, and you have to constantly monitor it’s progress, balancing your desperate calls to your entire network to donate with pushing out press releases…the project has to be completely transparent, it is kind of like having a full business plan and maintaining faith that people are going to want to throw coin at your idea! I’ve definitely had less sleep over the past couple of weeks than I would like!
Did you have to change anything about how you wanted to make the film in order to get the Kickstarter going?
As we haven’t made the film yet, we had to put together a mini-teaser for Kickstarter with very minimal content. If we weren’t doing Kickstarter I would have held off until we have the official trailer, but at the same time I think it’s been a really positive thing to share with the world our idea before we really start the core filming, as it’s helped people with similar dreams and passions come forth and we’re really established a big network of Peruvians and international surfers and ecologists alike who want to be involved.
Once it’s funded, then what happens?
I sleep, drink a celebratory beer, and go have a surf! Haha, the campaign finishes on July 16th, and it can take up to 2 weeks for the money to be transferred so we will be waiting for that to come in then literally my filmer Tim and I will jump on a plane and keep my promise of getting back to Peru to make this film with Harold! The surf has been pumping over there so we are really excited to get back as soon as possible and get the film into full swing.
For more about the film: