After the Fact: San Diego Surf Ladies Board Shorts Film Fest

Last weekend, the San Diego Surf Ladies hosted the second-annual Board Shorts Film Festival featuring nine shorts from international artists, all inspired by women.

The event was held at Bird’s Surf Shed, a museum of classic boards and surf memorabilia, so it’s impossible not to get stoked on surfing just by walking through the doors… once you can find the place. For a giant steel dome, it’s surprisingly easy to miss. Ashley Lloyd Thompson, one of world’s few female shapers, hosted the show and played with her Santa Cruz-based “beach-folk” band, The Shapes.

We didn’t have a chance to speak with the organizers at the event, since they were running around trying to make sure everything went off without a hitch (which it did). So we hit them up for a brief Q&A after the fact. Here’s what we learned:

In terms of ticket sales and attendance, how did this year’s event compare to last year?      

Last year being the inaugural festival, we were completely blown away by the response and overwhelming support we had from the community!  Going into the second year, with the bar set high, it’s a little nerve-wracking in a different way: Will people submit? How will the quality of the films be this year? Will people buy tickets and get as stoked as last year?!  As a team, Michelle, I and the San Diego Surf Ladies are all very invested in continuing to provide a platform to showcase female surfers, those in the surfing industry along with the filmmakers that document it all. Working with a community of surfers and artists, we aim to create an experience that is more than turning up, sitting down and watching some films. We want to inspire conversation and share the stoke!

The event sold out two days in advance. We had a waiting list of around 100 people and turned many more away at the door!  Adding that to the feedback of festival goers on the films, music, atmosphere and support of our sponsors – Islands, Green Flash, & Nika Water – we are ecstatic overall and see the festival going from strength to strength. Bring on year three!

How did you make selections on the featured films? What do you look for in submissions?

We worked with a screening panel of three people, chosen for their support of surfers and artists in and out of the mainstream (full details about each on the website: With regards to what we look for in submissions, we are eager to tell the stories of female surfers around the globe, be they amateur or professional, young or old. These are the stories that are likely not in mainstream surf media and reach the audience in a way they can relate to on a personal level. As a film festival, whilst it’s important for us to screen a selection of films that have been beautifully shot and edited, we also ask the panel to consider (these factors):

– Cinematography 

– Concept/Story – from predictable to unique/interesting)

– Finished product – music, edit etc…

– Stoke Factor – Does the film make you want to run out of the door with your board immediately?

The overall consensus from your KTV blog editors: Women should definitely be shown shredding more. But as with films from any genre, an effective flick parallels the main subject – in this regard, women in surfing – with a compelling and unique backstory. We were most pleasantly surprised by the films that took women out of their expected film roles (hot girls in small bikinis waving from ankle-biters) and put them instead on massive waves on top of a heavy metal soundtrack (Water Warriors by Anna Jerstrom) or through epic road trips (Party Mix by Hayley Gordon).

With that, we’re looking forward to next year.

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