Carolina Surf Film Festival

It’s not everyday that a new surf film festival comes on the scene, but three friends in Charleston, South Carolina, are welcoming themselves into the fold this year. The Carolina Surf Film Festival hopes to highlight the local scene and the creative underground surfers who are lighting it up on small stages around the world. To get some details on how one goes about creating a surf film festival, we got in touch with one of the creators, surfer Chad Davis for the details. Read on for a look at their submission criteria and submit here if you think you have what they’re looking for:

South Carolina Surf Film Festival

Why start a surf film festival? How did the idea come about and what did it take to finally say “I’m doing this!”?

I’m a music supervisor specializing in action sports media, so I’ve been on the other side of surf film festivals and similar events. The tipping point for me came last December when I attended the Florida Surf Film Festival. I spent some time chatting with the founders, and it occurred to me that we are a lot alike; guys who love surfing and surf movies. I reached out to two long time surfing buddies I’ve known since our days at the College of Charleston– Bo Edmonds and Chuck Gainey. They were stoked on the idea, and we’ve been having a blast putting it together.

Is there a large community of surfers in Charleston?

Charleston has a thriving surfing community. There are three main beaches, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach. If you know when and where to look, you can consistently score good waves. One of the benefits of being a surfer in Charleston is that during flat spells, we can point the car north for a road trip to the Outer Banks, or we can travel south to Florida.

South Carolina Surf Film Festival

Did you use any other surf film festivals as a model?

We went into full-on research mode and studied other film festivals online. We were most impressed with Florida’s festival, as well as San Diego’s. John Brooks and Kevin Miller, the founders of the Florida Surf Film Festival, did a great job making it look easy, but we soon learned that it requires a lot of work. The devil is in the details, and there are quite a few details to address in the planning of a festival. Bo, Chuck, and I are obsessive about quality. We want each guest at the festival to leave feeling as though we’ve done a great job and they got more than they expected from the experience.

South Carolina Surf Film Festival

What can audiences expect? 

The Festival runs from October 16-18, 2014. The first night will be a mixer for industry guests, sponsors, the press, and those who hold patron’s passes, which are available on our website. We’ll screen a film that night, eat great food, enjoy tasty beverages, and mingle. It’ll be a nice intro to the next two days during which we’ll have vendor booths, live music, raffles, a silent auction, and, of course, surf movies! We’ve taken several submissions so far, and we have some amazing films lined up that are sure to please. We also hope to premiere some east coast films as well. Westbrook Brewing Company will be on hand with their tasty craft brews, and we’ll have several of the best food trucks in Charleston on hand for a food truck rodeo. We chose our venue, Brickhouse Party Plantation, because it’s the perfect place for a film festival. They have two stages for live music, a full bar, and a restaurant if you want a sit down meal. It’s an historic farmhouse surrounded by a canopy of huge, ancient live oak trees.

South Carolina Surf Film Festival

What are you looking for in a film submission?

We’re looking for films that veer from the norm. We’d like to see all types of watersports represented: SUP, kiteboarding, alaias, logs, shortboards, bring ‘em on! Big budget films with top pro surfers are rad, but we’d also like to see films that tap into the artful, soulful side of things. What can you do with a few bucks, a camera, and a generous helping of passion and inspiration? We’d like to see athletes and filmmakers making their own rules, riding and filming whatever inspires them, set against a soundtrack of kickass music from artists that you may not know yet. We’re accepting films from around the world, but we’d like to showcase local and regional filmmakers as well, like The Thomas Bros., a local production company from Folly Beach that releases local footage as well as filming for East Coast heavies like Fisher Heverly, Brett Barley, and Balaram Stack. They’ve also been filming for Nat Young on his free-surfing and world tour campaign.

South Carolina Surf Film Festival

What is your goal for the festival? What will you consider “success”?

We’d like to raise money and awareness for Surfer’s Healing through the silent auction and raffles. We’d also like to raise awareness for our partners, Charleston Waterkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation. Both groups work tirelessly to protect the water and natural resources we love and enjoy. We’re also looking to give back to the surf communities up and down the Carolina coast where the three of us cut our teeth on weekend, spring break, and summer surf trips. We’ve received so much generosity and warmth along this stretch of sand over the years. Locals in the Carolinas are second to none. We’ve crashed on your couches, eaten your food, and shared your waves. We’d like to pay some of that good stuff forward. The festival will be a success if we manage to give our brothers and sisters in the surfing community a few days of good ole fashioned fun while bringing awareness to the organizations that work behind the scenes to make our watery world a cleaner, better place.

South Carolina Surf Film Festival

What has been the hardest part about getting it going? 

The hardest part was narrowing down the venue and dates. There are so many factors to consider; weather, bugs, logistics, technical, etc. Once we nailed down the venue and date, everything else began to fall into place.

The best part? 

Hands down, the best part has been working with friends. We’re also blown away by how much support we’ve received from the community. We can’t wait to show visiting guests and filmmakers what our city and region has to offer!

Any advice for other people who may be interested in starting this type of thing in their community? 

Go for it!! Find a venue, set your dates, and hold on for a wild ride. We’d be remiss if we told you it’s easy. It isn’t. It is a lot of fun, but among the fun stuff are a million details that need your attention. If you have a supportive group of friends and family to bounce ideas off of, that helps. Most of all, take a look at your local surf scene. What can you do to make it better? The whole process has to be predicated on giving, not taking. If you’re ready to give something back to surfing, you’re halfway there. If you decide to take on the challenge, we’d love to hear your ideas, and offer our help if you need it. Good luck!

*Photos by MCG Photography

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