Over the past couple weeks we’ve been released parts of Stefan Hunt’s surf trip movie about surfing and activism in Thailand (Part 1; Part 2). Today with the release of the third and final installment, we wanted to get some more details on the film and the process from Stefan. Below he shares his motivations for making the movie and how it all came together. But first, check out Part 3:
What prompted you to make this movie? Why Thailand?
I originally heard about an orphanage in Thailand run by a Hawaiian couple who taught the kids how to surf. I didn’t even realise there was surf so after some researching I saw the potential for an adventure there. Being a developing country, I also saw the opportunity to partner with some nonprofits throughout the trip. I asked some friends if they’d be keen to go and before we knew it we were in Thailand making this film.
Was it always going to be a longer feature, or did it expand as you were shooting?
It was originally going to be a 10 minute short documentary for film festivals but these days online releases have so much more reach so I decided a three part web series would be the most effective for sharing the message.
Did you do a lot of research and planning before the trip, or did you just kind of let it happen as you were there
Yeah I would literally just google “Surfing Thailand” and then email complete strangers looking for any advice they could give me, which worked really well. It was an even split between planned and spontaneous on all fronts, from the destinations we surfed through to the charities we partnered with. For example the day we arrived in Phuket we heard about a major flood in Bangkok so we were able to play a role in the relief efforts. Those were some of the best experiences by far.
Why is it important for surfers to tell these kinds of stories?
I believe that the global surf community has so much potential to make a positive impact. I hope that when people watch my films they feel inspired and make a conscious effort to be part of a bigger picture.
Have you ever made a film like this? What was the biggest challenge?
I have definitely made films with a surfing philanthropic aesthetic but they have generally had funding or sponsorship. The Land Of was completely independent and funded by all of the surfers, artists and musicians involved which is challenging especially when you’re living in a city as expensive as Sydney.
The greatest reward?
I’m so stoked on the exposure and positive response that this series has received. It just goes to show that the surf community cares about more than just pumping waves.
The biggest thing you learned?
At the end of the day, people just need a little bit of direction and motivation to give back. Pretty much everyone on the trip hadn’t really done any kind of charity work before so when I approached them with the opportunity they were really responsive to the idea. They went on a trip knowing and agreeing to the idea of helping the locals, but after experiencing it first hand, they came back with a desire to continue doing this kind of work and actively seeking it out themselves.
Now that all three episodes have been released, what happens with TLO?
This particular project has wrapped up, but it has motivated me to keep pursuing my career as a film maker who aims to inspire change through creativity. There’s always going to be challenges but sometimes it’s as simple as an email from a stoked grommet that keeps you going and makes it worth it.
Any other projects in the works? Where are you headed next?
I’m currently editing a short documentary that I directed in Mexico last year which I can’t wait to release. Aside from that I’m off to Africa next week for some adventures with some amigos.