HONOLULU —A nearly 30-year friendship between legendary surfers Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones has come full circle with the release of the new film, “Storm Surfers 3D.”
Co-directed by Justin McMillan and Chris Nelius, the movie is the first surf flick filmed almost entirely in three-dimensional technology. Viewers get to experience what it’s like to cascade down a 20-foot wave in the open ocean off Western Australia, or ride inside massive tubes in Tasmania. Almost all of the footage was shot during the 2011 Southern Hemisphere winter, from May to August.
“We actually take the audience on the ride with us while we’re holding a 3-D camera,” said Clarke-Jones. “You’re actually like a seagull or something flying behind us, (and) it’s quite an incredible vision.”
“People who have seen it say, ‘We don’t surf, but we felt like we surfed,'” Carroll added.
It’s fitting that Carroll and Clarke-Jones chose Hawaii for the film’s U.S. debut. The two Australians forged their close bond while riding massive swells on Oahu’s North Shore during the mid-80s, a time when big-wave surfing was just starting to gain international momentum before exploding in the early 90s.
“I think this is where we kind of saw that same sort of thing in each other, where we just like to push it and it just doesn’t matter what the other guy’s doing; I just want to go for this one (massive wave),” Carroll told KITV4.
“It’s been a lot of fun, and we’re still friends, amazingly,” said Clarke-Jones, picking up on Carroll’s last thought.
In person, the two Aussies are much how they appear on screen. Both are quick to crack jokes, or make fun of themselves or each other. Their good nature carries “Storm Surfers 3D” from scene to scene.
“Trying to herd chickens, that’s what it was like with Tom and I darting around all over the place,” Clarke-Jones said of the experience.
“It’s just the characters and the years and years of just getting smashed in the ocean together, calling each other into waves that we shouldn’t be calling each other into,” Carroll said when asked what makes the movie fun.
“Storm Surfers 3D” also explores how the hell-bent Aussies have mellowed with age, if only ever-so-slightly. Carroll, a father to three daughters, is now 51; Clarke-Jones, with two kids of his own, is 46.
“I want to be strong and fit and be able to push myself,” Carroll said of riding large surf. “(But also) to be in touch with that thing that says, ‘No, today I can’t.'”
“To see him sort of be more calculated and actually sensible kind of worried me, because is that going to happen to me,” Clarke-Jones asked himself. “I hope not, but it’s starting to already. I’ll tow into anything on any day, but getting strapped to a 10-foot board (and) getting dragged on the bottom doesn’t appeal to me so much anymore.”
The film concludes with Carroll and Clarke-Jones embarking on a final expedition nearly 50 miles northwest of Perth, Australia. With 3-D cameras and several boats in tow, the two surfers find an almost mythical wave called “Turtle Dove Shoal.”
“We went for it, and what we found was something you’ll have to see,” said a smiling Clarke-Jones.
“Storm Surfers 3D” makes its American debut at Consolidated Theatres Ward 16 this Friday. Carroll and Clarke-Jones will introduce the film at both the 7 and 10 p.m. showings on Friday evening. After the 7 p.m. screening, both surfers will take questions from the audience.
The film is narrated by Academy Award nominated actress Toni Collette, and was produced by Marcus Gillezeau and Ellenor Cox. “Storm Surfers 3D” is scheduled to open on selective screens on the mainland in early June.