Picture a six-storey building toppling just metres in front of you as it's battered by cyclonic winds that are generating the same amount of power created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Now picture that tumbling building as a wave and you’re 75km off the West Australian coast with no one around but a camera crew, a couple of fishing boats and more sharks than humans.
The skies are grey, the water so green it’s almost black and you’re on a jet-ski, holding on to Ross Clarke-Jones’s waist hopelessly watching on as two-time world champion Tom Carroll is sucked over the falls and held under for some 45 seconds. When Carroll finally emerges just 1km from the continental shelf, he erupts into the white water gasping for air like a baby taking its first breath. At 50 years old, after spending the best part of a year doubting himself and his ability to continue riding big waves, Carroll is reborn.
‘‘He’s back,’’ Clarke-Jones declares. And with that, the most unusual of best friends shake it off and head directly back to the impact zone to tame the 25-foot, open ocean monsters that have never been seen before, let alone ridden. And it’s all there, in cinematic 3D and 7.2 Dolby digital sound right before your very eyes and ears. Like a ride at Movie World, Storm Surfers 3D blurs the lines between a compelling cinematic experience and the sense you too are part of the action.
For those who have never experienced the almighty yell of a crushing wave while tucked up within it, light glimmering around you like a room full of mirrors, it’s as close as you’ll ever get. For those who have, all agree the world-first 3D footage is the best representation of being barrelled ever caught or seen on the silver screen. Hell, it's 3D. But cinematic brilliance and film work aside, Storm Surfers 3D tells a story not just of big waves but great courage and character.
Like a surf trip with your two mad uncles, the feature-length documentary is as much about the journey as it is the destination. A buddy tale of two of the oldest friends conquering their own fears and self-esteem as well as the world’s wildest waves. And, it’s damn funny.
Carroll is the calculated foil to Clarke-Jones’ cheeky and at times devious wit, and even after 25 years, it’s obvious Carroll still falls for his best mate's gibber. Just as clear is Clarke-Jones’ shining admiration for his mate five years his senior. He still considers him the superior surfer and a personal mentor. They’re as close as two mates can get without kissing. And they're not short of a word.
All in all, Storm Surfers 3D is a film with brilliant three dimensional footage accompanied by an unscripted, honest and funny story of the common man - with a few screws loose - and his determination to see out his dreams in the face of personal adversity. It’s an enjoyable journey and an unprecedented experience and that will be enjoyed by the entire family - surfers or not.
The Australian theatrical premiere will take place on August 14 amd will be touring the country during August and September. To find the nearest screening and buy tickets, check out www.stormsurfers.com.au