Slater on the big screen
By Jane Aubrey, WWOS
06:00 AEST Sat Feb 27 2010

When asked why he took on the added workload of making an IMAX feature film in the middle of chasing a possible 10th world title, Kelly Slater says it was simply too good an offer to pass up.

"No one's made an IMAX 3D surf film ever," he explained to WWOS.

"I sort of see this as an opportunity of a lifetime. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do this again, ever."

Slater has been involved in a score of surf films in the past, both in front and behind the lens, but none has ever given the general public a chance to get up close and personal with one of the most dangerous waves on the planet – Tahiti's Teahupoo break.

Ultimate Wave Tahiti is a surfer's journey – both through the eyes of Slater and his local friend, Tahitian waterman Raimana Van Bastolaer – and a geographical lesson, delving into how the infamous reef break is formed.

It's not your average surf film. Instead, as Slater explains, "It's a much more educational film than any surf film you've probably ever seen - good for the whole family."

Teahupoo is a wave that was once solely important to Van Bastolaer's ancestors but now as a stop on the ASP World Tour each year, captures the imagination of many both for its sometimes lethal reputation and stunning beauty.

"It is a dangerous wave," Slater states when trying to explain just what it is that makes Teahupoo so special.

"One guy got killed there and a lot of people have been really badly injured. It's probably the most beautiful place I've ever surfed. You look up at the mountains – there are valleys that are thousands of feet high, and there are rainbows everywhere. It's kind of like a joke when you're there, you can't believe how pretty it is."

Slater says the film will "freak people out with how good the images are," and this scribe agrees having spent much of the time with the sensation of having water in her eyes.

Surf films are an integral part of the sport's culture and are an element that Slater holds dear, noting a handful that held his attention as a grommet in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

"There was one made by an American guy who lived in Australia, his name was Chris Bystrom and it was called Beyond Blazing Boards," he recalls.
"The bulk of the movie takes place in Australia on the Gold Coast – Burleigh and Kirra and all those spots. It had a bunch of great Aussie bands like GANGgajang and Hoodoo Gurus on the soundtrack and it really seemed to fit surfing well. I think that came out when I was about 14 and I watched that film so many times I probably burned a hole in it.

"There was another one called Storm Riders, which I still love and watch that probably once a year or so … and Fast Times at Ridgemont High," he laughs.

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