Watch: Flightless Obsession

Flightless Obsession features New Zealand’s elite surfers such as provisional Olympic qualifiers Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams along with dozens of the country’s best surfers in a scrapbook-style edit.

It is the first crowd-sourced surf movie that Surfing New Zealand has embarked upon to showcase local talent. It has been met with enthusiasm from the surfing community and includes sections for males, females, groms and longboarders.

The 30-minute movie was born out of the lockdown earlier in the year with Surfing New Zealand seeking content submissions from around New Zealand. Kiwi surfers rallied with 60 surfers submitting over 400 clips for the project.

The movie name, Flightless Obsession, was also crowd-sourced after numerous suggestions were provided and voted on via social media.

Flightless Obsession was packaged together by 15-year-old surfer and aspiring editor, Hunter Cooney, of Whangamata. It is Hunter’s first full length surf movie after having put together a number of short films under his YouTube channel Proud Kook.

A call also went out for music to accompany the surfing with the final soundtrack including tracks from Sit Down in Front, Tokyo Beef, Summer Thieves and Hazza Making Noise.

New Zealand has a lengthy history of surf films going back to some of the originals like Children of the Sun and Last Paradise in the ’60s and ’70s.

Allan Byrne with filmmaker and innovator, Clive Neeson, who spent 50 years on Last Paradise. Photo: AB Archives

In the ’90s there was the Coastal Disturbance Series, Wet Rubber and Surfers Overseas.

Over the past 15 years, Gisborne’s Damon Meade has been at the forefront of surf films producing a number of the world class edits such as Skux Deluxe, Wolfskinz, The Motive and Under the Weather.  During the same period, Damian Phillips released Endless Winter featuring South Island surfing and Children of the Underworld came out of Taranaki.

More recently, the award-winning The Way was produced by Luke Cameron. It is a story about a board originally belonging to Peter Way that washed ashore. The film details how its founders traced the board’s and surfing’s roots through New Zealand.

The Aotearoa Surf Film Festival, now into its seventh year, continues to highlight surf movies from around the country breeding new talent along the way.

Produced: Surfing New Zealand
Edit: Hunter Cooney
Filming: Various
Starring: New Zealand surfers and waves during lockdown 2020


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