The Present - Thomas Campbell

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  • Date:
  • Location: The J, Noosa Junction 4567 Queensland

Californian artist / photographer / filmmaker Thomas Campbell wants to help preserve one of surfing's longest running social happenings off the beach: surf movie tours.

Campbell's new Super 16mm film, The Present - a colorful and artistic exploration of the beautiful environment surfers play in everyday - is set to do just that.

The film is currently touring US coastal towns and will soon tour South East Australia. The tour kicks off in Noosa at The J this May and will continue to Sydney with shows in Brisbane, Coolangatta, Byron Bay, and Terrigal along the way.

The Present - Thomas Campbell (All ages)
The J
10 May 2009 3.30pm
Event Cost: $25 or $18 for under 18s


Thomas Campbell's new surf film tour, The Present, helps preserve part of surfing's culture

By Devon Howard and Margie Wegener

Modern technology offers so many conveniences today that we don't need to leave the home. With a laptop, cell phone, and an elliptical trainer we can work and burn calories simultaneously. Grocery, clothing, and music shopping has become as effortless and speedy as a click of the mouse.

For surfers, few could have ever envisioned how the digitalization of their sport and lifestyle would permanently alter some of their customs and traditions. Live web cams and online surf reports have now replaced the old fashioned "surf check" and the need to learn how to read the ocean's weather patterns. As little as 10 years ago, surfboards were hand built by surfers domestically, but a large majority is now mass-produced overseas by computerized factories. This not only resulted in less work for local craftsmen, but drastically reduced the customary exchanging of ideas between a surfer and his shaper to create unique, customized surf crafts.

For better or worse, modern technology has played a huge role in reshaping cultures around the globe. The various electronic luxuries available today have made life easier, but does a dramatic decline in physical interaction with society erode some of the time-honored traditions of our local cultures?

Californian artist/photographer/filmmaker Thomas Campbell says yes. Which is why he is helping to preserve one of surfing's longest running social happenings off the beach: surf movie tours.

Campbell's new Super 16mm film, The Present---a colorful and artistic exploration of the beautiful environment surfers play in everyday---is set to do just that by hitting Australian coastal towns this month, on the back of a US tour. It's his third film and a follow up to the ground-breaking log movie The Seedling and more recently Sprout.

Presented in Australia by Margie Wegener and the Lala Society, the film features the modern alaia, developed by Tom Wegener Surfboards. Local surfers Jacob Stuth and Harrison Roach travelled to Indonesia along with some high-profile free surfers to test the ancient board in some very remote waves.

Margie says of Thomas Campbell, "Thomas is very committed not only to his art and to the traditional surf filmmaking format, but also to the notion of the historical surf film tour."

"I am not re-inventing the wheel or anything, just doing what those filmmakers did back then," explains Campbell, who extensively toured Sprout through 30 U.S. cities, and did a more modest run for the Seedling. "Doing a tour is a long-time tradition in our culture. It's also the most sure fire way of bringing the film to the surf community directly, and people love it. ... It's a really nice exchange."

Campbell's narrative approach is also very traditional. He hand picks some of surfing's most talented and creative individuals and captures them riding waves in exotic locales around the word. Each film has a general theme, with narration by Campbell himself to help move the viewer forward. According to him, The Present's basic premise is, "Taking a view into our lives as surfers on this planet, and showing that this moment---in our surfing lives right now---is a gift. It also has a subtle preservation message about our oceanic playgrounds."

Like his other films, The Present covers several surfing sub-cultures. Some include: surfers riding '60s style surf equipment; modern day hi performance tri-fin short boarding; sustainable surfboard building; and following the evolution of a recent board design movement based on 1,000 year old equipment that ancient Hawaiians rode called alaias. Throw in a funny skit with people riding surfboards with exercise equipment and ladders bolted to the decks. Then add some travels to West Africa, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, California and Hawaii and you end up with a classic surf film narrative. All of this happens to the backdrop of a timeless, down-tempo soundtrack that has been a hallmark of Campbell's other works.

Through his uniquely artistic style of filmmaking and intimate screenings---with live music performances to set the mood - Campbell hopes to help keep alive the nearly dead tradition of surfers gathering at a local theater to view a new independent surf film.

In Noosa, Margie Wegener is proud to present an Australian preview and the official Australian tour launch. The Australian preview is an all ages / alcohol free event, featuring local hit youth act 'The One, Two' and supported by The J. Tickets are on sale now for Sunday 10 May, 3:30pm for a 4.00pm start. Tickets are $18 for all under 18 year olds or $25 for 18 years and older. Tickets include lucky door prizes and a special Q & A featuring Tom Wegener.

The Australian tour launch is party night! Saturday 16 May at 7pm for a 7.30pm start, featuring 'The Band of Frequencies' followed by 'The Present' film screening and more grooving afterward with the live music continuing. Tom Wegener, Harrison Roach and Jacob Stuth will be present for an after- film Q & A session. This event is fully licensed, strictly 18 plus (no I.D., no entry, no refund) and tickets are $25 including lucky door prizes. Bookings at The J or and follow the prompts to Australian tour, Noosa.

THE PRESENT -- Thomas Campbell's new 16 mm film
Date & time: Sunday, 10 May, 3.30 pm for 4.00pm start, all ages, alcohol free event
Saturday, 16 May, 7.00pm for 7.30pm start, Tour Launch Party, 18+ event
time: 7pm for an 8pm start
tickets: $25 all 18 years and older / $18 all under 18 year olds (these tickets are only available for Sunday 10 May)
bookings: 07 - 54 55 44 55 (mon-sat 10am-4pm) credit card and Eftpos are available

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60 Noosa Drive, Noosa Junction
07 5329 6560
The J Noosa

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