In advance of the highly anticipated World Premiere of SWEET ADVENTURE at the 10th Annual London Surf / Film Festival on the 3rd December (TICKETS HERE), we caught up with award winning filmmaker Peter Hamblin and surfers Albee Layer and Matt Meola to find out more about the project.
Surf movies, for the most part, fall into distinct categories. There’s the parts film, the documentary, the travel adventure, the biopic. Then there’s the Peter Hamblin way. Nothing is off the table. There’s a certain sprinkling of magic dust that’s hard to describe. It’s like turning the dial up to 11.
As Matt Meola says of being a part of Pete’s latest creation, Sweet Adventure, “I was blown away… it was like I imagine a real movie to be. It came as a bit of a shock being a surfer and living my life completely based on the waves.” And that’s the thing to bear in mind – because ultimately a Hamblin production is a ‘real’ movie… about surfing.
At its very core Sweet Adventure is a film about adventure but it’s about more than that, it’s about travel, and friendship, and great waves – it’s about the things we’ve been missing, the things that matter. It follows an all-star cast including Albee Layer, Matt Meola and Nora Vasconcellos as they hunt down killer waves and killer times in El Salvador and it’s all guided along by the frictionless narration of Selema Masekela.
“The film springs from being cooped up during Covid lockdowns and realising how much I took for granted,” explains the multi award-winning director Peter Hamblin. “Realising how fortunate I have been with all the experiences I have had in my life - I wanted to showcase the joy that lives in adventure, in new experiences.”
Sweet Adventure wears its heart on its sleeve - it has the soul of surf travel classic. While Endless Summer may be the landmark of the genre, for most people it’s the follow up that is imprinted on their grommet-hood. And it isn’t long before ES2 protagonists Pat O’Connell and Wingnut appear on screen – The Force clearly still strong with them, the timeless chemistry serving as a spirit animal to drive the film forward.
And it is all tied together by the grand all-seeing, all-knowing narrator – in this case Selema Masekela. “Selema and I have been chatting about other projects for the past year and a bit, and the story was kinda influenced by him in a weird way,” says Peter. “He is super giving, humble and gracious and afforded our set a level of experience and talent that we have not had in the past. It was magic to spend time with him and explore his range.”
Seeing Matt and Albee away from their usual haunts on Maui - hucking over the ledge on death slabs, sending it on wind-whipped ramps or into giant Jaws barrels - and instead firing down long, feathering point break walls, tucking into endless, spiralling tubes, driving down the line linking air combo’s, it’s as refreshing as a shot of Salvadoran Tic Tac spirit. Ask Albee how he came to be scouring the jungles of central America for waves and the answer is simple; “Pete asked me, and I was in,” he says.
And the whole project was wrapped within an unbelievable timescale. “It was nine weeks, start to finish,” explains Pete. “With good people, planning and a strong desire to create, films don’t need to take two years.” And like many of the best plans – it all came together right at the end; like the icing on the cake. “We were all anticipating this swell that was supposed to show up the last day of the trip,” explains Matt. “That day delivered, something super special.”
Combining jaw dropping surfing, stunning cinematography, secret spots, helicopters, bowl riding, new discoveries, good times and more, this must-see travelogue stirs the wanderlust, reignites the stoke and reminds us all of just what we’ve been missing – those good times shared with old friends in new places.
10th Annual London Surf / Film Festival x VANS is hosted 2-4 December 2021 at the iconic Genesis Cinema, bringing to the UK the very best films from across the globe. Accompanied by Q+A’s and ‘Audiences with…’ some of the world’s most exciting surfers and creatives, live music, talks, good times and more, it’s a celebration of the cream of cinematic surf culture