Cornish Lads Come Good

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Surfers Against Sewage has been working tirelessly since 1990 to improve the quality of the country’s beaches – not just for surfers, but for anyone who cares about the state of Britain’s seas.

Indeed, while the charity organization has its roots in St. Agnes and Porthtowan, it didn’t take long before SAS gained support across the entire UK and currently has over 50,000 supporters up and down the country. Given that the beaches of the South West have long been an alluring environment for filmmakers across the globe – news broke this week that Tom Cruise may (or may not) have been shooting in Saunton Sands – it comes as no surprise that SAS have been made the subject of their own film this week.

Surfers against sewage

Killing Waves premiers today (22 January) and is a 3-minute short which takes celebratory look at the charitable group’s work. The film was shot by filmmaker Carlos Carniero of boutique group London Sessions.

Stiff Competition
The origins of Killing Waves go back to last Summer. Looking for an inspirational story with which to debut, the Generation Change film project was launched and run in partnership by the charitable division of TOMS and the indie media outfit Dazed Digital. From there, the call was put out and UK filmmakers were offered £5,000 with which to shoot their inspiring short.

Naturally, a large number of pitches were received but it was Carniero’s idea to closely follow the Surfers Against Sewage team which beat the competition, as judged by Academy Award nominated director Lucy Walker. Walker herself has been the subject of great acclaim with such consciousness-raising documentaries as The Countdown to Zero and 2011’s The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.

Six months later and Carniero’s week of shooting was condensed down to three minutes and unveiled on the Daze Digital site.

Making Waves

Obviously, technical challenges would have ensued. Cornish beaches are more than a little chilly during the winter, and having a surfing collective as a film subject results in a lot of high-motion, in-water shots. Carlos Carniero himself has said about the filming:

“There were a few challenges. I’m drawn to people’s stories, so I got curious of a more personal story of Andy [Cummins, SAS campaign director] and Hugo [Tagholm, executive director] I didn’t know whether to focus to the voice of SAS or them, but I was able to find that balance. Trying to tell the story in the best possible way and document it in the most natural way without a script, meant the story didn’t really come together until post-production.”

After having seen the finished production we’re pleased to report that Carneiro has done a remarkable job of squeezing the story of a 20+ year organization into a 3-minute short while overcoming the inherent technicalities of the project.

Killing Waves

The short is tightly edited and not only captures the spirit of SAS, but also highlights the beauty of the British coast and why their work is so important. And make no mistake about the scale of their project – for what started as a small collective of Cornish surfer kids, their movement led to the main water companies pouring over £5bn into environmental infrastructure improvements. It is for this and other successes that SAS was awarded and recognised by BBC Coast Magazine and the Observer Ethical Awards last year.

What’s Next for Generation Next?
The entire Generation Next project appears to have been a success, with both the surf and film camp getting behind the project and appreciating the results. Carlos Carneiro, who founded his film company at Abbey Road Studios, and cameraman Bruno Ramos show a lot of genuine passion in Killing Waves and as much as we’re glad to see great coverage of a cause so close to our hearts, we hope it helps him springboard to even larger projects further afield.

Neither TOMS or Dazed Digital have given any hints as to whether or not a similar Generation Change film competition project will be run this year, but we’ll announce any details here as they come in as we feel it’s a great opportunity for established filmmakers or students working towards their ma in filmmaking.

In the mean time, you can check out Carneiro’s short for free here: