As fall creeps into the air here on the Eastern End of Long Island, one of my favorite weekends arrives; The Hamptons International Film Festival. It’s a one of a kind festival- competing with the much larger New York Film Festival, with most crowds containing many folks over 60yrs old, due to the year-round inhabitants that includes many retired and extremely wealthy people who reside out here after long careers working in NYC industries such as Financial Services, Law and Real Estate. There’s a great mix of films and film lovers. The festival provides many world premiers- and I was honored to buy tickets to a film called Drift and be part of the second audience to ever see this fictional account of how in the 70’s such huge international surf apparel and equipment brands such as Billabong and Quicksilver got super viral after being started by just a pair of brothers or some friends who lived for surfing, but had the vision for commercial enterprise.
Seeing surfing as a grass-roots budding industry and culturally maligned hobby allows the audience to dream themselves about how amazing it feels to be a part of something new and brave and bold- with the benefit of knowing that it all worked out and we can fantasize about how “pure” something as unromantic as huge industry once was- because we are a culture in love with $, and we love to see the little guy win. All the ups and downs, bumps and bruises, and general feeling of uncertainty that pervades every aspect of one’s life. In the movies, people don’t give much consideration to a plan B, it usually involves going back to work in the factory, or the old man’s grocery. Also, our protagonists in films typically have much more dire circumstances like women who demand that they chose the business or them, bad guys out to get them, etc.
When Eric Ries describes the “lean startup” movement of entrepreneurialism he provides the example of how in “a typical movie narrative, the cool factor of startups usually centers on Act 1 and Act 3 — the initial creative inspiration and the triumphant frolicking in piles of money. But it’s the taxing, daily work of Act 2 that will, or won’t, ultimately bring a new company to successful, sustainable maturity.” The movie I saw today “Drift” did most of its focusing on Act 1- and in fact the directors said during the Q&A that they considered starting the movie by showing the characters later in their lives after succeeding as a foreshadowing- but I’m glad they didn’t. Because I’m still in love with moments where the main character can actually say “You all know I have no idea how to run a business” and still be a huge success. Well I can tell you that this movie was downright inspirational, enjoyable and will be a very big success. Why do I know this? Because this diverse crowd (aka moviegoers, not just surfers, Australians) gave the directors three rounds of applause. Because the entire theater erupted in cheering and/or applauded during the movie at least twice. Because everyone in the theater left with the feeling that they were doing their friends a disservice NOT telling them to see this movie. How’sthat for customer verification? I wanted to tweet about it. I wanted to tell all my surfing friends on facebook to look out for it (it comes out early 2013). Then I settled down- because that would be a bit too eager and surfers tend to see eagerness as a gaffe
Will Drift be as successful commercially as the currently showing surfing movie “Chasing Mavericks”, which incidentally had a commercial on television as soon as I came home during the two minute warning of the Giants game- and looks like a pretty typical “big budget” hollywood film built to entertain/distract just about anyone? I doubt I’ll see many television spots for Drift in February- and most likely it will play in just a handful of theaters in NYC (that means maybe one in most other states)- there is only one A-List actor in it (he was in Avatar), and he’s not one of the leads. I saw and met these filmmakers. I got to look into their eyes after having two highly successful screenings. I’m sure they want to make money of course, but they really wanted more than anything to try to be true to real meaning behind their movie. That “nobodies” can succeed. It’s personal to them. It’s about their culture, and their homeland. One of the co-directors shot many of the surfing scenes himself in the water. That hollywood movie is so uninteresting to me when there’s stuff like Drift out there. …