The somewhat reluctant star of Slow Dance, Craig Anderson. Photo: Ellis

Welp, it’s almost here. Slow Dance, the Craig Anderson-starring, Dane Reynolds-edited, Occy and Rob Machado and Matt Hoy-cameoed summer surf blockbuster opens on Saturday, July 20 at Quiksilver’s Huntington Beach headquarters. Ando and crew then trundle off through Australia, Japan, and Europe on a Slow Dance mini tour. Last week I chatted with Craig over e-mail about the making of Slow Dance, but more importantly about things like the weirdness of seeing yourself on the big screen, and taking off on waves when Dane Reynolds and Occy are watching. It was easily one of the politest e-mail exchanges I’ve ever had.

Who is responsible for most of the creative direction of Slow Dance? You? Dane? How did you decide where to film?

Dane on the creative end for sure, but I picked where I wanted to surf. It's hard to venture off the beaten path. We tried that earlier on in the film by going to Italy (silly idea, drove around for a week and it was dead flat). From that trip on I tried to go to more reliable, proper surf spots. Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia, and South Africa were where I got the best waves. India, Chile, and France were really fun as well.

What's more important for a surf film like this, good waves or good backdrops?

I would like to say both. I like seeing unique places or places that are not in every web/video part. Not saying that Ventura is outta the norm, most of the places I surfed in the film have been documented, but we tried to have a different take on it.

I would feel super weird if I sat with a bunch of people in a theater, with everybody watching a movie that's just me surfing. How do you feel leading up to the premiere? Does that stress you out?

It is super weird. I don’t feel comfortable at all. I don’t know if it comes down to being humble or shy or whatever it is, but it's fucking weird. I don’t like attention, but I do appreciate the opportunity and I am very thankful that people care.

Did you run into any localism issues while filming this movie?

I got punched in the face in France while out surfing at Le Grand Plage; it was super bizarre. If I deserved it then I wouldn’t be talking about it, but this kook was way too deep, so I took off and looked back and he was nowhere. Bummed me out a lot because the ocean is not meant for vibes like that.

With stuff like that, and all the stress involved, do you ever think, fuck it, I hate surfing, I'm over it?

Sometimes, for sure. Surfing a wave is hard enough, then you have to deal with trying to find the fucking things, crowds, etc. But for the most part I like it a lot. I don’t know what I would do without it. It feels natural to be in the ocean. If I’m not surfing or doing other stuff, after a few days I start to go crazy. I wake up everyday and count my blessings.

I get stressed taking off on a wave when the best surfers at my local beachbreak are watching. Do you feel that way when filming a movie with Occy and Machado and Dane?

I think I used to. I grew up in a small town in South Africa and never really had any older professional guys to look up to. Now doing trips with all these guys, it's pretty overwhelming, but in the end they’re all just normal people. Super friendly, nice genuine people that surf really well.

Best Occy moment while filming Slow Dance?

He’s amazing! Prior to the film I hadn’t spent much time with him, but hanging with him and Matt Hoy on a trip was really funny. They are both as unique and raw and real as it gets. I guess with them both growing up and surfing in the ’80s and ’90s when pro surfing was still relatively new they just made it up as they went along. So many funny moments on that trip. Occy filmed me one day on my own Handycam, and commentated the session. It's in the movie and I think it's hilarious. Also, we were surfing one day and when we came in this lady runs down out of her house and gave Occy a copy of North Shore (the ’80s Hollywood blockbuster). I had never seen it and we all sat around that night with beers and watched it. Really, really funny. Occy hadn’t seen it in years and he was losing it. I thought his acting was epic.

Who has the best hair in surf: You, Nate Tyler, or Rob Machado?

Rob, by a mile.