I recently sat down with promising young filmmaker Cyrus Sutton for a little q&a. We briefly discussed his debut project, a film titled “Riding Waves.” The film features Rob Machado, Joel Tudor, Donavan Frankenrieter, Dane Reynolds, and John Peck. An eclectic group, to say the least.

Sutton shot, edited, directed and produced the film himself. To his credit, Sutton had the gumption to approach Rob Machado about becoming the film’s executive producer, and Machado gracefully agreed. “Riding Waves” is being distributed by Taylor Steele’s Steele-house.com. A release date of September 2003 is planned, with a movie house tour starting in late August or early September.

FMI contact Cyrus Suton at myopicmiracle@aol.com.

Surf-A-Palooza: First off, what is your goal, as a filmmaker, regarding the movie?

Cyrus: The goal is to give people a look at what surfing is today in California because that’s what I know and to give them a chance to get inside the heads of some of their favorite surfers.

Surf-A-Palooza: Who is featured in the movie and what’s special about the movie? Is it film or is it all video?

Cyrus: It’s film and video. It stars Rob Machado, Joel Tudor, Donovan Frankenreiter, and Dane Reynolds.

Surf-A-Palooza: That’s right, isn’t it set up into those four different…

Cyrus: Five actually. John Peck, too.

Surf-A-Palooza: So it’s about their lives or their relationship with surfing?

Cyrus: It’s like a day in the life, pretty much. Surfing gives everybody so much and I want to show that it means something different to everybody. It helps people deal with certain aspects of their lives. I wanted to highlight that with each person. I also really tried to look for a diverse cast. I wanted to get a longboarder and a shortboarder and a guy that does the retro thing and a hot kid comin up like Dane and somebody who’s seen it all, like John Peck. Kinda give people a good cross-section to fully illustrate what California surfing is all about.

Surf-A-Palooza: What surprised you as you were creating the movie? Is there a specific moment or section of the movie that sticks out in your mind?

Cyrus: It took so much work, I mean that’s kind of redundant, everybody will say that, but just thinking of something in your head and then actually realizing it, creating a product, is the most amazing experience and it teaches you so much about yourself. From meeting Rob (Machado) in the back of a surf shop and being this stoked kid. That was the first thing because now Rob’s the executive producer. He helped me hook up with Donovan and Taylor (Steele) who’s going to distribute it and all these things, and me approaching Rob, and being like, “Hi, you know. I’m this kid and I want to make a surf film,” and him, out of the kindness of his heart, not overlooking it and giving me his number and actually calling me back and having faith even when he hadn’t even seen anything yet. Now we’re going to be working on Drifting II, so it’s come a long way. I think that was the biggest surprise.

Surf-A-Palooza: Yeah, Rob has saintly quality about him, no doubt. Tell me a little bit about each segment. Let’s start with John Peck. Maybe give me some insight into that segment.

Cyrus: Like I said earlier, every person in the movie represents a certain aspect of riding waves and what it means to people. John Peck is at the end of the movie, so you’ve seen all these different things and his is like, riding waves is life. He sums it up. He says everything that everyone else can’t even say. He’s like, “this is how it is.”

Surf-A-Palooza: What were some of the waves that we’re talking about here.

Cyrus: Well, mainly it’s in California. There’s a couple waves at Pipeline that I used, but it’s mostly just a California movie because that’s what I can afford and that’s what I’m around. I think it’s kind of cool because you watch a lot of surf videos and it’s filmed in all the best spots in the world and people spent all this money and time getting the very best footage, but you watch that before you go out and surf and then you look at the waves and it’s 2-4 feet, fair conditions, like it is everyday, you know? And it doesn’t really carry into that. I wanted to show people these are professional surfers surfing on waves that on a good day in California, they could be surfing. It’s kind of more close to home. I think that this movie is really important, especially these days with the population rising and there’s going to be more people out in the water. People realize that surfing is such an incredible thing, an incredible gift that we all have. I know for a fact that I started surfing for the wrong reasons. It’s around these days and surfing is “the thing.” Surfing is like being in contests and to beat something and there’s too much of that shit on land. That’s what our whole Southern California is. Use the ocean as an escape from that. That’s what I really want to show. When you step out there, you’re sharing something that’s amazing. Then we start getting respect for the ocean and surfers take a more active role in keeping it clean and preserving it. It’s such a valuable asset and I don’t want to see it go to waste so we have to go to wave pools. I mean, you can compete in wave pools, they can make the waves good enough, but that essence of connecting with something that isn’t red light, green light. It isn’t on a stopwatch. It’s the natural rhythms of life. That’s something that I think everybody is lacking these days and I think that the ocean is great. For people in the mountains it might be rock climbing or going hiking, but for us, we have this incredible outlet and I think that it’s the best in the world. We need to realize that and respect it.

POTTZ IS A BLOODY FINE CHAP: The BBC is hosting a live webchat with Martin Potter and Russell Winter on July 30, 2003 at 6:45pm (not sure if they meant British time or PST).