Rewatchable Surf Film: One California Day

Rewatchable Surf Film: One California Day

Surf films have been the backbone of surf culture for the better part of the last century.  They are these windows into time that have a strangely unifying effect.  They operate as this shared experience that helps put context to the otherwise siloed, individual experiences that we as surfers are having all over the globe.

When a good surf movie came out, everyone was talking about it—the way coworkers might talk about the Super Bowl on the Monday after the big game.  The music, the campy voiceovers, the boards, memorable segments—all helped paint the picture of the culture in that moment.

How else do we remember what surfing was like in the 50's, 60's, or 70's...? We go back and watch the classic surf films from those eras.  Someone once gifted us a box set of some of the classics from the 1950's at the shop back when we had a DVD player hooked up to the projector.  We watched those old films until the DVD's basically melted.

Surf films are a priceless backbone that shapes and documents the ever-evolving progression of surf culture and history, and they are all but extinct.  Replaced by the more easily digested Instagram clip.  Gone too are the surf magazines, except for Surfer's Journal basically. 

If we wonder why the next generation doesn't have respect and reverence for those who came before them, it's because we failed to show them in a concerted way.

Why the soapbox? 

Because I love proper surf films and want to see us give them another shot.  Because I'm hoping that by the time my daughter is grown, she will look at Instagram the way we all look at MySpace.  And because I want my kids to find an old DVD player and have movie night with some of the classic surf films that inspired me, and shaped my understanding of where I fit in the story.

One of the last true surf films was released in 2007—the same year I shaped my first surfboard, for context of how much of a sponge I was during that season of life.  That film, One California Day, by Jason Baffa and Mark Jeremias captured this beautiful window of time when the ride everything movement was in its early adopter stage and 16mm film was still worth all the extra time and effort.

One California Day film trailer from jason baffa films on Vimeo.

"Jason Baffa & Mark Jeremias' 2007 film, One California Day, was a grass roots project, shot on Super 16mm film over four years, documenting the California surfing experience, past, present and future. The film's ability to capture the magic and soul of the Golden State long before a bear flag was on every surf-label tee & hat created an industry wide movement. Not only does the film promote riding various surf craft but it also challenges surfers to look within and appreciate what they have. The film's popularity has spun off various licensing ventures including clothing and events throughout the world."

The cast includes:

  • Joe Curren
  • Skip Frye
  • Jimmy Gamboa
  • Alex Knost
  • Tyler Warren
  • Dane Perlee
  • Tyler Hatzikian
  • Devon Howard
  • Joel Tudor

As with any great surf film, there are specific scenes burned into your memory.  Knost's footwork at Blackies stands out, as does Jimmy Gamboa's hilarious voiceover about First Point Malibu (if he only knew how much more crowded it would be in 2021).  One California Day is absolutely worth a re-watch.  You can still find copies of the DVD for sale, or you can buy the film on iTunes.

If you want to watch something for 90 mins and feel really good afterward, close your Netflix app and allow the sights and sounds of One California Day to get you grom-level excited to go surfing.

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