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First Love; Chick-Flick Surf Film Inspires

Author: Tracks Magazine

Do you remember your first love? Well for three young bestie surf chicks from Australia - it was and still is surfing! First Love, a 50 minute documentary film, written, shot and produced by women, follows teenagers Jess Laing, 18, Nikki Van-Dijk, 15, and India Payne, 16, as they discover what it takes to be a professional surfer.

The girls battle waves in their chilly home break of Phillip Island, off the coast of Victoria, while dreaming of heading off to the warm waters of Hawaii. Once they fulfill their ambitions they meet a few of the top female surfers including three time ASP Women's World Tour Champion Stephanie Gilmore as well as other pros Alana Blanchard, Coco Ho, Carissa Moore and Bethany Hamilton.



"It was so good getting to hang out with all the pros in Hawaii. It's so weird - all your heroes are just out in the water with you," said Nikki Van-Dijk, one of the stars in the film.

Their love of surfing pushes them to train hard, fight injury and try and compete amongst the best. Competition is at its peak and women's surfing is taking the world by storm.

First Love offers an insight into what it takes to be one of the top 17 girls on the ASP Women's World Tour and what it means to be a girl in love with surfing. It's not only a sport but a lifestyle.

The movie premiered in the iconic surfing town of Torquay, Australia on April 4th at the Surf World Cinema in conjunction with the Rip Curl Pro. Professional surfers and industry folk came in support.



Stephanie Gilmore had this to say when asked how she felt after seeing the film, "Ya, I really enjoyed it. I think the girls [film makers] had a really good take on women's surfing and why we like it so much. It's really awesome because it's about the lifestyle we live and just how lucky we are to do all these things. I watched it and just really want to get out there and go surfing!"

Nikki Van-Dijk, who surfed a heat against Gilmore in last year's Rip Curl Pro, was also pleased with the finished product, "I'm really happy with it! They put so much time and effort into making it. It was a new experience because I haven't really been around cameras heaps."



Film-makers Clare Gorman, a Phillip Island local, shot footage while Clare Pleuckhahn assisted with photography and Fran Derham wrote the story line. They also share a love and appreciation for the ocean and surfing. It comes across in their quality footage and narration.

The film seems inspiring for all levels of surfers and even those who don't surf and would like to try. It's inspirational to see women work together and produce a quality chick-flick surf film for girls.

Something else that stood out in the film is the awesome music. Let's hope they put out the soundtrack next!

We talked with First Love photographer Clare Pleuckhahn and got some goss from behind the scenes.

EXP/G: Why did you choose to create this style of movie about girls surfing, for girls?

For a couple of reasons really. One major being the lack of girls surfing movies on the market. Two, because Claire Gorman (Director) who's from Phillip Island knew all the girls personally and saw such potential in their story. And we're girls, so we like that stuff - having an all girl crew gave us the advantage of knowing what girls want to see.

EXP/G: Do you feel like you have accomplished your goals in doing so?

I think so. We've made a film about what we're passionate about, starring girls who're passionate about surfing, to inspire other girls to get passionate about surfing. We made this film particularly for teenage girls, but in doing this we hope that it will interest and inspire people of all ages, and find broader appeal beyond just the surf market. It has a pretty unique message.

EXP/G: What makes it so different or better than other girls surf films?

It has a story line! It isn't just a myriad of music clips. Fran Derham, our writer, helped with this by writing the narration which guides the film along. I wouldn't say it's better than other girls surfing films on the market, it is just different. We haven't had a huge budget or 10 camera operators but we've combined our skills to create an amazing film. Also, having an all girl crew has given us the advantage of being to get footage that a male camera crew wouldn't have been able to capture.



EXP/G: How long did it take to film? produce?

Claire Gorman began filming the girls early 2009. Fran and I came on board around the middle of last year and we have all been working on it pretty solidly ever since.

EXP/G: Will you continue to create more 'girl' surf movies?

Yes, we have a few ideas in the making. The girls surf film market is completely untapped and yet there is a huge need for it!



EXP/G: Do you all surf?

Claire Gorman and I have both surfed since we were little and have grown up around the coast. Fran doesn't like call herself a 'surfer' (cos she sucks) although she loves to get out for a paddle and this film has definitely inspired her to surf!

EXP/G: Who is the singer/guitarist at the opening and how did you find her? She is featured in the film, right!

The musician on the opening night was Kiri O'Connor from Ocean Grove. Isn't she amazing! Yes, her song in featured in a surf session with Steph Gilmore and Alana Blanchard at Off The Wall in Hawaii. We are hoping to book Kiri as our official musician of all of the First Love screenings.

EXP/G: You have such great music in the film, where did you find most of it? Will you list all the artists somewhere?

The music was all given courtesy of the artists and their agencies which is extremely generous. We have used mainly local artists from listening to jjj unearthed, checking out myspace pages and recommendations from friends. I love that we have had the chance to support upcoming artists. We are in the process of putting up the list of music on our web-site and have been thinking about putting out a soundtrack with the dvd release.

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