Riding Giants Movie Stacy Peralta’s Surf Film is second big-screen documentary a mature sibling to his skateboarding flick Dogtown and Z-Boyz. Peralta’s first attempt won awards at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, had a successful theatrical release, and enjoyed a healthy DVD run. Dogtown was made for pennies but earned a nice dollar, which gave Peralta the leverage to procure seven-figure financing for his documentary on the origins and pioneers of big wave surfing.
Riding Giants Movie
Riding Giants is the best-crafted big-screen surf movie since The Endless Summer. Written by Peralta and Sam George, directed by Peralta, and edited by ace Englishman Paul Crowder, it divides big-wave surfing into three eras and focuses on a pioneer from each of those eras: Act One stars Greg Noll as surfing makes the pilgrimage from California back to Hawai’i and that first day at Makaha.
Act Two stars Jeff Clark, who surfed Maverick’s all alone for more than fifteen years, bringing big-wave surfing back to California and the new Golgotha off Pillar Point Harbor. Where Act One is bright and bubbly, Act Two is dark and somber, because Maverick’s is dark and somber—a frightening wave that proved deadly to Mark Foo.
Laird Hamilton is the star of Act Three, introducing the era of tow-in surfing into giant waves: Men using machines to boldly step into the Unridden Realm. The surfing footage of Jaws and Teahupoo, shown large on a big screen surrounded by thunderous sound effects, is knuckle busting even to the most jaded observer.
Riding Giants is a triumph. Peralta has emerged as the leading auteur of what some would call Action Sports and others call X Sports. His work is thoroughly modern but grounded in the four wall surf movies of the 1970s and the surf and skateboard video revolution of the 1980s which he helped to establish.
Peralta is all about embracing new technology and new tricks. While Riding Giants is grounded in the flow of 1970s surf movies and the fury of 1980s skate videos, this documentary is also state of the art in cinematography, special effects, and sound. The documentary makes equal use of the best still photography and video and film cinematography.
Riding Giants has surfing filmed from every imaginable angle; Peralta even used a Rotoscope 3D effect to give size and depth to static, familiar still photos. Working with an AVID Media Composer at Big Time Studios in Santa Monica, Paul Crowder alchemized thousands of hours of interviews and action with hundreds of still photos into an intense ninety-five minutes.
Riding Giants got off to a Cinderella start at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, as it bubbled to the top of more than five thousand entries to be chosen as the premiere movie for the whole deal, the first time a documentary let alone a surfing flick has been awarded such an honor. Riding Giants rocked the house, received thunderous ovations louder than a Waimea closeout, and sent deal memos and big-dollar offers zinging into the stratosphere.
Here’s what Stacy Peralta had to say about riding giants into the big time
Act One is all about the transition from California to Hawai’i Makaha, and then Greg Noll leading the Happy Few to Waimea Bay. Greg Noll stole the show. You know the part of the film where Greg Noll talks about how stupid those ’60s films were? The Sundance audiences erupted.