Not Just A Smile & Wave

24 Jun 2017 0

COASTALWATCH | INTERVIEWS

Georgia Matts is from the Illawarra. She's 24 years old, works at the Mercury as a contract photographer and has worked her butt and faced cruel adversity off to produce a great feel-good film.

Smile And Wave is a story of good waves, great surfing and the best times and is showing at Towradgi Beach Hotel on Sunday 25 June at 5pm. Tickets are available at the door or on Moshtix here.

COASTALWATCH: This is a really beautiful story. Tell us about it and what motivated you to start putting it together in video form?

GEORGIA MATTS: I knew of Skye for a few years and I always knew she ripped. It was when I got my first water housing that I wanted to start taking surf photography and videos more seriously. I noticed Skye never got much publicity and her photos on her social media accounts were pretty average. So I approached her and we were both keen to work together.

Her girlfriend Sarah Baum had just moved over to Australia from South Africa so I ended up working with both of them. They were just having so much fun, getting the shots was easy. Carabine Surf Designs approached me and they were stoked with the quality of material we were producing. 

The three of us started traveling up and down the east coast of NSW every week in between our casual work to pay the bills. We were spending every moment in each others pockets and I was able to piece together special stories about both the girls in the lead up to them meeting each other.

Sarah was a professional surfer sponsored by Roxy in South Africa from the age of eight. She finished with an 11th place in the WQS tour and missed out on qualifying for the world tour by one or two heats. Both her and Skye worked really hard on the qualifying series and it is what brought them together. 

CW: You’ve faced some ridiculous hurdles in the making of this movie. Tell us about them and how you picked yourself back up each time.

GM: Yeah, so I got robbed twice. The first time was the day before New Years Eve and I had my van packed with all my belongings (including Christmas presents for Skye's family), ready to go on a trip. Overnight some kids broke into my yard and broke into the van taking everything including all my camera gear, money, everything. It was heartbreaking.

The second time I stopped into the shops on my way to film the girls surf and someone smashed my van windows and stole everything, again. All my replaced camera gear that my friends and community had helped me raise money for. I couldn't believe it could happen twice. Have my liveleyhood, happiness and passion threatened like that - twice in a few months.

CW: That's unbelievable.

GM: It was ridiculous. I knew I had to replace my camera gear but I didn't have the funds to do so. So after the first robbery, I held an exhibition where I exhibited my best photos and drawings and raised some money that way. The second time I made t-shirts with my drawings on them and sold them to people. I didn't make nearly enough to replace all the gear after both of those attempts, but I thought it was better than just asking people for money. So I just waited and saved and finally replaced it all. Half of which wasn't my own gear so it wasn't insured.

CW: So the fact you've managed to stay solid is remarkable. You've finished the film and you’re taking it touring, tell us about why you’re taking it to the US.

GM: During filming, I would put little edits up on vimeo for our friends, sponsors and Sarah's family to see. That's when Davina from the New York City Womens Surf Film Festival saw one of my clips. She emailed me and asked to play the film in the 2016 festival, but the film just wasn't ready. We agreed that we would come back in 2017 and show it at the festival.

Creating the film became a little bit more serious after that email. But it was exciting.

CW: What were the challenges (technically) putting this all together?

GM: There were alot of challenges. I had made little edits before, but I had never really needed to worry about the technical side of things because my edits in the past were only going on vimeo or just showing my friends. My camera equipment changed so much throughout shooting over the two years because of the robbery, the quality of some slips were better than others, so alot of the clips had to be left out of the film for consistency.

The length of the film was tricky to decide on. I had originally finished the film and it ran for 40 minutes, but after I showed the finished product to the Festival team they said it could be more effective as a 20 minute film. So right now I'm splicing the 20-minute version for them.

CW: Where do you hope it will end up?

GM: I am proud of where the film has ended up so far. It has always been my dream to make a surf film and play it in my local area, which is what we are doing before we go away to America. I would just love it to gain traction in the surf industry and inspire women around the globe. I would love to make surfing films for a living. Hopefully, Smile and Wave can be that stepping stone.


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