A new documentary laying bare the gritty reality of surf in the North East of England.
We spoke to the two directors Simon and Tom to find out how hailing from Germany and Milton Keynes respectively they found themselves jumping into not so glamorous surf spots of the once industrial heartland of Great Britain.
The film was shot in and around the River Tees estuary near Middlesborough and Redcar and in and around Saltburn by the Sea. While being far from exotic, the northern ‘smoke cities’ have a rich and proud surfing heritage, vast hidden beauty and some incredible unsung surf breaks – it is these charms that underpin the entire documentary, Simon told us.
We were literally thinking they were taking the piss, like, expecting to at any moment have them break the masquerade and start laughing at us or something
“We went up and checked it out after a German friend who is a teaching assistant in the area tipped us off. It was amazing. The scenery is stunning, but much more importantly, the people are so welcoming and helpful, we couldn’t believe it at first. We were literally thinking they were taking the piss, like, expecting to at any moment have them break the masquerade and start laughing at us or something. Like: “What, you really thought we were gonna help you out just like that?” and be sent on our way back South. But it never happened. Everybody, EVERYBODY we approached, was super helpful and interested.”
The duo also drew inspiration from Simon Palmer’s book Don’t Jump off the Pier, the story of surfing at the cold water town of Saltburn by the Sea. Locals lit the fuse on the UK surf scene and put Saltburn on the worldwide surfing map when they were inspired by magazines in the late 60s and 70s showing the California and Hawaii surf explosions.
“We wanted to try and capture the feeling of what coming up there and going surfing feels like. How down to earth and grounded it still is compared to other places with their over-hyped beach-idiot scene. And how the history of the place is always with you. It feels old up there. We wanted to show the intensity of that. If we achieved that, then it’s a success.” Simon told us
The guys were being a little coy on which exact breaks and spots impressed out of respect to the locals but Simon did comment on the quality of the north
“I’ve seldom seen so many A-list reefs in such close vicinity. I’m completely blown away by everything up there, so much so that it has actually made me think of moving up permanently…
If only the winters weren’t so gruesome…”
Simon and Tom are keen to see if this film has legs and hope to make more episodes in the future.
“We’re trying to find out if we can turn this documentary approach into a little series and go to some other awesome places.”
They have just secured international agency representation and signed to a production company in the UK (Unit9 Films) and another one in France (Bandits Productions), so the future is certainly looking bright…
To find out more visit www.acommonfuture.com