Picture this. It is midnight at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in California and three women of strength and unwavering athleticism take to the glistening blue water. Featuring seven-time World Surf League Champaign, Stephanie Gilmore, alongside Coco Ho, and Leah Dawson the true beauty of surfing is realised in a first-of-its-kind surf film.
Behind the camera is Daniel Askill – an Australia Grammy-nominated arthouse filmmaker – and in collaboration with New York-based content brand, Convicts and automotive giant, Audi, the creative trio have released Electric Wave. Electric. Sustainable. Cinematic. Performance. Exploring infinite possibilities of electric powered technology, Electric Wave is a surf project that celebrates the connection between performance, innovation, and sustainability. With this in mind, Audi has continued to push its boundaries in innovation and for arthouse fanatics, surfers and anyone interested in the future of technology, this newly-released film is an illustration of just that.
As Audi looks to further integrate its involvement in the surfing world, the Four Rings brand has partnered with Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC), a division of the WSL, as the Official Automotive Partner of Surf Ranch. KSWC combines cutting edge science, engineering, and design to create the longest, rideable open-barrel human-made wave in the world. Similar to Audi’s future, the artificial wave in Central California is electric powered and the KSWC team is committed to sustainable development.
Electric Wave marks not only a step forward in technology but a leap in filmography and to gain insight into the project, ICON spoke to Askill.
ICON: Your work has an underlying sense of surrealism, yet it is so relevant to real-world issues and topics. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Daniel Askill: “My inspiration often comes from nature and movement. Also, spiritually, where humanity is going and evolving into something – all of those things. It’s always interesting to express it through cinematography. Electric Wave is a little surreal and abstract, but I think people can draw inspiration from this film.”
What drives your passion for filmmaking?
DA: “I originally studied art and music, and from there, I stumbled across filmmaking. It’s how I can combine all of my passions – art, photo, performance, and music – a whole lot of different things in one art form. As well as a lot of collaboration, that’s what drew me to filmmaking and continues to drive my passion.”
How does this project differ from your past work?
DA: “Well, the clear difference is, I’d never done a piece about surfing before. I was excited to have the opportunity to work on this project with the surfers, Audi, and Pete Maiden from Convicts (Electric Wave’s executive producer)… It included a lot of things that I love – water, movement. We got in the zone and captured a beautiful surf film in an original way.”
What challenges did you face during production, particularly as your first surf film?
DA: “On a technical side, the big challenge was to shoot at Surf Ranch (Kelly Slater Wave Co) at night. To light up a wave like that, it was a challenge. The wave is huge and there were a lot of areas to light up, so the challenge was deciding how we were going to do that – light underwater? Light behind? We were shooting all night, it was long and dark, but we were able to do it and create a space for everyone involved to be free, creative and ultimately, surf beautifully.”
How intensive was the research from both a surfing point of view as well as a car innovation view?
DA: “From a surfing point of view, Steph, Coco and Leah had to do research on how to surf in choreographed harmony, while sharing the same wave. This had never been done before, but as you can see, they nailed it!”
What did you learn about Audi during this process?
DA: “It was fantastic to have Audi support a film like Electric Wave. Audi just wanted to make a beautiful film, a beautiful piece of art – it was really great.”
Was there a collaborative process between you and the surfers? How did the women inspire you?
DA: “Steph, Coco, and Leah were completely inspiring. Unfortunately, I’m not a surfer myself, but being around the energy of the surfers, it was something special. Everyone was so keen to be involved – it made me wish I was a surfer! Their spirits were amazing and joyful, and it made the collaboration process really enjoyable. We collaborated on everything from how they were going to surf, to their choreography and how they were going to share the same wave. We were shooting from 8PM to 8AM, and I thought, the surfers are going to be so tired, but they were full of energy and positivity the whole night. It really brought me so much inspiration – they are three powerhouse women! Actually, our whole team was a powerhouse of women. Natasha Braier, our director of photography was amazing, and our executive producer Sophia. A real team of power.”
Directed by: @danielaskill
Produced by: @convicts @audiofficial
Talent: @stephaniegilmore @xococoho @leahloves
To learn more about Electric Wave, visit audi.com/electricwave