Heather Hudson is a California surfer/filmmaker. Heather always had a passion to document the stories of real people. The result was the inspirational film, Women and The Waves. Heather took the time to talk to us about her life and surfing.
What was life like growing up?
Life was good. I am the third of five children. We were a typical suburban family in Southern California. In the 1960’s, we lived on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. We also lived in Glendale in the San Fernando Valley. Then, when I was a teenager in the 1970’s, our family moved to Malibu Canyon. That’s when I discovered surfing!
Who did you look up to and admire when you were younger?
I always looked up to my mom and dad, my older sister Katherine and my Aunt Jeffi. I admired my Aunt Christine who surfed back in the 60’s. I have an image in my mind of her when she came over to our beach house after surfing, and she was carrying a huge surfboard under her arm. I remember looking up at her and she was smiling. She looked so athletic, strong and happy! I wanted to be like her.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
It was an incredible feeling that was indescribable at that moment in my young life. It was a feeling of pure energy that moved through my body. At that moment, I knew I would always surf.
Where did your interest in filmmaking come from?
I’ve always enjoyed documentaries. I love hearing real stories about real people. I accidentally fell into making the film The Women and the Waves because of my friend (filmmaker Peck Euwer who became my co-producer on the film).
What inspired you to create The Women and The Waves?
I was a subject in Peck’s 2006 surf documentary called The Craving. It was about surf addiction. I was the only female in the film. When I saw it on the big screen, I was blown away and became obsessed with telling a story about women and surfing. It occurred to me while watching it on the big screen that film is an incredible way to express something and Peck had the technical knowledge to help me create it.
What has been the reaction to the film?
Amazing! It premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January of 2009. It has been seen all over the world now, from New York to Maui, Australia to Europe and so many places in between! The film has exceeded any expectation that I ever had. I was on a mission to make it and the positive reaction has been icing on the cake for me! It’s especially fulfilling when not only women, but men come up to me after the screenings and say, “Thank you.”
I’ve also received so many e-mails and letters. My most favorite is from Marge Calhoun, who we included in the film. I had spoken to her over the phone during the process of making the film and sent her the DVD when it was finished. She sent me a two page handwritten “thank you” note. Here is how it begins:
“Well finally, after years of waiting and wishing, you and your friends have come through with a picture capturing the hearts and souls of true women of the ocean and surfing world, as I have always felt it to be, but thought I was alone and others didn’t understand. Your documentary captures it all with great narration to complete the picture. I don’t know if I ever met these women but I somehow live in them. They are the real thing.“
– Marge Calhoun
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I really enjoy spending summertime with my family and friends on the lake in North Idaho. I’m stoked when I get to go down to Mexico on surf trips with my girlfriends! And I love Hawaii; it’s so beautiful and the climate is amazing!
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by people and, in particular, older people who have lived and are living well, staying positive and living their life to the fullest. There is nothing more refreshing to me than knowing someone who has experienced life, learned from their mistakes, embraced their wrinkles and managed to laugh at themselves!
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
That LOVE is the most important thing that anyone can have in their life. It calms, it heals and sustains.
What are you most proud of?
My family—my husband and my two teenage sons.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
I feel so lucky that I found surfing. I had some personal struggles in my teenage years into my twenties. In many ways, I felt like surfing really saved my life. No matter what was going on, I always had the beach. No one could take that away from me. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without surfing.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
My family, my friends, nature and the ocean.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
People who are writing about it, documenting it and sharing it. For example, I’m really enjoying Matt Warshaw’s book The History of Surfing. How cool that a book like that exists now! I was recently introduced to a new site called The Inertia.com. It’s a thinking surfers site. It’s outside of the box. I would also include people who are thinking beyond themselves and what they can get out of surfing, and acting on giving back to take care of our ocean, the planet and the people on it. We all need to stop for a moment, take the time to give back and be grateful for this beautiful gift we have been given.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
Board? 9’0” singlefin by Ventura shaper Jim Allen. Surf spot? The Queen of the Coast!
What’s your favorite meal?
That is a close tie between my two favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara—Los Arroyos Restaurant for chile relleno with rice and beans with lots of spicy salsa and chicken Caesar salad from the South Coast Deli.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I’m listening to a playlist that I made for my friend Sherry in Bend, Oregon. It’s got lots of different artists, including Dave Matthews, Lucinda Williams, John Mayer, Pink, Sugarland and James Taylor, to name a few.
What causes, projects or organizations do you support?
Oh, that is a loaded question!
HealTheOcean.org focuses on wastewater infrastructure – sewers and septic systems – as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution.
Serrena.org is dedicated to improving the lives of those with chronic illnesses by providing integrative therapies that empower patients with renewed levels of strength, control and confidence.
SurfersWithoutBorders.org believes that a dedicated group of individuals can change the course of environmental destruction and cultural intolerance. They serve as ambassadors for an ever-growing global group of concerned athletes and activists.
SaveJapanDolphins.org wants to put an end to the Japanese fishery-driven slaughter of dolphins, and also wants to stop the capture and live trade of dolphins to zoos and aquariums around the world.
HelpFeedYourSoul.com is a project currently in development that endeavors to grant every human being that which is essential to a full and healthy life: sustenance, clean water, culture.
My cousin, singer/songwriter Kathy Fry, wrote the theme song for our film The Women and the Waves. The title of the song is “Free”. I really love this inspiring song and it’s available as a download on iTunes!
What are you most grateful for?
What’s next for Heather Hudson?
Experiencing life, learning from my mistakes, embracing my wrinkles and laughing a lot! Oh… and I have some ideas for another surf documentary down the road, but I am being patient to find the time, energy and money!
Find out more about Heather Hudson and the film Women and The Waves here.