Andrew Kidman: Single

Interview by Glenn Sakamoto

Andrew Kidman, the director behind the now-classic surf films Litmus and Glass Love, has just published a new limited edition, hardbound, signed and numbered book featuring Stephanie Gilmore from the Spirit of Akasha sessions. Spirit of Akasha is a film and soundtrack that celebrates 40 years of Alby Falzon's Morning of The Earth. We spoke with Andrew to learn more.

Tell us the impetus was behind your latest book, “Single – Stephanie Gilmore: Studies of Movement
I was working on the film Spirit of Akasha, which is modern celebration of Albert Falzon’s Morning of the Earth. I suggested to Albert that I wanted to have a female in the film and that I thought Stephanie Gilmore’s style really reminded me of the way Michael Peterson surfed in Morning of the Earth – subtle and graceful.

Tell us more...
I’d seen her surfing the points over the years. She just has such a beautiful, natural style, it’s not aggressive, she just has this flow. I asked Stephanie if we could film her riding a single fin, as they only rode single fins in Morning of the Earth. She liked the idea and I flew to Hawaii and had Dave Parmenter shape it for her, as Dave’s made so many great boards for women surfers over the years, I knew he would know what to make Stephanie.

"The ocean is not gender conscious; it’s for everyone, 
I just hope it inspires younger women to surf and surf the way they’d like to surf."

What is it about single fins compared to other fin setups that you find appealing?
They’re fast. There’s no safety net with them. You have to surf them critically to get the best out of them and if you’re not surfing off the rail and committing fully to both the fin and the rail you’ll wipe out. Traditional San Diego-style Fish are the same, you have to commit fully to the rail. Multi fins seem to be able to recover from any kind of manoeuvre, which I don’t really like, I don’t like wigging out and recovering, I just like to go fast and do a turn when I have enough speed. If I don’t have the speed, I just keep going straight. It’s personal I guess.

What happened when you put Stephanie and the board together?
We got the board back to Australia and I gave it to Stephanie and she rode Greenmount on it. The surf was so perfect and her first surf on the board was so remarkable that I just wanted to commit it to print. By breaking down the footage to still frames, one could study the movement. I just thought it was an important thing to do for surfing, to highlight the grace and relationship Stephanie has as a women to surfing and the ocean.

Tell us about Dave Parmenter. Why did you choose him to write an essay in the book?
I’ve known Dave since I was a kid, he’s always been super supportive of my surfing and shaping and he has been pivotal in my journey into riding different kinds of boards. He turned me onto stuff when I was young and showed me that you could ride and shape anything you were interested in. He shaped the board for Stephanie, so I wanted him to write about that process. When he saw the footage of her riding the board, he couldn’t believe it. He felt the same way I did  – that it was something very special.

What feeling are you hoping the reader experiences while viewing your book?
Hopefully they can feel Stephanie’s joy. Women have such an incredible relationship with the ocean. I see this with my own daughter, she loves it so much. The ocean is not gender conscious; it’s for everyone, I just hope it inspires younger women to surf and surf the way they’d like to surf. They can ride single fins or longboards or whatever, they don’t need to be competitive, they can just enjoy surfing for what it is.

How did this project differ from your other surfing projects (Litmus, Glass Love) that you’ve explored in the past?

It was just something new. I really just like making beautiful things about surfing because at its essence surfing is so beautiful. I like making books, I like sitting down and looking at books, there’s a tactile feeling you get from them, I like the smell of them, touching the paper and turning the pages. I don’t like mass producing things, hence the small number I printed. In this day an age I think it’s important to keep making books so they survive.

What has been the reception to Single?
Stephanie and Albert Falzon liked it. I guess that’s all that matters.

Whats next for Andrew Kidman?
I’m in the process of recording a new album with The Windy Hills, we’re playing some live shows with the film Spirit of Akasha this summer so that should be fun.

The book Single is available exclusively from Kidman’s website here: