One Track Mind

One Track Mind

Woodshed Films
Chris Malloy

A study of success and the pursuit of competitive excellence through the words of some of surfing’s most titled icons and assorted pretenders. At the start of this film, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, Tom Curren and Kelly Slater represent the alpha-gene competitive strand running though modern surfing, connected, but each evolving beyond their predecessor to take performance into new paradigms. Each openly admit that they studied the one before, and Malloy creates great fusions of footage showing how exactly they succeeded – Curren’s energetic, hungry style as a youngster almost perfectly mimicking Rabbit’s slightly urgent overflow of desire as he looks for places to go on the wave; and Kelly’s looping smoothness as he connects every movement, miniscule and grand, from the start of his ride to the end, like a faster, deeper, higher-altitude version of the later, mature Curren. But the film doesn’t get stuck on the winners or the past. It is fast-paced, flicking between telling comments from the likes of Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, Sunny Garcia and Rob Machado (and sundry other Top 5-ers from the last two decades) as well as tomorrow’s likely champions in Kolohe Andino and Jon Jon Florence. It’s a staccato therapy session delving into the psychology of the obsessed, turning over the nature of the desire and mechanics of attempting to achieve. Some of these guys burn white hot – Mick Fanning being the latest greatest example of the power of a concentrated competitive flame – while others blow cool and somehow cause fireworks, like Slater reluctantly rolling into the 2008 season, driven only by the unstoppable logic of his life’s arc, empowered by his sheer nonchalance. Dane Reynolds is another – so blessed with talent that his rise to surf stardom seems almost pre-ordained, despite his mindset. “I’ve never really won a surf contest,” says Dane. “I’m not that competitive … I always feel guilty for the guy I beat.”
The question you may be asking is: why do I give a damn? Unlike most sports – say, tennis, in which every player plays to win every time he plays – surfing, for the huge majority of us, is more about joy than victory. So is this film just for the tiny, contest-focused minority in our midst? It could be, but all of us appreciate high quality surfing and OTM offers a study of its dynamics over time and through different masters of our shared art. Chris Malloy was an early proponent of the off-the-radar, artsy, ‘souly’ approach to depicting what we do (September Sessions, Thicker Than Water, Brokedown Melody among others), and his efforts helped spread that welcome vibe through the commerce-addled surf world. Now he says he’s become bored of ‘alternative’ and finds today’s high-end competitive scene more interesting. I love riding my D-fin fish and won’t ever win, or likely enter, a surf contest, but OTM made Malloy’s case well enough while keeping me entertained, interested, laughing and strangely … wanting to get off the couch and go and surf better than ever before. ADR