Andrew Kidman dives down the rabbit hole (again!)
Tomorrow Andrew Kidman flies out to California. The day after that he has the first screening of his latest film, 'On The Edge Of A Dream'. It'll play up in Santa Barbara, which makes the show a homecoming of sorts: George Greenough first started experimenting with the edge design when he lived there in the early 1960s.
After Santa Barbara came expatriation, Wilderness, high aspect ratio, Velo, Lennox, the Shortboard Revolution, a big pyramid at Broken, G.A.R.C, Dolphin Glide and about 1,000 other things to occupy surfing's most fascinating mind.
But it's the edge design - that little known idea from so many decades ago - that has absorbed Kidman, and Ellis Ericson too, for the better part of five years. That's how long they took to nut this project out: building boards, interviewing, filming, and writing too - this is both book and film.
Before hopping on a plane Kidman spoke to Swellnet about he and Ellis' latest work...
Swellnet: In past films you've shone the light on other shapers: Mick Mackie, Pat Curren, but this time it’s you that's mowing the foam. It makes this film a little different.
Andrew Kidman: Yeah it is, but then the film isn’t about me, or even about me and Ellis, it’s largely about George and his Edge designs. We’re just two guys realising his concept. Seeing if we can make it work.
So you’re shining the limelight on George. Was he willingly involved in the project?
Oh yeah, he was involved in it. That’s the only reason we did it, to be honest. He’s been using the concept since the 60s so we couldn't have done it without him.
Originally George was just sharing all the information with us, like before the project had begun. Giving us templates, giving us the knowledge we needed to make the boards. But we were documenting it along the way. Like I did an interview with Ellis early on. I don’t even know why I did it, it wasn't for any reason - not a story for the magazines or anything. Ellis came around to my house to show me the three original Edge boards he’d made, and I said we should do an interview about these board. I don’t know why I did it, just to document it. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. I look back now and if I hadn’t have done that interview I wouldn't have had anything to build the project around because that’s where it all started for us.
You gotta remember that George has been messing around with this since the 60s, and other people have messed around with the idea as well. I’m not saying we’re the first to do it, when it came to making the film, the only way to make it was to make it about our journey, as I know other people have played around with the idea in California. We couldn't be a part of what they’re doing because we don’t live near them. We had to do it ourselves. That’s why that first interview was so important, we get to show our journey with George and the design.
Hygiene and higher-order thinking. George Greenough in the bath, as rendered by Barry McGee who illustrates the book and film
So both you and Ellis make your own versions of the Edge design?
Yeah, we adapted the concept to what we wanted. Ellis makes completely different surfboards to what I make. And that’s what we went about doing trying to do: adapt that Edge concept to what we are making, you know.
Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. And that’s what the film is about: documenting these things, riding the boards, taking them back to George, showing him, telling him where things are working and where they aren't. We'd explain the problems we were having and he knew why we were having those problems. He’d already been through it all back in the 60s and 70s with his boards. He’d make these suggestions based on his knowledge and we’d go away and change things. He was spot on everytime.
The promo sequence has Ellis riding a single fin, but I assume you adapt them to twins, Thrusters, quads…
Yeah, well that’s what we ride. I don't just ride single fins, though I don’t ever ride quads. We made twins, Thrusters, lots of different boards. Originally it wasn’t so much about the fins, it was finding out what the edge was doing, how wide the centre plane needed to be, how deep, how severe, the fins were playing their part and depending what we did to the edge this would change how they worked. It’s a rabbit hole: we’re still working on the fins, making them smaller, working on the twist and flex.
Do you think the idea might become more popular?
I don't know, to be honest. I told George I was surprised that edge boards weren’t more popular, but he told me that he’s only focussed on what he’s doing. And I guess I feel similar to that. If other people go out and mess around with the design then great, if they don’t, well, whatever. It’s not why we started the project.
I’m getting Phil Myers to make me an edge board at the moment.
There you go. Phil Myers is another guy who’s been messing around with the design. Phil’s probably had a similar journey to what we’ve had, trying various ideas out, testing them, and maybe talking to George about them. Actually, I know he’s talked to George about them. I don't know how much he’s taking on board what George is saying but his boards have definitely changed since he started doing them. Our boards have changed a heap as well. It’s been a lot of fun.
The book and film were released for sale three weeks ago. Are you happy with the response so far?
Yeah, we are. There’s been a few surprises. I got a text the other day from Ben Jarvis, who lives down your way, and he said that he overheard a few groms at the point and they were talking about George Greenough. They didn’t know who he was but they were gonna go get some slurpees and go and check out who this George Greenough guy is. Things like that are great.