Exciting week ahead as you launch your first all-female surf movie , ‘Ebb and Flow’. Tell us how it came about?
The idea behind Ebb and Flow is to shine a spotlight on the amazing talent of women in the water
here on the west coast. I’m a surfer and a film maker and after moving to Sligo 2 years ago I was
blown away by the huge community of women who surf, windsurf and sea swim here! I felt like
what I was experiencing here as a female surfer was never really represented in the media so the
idea for the project was born. This film is all about promoting and celebrating the radiant female
community here who take on the the wild Atlantic Ocean on a daily a basis!
Art has also been a huge part of life growing up so I really wanted to create a piece that combined
both surfing and art together as one. To bring this concept to life I worked with the incredible
contemporary artist, Alice Maher who also lives on the west to create animation for the piece. We
delved into the more mystical side of the Irish coastline looking at folklore about Selkies, Grainne
Mhoal and Queen Meave. Her work always represents strong women and the female form so
beautifully and having her drawings in the film really make it a unique viewing experience!
It was also important for me to have the perfect sound to fit this piece. I worked with the talented
Jessie Solange Whitehead from Sligo who composed and recorded a stunning song for the
opening sequence. The film also features music from the Sligo based band, The Hunter. I wanted
Ebb and Flow not only to be a celebration of the female surf community here but also to showcase
the rich creative community that resides on the west too!.The whole concept for Ebb and Flow was set in motion last year when we received funding for the project from Creative Ireland. It has been truly amazing that they have supported a project of this nature and I’m looking forward to bringing it to the public this weekend!
We see lots of surf content being created along the west coast of Ireland but we rarely see
females appear in them. Tell us about the characters you chose to feature in Ebb and Flow?
I love the fact that for a lot of people on the west coast, the ocean plays a central part in their world
and they have built a life around making time for the sea and nature. So it was really important for
me to showcase not only great talent but also women who had struck the balance in their busy
lives to always make time for their love of the Atlantic Ocean. So Katie McAnena, Elizabeth Clyne
and Shauna Ward seemed like the perfect choice! They are a really diverse group of women who
not only surf but also windsurf and SUP too. Growing up in Donegal, Shauna Ward was taught by her father how to surf. They went to the Junior Surf Nationals in Rossnowlagh every summer and later Shauna went on to compete with the Irish surf team. Shauna tackles the waves with amazing power and boldness! Elizabeth Clyne grew up in Strandhill and started surfing from the age of 12. She’s travelled all
over the world surfing and now co-runs her architects firm in Sligo. Elizabeth surfs with such
fluidity and elegance that I feel like you don’t see in a lot of male surf films so it’s been amazing to
capture her style and see how it translates on the screen!. Finally, Katie McAnena, from Galway is an extremely talented all round water women! She has competed around the world windsurfing on two professional tours, is a six-time Irish national windsurfing champion, has won events on the pro-American tour and national SUP champion five times. Katie is also the first woman ever to windsurf the big wave break known as Jaws on the island of Maui in Hawaii. When not in the water she works as a GP and has two beautiful kids!. It’s been amazing watching how these three navigate the ocean not only with such style and grace but also with extreme determination and grit too. They were absolutely fabulous to work with and despite the cold we always had a good laugh whilst filming!.
Shooting a surf documentary or edit on Ireland’s harsh coastline is no easy project. We’re sure you’ve battled the elements more than once. Tell us about the process, how long it took to shoot and the conditions?
I have spent the last year filming with the girls throughout the seasons and in all weather conditions
along the coast of Sligo and Donegal!. I had to shoot in mainly wet and cold conditions especially over the winter months but really enjoyed it! I definitely got good at layering up to stay warm and dry but it was amazing to be out enjoying nature as part of my job. We filmed in many different locations along the coast of Sligo and Donegal. I had only planned on filming for a 3 or 4 months but the weather conditions were not in our favour, especially at the beginning. There were many occasions where we’d arrive at a spot and the swell just hadn’t materialised as predicted on the forecast. This was my first time using a water proof housing for my camera so it was a huge challenge trying to navigate swimming in swell and getting good shots at the same time. I definitely learned a lot throughout the process and realised pretty early on that I had to invest in a warmer wetsuit to stick out the cold. I found it difficult at the start but the more I went out the more comfortable I got with swimming in bigger waves and now I absolutely love being out in the water filming!.
Any project within the surf world in Ireland is a labour of love and involves cold days, numb fingers and goose chases as you watch the charts and hope to score the perfect conditions. How hard was it to get all the characters together, balancing work, family and other commitments from everybody?
The three girls have been absolutely amazing throughout the whole project. They were so
committed from the beginning and have given up so much time for filming which I’m so appreciate
of. Our usual schedule was either early morning or on the weekends. There were many 5 am
starts! We would arrive at our filming location at first light and the girls would surf and then all head
off to work for the day!.
Finally, tell us about the launch this Saturday, time, venue and what people can expect?
The event is on at 8pm in The Factory Performance Space in Sligo Town. There will be a short
drinks reception to begin and then we will show the film. Everyone is welcome and we cannot wait to showcase and celebrate the female surf community hereon the west coast.