Breaking Down “Surfing 50 States”

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It’s safe to say everyone has watched a movie or read a book that gave them the itch to travel cross-country. This was the case for Aussies Stefan Hunt and Jonathan Durrant who dropped everything on a mission to surf in each and everyone of the 50 states. Surfing in Colorado? Sounds like the ingredients for a spin on a Jim Carey/Jeff Daniels mission. And that’s exactly what happened. Needless to say, their film Surfing 50 States —which is featured at the New York Surf Film Festival on September 27th — is the first of its kind and worthy of a look.

Interview by: Matt Bauer

SURFING: How did the idea of Surfing 50 States come about?

STEFAN: A homeless dude selling crack convinced us to do it, but Jonno might have a different story.
Traveling through Europe, we met a lot of cool Americans and thought we might find a few more on their home turf so we might as well, “go surf in the 50 states!”

What was your ultimate vision for the film?

S: I wanted to capture an unbiased view of American people, share the surfing experience with everyone we met, and most importantly just have fun exploring the idea that no matter where you live, with a bit of creativity, you can always get your gnar on.
That if anyone besides our mums saw it we would be stoked!

With every road trip you’re bound to face many obstacles. Tell us a little about the Borat-like vehicle you traveled in and any misfortunes you had with it.

S: We scored an ice cream truck from Hurley, which was probably the best and worst form of transportation we could have taken on the 20,000-mile journey. Two new engines along with repaired transmissions, batteries, mufflers, petrol tanks — just to name a few — set us back about $5,000. But once we discovered that it played 32 tracks of ice cream tunes loud enough to burst an eardrum, we figured we’d gotten a good deal.
I ended up driving 99 percent of the time because Stefan is not as manly as I am. One highlight I remember was when Stefan was getting changed in the back while I was driving. I slammed on the breaks and he went flying completely naked, along with everything else in the van.


If you had to pick one state to live which would it be and why?

S: Alaska, so I could grow a beard and live in a cabin.
Hawaii because they have malasadas (Hawaiian donuts)

With 50 states covered, odds are pretty good that you at least scored once, right?

S: Yeah, a couple times. [Laughs] We had the brilliant idea of 50 dates in 50 states, but I’m a kook around girls, so that failed quickly. Jonno scored a GF out of it though — a mad Midwest farmer’s daughter.


Which state’s surfing was your biggest surprise?

S: Alabama. We actually scored bigger waves there than anywhere on the East Coast. One local surfer claimed “Florida may have the oranges, but Alabama has the juice” in his thick southern accent.

What was it like editing the entire film independently, with the limited experience you had?

S: Oh dude, such a challenge, but so stoked we completed it. We honestly were the biggest amateurs and had so many obstacles. I swear our passion for the project got us there in the end.
Really frustrating! We owe a lot of people favors for their technical advice.


Do you have any advice for future cross-county surf seekers?

S: Don’t go in winter. Don’t take a crappy ice cream truck. Plan out a route and DON’T eat mountain lion. Basically just do the opposite as us.
Make sure you know a lot of people inland!