Inaugural Carolina Surf Film Festival Rides Into James Island

Mac Kilduff


Many years ago, I could stand on a skateboard and move forward or back (and possibly turn). I could also, assuredly, fall off of that skateboard (I know because I almost knocked myself out in Atlantic Citywear helmets everyone). On the topic of boards, since I’ve never surfed a day in my life, I can say with certainty that the best I could do is simply fall off of a surfboard. So, I’ve never thought of trying to stand on one. That’s where the first Carolina Surf Film Festival came into my life.



Though I had signed on when I heard the words “food truck rodeo,” I was unsure of what to expect at the event since I’m not a surfer and this was the first event of its kind around here. Unfamiliar with the lifestyle around it and how they could possibly fill up three days of a festival with films about a single subject, I really had no choice but to come with an open mind. Going into it, though, I knew it was there to support both artists and local charitable initiatives, such as Charleston Waterkeeper and Charleston Surfrider, so an open mind was easy to achieve.



I had never been to the Brick House Party Plantation, and like many of the venues in the Lowcountry, that time spent amongst the oaks was breathtaking. Beautifully lit vendors and food trucks lined the main walk along the rows of seating for the screenings. Toward the back, there were artists creating and selling their wares, as well as an electronically driven silent auction. After demolishing a brat from Charleston Choo and eyeballing the Mex1 Cantina Truck (food trucks kill diets), I spent some time mingling and sampling all of the Peligroso tequila, an appropriate sponsor for the event due to their history. Everyone was willing to chat, and all had a direct link to the sport of surfing in some way or another.



About the time the sun went down, the screenings started as people continued to move through the trees, making the venue a kind of living theater. I realized the vibe of this was what one might expect to find when attending a surf-oriented event not far from the "Edge of America." And despite being won over by food trucks, tequila, passionate vendors and artists, and general fun of the festival, I found that all I needed in the first place were these films.



I’ll be honest and say that I love horror movies, video games, and being lackadaisical. I’ll get out and move every once and a while, but my beach trips usually consist of floating around and drinking a beer. This changed when I watched some of these films. The high cinematic quality was matched by some of the most engaging content I had seen from an amateur film festival. The films were not just about showcasing the tremendous talent and varied personalities of surfers near and far, but about celebrating them. They were about rising to the challenges of nature, society, and one’s own personal values. I mentioned I could fall off of a surfboard, but these films made me want to fall off of a surfboard and get up just to do it again. They were inspiring, heartfelt, and enlightening, and I realized there was far more to this culture than what many may think.




Even though I’m not a surfer, I’ll be attending Carolina Surf Film Festival's future events. I’ve fallen in love with this culture, and by this time next year, I’ll hopefully have fallen off of a few surfboards as well.