“By The Way” Sheds Light On Unsung Surfers

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Southampton, N.Y. native and 27-year-old filmmaker Hayley Gordon never expected her women’s surf film “By The Way” to reach over 31,000 views and be featured on Surfer Magazine’s website, but after a few weeks, her first real surf project turned into a big hit.

“By The Way” follows a group of female surfers up and down the California coast, from San Diego to Encinitas. It features the likes of Silvana Lima, Sara Taylor, Leila Hurst, Malia Manuel, Sofia Mulanovich and Courtney Conlogue soulfully shredding left and right, while reminding us of what surfing is all about. And that’s having fun.

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Hayley Gordon said "By The Way" has sort of an old 'backyard' movie feel. Photo: Hayley Gordon

“I think that it’s more just about these girls surfing and having fun,” Gordon said. “It’s pretty much a straight up surf video. There’s not really plot or theme behind it, and I kind of like that aspect and the carefree feel. It just kind of arose organically.”

The film’s title fits its purpose perfectly. Gordon said the whole point of making the film was to highlight the talent these women have, even if you’ve never heard of them. It’s like—by the way, these girls can rip too.

“The title kind of explains the movie in an indirect way,” Gordon said. “It sort of became about giving exposure to the girls out there that might not be in the mainstream spotlight, but who are still really talented. So it’s more about giving them a chance to be seen.”

And it does. Outside of the competitive circuit, these girls come alive. Silvana Lima, Sara Taylor and Ornella Pellizzari are standouts in this film, with cutbacks that could kill and some massive-spraying vertical power hacks… among other things. Longboarder Margaux Arramon-Tucco also catches attention in this film as she gracefully glides on waves most short boarders would look past. Her surfing is like a moving piece of art in this film.

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Gordon shooting Margaux Arramon-Tucco shaping her board. Photo: Hayley Gordon

This is NOT a “Girls Can Surf Too!” girl-power film sort of like Nike’s “Leave A Message.” Gordon said that theme is extremely trite nowadays, and she’s right. She wanted a surf movie just about surfing, like “Thicker Than Water.” Something people could call a real classic.

“The whole combative ‘girls can surf too’ stance is a bit played out by now,” she said. “I’d like to stay away from that and just make some good (and fun) surf videos. I think the level of girls surfing has grown exponentially in the last few years and it’s incredible. Let’s just let it speak for itself.”

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Photo: Hayley Gordon

Gordon said due to the hyped response the film received, she anticipates a bigger hunger for women’s surf films. Women’s surfing has progressed a great deal and while it’s still clearly underrated, the thirst for more exposure grows stronger.

“I think that shows that there’s an audience hungry for more videos of the girls,” she said. “I also think people liked the fact that it wasn’t commercialized and just showed the girls being themselves, having fun.”

After such a success, Gordon said she is anxious to get out there and start working on something else. It was her first full surf movie after graduating University of Michigan with a film degree in 2006. Now, Gordon said she is planning new projects. She is looking to add new unique twists to classic surf film blueprints.

“I’m collecting more footage and my wheels are turning for a larger project,” she said. “Ultimately I really want to make a ‘real’ surf video that’s going to be sold in stores and in people’s DVD collections. I want to experiment with new ideas, setting up shots more deliberately, and try to take it to the next level. I also really want to get in and shoot from the water.”

Here’s to hoping we see more awesome things from Hayley Gordon in the future!

You can enjoy “By The Way” online or you can see it on a big screen at Long Beach Cinema on April 13th at 8 p.m. along with “Stacked,” “Couch Tour” and “Lapsed Catholics: What The Surf Magazines Don’t Tell You.”

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