Almost everyday the Californian film producer, Heather Hudson, surfs at her local beach. Heather is a talented and graceful longboarder who set up her own film company, Graciegirl LLC in 2007. Following the achievement of “the Women and the Waves” Heather has been part of the second installment, “the Women and the Waves 2”. She gained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology progressing into advertising until she became a full-time mother, and then evolved into a talented filmmaker. We caught up with Heather to find out a little more about her filmmaking, her love of surfing and adventure.
Tell us a little about your ground-breaking documentary surf film: “The Women and the Waves”.
I started surfing as a teenager in the late 1970’s. In the early 2000’s, I was noticing how many women and girls were getting out in the lineup. It was such a huge change from years past. This inspired me to tell a story about what it was like for women in a male dominated sport through the decades. In 2009, my first documentary, The Women and the Waves was released. It was my first film and the response was awesome! So positive! We screened all over the world. Fast forward to 2016, I released my second film, The Women and the Waves 2. I’ve spent the past year, once again screening this film at film festivals and events around the globe. I am humbled by the positive response. I’m stoked to share a slice of life that is relevant to the female experience in the surf world and beyond.
(Filmmaker Heather Hudson – Photo: Kara Block Creative)
Why do you love filmmaking?
I absolutely enjoy the challenge! I am always learning something new. At times it can be quite painful. (Especially during the edit process!) It takes a lot of time energy and money to make a film. But when the film is finished, it is so gratifying when people “get it!
How did you start out in filmmaking?
In 2006, I was featured in a small independent surf film called The Craving. It premiered in at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. I was the only woman featured in the film, and as I watched it on the big screen I thought, “ My gosh! What an amazing way to express something. The next day, I called my friend who made the film and said, “I want to make a film about women. Will you help me?!” And that’s when my adventure into filmmaking began. It has been an amazing learning experience and journey.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start out in filmmaking?
Set goals. Go with the low flow. Be flexible. Be patient. Always remember that when one door closes another one will open.
Do you enjoy any extreme sports or any forms of adventure? If so how has it moulded your life?
I LOVE Surfing! It literally saved my life. I am so grateful that I discovered it as a teenager. Throughout my life, no matter what challenges good or bad- I have faced, I’ve always had the ocean. It’s there that I found my true home. I love being in nature and take the time to be in it each day. I’ve never been a gym person… If the surf is flat I’ll walk my dog Pearl, or go hike in the mountains… When I am in nature… I am most at peace!
(“On location in Mexico with Kristy Murphy” – Photo: Jeannette Prince)
Do you have any favourite filmmakers who have caught your attention and why?
I enjoy watching films about people. Documentaries – especially those with a surf story. I love stories about every day yet extraordinary people of all ages. Some of my favorites that influenced me: “Heart of the Sea” By Charlotte Lagarde, Lisa Denker and Janet Cole “Surfing for Life” by David L. Brown and Roy Earnest “One Winter Story” by Elizabeth Pepin and Sally Lundberg “Step Into Liquid” by Dana Brown and the drama – “Big Wednesday” John Millius and Denny Aaberg It was released in 1978 when I started surfing. I was stoked to see a “Hollywood” film that showed surfing. It had a great story and wasn’t just a “surf film.”
Which beach do you feel most connected with and why?
I first started surfing at Malibu Surfrider Beach, California. So, I’ll always feel a strong connection there. Then, about 21 years ago, my husband and I decided to leave LA and move 100 miles north to Santa Barbara to raise our two sons. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. I have a special affinity to Rincon. It is beautiful and on a good swell, very powerful! The wave is as good as it gets. I feel so fortunate to have spent my surfing life near two of best right hand point-breaks in the world! Life is good.
(The Women and the Waves Triptych © 2015 Joni Sternbach. Wetplate Collodion Tintype featuring W&W2 Surfers: (L -R) Isabelle Radis, Demi Boelsterli, Ashley Lloyd Thompson, Mary Bagalso, Kristy Murphy, (Filmmaker) Heather Hudson & Jeannette Prince)
Does your family have the same affinity with the beach and sea?
Yes. My husband and sons love living in Santa Barbara near the ocean- where the mountains meet the ocean. We have and will always live near the sea!
Is there a beach that you aspire to live by or visit anywhere in the world and why?
I love Santa Barbara and plan to live here for the rest of my life. I’ve always wanted to travel to Australia, New Zealand. My films have screened there, but I haven’t had the timing to go. I’d also like to see Japan someday. Those are definitely on my bucket list!
Has the ocean taught you anything in life?
Most definitely! Life is like the ocean. It changes every day and you never know what you will find. Mother Nature is an awesome and powerful force. I’ve learned to NEVER underestimate the power of the ocean.
What brings you the most happiness at the beach?
Surfing. Sunshine. Fresh Air. Nature.
You have supported and volunteered “Heal the Ocean”, what in particular has drawn you to this charity?
Water is life. If we do not have clean water there is no life. As a life long surfer, I feel that we must do our part to keep pollution out of the ocean. Heal the Ocean started as a grassroots organization a few years after I moved to Santa Barbara in the mid 1990’s. Our mission has remained the same. It’s simple. “The ocean can no longer be used as a dump.”
(Take a peek at this short film directed by Heather below.)
Who, either friends, family, famous who have connections to the sea most inspire you?
Executive Director of Heal the Ocean (Santa Barbara), Hillary Hauser is devoted and driven to protect our beloved ocean. She is passionate and I admire her persistence. She is awesome!
Surfing Pioneer – Linda Benson. She is a dear friend and was featured in my first film. I admire her tenacity. She paddled out a Waimea Bay when she was 15 years old! That takes guts! She has surfed since she was a little girl and still rips to this day. I hope I can surf half as good as Linda when I am her age!
Both Films Available to Rent/Buy/Give: www.TheSurfNetwork.com
Released in 2016:
THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES 2