Interview with Filmmaker Heather Hudson | Women and the Waves 2

Women and the Waves 2 was selected for the 4th Annual NYC Women's Surf Film Festival 2016, by Heather Hudson.   “The Women and the Waves 2” is a documentary surf film that celebrates women and their unique approach to surfing and life.  The film looks at the state of surfing today from a feminine perspective and features positive role models that give back to people and the planet.

Following in the footsteps of the groundbreaking 2009 film, THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES; THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES 2 continues to explore the culture of surfing in relation to six surfers and their lives both in and out of the water. THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES 2 emphasizes the notion that surfing is more than just a sport; it is a lifestyle, and serves as a backdrop for connections made between people, honoring the natural world, paying homage to loved ones past, and celebrating the cycle of life. Ultimately, the film is the portrayal that a life filled with gratitude for one another and the world we live in, is a life well lived. And when the joy of surfing is added to the equation it makes life that much more sweet!


Where did you grow up and where do you call home now?

I am a California native and grew up in Glendale, Balboa Island, Monte Nido (Malibu Canyon), and Malibu. I met my husband in Malibu back in the 80’s, and we eventually decided that we wanted to get out of LA to raise a family– so we moved up to Santa Barbara 20 years ago. Our grown sons thank us for that! I love it here. It is my home and this is where I will stay!

How did you get started in filmmaking and why?

About 10 years ago, a friend of mine made an independent surf film called “The Craving.” I was the only woman featured in the film. It premiered in the 2006 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. As I sat in the Arlington Theater and watched this film on the big screen, I had a “light bulb” moment! I wanted to tell the stories of women in surfing & what an amazing way to reach people.... through FILM! The next day, I started my journey into filmmaking & called my friend and asked if he would help me make it. 3 years later, THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES premiered at the same film festival.

How did The Women and the Waves 2 come about?

After the success of THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES, I wasn’t sure if I would make another feature length film. I knew I would have to feel very passionate about putting in the time, energy and money it takes to make a feature film. In the fall of 2013, I realized I wasn’t finished telling the stories of women... it was time! Two friends featured in THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES experienced pivotal moments in their lives. (Zeuf Hesson received her final cancer diagnosis. And Ashley Lloyd Thompson found out she was pregnant.) It was a reminder to enjoy each moment and live in the present. Life goes on whether we are here or not. I wanted to express this in my film.

How did you come to meet the women featured in the film?

I feel so fortunate to call each one a friend! They are productive, unique, and powerful in their own right, and still find the time to get in the water! They are, in my mind, positive role models for women and girls in the surfing world and beyond. That said, my list started with Ashley Lloyd Thompson who I featured in the first film. She is such a lovely soul who shapes surfboards and plays music, and raises her child beautifully. Jeannette Prince is a dear friend who I travel to Mexico with each year. She is kind and a talented artist and teacher. I met Kristy Murphy in Mexico and she is awesome... She wins the prize for most positive person in the lineup! Demi Boelsterli and Isabelle Radis are my two youngest surfers both in their 20’s. I have watched them grow up here in Santa Barbara and become very talented surfers and creative people. Lastly, I met Mary Bagalso through my friend Zeuf. She is an inspiring human and rips! By the way, after our photo shoot with Joni Sternbach last November, I call them “The Stunning Six!” I am inspired by each one of them.

What were some of the challenges in making this film?

Time. Filming it by myself and editing the first cut. I am thanking my lucky stars that I serendipitously met Maurice Salmin, my pro editor, while waiting for a delayed flight at LAX. He saved the day! Ha!

Where was the film shot? Tell us more about the break?

I followed all of my surfers at their home breaks and beyond - along the California Coast from San Diego to Santa Cruz, Honolulu. Then on to Mexico and Central America. (Can’t tell you more about that because I promised.)

Tell us more about the surf culture and scene in California?

It’s really crowded! It’s all good though... As Kristy Murphy says in my film, “We are so blessed just to be out there!” But I must admit that my favorite days are when the Internet forecasters get it wrong... and you can still occasionally find places and times to go out where it’s just you and a few friends!

Is there a discrepancy with the number of women and men that surf in the water in California?

Around 2000, I remember noticing that every year more and more women were coming out in the water! That was my inspiration to make the first film, THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES. I wanted to tell stories about what it was like for women before it became normal to see a lot of women surfing. Today, it is rare not to see women out there! I’d say that the numbers are pretty even now especially the people that are learning- guys, gals, boys and girls.

Do you feel that women’s surfing has improved over the past decade? If so, in what ways?

If you are asking about improved ability, I would say yes! Women’s surfing has evolved right alongside the men and they are getting really good. Every generation brings in new levels of ability and evolution in equipment. The newest generation has grown up on an equal playing field with the guys, so it’s cool to see what they are doing now! I love the uniqueness, beauty and grace that women bring to the lineup.

If you are asking about improved social conditions, I would say, yes as well. Female surfers are accepted more than ever today. But I do believe that reflects our society’s overall acceptance of women in all walks of life. When I started back in the 1970’s, you really had to be want to be out there. I remember thinking that no one was going to stop me from surfing just because I am a girl!

Where has been your favorite places to surf and shoot surfers?

I love filming everywhere! It is especially fun to travel and go to tropical places. I’ll spend hours on the beach getting my shots, but I’ll always find a moment to jump in and catch a few waves too! I love what I do.

What can't you live without when you travel?

Patagonia Black Hole Duffle Bag. Hydro Flask. Aloha Collection Splash-Proof Pouch.

Where do you find your personal inspiration?

I am inspired by people who are loving and kind and give back to people and the planet. I love and am inspired by my family & friends, good music & my dogs!

What’s next for Heather Hudson?

To live in the present moment and enjoy each day, to be grateful for life and love.


Photo above by Kara Block Creative & Jeanette Prince