Under the Sun is a documentary film made by filmmaker Cyrus Sutton and West Coast Record and clothing label Ubiquity Records. The film features an original soundtrack by Ubiquity Recording artist Shawn Lee alongside Australian acts Band of Frequencies (a collective of musicians hailing from Byron Bay), Low Pressure Sound System and Afro Dizzi Act.
On this double disc, Ubiquity multi-instrumentalist, Lee turns out a sunny, surf inspired mix of tracks that will make you want to pack up that board and head to the beach, or at least close your eyes and dream about it. Lee’s signature funky breaks and beats are backed by twangy guitars and harmonicas creating a hazy breeze of blissful tunes.
On the second disc are three Australian bands with close ties to the surf community. Afro Dizzi Act play rootsy Afro-beat tinged jams and have built a reputation as being one of the most flexible and adventurous acts in Australia. Their track “The Drop Off” is inspired by the euphoria of elevated consciousness and spiritual inner strength that follows after taking off on a big wave while surfing, or launching into an outer reef while snorkeling. Low Pressure Sound System is a collective of musicians who record soundtracks and perform live jams, and much of their material on this record is based on two weeks of recording non-stop spontaneous tracks. Their “Spoonbender” tune is named after eccentric surf icon and creator of the flexible spoon surf craft George Greenough. Band Of Frequencies is a side project featuring members of Afro Dizzi Act, and noted surfer Dave Rastovich, delving into heavier guitar sounds blending psychedelia, roots, rock and soul.
Under the Sun has already won Best Action Sports Film at the Newport Beach Film Festival, and is set to air at other American festivals this Fall. Shot in Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, on the Pacific Shore of Eastern Australia, the film explores the commercialization of surfing subcultures through two opposing surf towns. While the two locations are geographically close their populations have completely different outlooks on life, and this clash is magnified in their respective surf scenes.
These opposing forces offer a microcosmic view of the surf industry, and raise fascinating questions facing the surf world in general. With rising populations and dwindling resources where do these two towns go from here? While the industry promotes imagery of pristine waves, coastlines of the world are quickly becoming more crowded and polluted. Where does surfing go from here? Can the industry and culture sustain?
“For years the surfing subculture has blazed a rebellious trail with the industry following close behind turning scenes and ideas into dollars signs. With swelling crowds and deteriorating water quality surfing is reaching critical mass,” explains film maker Cyrus Sutton. “But whether you’re a beach bum or a CEO, we’re all surfers and in a world were money talks, embracing the surf industry may be the only way to preserve the lifestyles we have grown to love,” he adds.
Filmed in 2006 and 2007, the film was finished in April 2008, with Sutton returning from Australia to edit at Ubiquity HQ in Southern California. The lush landscape he had captured provided amazing footage to which Sutton also added mixed media animation. The films features cameos from Dave Rastovich (A Gold Coast/Byron Bay hybrid raised in the competitive surfing arena who opted for the Byron Bay lifestyle in his early twenties), and many other surfers including Rabbit Bartholomew, Nat Young, Beau Young, and Dean Morrison. For more information and future screenings check www.underthesunsurfmovie.com for updates.