cinema, Photography, surfing

Singlefin: Yellow, Surf Documentary Review

Title: Singlefin: Yellow (2004)

Director: Jason Baffa

Starring: Beau Young, David Kinoshita, Devon Howard, Daize Shayne, Bonga Perkins, Tyler Hatzikian (shaper/surfer).

Genre: Documentary/sport

Running time: 70 min.

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Written, directed, and produced by Jason Baffa, Singlefin: Yellow charts the journey of a surfboard around the world as it is shared by a community of surfing friends.

Inspired by the spirit of nineteen-sixties surfing, California based shaper Tyler Hatzikian builds a board, surfs it, passes it on to a friend, who then repeats the process.

Shot in economical 16mm format, the film has a nice grainy feel. Faded colours, and weird colour casts all add to the atmosphere of the documentary. It has a real sixties feel; even the clothing/wetsuits have a retro look. The only real reference to the twenty-first century is a short clip of Devon Howard tapping away on his laptop.

There is plenty of nose-riding footage shot from the beaches – possibly a little to much. Visually the documentary could benefit from a little more camera angle variety. However, editing is tight and the surf footage is real good, as all participants are world class surfers.

As the board travels to well known surf breaks in California, Australia, Japan, Hawaii, and Mexico, Baffa explores some of the history and culture of surfing. Along the journey each talented, mellow surfer describes their experience surfing Yellow, and share their philosophies on surfing and life. Daize Shayne is the only female surfer included, and although her section is a little short, it’s probably a reflection of the largely testosterone fueled/filled surf world.

The film flows smoothly from one section to the next, and in-transit footage of the board making its way from departure lounges to arrivals provides visual variety and a little respite from the waxing lyrical.

“Surfing is there for everyone to enjoy. Surfing is a truly beautiful thing to do, and something that can change your life forever.” – Beau Young.

The accompanying soundtrack adds real depth to the documentary: A carefully selected collection of offbeat folk, rock, jazz, and electronica tunes, by relatively unknown West coast artists like The White Buffalo, enhances the tone and mood.

The surfboard acts as a common thread throughout the documentary, and provides Baffa with the means to explore the spirit of surfing: It’s more than just competitions, sponsorship, and money. It’s about sharing the waves, friendship, new experiences, and having a good time.

This is a beautifully crafted documentary that will appeal to anyone vaguely interested in surfing. It’s got great cinematography, music, and an underlying message, and once the credits were finished rolling, l passed on my copy of Singlefin: Yellow to a surf friend.

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3 thoughts on “Singlefin: Yellow, Surf Documentary Review

  1. Gerard says:

    I have a surfboard almost exactly like that one in the photo. 9’0″ Bing Pintail lightweight. A yellow single fin.
    From 1968. It’s a Dick Brewer shape for Bing Copeland. Brewer must have been working for Bing back then . Mine has a Hynson red fin glassed in. Thats the only board I have right now. All 7 other boards got ripped off. I’ll just have to make more….:)

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