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.


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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Has it really been that long since my last post? Between sea swimming, university work, family life, and god knows what else, I have had little time to dedicate to posting. apologies to all (if any). Excuses, excuses.
Just a quick update on my university status. For my photoessay project, I just edited 545 images down to 50; now to further edit to 25 images, and get the sequencing right.
History & Theory essay is about halfway there: I’m doing a critical essay on Robert Frank’s: The Americans. A wonderful book, rich and complex in content and history. If you don’t already have it, get it. I also just received a copy of Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans. A comprehensive exploration and analysis of The Americans, which includes contact sheets, essays, maps, and loads more. I will do a more in depth review of the book here at a later date.
For now, I will leave you with a link to Tommy Forbes: Portrait Of The Indian Male. Loads of people poo poo, but there are so many talented, dedicated photographers there. Heres the link. Enjoy.



This land is our land

The Pipe is a compelling video documentary of one small irish community’s fight against corporate giants, Shell, and Irish political corruption, greed, and failure to protect it’s citizens.