Filmed over a five year period by Ava Warbrick, with additional historical footage, Stephanie in the water takes you on what feels like an authentic journey through the career of Stephanie Gilmore.
For me the best parts of this film were the segments of Stephanie free surfing. Her style is so effortless and captivating – and I loved her description of surfing as drawing a story on the wave.
One thing that I find sets Steph Gilmore’s surfing apart on the tour is that her surfing never looks forced. So I was fascinated by one of Ava’s comments in an interview about the film, that in a time when world tour surfers talk about training programs, special diets and increasingly elaborate warm up routines, that she did none of this.
What drew me to documenting Stephanie was the fact that she did not always operate like your typical athlete. She rarely trained, didn’t have a coach, relied heavily on a natural talent plus something she described as a ‘rhythm with the universe.’ She would just win.
A violent attack in the garage of her home disrupted this rhythm, affecting her surfing to the point where she couldn’t get to her feet to begin with, a reminder of just how much success in surfing is determined by your state of mind.
We already know the story has a happy ending for Gilmore, as she rises to the top to take her fifth world title a year later, but the film also shows glimpses of a less than glamorous life for surfing pros. A world where they miss their prom, sleep in over-crowded team houses then get spat out at the end with no job or prospects.
This contrast of the dream of being the best versus the reality of competitive surfing is explored throughout the film, making it a fascinating and inspiring watch.
Stephanie in the water is available to buy or rent on iTunes.