The Seedling is a documentation of a small pod of Californian logriders drawing out a beautiful line that was dropped off in the late ’60s,” states Mono Man, the frugal narrator of Thomas Campbell’s critically acclaimed surf movie. Captured entirely on 16 mm film-in vibrant black and white, color and tints-the Seedling is an original study of the classic, single-fin style from California’s lower region, filmed across the globe with artistic flair and fantastic cinematography in a variety of angles, speeds and lights.
Film favorites include the “Hexico” segment, with quintessential “logging” surf-long, empty, 3-foot, pointbreak peelers-hidden behind the dirt roads and pure desolation of Baja California. Jimmy Gamboa, Dane Peterson and Brittany Quinn convert machine-like sections into streamlined noserides. “The Youth Movement” shows a glimpse of traditional longboarding’s young talents as Seitaro Nakamura moves with fluid turns and direct lines, Kassia Meador takes graceful steps at Malibu, and Dane Peterson exhibits his delicate tip-riding style.
There’s mid-’50s footage of Donald Takayama carving out a balsa in Hawaii, a visit to his shaping studio and some pristine lefthand bowls at Oceanside. In “Joel Tudor’s Workable Quiver Nineteen 99,” JT demonstrates his adaptability by jumping on nine different boards from his eclectic collection at Windansea, Cardiff, Pipeline, Waikiki and the Canary Islands, and offers thoughts on tri-fin surfboards and today’s pro longboard circuit.
The “Underwater Intermission” allows for moments of silence and reflection with dream-like scenes of swimming wildlife synchronized to soothing music.
Devon Howard makes a fashionably late entrance in the Seedling’s “Winter in California” section, showcasing his precision logriding style and classic body jive. Listen as Skip Frye “talks story'” on the joy of big board glide while sliding a 12-foot lightning rod. The “Sidewalk Surfing” portion features archival skateboarding video from the early ’70s, then contrasts it with a peek at the creature surfing’s concrete offspring has become.
Check the comic relief offered by a three-round bout of “Fecal Man vs. Star Man,” an original one act with a play-by-play ring announcer, roaring laugh track and cartoon sound effects. The “Sano Session” mixes more Howard mode with Maureen Drummy’s clean, backside drop-knee turns and Erik Sommer’s fancy heel moves.
The busy streets in “New York” with Tudor and Gamboa shows a quick bit of visual comedy before the boys leave the “deep brown sea” to fly back to “The Bu” and join the shack crew of Josh Farberow, Peterson and Dylan Jones for a toe-danglin’ clinic in some First Point, summer spinners.
The sounds in the Seedling are all Campbell’s handpicked gems. There’re no obnoxiously loud tracks with ludicrous lyrics or cheap reggae beats; just sonorous instrumentals accompanying their appropriate sections. Special mention is offered for the guitar-dueling, desert tones from Friends of Dean Martinez, the post-rock, experimental compositions of Tortoise and Isotope 217Ã?Â°, the entire selection of Tommy Guerrero grooves and the spirited jazz of Ray Barbee.
the Seedling is not a fast-paced, cut and pasted collage of wave snippets over throw-away music; it tells its timeless story with a pleasant array of visuals, steady camera work and a soundtrack that begs to be heard again. the Seedling is a quality addition to any film library.