Wollongong film-maker to screen surf movie in NY

Georgia Matts with Sarah Baum and Skye Burgess.Picture: Sylvia Liber

Georgia Matts with Sarah Baum and Skye Burgess.Picture: Sylvia Liber

Sex sells but that’s not what Smile and Wave is about.

The film from first-time film-maker Georgia Matts looks to highlight purely the ‘’tremendous’’ surfing ability of female surfers.

Matts tries to capture this by telling the surfing story of her two best friends, Skye Burgess and Sarah Baum.

For the past two and a half years the trio travelled up and down the coast of New South Wales surfing and filming their adventures.

The 23-year-old film-maker from Fairy Meadow also joined the couple in Baum’s home country of South Africa for two months.

‘’It’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve had the chance to travel around the world with my two best friends,’’ Matts said.

AIR TIME: Skye Burgess surfing for Georgia Matts' surf film "Smile and Wave", which will play in New York City in August. Picture: Georgia Matts

AIR TIME: Skye Burgess surfing for Georgia Matts' surf film "Smile and Wave", which will play in New York City in August. Picture: Georgia Matts

‘’I started shooting this film two and a half years ago because I knew how good the girls surfed. They didn't have much publicity and I knew they deserved it.

‘’We’ve had a lot of fun making this film, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve called it Smile and Wave.

‘’But in saying that it’s a deeply personal story of the hardships faced by two athletes who happen to be gay, who love each other and are passionate about a sport they’re really good at.’’ 

Lake Heights surfer Burgess’ love of the ocean meant she was always going to try and surf for a living.

SURFING COUPLE: The surfing adventures of Sarah Baum and Skye Burgess are highlighted in the film. Picture: Georgia Matts

SURFING COUPLE: The surfing adventures of Sarah Baum and Skye Burgess are highlighted in the film. Picture: Georgia Matts

The 25-year-old started surfing 10 years ago and in recent years has competed in a number of World Qualifying Series (WQS) events.

Durban surfer Baum has also enjoyed success on the WQS.

In fact the 23-year-old is still considered one of the best female surfers in South Africa.

As an eight-year-old Baum was identified as one of the country’s brightest surfing stars and was sponsored by Roxy. That sponsorship only ended when Baum turned 20 and moved to Australia to live with her partner Burgess.

Three years later the duo struggle to afford to travel all around the world to compete regularly.

Sarah Baum. Picture: Georgia Matts

Sarah Baum. Picture: Georgia Matts

Burgess and Baum both work 40-hours a week at a Port Kembla cafe to save enough to travel to compete at a couple of events a year.

Matts feels her friends deserve better and hopes to showcase their surfing talent to prospective sponsors through Smile and Wave.

‘’My aim with this movie was to show off their abilities,’’ she said.

Picture: Sylvia Liber

Picture: Sylvia Liber

‘’Because the women's surfing scene is majorly about marketability, and until recent times the way women actually surf is not as high of a prerequisite as their physical looks and sex appeal.

‘’They are treated like a reluctant bikini model rather than a high-class athlete.’’

 Matts doesn’t like the fact some surfers get ahead just on their good looks.

They are treated like a reluctant bikini model rather than a high-class athlete. - Georgia Matts

She highlights the rise to fame of the Coffey sisters, the Gold Coast surfing sisters dubbed the ‘Aussie Kardashians’.

Ellie-Jean Coffey, 22, and 17-year-old Holly-Sue have racked up over one million followers on Instagram thanks to a heady combination of surfing prowess and smoking hot bikini shots.

‘’They have been marketed all over The Today Show and The Project just because of their looks. But Sarah and Skye and a host of other surfers are much more talented but struggle to get noticed,’’ she said.

’’Bikinis get smaller as "lifestyle" footage gets bigger, and somehow, being a surfer is second to being hot.

‘’When you look at how men are portrayed and women are portrayed, particularly in magazines and on websites, usually the men are portrayed in the act of doing the sporting performance and the women are shown in their bikinis or a view from behind.

‘’I don’t think that is right.

‘’There aren’t many female surf movies out at the moment but when they do make them you can bet it’s generally them in their bikinis and lifestyle shots instead of focusing on their undoubted talent out in the surf.

‘’I want to change this in my film.’’

Skye Burgess was happy to join her friend’s film-making adventure.

‘’The film is based on us adventuring and just having fun doing what we love,’’ Burgess said.

‘’Sarah and I have both competed in a few contests over the past year or two, but have taken a step back from doing the tour full time at the moment.

‘’We are just taking things as they come and enjoying doing what we love, spending time with friends and when we have time we go and travel and get good waves around the world and see the country and culture without having the stress of competing.

‘’We work full time together so it does get hard to train and surf as much as we’d like to but we make the most of our days off and try go away up or down the coast and get some waves.

‘’The sponsors we do have now support us as we are. We love the image that they have and want to work alongside them to showcase what they represent and what they stand for.’’

Making the film has also been ‘’mostly’’ enjoyable for Matts.

‘’I got robbed twice. Some $30,000 worth of gear was taken. That made filming difficult at times but we had a lot of help from our friends and sponsors,’’ she said.

‘’It has cost a lot of money making this film but I’m not making it to make money. I just hope it helps my friends.’’

Matts will show Smile and Wave at Rockaway Beach Surf Club in New York City on August 11-12. 

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