A story behind ‘The Story’:
It was late March 2008 and I was planning a holiday with my
girlfriend. We had booked a two-week boat trip of which the first week was to
be spent in the Maldives and the second a tour around Himmafushi Island. All
was going to plan until I received a phone call from our travel agent. The tour
had been cancelled due to low numbers and it was suggested that Chai Island
would be a great alternative. Leaving us with little choice we decided to go
for it; being a keen surfer I recalled the famous break ‘Pasta Point’ and
thought a holiday is a holiday as long as the sun shines and the swell rolls.
Within the first few days of surfing ‘Pasta Point’ I met
this American guy. He was intrigued by all my film gear; which I always carry
as you never know; and asked me the purpose of my trip. I told him I was always
on the lookout for a great story and his response is simply the reason you’re
“ You’ve come to the right place my friend”.
The American proceeded to tell me the remarkable story of
guy who was shipwrecked here back in the 70’s. The guy ‘Tony’ had unveiled all
the local surf breaks, and as the area was unknown he’d named them all. Well
surely this was a story! The next day I was out again, clean and 6 having a
ball: the story top of mind. Whilst waiting for the next set I broke the ice
with an older guy whom I’d admired earlier cutting it up. I told him I was in
search of some amazing waves and pursuing this great story. He shrugged and
simply said “well good luck my friend”. Later I learned that the humble guy was
Tony ‘Hussein’ Hinde himself.
‘Mojo trees and
I approached Tony while he was sitting in front of a Mojo
tree; the tree if touched gets the wave Gods to deliver the goods! I asked him
about his story and then if he’d agree to an interview. He simply shrugged and
replied that he was the shy type: “I don’t like being filmed I just love to
The Maldives were once called Serendipity, and not giving up
on Tony I invited him for dinner. I asked him again for an interview; maybe it
was the beer but I like to think it as ‘serendipity’, I found something I did
not expect and he eventually agreed. Later he gave me some articles on himself
to read and I set about learning more about his story.
‘Truth is stranger
I set my shot and started the interview. It was obvious that
he was uncomfortable, we were struggling and nothing felt natural. After ten
minutes he was done and I just wondered around filming various locations,
knowing I hadn’t enough material or a story. Eventually I made my way back to
the Mojo tree and to my surprise Tony was sitting there gazing at the surf. I
set the camera down, still rolling, and started asking Tony about the
shipwreck. Tony relaxed, in his element and unfazed by the camera started to
revile the tale. Now I had a story!
Back in Australia and itching to get more I tracked down
Albe. We met at a secret break near Coffs Harbour; I was without board or
shorts. “Are you coming in”? Albe was kind enough to lend me both and we headed
for a perfect 6ft break. I couldn’t believe I was surfing with the legend of
surf films, and I also couldn’t believe I was going to interview him. It was
the perfect day to honour the second anniversary of my brother’s passing.
I had being trying for a year and a half to get an interview
with Rabbit Bartholomew but to no avail. He’d continually tell me he had
nothing to offer the film as he’d never personally met Tony. As luck would have
it on my return from filming in South Africa I spotted Rabbit in the departure
lounge. I went straight up to him, introduced myself and asked one more time
for that interview. I guess the personal touch did the trick! A week later I
was in Brisbane to lay it down on film.
‘The singing Carroll’
Tom Carroll is always in flight and very difficult to lock
down. I’d been lucky enough to speak with him over the phone and via email but
could never cage him for film. I recall the rush of excitement when I heard Tom
had broken his ankle at the Edie Ikawa big wave comp, unfortunate yes but I
knew he’d be recovering at home. Back on a plane to Sydney and this time it was
‘The death of a legend’
It was (insert DATE here please) when I heard of Tony’s
death. I knew some of Tony’s family had not seen him for a while and I thought
my recent footage could help with the grieving process. I contacted Ian Lyon,
Tony’s business partner and explained the situation and my offer.
Understandably Ian had no interest and I left it at that. A year later I
contacted Ian again to discuss the film and ideas I had. Coincidentally Ian was
trying to track me down; he had heard that Tony had agreed to the story and now
begins the next four years of my life.
‘The start of an
Mark Scanlon was one of the first people I spoke to. I
tracked him after reading one of the articles Tony had given me called
‘Serendipity’ by Shawn Shamlou. We met at Mark’s house near Maroubra and later
decided to do the interview on the beach. Mark was an epic character, and I was
beginning to worry that I had not brought enough film stock. The stories flowed
like the constant of the swell; Mark was the closest person to Tony.
Gary Mortimer was the next on the list, I flew to Lennox
Heads where Gary had arranged lunch with Tony’s sister and immediate family.
During the feast Gary retrieved some hand written letters from Tony dating back
to the 70’s. As he read them aloud I could imaging myself back in the Maldives
doing nothing but living and surfing uncharted waters.
I had no longer a simple story but an epic adventure. I
eventually got hold of Ken McNicole one on Tony’s good mates who had paddled
into the Honkys after Tony had named the waves after himself. In New Zealand
and camera rolling Ken told some tales better not repeated; in fact if exposed
the film could have taken on a new dimension.
‘Retracing the steps’
It was over four years ago when I’d first met Tony and
learnt of his story. During that time I have met and filmed so many people who
where part of his amazing life. To do the documentary justice I embarked on one
last journey: back to Colombo and the Maldives with a crew and actors to
recreate Tony’s grand adventure.
I found my young Tony and crew; but to make the film
authentic I needed the most important tool. For that I contacted Bob McTavish
the surfboard making legend. I wanted Bob to replicate Tony’s board from the
70’s, a classic pin tail, single fin Blue Bird which would have been Tony’s
Colombo, with its natural beauty and lack of commercialism
still: inspires peace and tranquillity. The locals always beam ear to ear for
the simple reason ‘simple’. We retraced Tony’s steps through the mangroves,
tiny towns and coastal landscape up to Gal Harbour. A pod of dolphins started
skipping around our tiny boat and all I could think was this is where Tony and
Mark met Captain Bill; this is where it all started.
This film is testament that life can and should be
wonderful; Tony’s adventure was absolutely amazing and my trace equally – find
the unexpected – serendipity.