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Derek Dunfee talks surfing movie ‘Twig: A Calculated Madness’

Filmmaker and pro surfer Dunfee sheds light on his Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker film

Grant 'Twiggy' Baker and friend search for an entry point on the rugged South African coastline in the new Derek Dunfee film.

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker and friend search for an entry point on the rugged South African coastline in the new Derek Dunfee film.

When La Jolla, California-based pro surfer and aspiring filmmaker Derek Dunfee boarded a plane to South Africa in the summer, he though he had it all figured out. However, upon landing he found that his place to stay had fallen through and he was on his own. Dunfee rang up his pal and South African big-wave rider Grant “Twiggy” Baker and the wheels were set in motion for an epic surf trip that would span the country. The trip ended up filling the pages of Surfing magazine’s recent Big Wave Issue with an article called “African Fortnight” and a short film that went along with it. We caught up with the budding filmmaker to get some insight into the project…

How’d you come up with the title?
This past summer, I spent a month in Cape town, South Africa, with the hard charging big-wave surfer Grant “Twiggy” Baker. Twiggy charges big waves harder than anyone I know, and he describes his own approach to big-wave surfing as “Calculated Madness.” You can hear his explanation of this approach in the film.

Is filmmaking something you see yourself doing more of in the future? What led to that?
Yes, I have a passion for photography and filmmaking. My twin brother, Taylor, went to the Brooks Institute for Photography, so he taught me everything I know. I’ve been into photography for the past 10 years, but I’ve been making a bunch of random surf short films for the past five. My first surf film was called “Down With The Ship,” which was nominated for two Surfer Poll awards, and I won an award for Worst Wipeout. The film also won best short film at the California Surf Festival. Since then I collaborated with korduroy.tv on a handful of surf videos. Recently I wrote and directed a dark, short film called “SHVDE” with artist Sketchytank and my friend Erik Derman. Last July, I collaborated with Desillusion magazine and made a big-wave short film called “Three Wolves.” In the past year, I’ve worked on a few commercial jobs through my brother and photographer Mark Oblow, too. I’d love to make some more films in the future; there’s a big group of people who inspire me, and I would love to get a chance to work with some of them.

South Africa is known to have some big critters swimming around its waters. What was that encounter at the four-and-a-half-minute mark? Please explain.
Ha! It wasn’t a great white encounter—it was a massive whale. When we were surfing, we had a big whale cruise through the lineup. I came in early and saw the whale was doing circles around Twiggy so I grabbed my camera. Twiggy said he was making eye contact with the whale and was convinced it was attracted to his electric shark repellent leash.

For a video preview of the Surfing magazine Big Wave Issue go to surfingmagazine.com

Grant 'Twiggy' Baker at Dungeons, a famous big-wave spot in South Africa, for the new Derek Dunfee film.

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker at Dungeons, a famous big-wave spot in South Africa, for the new Derek Dunfee film.

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