Went up to Hollywood last night to see the West Coast premiere of Thomas Campbell’s movie Sprout with Jesse Faen, Natalie, Skye, Nick, Megan, Bellen, and a bunch of other friends. The 80-minute film was screened at the Egyptian Theater on Sunset Blvd., and some 600 surf-starved Californians packed the venue.
Before going to the theater, we all met up at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood. For all the great things I’ve heard about the place, I thought the Standard would be nicer, but it’s basically a decrepit, old Los Angeles hotel that was decorated by someone with a good sense of humor and a love for modern furniture. There is one amazing feature of the hotel, though. A beautiful girl with curvy hips lays in a glass room behind the front counter. It’s sexy as hell. You want to climb in there and cuddle. I digress. Out by the pool, we had drinks and chatted for a while, and then Nicholas drove us to the theater in his rented Escalade.
At the theater, we saw Thomas, who looked way less nervous than I thought he would. But then, why would he be nervous? He’s been showing the film to crowds on the East Coast for nearly a month. And Thomas also just doesn’t come off as the get-nervous type. He’s usually pretty confident in his work, which he always sinks his soul into.
We had some time to kill, so we went next door and had some drinks. Jesse demanded everyone do tequila shots, because he claims tequila has some kind of magical medicinal power. (For the record, it doesn’t, unless you consider making the room spin “medicinal.)
Everyone filed into the theater around 9, where I saw Joel Tudor, Dan Malloy, Alex Knost, and others talking in the lobby. Everyone found their seats, and Thomas got up and introduced musician Neil Halstead, who played us all some songs that were sad and sweet.
When Neil was done, Thomas talked a bit more, conducted a raffle, and asked the projectionist to roll the film.
I’ve always been a big fan of Thomas’ work. He’s a painter, a photographer, a writer, a philosopher, a surfer, a skater, a genius, and occasionally a nightmare, but if there’s one thing he’s not it’s a fake. The film was a perfect extension of Thomas’ message, which I interpret to be: Love what you do, do what you love, and make art.
Sprout was shot completely in 16mm–no video, just smooth film. The cast is Dan Malloy, Joel Tudor, Skip Frye, Dave Rastovich, Bellen Conley, Ozzie Wright, Alex Knost, Tyler Hezikian, Mike Stewart, Mark Cunningham, Chris Malloy, Casia Meador, and a handful of other wave-riding purists, who believe in the retro message.
Probably half the film is longboarding, and if you’ve spent your life hating the riders of the 8-foot-plus plank for getting all the waves at your local break, get ready to be converted. In longboarding the focus of the activity is style. I could hardly believe how relaxed Knost and Casia are standing on the nose of a surfboard. A modern shortboarder is praised like a god if he has style, because to make small thrusters work right, you’ve got to put a lot of jockish movement into them. Not so with logs, fish, etc. The board does the work, so your job is to look good.
I loved the Chris Malloy “Shaka skit. I also loved Thomas’ use of split screen, which bombards the eyes with colors, textures, and motion. I’m not just saying this because we helped support the making and production of Sprout, but I loved the film. Thomas worked on this for years, and it comes through on the screen. Everything is there for a reason, detail abounds, and the soundtrack is the best I’ve ever heard. See this movie.
After the film, more drinks. Big shocker.
Get to a screening of the film. It’s really nice to see it with a group who feel free to hoot and holler.