In October of 2010, two young, broke Aussie goofballs purchased a clunky old car in New Delhi, painted it a kaleidoscope of colors, and set off to motor conspicuously through pretty much all of that hot, crowded mega-country known as India.
As with so many mates before them, an adventure like this was a great excuse to “escape the rock,” as they say, but the unemployed surfers and aspiring filmmakers also had grander plans. Jonno, then 28 years old, and Stefan, 23 years old, wanted to make a movie. An Endless Summer 3 of sorts.
“But we didn’t have anyone promising to pay for us,” says Jonno. “So we thought we’d have to go to a cheap country.”
The amateur surfers chose India, which they’d always been curious about, and decided the route of their surf safari would be clockwise, at least 4,500 miles. They had three months; girlfriends back home would allow no longer.
The narrative behind the movie would be the same as the earlier no-budget film they’d made in the United States: they’d “surf” in each state. In their first film, Surfing 50 States, they flew to America, got their hands on a broken down ice cream truck, and drove through every state in our fine land, also “surfing” along the way. In Southern Idaho, a farmer invited them to glide down his enormous mound of sugar beets. In Utah, a large Mormon family used their four-wheeler and a water ski rope to tow the boys up an irrigation ditch. In St. Louis, self-styled gangstas “C” and “J” took them surfing on the one thing they could imagine resembling a big wave: a flight of concrete steps. The results were charming, and they won the Aspiring Filmmaker’s Award at the 2007 Telluride MountainFilm Festival.
India would be much the same. Nevermind that 21 of India’s 28 states are landlocked and that the coastline is known for little more than ankle-slappers, they liked how trying to slide on a board threw them into unpredictable situations. They’d skim anything—one early pipe dream included standing atop a surfboard on an Indian train—and help out with some charities along the way for good measure.
In the end, the surf apparel company that helped with their first film stepped forward to provide most of their meager budget for Surfing 28 States: INDIA (working title) and the duo won a small grant. Two others friends quit their jobs to join as cameraman and producer.
I liked their style. And not long after, I arranged to meet the hale and wholesome crew in north-central India, a short flight from where I was in Nepal. I didn’t really care about their specific plans for the weekend of October 28—to “surf” and to give away some bikes at an orphanage. I was mildly intrigued by an added element of celebrity—friend and professional freeskier Lynsey Dyer would be joining them. Mostly, I was curious to have a peek behind the scenes—to see a tiny sample of their epic journey; to see, as it turned out, what would go into the making of a six-minute segment in episode three of the documentary that will air on Outside TV.