Santa Cruz Good Times

Dec 01st
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Redefining Possible

oceandrivenweb2Big wave surfer, Chris Bertish, the subject of new locally produced film 

When Aurelia Productions, a Santa Cruz film production company, first heard about Chris Bertish—winner of the 2010 Mavericks Invitational big wave surf competition and one of South Africa’s highest-profile watermen—they saw an opportunity to create change and inspire the world. After all, Bertish is more than just a surfer. When he’s not in the ocean, Bertish shares his positive and energetic spirit with others by inspiring and encouraging them to do what they love and to never give up. His unique story is the subject of a forthcoming feature-length film produced by Aurelia, entitled Ocean Driven: The Chris Bertish Story. In an effort to help make the film a reality, the company is hosting a fundraising dinner at Conscious Creations on Saturday, Jan. 26. We sat down with director Nadia Tarlow and Bertish himself to talk about the making and the purpose of the film.

Good Times: How did this film come about?

Nadia Tarlow: I was very inspired by Chris Bertish's story. First, the amount of resilience and devotion that it took for Chris to push through a tough time, challenge after challenge as an unsponsored surfer. And then to shine for us in 2010 on the biggest wave ever paddled into and surfed in competition history at Mavericks. His story was very special and I saw the effect that his story had made on our co-director Sean. Sean grew up with Chris, [and] I knew from that point on that it had to be made. I realized he had a real sense of dedication and passion, and that he wants to share something special to show people that they can do it, think outside of the box, and make it happen.

Can you tell us a bit about his story?

Tarlow: Chris' story is fun and thrilling. It also uncovers low points and challenges which adds a nice dynamic to the experience—you get a true feeling for what it’s been like for him, and at the same time, it’s great to see unusual places, to hear from true watermen and to nearly experience what it’s like to ride big waves and to be a part of the brotherhood. The film is full of archived material that Chris shot and collected over the past 15 years, so it's gritty and authentic—it’s the real deal. We've interviewed upwards of 40 amazing big wave surfers and ocean specialists, and have tried to ask questions that were deeper and more unusual than in most surf [documentaries]. We also want to offer education and science for people who aren’t familiar with what’s involved with big wave riding. Because we are an indie film and haven’t received any major funding, it’s definitely pure and real.

What is the dinner event all about and what will the funds go toward?oceandrivenforweb1

Tarlow: Amazing local food, live music, and an intimate setting with big wave guest speakers, a sneak peek preview of our film and a raffle. It will be a special night and [funds] will go toward the post-production of our project and all of the potential sweetening that we really want to do to it. Plus, it will help us bring it to you and spread the word.

Chris, what do you want the viewers to take away from this film? 

Chris Bertish: I think it’s a philosophy regarding staying true to your own personal goals and ambitions and dreams and never giving up them. I [go] by the philosophy of “nothing is impossible unless you believe it to be.” I think that’s sort of the mantra I live by. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box and follow your dreams. If you decide you want to achieve anything, you can do it.

Chris, if it wasn’t for surfing, what do you see yourself doing today?

Bertish: Anything to do with the ocean. I think that’s why the film sort of went from Dream Rider to Ocean Driven, because everything I do and everything that makes me feel comfortable is in the ocean, whether it be surfing big waves, little waves, sailing, wind surfing, and everything, and who I am throughout the ocean. Without that, I think I would be a very, very different person. 

Aurelia Productions will host a fundraising dinner for ‘Ocean Driven: The Chris Bertish Story’ from 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 at Conscious Creations, 1121 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Limited Seating. For information, call 600-7031. Visit

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