Toddy Stewart is on a mission to instill and capture the love of surfing, and all the joys it brings, to his son Robinson – won’t you join them along the journey? We talked to our friend about his Kickstarter campaign to help fund the unique surf series The Boy’s Journey – a surf film series about a father teaching his son about community, respect, travel and the ocean.
What inspired you to make this surf series?
Really it is this recurring conversation I keep having with my friends who have kids. Especially surfing parents, and more broadly parents who grew up in the country but now are bringing up their kids in the city.
I’ve always tried to be really, I’m not sure what the word is… respectful maybe, of my son and how big the ocean is and how scary it can be. I haven’t wanted to push him into surfing, maybe scarring him by one super overwhelming experience early on. But all this waiting around for him to pick it up or get the bug, it starts to feel like it’s gonna get away from you. It’s not like we live in Hawaii where the water is warm all year round and there’s a built in lifestyle. So each time is like trying to jumpstart a motor. I’ve been having this same conversation with other parents. Our kids see us drive off with our surfboards on top of the car when we drop them off at school, then we sit them down in front of surf films and we pull them along to surfy events… but there isn’t really anything for them.
So Robinson and I came up with this idea to make a surf film series that could explore the whole thing from more of a kid’s perspective. Something that doesn’t show perfect surfing and perfect waves but a film about learning to surf and learning about the things surfing asks of us: respect for our community and nature and ourselves. But also softening the blow, making it all seem less intense and unapproachable.
Adding to the conversation that surfing is about more than just ripping up waves or getting barreled, but about community and responsibility and the flow of thought patterns that are positive and proactive.
Did your father pass along this kind knowledge to you?
Both my wife and I come from very outdoorsy families. Marina’s father grew up idolizing surfers and dreaming of surfing in North County San Diego, finally making it to the North Shore for a couple winters. And Marina basically grew up on the beach in Carlsbad, California. I come from the Pacific Northwest. My dad was a ski patrolman during the winter and in the summer we spent all our time in boats or in the water. My dad was an enormous influence on me in that way, just centering our whole life around that kind of activity.
You are visiting several families along the way. Can you tell us a little bit about them?
We are working on a firm itinerary over the next month and a half. The idea is to make traveling, exploring, learning about surfing and being generally inquisitive, something kids can dream about. In the end, getting other parent’s perspective on raising conscious, critically thinking children while maintaining a surf-obsessed lifestyle will make the film that much more interesting. When I spoke to Jamie Brisick about it the first thing he wrote back was: “stop off and see some surf luminaries who are raising kids (Andrew Kidman pops straight to mind), show the kids meeting (Miel meets a couple Aussie kids, goes playing in the cow paddocks), you and Andrew sip scotch and discuss parenthood…”
Finding other kids who are already surfing a lot and letting Robinson absorb that will be key as well. We’ll be making that sort of thing organically happen on top of whatever inspirational adventures we can map out.
What do you hope Robinson gains from this experience?
Well, you know, this is a big opportunity for him to get the travel bug and to really start to understand this thing his dad is always carrying on about. If he could walk away from this experience full of confidence about the role he has to play in his own life, that would be huge. I mean, I’m a filmmaker, and this is my job. I would love for him to understand that part of his dad’s life as well. So yeah, surf stoke, cultural-curiosity stoke and plain old hard-work stoke would be pretty cool things for him to ingest.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
A new series of projects for one. We’re going to see how this goes and I’m already trying to design it so it can be a repeatable in different locales and with different surf communities and characters. A real series with a voice and a point of view. I mean, who gets the chance to do passion projects that might be intrinsically good, in a community-bolstering, educational manner? As a commercial filmmaker, I’m always looking for an opportunity to do something more overtly constructive and I’d be super incredibly grateful if this can be that sort of thing. Something really positive that adds to those other positive voices out there in a peculiar way.
Thanks so much Toddy for talking with us and best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign and filming. We can’t wait to see the series!
Help fund this film by donating to the campaign here.