#OneWaveOneStory : THE LOVE EFFECT Film and how surfing made us realize the power of change” written by Drue Metz - Director, Writer
“65% of people with mental issues don’t get help.” – ONEWAVE non-profit
THE LOVE EFFECT is a 29-minute, cinematic short starring Tyler Atkins, Australian actor, surfer, yogi and Ari Blinder, actor and filmmaker from the East Coast. In the story, two men from different sides of the tracks who never even learn each other’s names, share emotional experiences with depression and suicide. Through miraculous circumstances, these men discover each other at their worst. Yet in sharing and teaching each other simple experiences such as fishing, surfing, and camping, they are reminded of life’s greatest gift and find their own pathway through.
Tyler conceived the story after he faced a major traumatic experience. His dear friend and mentor Charlotte Dawson- someone who guided him in his career and upbringing in the entertainment industry, someone who he loved and respected, took her own life. Tyler himself had already endured many life and death experiences, from fighting kidney disease for a year and a half in a hospital, to witnessing someone jumping off a bridge right in front of him. A series of heart wrenching life events tipped him to depression and frustration. Tyler knew he wanted to speak about it. His effort was filmmaking. Tyler wanted to answer in THE LOVE EFFECT film: “How could I get someone to see through their pain for a moment, and give them a reason and a way to open up?” His answer was surfing, yet the film and its story opened up so much more.
Growing up on a surfboard on the beaches of AUS, this was Tyler’s home. The ocean was his temple and surfing was his prayer. It was all he had amidst a tough childhood of loss and abandonment. The ocean was a positive place for him and a place of wonderful growth. He was able to connect with people in and out on the water. He was able to challenge himself to get better and submit himself to the mercy of the Ocean’s power. With THE LOVE EFFECT he wanted to create a film where he could have shown a single pathway and glimmer of hope for someone else. He wanted to show his friend Charlotte just one more way and reason to get through, by sharing himself and something he loved.
When Tyler, Ari and I got together to begin preparing for the film’s production, we knew we had to train thoroughly in surfing. Even though I had grown uparound water and all over California, I never once tried surfing. Ari, an east coast boy himself, never did either. We were more than excited (terrified) to begin training.
Ari and I were afraid of everything: Water. Sharks. Looking like two athletic grown men who didn’t know the first thing about surfing, nonetheless just staying on a board. We knew it was going to put us out there and be rough. We all got up at 5am to go surf in beautiful Malibu. After a hearty breakfast burrito and a cup of coffee, we pulled up to the wonderful sands and asked Tyler, “What’s the first step?” He looked at us and said – “get in.”
What? Get in where? There? The OCEAN? A million questions raced: What do we do – how do we do it – how do we move – what if we drown? I mean look, this thing is the most powerful life-force in the world. It CONTROLS the world. We can’t just get in there and DO IT.
Tyler simply explained, “don’t try to fight it – just surrender to it.” Ari and I looked at each other. This was madness and our guru here, was basically going to watch us die.
Tyler stared with complete admiration at the rolling swells. We saw them too. The water was beautiful, riveting. It was a gorgeous Sunday and everyone from locals to people from around the world came out just to sit on the beach and watch. Children, families, photographers, fans, surf experts and all, just hanging out - enjoying the water and everyone in it. Tyler only brought training boards for us, and after 5 minutes of not saying anything, he finally said that the water looked so good he needed to go home and get his board. He jumped in the car and left.
Ari and I sat there. We twiddled our thumbs. When Ari said, “maybe we should just get in.” I was the one who said, “No way, dude. Let’s wait for him to come back and teach us. We could die.”
A little melodramatic, I know, but this is the Ocean we’re talking about. How many times have you heard of shark attacks or someone drowning? People whisking off to sea? A lot, right? I guess?
30 minutes went by. No Tyler. Ari and I could hear and feel everyone having fun. As the Director, I felt like I was already failing. There was no way we were going to make a film with surfing in it without first training and learning anything on how to surf! We couldn’t depend on photographing Ari’s character catching his very first wave with a huge film crew and an expensive camera sloshing in the waves, if it wasn’t even possible for him to do it. So, we had to.
In this together, Ari and I suited up. Two kooks (see “Kook of the day.”) were going to conquer this ocean. We grabbed our big soft surfboards, took our last breaths and ran into the pristine Malibu water.... screaming our asses off. Cold at first, a rush and then – something incredible happened. Every single fear and insecurity we had, started evaporating like water in hot sand. We felt our boards lift us and carry us, like we were flying in the air. We splashed and struggled to stay afloat at first, but then we got it. And we were smiling, the entire time. Ari and I started paddling out.
The further we got, the scarier it felt again – but Ari and I were in it together. The more we sat out there, played in the water and saw people happy, the more we wanted to try.
Within three waves and three tries – I stood up to my knees and crashed. It was like I was already halfway there. I was already learning and I hadn’t even learned anything yet. It was something I had never done before, and I did it so fast – it was an accomplishment! Within a half hour out into the blue, Ari and I couldn’t stop saying – this is why this is one of the most beloved cultures in the world. Surfing is beautiful. It’s therapeutic, challenging, fun, social and once you give in to accepting that board – hugging it, trusting it and letting go of your fear – you begin to love it.
The water thrashed us. It tossed us up, down, around, spit us out, and pulled us back in. And we loved it. We didn’t see Tyler for 2 hours, until Ari and I were so out of breathe we had to get out. That’s when we found us. He had been riding his own waves.
Tyler left us there so we could figure it out together. He taught us how to surf by teaching us the hardest part: to overcome fear, insecurities and any sense of embarrassment by having us just GO into the water. We were afraid of the water, sharks and things that really didn’t matter. What we were really afraid of, was the unknown. Was failure.
Ari and I discovered something together. We shared it. Experienced it. We learned more about each other and ourselves. We made a connection.
When Tyler said, “don’t try to fight it – just surrender,” we thought he meant surrender to the ocean. Like being seaweed (see video below). What we realized is that we needed to surrender to being afraid. That’s It’s OK to feel that way. That it’s OK to feel how you really feel. And we got through it by sharing it, understanding it and conquering it together.
The One Wave philosophy and approach to serving mental health is not just a program; it’s a demonstrated truth about the human spirit and unlocking the ability to grow within. It starts with reaching out. Reaching in. And it’s as simple as sharing an experience.
Neither Ari or I caught waves that first day of surf training. We tried our asses off. We got our asses kicked and we laughed and smiled the entire way through.
What we learned through making THE LOVE EFFECT film and in our small adventures out on the water, is that when you muster the courage to TRY – to face fear, be vulnerable, and put yourself out into the open -- you will discover that it’s possible. That anything’s possible. More than that – that you can DO IT. That interview, that assignment, that alarm clock, that breakup, makeup or any of life’s many universal tests -- whatever challenge, whatever funk, whatever obstacle you’re afraid to face – you’ll find that just by trying, you see your ability to also be able to succeed. You’ll realize that you can do and feel things you never have before. Or things you’ve long forgotten, just by starting to try.
Mental Health is not a discussion just for those who are suffering; it’s a universal connection that affects it all. It’s something we must all improve together. One Wave’s exquisite program is exemplary of what it takes, to make a change.
For Tyler, Ari and I, we made THE LOVE EFFECT film to show two characters from different tracks, come together and share life experiences. They talk, fight, joke, surf, fish, camp and what they found, was that they were slowly able to discuss together and understand their feelings. ONE WAVE’s program and mission, is the same.
Ari never did catch a wave in our surf training. He stopped trying after that day. He wanted his character and soul to experience the feeling of doing it for the very first time. He knew he would. The moment in our film where he was
supposed to catch his first wave, spit out of the water feeling rebirthed and scream for joy – well, that actually happened. It was real. And you can see it in our film.
-- Drue Metz Director, writer
THE LOVE EFFECT is still taking pledges and donations to help finish and launch their film and organization - click the link then PLEDGE!
THE LOVE EFFECT - Official Trailer and Final Fundraiser: http://kck.st/1WWw0oI
SPECIAL EVENT NEWS:
THE ONE WAVE Organization and THE LOVE EFFECT Organization are planning an international exclusive event for the public taking place in VENICE BEACH, CALIFORNIA, early 2016.
This exclusive community event will combine the spirit and efforts from both organizations worldwide and their combined mission to improve mental health and to create a meaningful one-of-a-kind experience for the public to come talk about feelings and mental health, learn to surf and spend time together, make new friends and discuss resources and ideas for change.
Stay up to date with this event by following ONE WAVE’s website, and THE
LOVE EFFECT’s facebook and soon organization website. More photo and surf videos @theloveeffectfilm and a special video to come soon!
Sponsors, donors and volunteers can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with the Los Angeles team or contact ONEWAVE if interested in helping promote from AUSTRALIA.