Updated: Jul 1, 2020
North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, the early 90s. Taylor Steele, a filmmaker out of San Diego, decided to document a bunch of unknown American and Hawaiian surfers. The result; a 35-minute punk rock-infused surf film, which impacted the surf world like never before, and over 16 years later, continues to do so.
The likes of Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Taylor Knox, Shane Dorian don't really need much of a 'where are they now' segment, everybody knows where those guys went. So why do we even need a documentary of the "Momentum Generation'? Even Taylor Steele has gone on to forge an untouchable surf filmography, so it comes as a surprise that this project doesn't even involve him.
Instead, a couple of documentary filmmakers took the reigns of Momentum Generation. The Zimbalist Brothers, Mike and Jeff, wanted to tell the story behind the one that started in Benji Weatherly's North Shore house back in 1992. It's never usually a good idea to get non-surfers to make a film about surfing, just look at Hollywood (Point Break being the exception of course). But the story goes beyond high performance surfing and a combined 11 world titles between the gang, ok that's just Kelly but still. The super competitive nature of the guys pushed each other from day one, almost to breaking point, and pushed progressive surfing even further.
With unprecedented access to thousands of hours of unreleased footage, unrestricted access to honest and candid interviews, the project needed people from the outside to tell the story like this. The insular and narcissistic nature of the surf industry would have just made a rehashed, self congratulatory story of zero substance. Taylor Knox admitted as such at their first private screening; "It’s a leap of faith to have a movie like that made from people outside the surf industry, but it was refreshing. It needed to be made that way.”
The Zimbalist brothers hoped the film would tell an honest story, their research left no stone unturned in the true story behind one of the most influential surf films of all time. Coming from acclaimed filmmakers, and not surfers, meant the focus was on the characters on screen, not just the waves.
Momentum Generation was picked up by HBO earlier this month and is being released in North America and Canada on December 11. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment are planning on releasing the film internationally on November 5.