Andrew Kidman

Interview by Aaron Curnow

Andrew Kidman is bringing his landmark surf film Litmus to Black Gold this Thursday night (January 14, 7:30pm). Two of his films Litmus and Glass Love have had a large impact on me. They were the first surf films that I saw where people were riding different surfboards and taking more of an alternate approach to surfing. Surfing is a very mainstream sport and I guess at the time I was looking to do something different on a wave. I’ve been lucky to work closely with Andrew on Glass Love, The Windy Hills and Last Hope.

Aaron Curnow: As I was writing these questions I found out David Bowie had passed away which kinda felt pretty significant, like a Beatle passing away to me… So the first question is what is your favourite David Bowie record and moment?

Andrew Kidman: My favourite Bowie album is Hunky Dory, it's a perfect record for me. Quicksand blows my mind every time I hear it - "Knowledge comes with death's release" - such a great line considering. I always loved Oh You Pretty Things, Andy Warhol and Life on Mars. Favourite moment has been since Christmas, I bought Gus a Bowie best-of record and we've been cruising in the car listening to it. The kids love his music, they love Hallo Spaceboy with the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant singing some of the vocals, we've been on the road touring with it on the trip…yeah so it was pretty heavy when I found out he died. Gus told me and gave me a hug and said, "It's okay Dad"...

How’s the tour been going?

The tour has been pretty classic. It's nice meeting people and talking to them about their surfing and Litmus and other stuff. The shows have been fun, seeing what people thought about it, the audience asking questions about stuff. It's nice to play some of the old songs, reflecting on the times.

Have you been enjoying the recollection? What’s the audience feedback been like? 

Yeah it's been fun, some things I'd forgotten completely about, there's been some tears, which is okay, it's a good release. The audiences have been interesting, a lot of folk and younger ones have never seen it, so that's kind of cool. Some people are only seeing it for the second time, so it's been interesting hearing their thoughts afterwards.

Whether you believe it or not Litmus was a landmark film, particularly based on what has happened with the surfing movement/s since its release. How do you normally feel about looking at your past achievements? I find if you focus too much on the past in terms of work it takes too much focus from what you are currently doing.

Yeah that's true. I really don't like looking back to much, I've kind of been forced to look back at it with doing the Litmus/Glass Love Anthology Collaboration, which was nice actually, you forget the things you've done and the people you've worked with or surfed with or played music with so it was nice to go back over that stuff and pay some attention to it, just like the shows really, it's been a good thing. I don't want to do it forever, but it's fun for now.

Can you tell me how the re-issues for both came about? The packaging looks extraordinary.

Keith Abrahamsson from Anthology Records in New York approached me last year to do it. He's good friends with Chris Gentile from Pigrim's Surf and Supply, Chris told Keith about the music and films, and we hung out in New York and worked out a plan. They really wanted to released a box set on the work, the two soundtracks on vinyl and a book. It's pretty crazy what they ended up doing, I think it's most beautiful project I've been involved with production wise. I love listening to vinyl and I love making books, so I got pretty lucky they wanted to do it. 

Since the release of Litmus, do you thing there has been many new innovations in terms of alternative board design?

For sure. Boards are pretty remarkable now, they are better than they have ever been, people can get any kind of feeling they're after these days which is cool.

Twenty years ago, surfers would buy a surf movie or go see a surf movie where todays surfer watches short clips online. Has the digital age killed the surf film maker I guess as you knew it?

Probably. People miss out on the experience of sharing the actual viewing with other people and the anticipation and excitement of attending and then crapping on about it afterwards with their mates, that's why surfing movies are so cool to watch on the big screen I think. I'll keep making films if I've got something I want to make a film about, I hope people keep making films. 

What else have you been up to? What’s this I hear about a new Last Hope movie?

Yeah a new Last Hope…it's been great seeing what these young film makers and musicians are capable of, and also what the original people we worked with have to offer. I can't wait to tour it in some way with some of these new bands, the original was so fun to do live, interchanging the stage live with musicians as the different films played. It's a blast.

How’s Essendon’s prospects looking in 2016?

Shithouse, they just banned half the team. Maybe I could get a game!

Andrew is currently touring Litmus on Australia's East Coast. Visit his website for full details and to purchase the Litmus/Glass Love Anthology Collaboration. He will be in our studio Thursday, January 14 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15 on the door.