Reflection is a good starting point. This 2002 retrospective of modern longboard surfing establishes Dave’s free-ranging style. With an easy-going reggae soundtrack, Reflection shifts from crazy Mexico to the Cape Verde and Canary Islands, on to Fiji and Malibu. There are plenty of star performers: Joel Tudor, CJ Nelson, Jimmy Gamboa, Dane Peterson and Beau Young among them. But the real head-turner – literally - is Dave’s unique “Point of View” approach to filming.
These days we’re all pretty accustomed to close-ups from water cameras and jet-ski tracking shots. Well, Dave Ogle likes to get closer still. He’s got helmet-cam vision and cameras mounted on the backs and noses of boards, all providing a myriad of in-your-face angles. But his “follow cam” is the one that’ll have you hitting the rewind button – once you work it out, you’ll have added respect for Mr Ogle as a surfer and a movie maker.
Local Color – Modern Longboarding Hawaiian Style is Dave’s “locals only” view of Oahu’s longboard surfers in action in some of the most demanding waves in the world. Once again there’s an all-star cast of riders including Dino Miranda, Duane Desoto, Lance Ho’okano, Rusty Keaulana and Bonga Perkins. They’re all stylish, all fearless and all apparently bulletproof, except perhaps for the over-eager at Haleiwa, where the attractive-sounding Toilet Bowl end-section can have head splitting consequences. And Dave makes sure you aren’t left guessing about that one.
There’s also a surfing culture look at gentle Waikiki with some wooden boards straight out of the time when Captain Cook tried to drop in. Generally though, Local Color is firmly focused on the tricky, shifting and gnarly North and West Shore breaks and the only approach that works for the local surfers - what Keegan Edwards calls the “mad confidence” you need to cut it in these waves.
But if it’s true madness you’re looking for, go no further than Puerto Underground 4, the latest instalment in Dave Ogle’s series on Puerto Escondido. He’s had a 20-year fascination with the place and it’s not hard to see why it‘s a magnet for his view finder. Puerto’s nickname of Mexican Pipe actually sells it way short . . . a lot of people describe it as the heaviest beachbreak on the planet - from what’s on show here, who would argue?
Enormous waves unload furiously as a cavalcade of crazies try to outrace the guillotine lip. There’s some outrageous barrel riding, matched by some truly horrendo wipeouts - with two highly probable outcomes. The worst might mean a visit to Dr. Pepe for a dose of frontline surf surgery – so many stitches! But most surfers are luckier - they just get to meet Miguel Ramirez, the local ding fixer who is swimming in pesos from repairing an endless stream of broken boards.
Once again, it’s the locals who tend to steal the show here – they’re as tough a bunch of surf animals as you’d find anywhere, seemingly unfazed by the mayhem erupting on their beach. Sure it’s deadly, but it’s their homebreak, and they wouldn’t swap it for the world. They just don’t get sentimental about their boards . . .
Puerto Underground 4 is rounded out with a slew of DVD extras, including solid sequences on men’s and women’s longboarding, sport fishing and surprise segments and a welcome bio on Dave Ogle himself.
All in all, these movies add up to more than three hours of Oglevision, a world of loony perspectives and even loonier waves.
- Ian Cameron