Dedicating your life to only surfing the steepest, thickest and most terrifying chunks of water on the planet is no easy task, mentally and physically. And yet, South African legend Matt Bromley has set about doing just that, and turned it all into a journey that'll make you salivate. This is a fresh documentary that sees him scour the globe for reef-sucking, fear-inducing, liquid mounds of boiling fervour – and he does it all with a smile on his face.
Bromley's once again teamed up with lensman Andrew Kainedar – the duo launched Risky Ripples back in 2017 to unanimous industry applause and prior to that, Matt and Guy Mac dropped Risky Business in 2016 to the same positive reception.
This fresh flick is called Over the Edge and it sounds...intense. Think, only the heaviest sessions at the likes of Nias, Jaws, Mavs, Dungeons, Ireland. Not just those 'oh it's going to be big' days, these are the sessions that you, nor I, will ever paddle out in. The ones that make even the hardiest of souls loose their breath when looking down from 50, 60, 70ft above sea level.
And that is damn compelling.
To walk us through such an ambitious project, we caught up with Brom Dog recently to talk us through everything – surfing Nias when it goes nuclear, chasing a swell from Jaws to Maverick's, an insane session in Ireland and how Mr Kainedar (AKA AK) pulls it all together so masterfully. Dig in.
Hey Matt, long-time no speak. But we hear you've got a new project on the go that could top Risky Business or Risky Ripples? Let us in on what's going on...
Yeah for sure. The new film's called Over the Edgeand it is a 40 minute surf doccy on paddling into the biggest barrel.
Whether it's maxing Nias or Jaws, filmer and director, Andrew Kaineder, and myself have been chasing the steepest waves of consequence.
When a wave comes your way, and its so steep and thick and terrifying, and all your instincts are telling you not to go, that's the moment when you've got to push yourself over the edge and meet your moment.
When I see a moment like this, and I push myself, that's when I feel most alive, and that's what this film is about; stepping up when it seems too scary, and committing, with no reservations, to the wave of your life. These are the moments we've been chasing.
I guess that can be a fear for any surfer too – maybe not on the magnitude of say, colossal Jaws, but certainly something everyone can identify with. Who’s involved, how did it all come about?
In 2017, I worked with Aussie director and guru videographer, Andrew Kaineder, on our series and film Risky Ripples. You would have also seen his films Bezerke and Flow State with Russel Bierke as well as his own piece called Beyond the Noise. I hit him up again, told him of my ideas for the film, and we put our heads together to come up with Over the Edge.
He's certainly not scared to put himself in harm's way to get the shot and his positioning and understanding of the ocean, in especially slabbing waves, is one of the best
I love working with him because of his incredible skills in the water behind the lens. He's certainly not scared to put himself in harm's way to get the shot and his positioning and understanding of the ocean, in especially slabbing waves, is one of the best.
So the premise if biggest, steepest waves? Where is it shot? Or is that under wraps?
Yeah it's chasing the steepest waves of consequence. We started off with the biggest swell to ever hit Indonesia at my favourite wave Nias. Nias delivered the waves of my life, and exactly the Over the Edge moments we were looking for.
As only Nias can do! Where was next?
We then ventured onto Tahiti, which was actually really tricky with the crowds and AK and I struggled to nail the one we were looking for. I then travelled over to Hawaii for the Eddie ceremony and we happened to score an incredible Jaws swell off the back of that.
Unfortunately the contest was called on, and although I was an alternate, I didn't get the thumbs up. We had 30 minutes before the comp to try get a wave. It was probably the most stressful half hour of my life [laughs]. 50ft, double ups were marching in, and I just couldn't snag one!
I think it was the rawness of a new 18 second ground swell, which made things so challenging, and I narrowly missed one that would have been the wave of my life. We chased the same swell that afternoon to Mav's and had some sick cold water bombs in the brown eerie conditions.
Earlier this year I chased a big swell to Ireland, which was epic, and then we've been chasing our hero session out at Dungeons, which we're still hoping to score.
Really is a global affair and we live in a world where chasing a swell from Jaws to Mavs is possible, which is kind of mind blowing in a way. I remember the success of Risky Business, that film was huge yeah? Would you say this is the follow up?
Thanks J, yeah Guy Mac and I were so happy on how Risky Business went. As I mentioned, I released Risky Ripples the following year, but yeah this is my big sequel to Risky Business. Over the Edge aims to capture a lot more of the story behind my passion and drive to chase big waves.
We also look into where it all began, my foundation in Cape Town and how the raw, Atlantic Ocean juice groomed me for big waves.
For sure, Risky Ripples was great – remember the format being a bit different in that there were episodes first and the culmination. Any learnings that you’re taking from the past two films?
We learnt a lot from Risky Business [laughs]. Firstly, films take a lot of patience and way more money than one would think.
With that in mind, we've been super patient with the release. Even though it's already been close to two years in the making, we know that to make a quality film takes time. AK and I have also been super critical of each forecast, doing everything we can to suss out local opinions on the swell, blending different forecasting websites, and also using previous years swells to compare to current systems. We've only committed to a swell when it looked incredible and really big.
And speaking of that, are you a big forecast guy? We know some just take the numbers and run without comparing and looking back at historic events – that's fine, but when it's time and dollars and flights on the line... it's safer to not chance it.
I would say I'm pretty knowledgeable on certain spots like Nias, Dungeons and Jaws, as I've been closely tracking swells on these places for a while.
Then we've been picking Russel Bierke's brain a lot for pretty much all the rest of the places [laughs]. He's insanely dialled in on forecasting and has the most mental archive of reports and photos. AK and I have also built up a great network of people around the world who are on the ground at the spots we're looking to chase.
Local knowledge is the best. And then lastly it's crucial to know if that local over calls or under calls it. Many dudes will be like, 'yeah it will be fun 15ft', and then you know that means it is going to be crazy and 20ft [laughs].
What sort of numbers get you excited? And are you hunting big waves, slabs, a mix?
The main goal is probably deep water slabs similar to Nias. These have the power of a big wave but then unload top-to-bottom like a slab. For deep water slabs, big period ground swells are what we're looking for. For waves like Jaws and Dungeons, we're just hunting the biggest swells with the best conditions.
OK, think we know the answer here, and it's a super simples one, but where’s your favourite wave to surf and the gnarliest wave to surf?
[laughs] My favourite is Nias because I really feel at home there. I have great line up markers and know which ones are gonna deliver the goods there. My scariest is Jaws. Any time you jump off those rocks at Pe'ahi, you know you're in for a wild ride.
Thanks for talking to us Brom Dog! Lastly, when will Over the Edge be coming out and how can people watch it?
We have unfortunately had to extend the release date because of COVID 19, hoping to release sometime early next year. We are looking for that last Dungeons session to complete the story. My big wave journey started at that scary, shifting outer reef, and that's where we're hoping to wrap up the film!
We are going to be partnering up with Garage Entertainment to distribute to TV and paid online platforms, and will be releasing a short viral banger for the surf audience who aren't keen to sit in for 40 minutes.
Legend! Good luck with the Dungeons swell and keep us posted!