LEAF to premiere documentary about U.S. Open

A group of Laguna artists and filmmakers, eager to deliver a fresh depiction of the U.S. Open of Surfing, have collaborated with Hurley to create a montage of images and sounds that illustrate the atmosphere created when a half-million people come together on the south side of Huntington Pier for one of the biggest action sports events.

LEAF — the artist collective comprised of Edgar Obrand, Scott Stinnett, Seth Barnard, Matthew Green, Sam Ferguson, J.P. Olson, Hugh Sandys and Isaac Zoller — will unveil these intimate findings in their film, "Nº 51," (representative of the 51st annual USO), which premieres at 7:30 and 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, at South Coast Cinemas in Laguna Beach.

"We wanted to do something different from anything Hurley was doing," said Obrand, who collaborated with fellow filmmakers Green and Stinnett. "Their photographers always have to keep branding in mind when shooting, but we had this awesome opportunity to go out and just take great pictures."

The innovative documentary, filmed during a three-week stretch in August, takes viewers on a journey that explores the relationship between the athletes, media, crowds and nature.

"We captured every kind of person, from the fisherman on the pier to the surfers and skaters to the other media," Green said. "It was really cool to see this fusion of people in a condensed space and how the locals blend in."

Set in part to music by a local band, The Growlers, and also heavily incorporating the use of background noise and personal interviews, sound effects play an influential role in bringing the audience "into the atmosphere" of the event, said Sandys, who engineered the sound for the film.

"This was another means of setting our film apart from typical action sports movies," he said. "It [enables] you to feel like you're actually there."

Prior to the screening, a photographic exhibit of classic and edgy raw images captured by Olson and Barnard with 120mm film will be on display starting at 6:30 p.m. at Hurley, 225 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. The opening reception will also feature vegan hors d'oeuvres, a sneak-peek at the film, and an opportunity to meet the artists and have their photographs made into T-shirts.

The inspiration for the project, Sandys said, came from a proposal by Hurley's founder, Bob Hurley.

"We thought it was a really cool idea and an opportunity to lend a creative 'Planet Earth' approach to the project," he said. "It's been a great experience that's unfolded as we envisioned it."

This is LEAF's second project with Hurley, following their opening of "Time Tablets" in February. The group's vision is to create art that represents free-thinking, culturally connected, soulful innovation, and the group has spent the last decade immersed in film, photography, multimedia and all forms of fine and not-so-fine art.

Tickets to the film premiere are free, and can be picked up at 225 Forest Ave. starting Wednesday. To inquire about the event, call (949) 494-7506. For more information about LEAF, visit http://www.youarewithleaf.blogspot.com.

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