Friendship Is the Wave at the Momentum Generation Premiere

By Bradford William Davis


What is the price of a friendship worth? The question is posed in the new documentary Momentum Generation, which traces the history and bond of a group of surfing luminaries. To surfing legend Taylor Knox, the answer is obvious.

“Imagine if someone told me, ‘Hey, I’ll give you one million dollars to make this movie,’” Knox said regarding the documentary, which debuts December 11 at 10 PM on HBO. “‘But you can’t be friends with these guys,’” referring to his co-stars, including Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, and Shane Dorian. “I wouldn’t take the money.”

Directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist aimed to give proper weight to the strength of the Momentum Generation’s friendships so that viewers could best understand their sporting achievements. According to Jeff Zimbalist, the brothers and creative partners realized Momentum Generation needed to be “bigger than a sports film” early in their process.

“When we starting going through the archives, we were drawn to a story that grappled with the same questions in our own lives. Particularly, the tradeoffs of a high-achieving career and competing to be the best, versus a group of friends trying to preserve their camaraderie.”

The value of camaraderie lies at the heart of the film. “Though a lot of us had brothers, we became like brothers,” said Kelly Slater. “Maybe even more like brothers than our own blood family. That helped us become more than the sum of our parts.”

The sense of brotherhood was palpable throughout the night of the premiere. The surfers, talking to red carpet press in groups of twos and threes, had as much pride in their penchant for roasting and “shit talking” each other in an ongoing group text, than they did in their sports achievements. (Who’s the biggest group texter? “Kelly is texting us right now,” said Pat O’Connell. “From the carpet.”)

Executive producer Bill Simmons admired the organic essence of their story. “The surfing movement they started was pre-internet,” said Simmons. “We’re talking that part of the 90s where the internet hadn’t taken off yet. There was no YouTube. They worked together on these highlight tapes and relied on word-of-mouth to handle the rest.”

Benji Weatherly, who regularly hosted the entire gang of surfers at his Hawaii home for months at a time while they were young, touted their connection. “Every one of us succeeded at all of our career goals, some of them spanning 20 years. That’s rare and special. But what really stands tall is that at the end of it all, we’re still here, together, even stronger than before.”

Momentum Generation premieres December 11 at 10 PM on HBO


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