Thursday, December 7, 2023

Carolina Surf Film Festival comes to Wilmington for the first time

An outdoor screening at a previous Carolina Surf Film Festival at The Brickhouse Party Plantation in Charleston, SC. Courtesy photo.
An outdoor screening at a previous Carolina Surf Film Festival at The Brickhouse Party Plantation in Charleston, SC. Courtesy photo.

Surfing, the film industry, and the great outdoors – those are three things the Wilmington area is known for, and this weekend, they will come together for an event at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.

For the first time in its three-year history, the Carolina Surf Film Festival will be held in Wilmington, in addition to Charleston, South Carolina, where the festival started in 2014.

“We have friends in the area that encouraged us to come up here and host our festival,” said Chuck Gainey, a lifelong surfer who co-founded the festival with friend Chad Davis. “We thought it would fit in with the culture of Wilmington. I think this kind of event is something that is overdue in this area.”

Though Charleston has a surf community around Folly Beach, Gainey said it’s not as big as the one in this area.

“Wilmington is a surf town. There’s more consistent surf in Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach than there is down here,” Gainey said, noting that the Carolina Surf brand already has name recognition in the area because of a clothing line that was spun off from the festival. “Because there’s this vibrant surf community there, that makes people more open to this kind of festival.”

The festival is open to submissions from all over the world, but there are two separate contest specifically for visual artists based in the Carolinas. One will name the Carolina Surf Filmmaker of the Year, and the other will award the Carolina Surf Photographer of the Year.

Six featured films will be shown over the two-day festival, along with over a dozen shorts. However, due to a 10 p.m. curfew at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, some of the short films will not be shown, according to Gainey.

“While we love outdoor venues and host our festival in them on purpose, it kind of limits us because we have to wait until it gets dark,” Gainey said. “Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is a great venue, but we just have to end a little bit earlier than in Charleston, so there will be a 30 to 60 minute difference in the amount of films we can show.”

In addition to the film screenings, there will be vendor booths at the amphitheater featuring local artists and businesses. Food and drinks will also be sold, and there will be giveaways such as boards, apparel, gear, cameras and more

One-day tickets for either Friday or Saturday night cost $15 each, and a two-day festival pass costs $25 each. The best deal, according to Gainey, is the Trident Pass, which includes tickets to both days along with a collectible all-access badge, a festival T-shirt and a bag full of goodies from sponsors.

Money made from the event will be donated to Surfers Healing, an organization that helps kids with autism learn how to surf, and the Surfrider Foundation, which advocates for protecting coastal environments. The event is kid-friendly and open to all ages.

“There’s something for everybody, not just for people who are into the surf lifestyle,” said Gainey, who will be making the trip up to Wilmington in time for Thursday night’s festival pre-party downtown.

Though Gainey and company will be busy with the event, he’s hoping to catch some waves while he’s in town.

“We always travel with our surf boards and gear, so we’ll try to get out in the water while we’re there,” Gainey said. “We’re looking forward to a good weekend all around.”

The Carolina Surf Film Festival is being presented by Howler Brothers in Wilmington this weekend and Mex 1 Coastal Cantina in Charleston on Oct. 14 and 15. Radio station 98.3 The Penguin, which is owned by the same parent company as Port City Daily, is also a sponsor.

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