About a year ago, you could have asked me who Christopher “Chippa” Wilson was and been met with the blankest of stares. That was then, this is NOW. I first started to care about who Chippa Wilson was when I saw his Kustom Airstrike footage from a trip with Kai Neville. Never has a surfer gone from floating around the periphery to front and center so quickly. His surfing is as spontaneous as a hyperactive kid guilty of polishing off an entire box of frosted flakes, but his lines aren’t spastic. Every turn is a conscientious effort to lead him to lift-off. If Chippa’s film is the sum of his surfing parts, then NOW is the perfect name for a showcase of his post-modern surf acrobatics.
The opening seconds of the film show a statement in bold letters that reads, “A Film All About Living…” It’s the refreshingly simple concept of the film that makes it so watchable, and allows Chippa’s surfing to stand out. The footage has a grainy, fuzzed-out feel to it, and is accompanied by an equally fuzzed-out indie soundtrack. It’s all as smooth as hot syrup on buttermilk pancakes, which is a good contrast for the insanely technical surfing that you see onscreen. Chippa’s surfing is so technical, in fact, that another blaring techno soundtrack would create a significant risk of over-stimulation, seizure, and subsequent death. This film is a change of pace thanks to director Riley Blakeway, the 21-year-old up-and-coming filmmaker who followed Chippa with camera in hand for a year, and believed that an addition by subtraction approach to the film was the perfect way to showcase the talent. There are no revealing interviews, no props or sets, and nothing that feels forced. NOW is a bread-and-butter surf movie that holds your attention without demanding it.
All stylistics aside, NOW is a great surf film because the surfing is so beyond any and all expectations. The film features fantastic surfing by Dion Agius, Warren Smith, Dillon Perillo, Andrew Doheny, Thom Pringle, and Ben Godwin, but they aren’t why you will watch this film. Chippa spends as much time in the air as he does in the water, and he lands impossible off-axis spins in the flats. I’ve always been impressed when a surfer can stick two airs on one wave – Chippa does this multiple times throughout the film. In one section, Chippa sticks a full rotation backside air reverse, does a few turns, and then sticks his patented big-spin in the shallows. When he stuck that maneuver, it’s like he was sticking a giant exclamation mark at the end of his name. Chippa is here now, and his days of anonymity are over.