Since the release of his 1996 debut Litmus: A Surfing Odyssey (acclaimed as ‘easily the finest surf film of its decade’), Kidman has continued to intertwine his love of surfing and music relentlessly and without compromise, inadvertently inspiring a whole generation of new riders and artists who have collectively contributed to what has been described as a ‘soul-surfing renaissance’. Kidman’s latest project is Spirit of Akasha, a sequel to the iconic 1972 surf film Morning of the Earth which was launched with a live soundtrack by Kidman’s band The Windy HIlls and guests at the Sydney Opera House as part of the 2014 Sydney Festival.
This Falls Festival, Uki-based Kidman brings it home with a screening and a live score by Windy Hills. It was an ambitious and breathtaking vision, realised in sumptuous simplicity. However, filming was a little more complex!
‘For Spirit of Akasha we had about 10 cameramen working on it,’ says Kidman. ‘Basically we were all giving our take on what we thought Albie (Falzon) did, whatever we were inspired to create; and the soundtrack was the same. The original soundtrack to Morning of the Earth was like a gold record; we just said to everyone involved, just let it inspire you, it’s a beautiful film.’
Morning of the Earth remains a touchstone for surfing culture. Kidman believes it’s owed largely to the power of the original soundtrack.
‘It drives the narrative and Albie’s visuals are amazing – that incredible innocence, you enjoy looking at it, and it touches you I guess, and you wish you could be back there.’
Kidman also believes that in spite of the complexity of our lives and the commerce of tourism that coastal living still offers something of that nostalgic innocence that Falzon presents in Morning of the Earth.
‘I think people still experience it here. Even yesterday I was down at Flat Rock, past Lennox, and it was incredible: no wind, and the ocean had those beautiful colours; the kids were playing in the shore. It’s a magic area, because you interact with the ocean and the land all at once. Nothing changes that.’
Creating a soundtrack for Spirit of Akasha was a challenge for Kidman, particularly in light of the power of the original film and its music.
‘I pretty much wrote all the songs for the film at home and then I’d take them to the band and we would elaborate on them. We worked out how to make them bigger.’
In scoring the film, Kidman and his band The Windy Hills are mindful that it reflects the spirit of the film.
‘In the music that we make we try to reflect what is going on in the film and evoke it so we make it like a whole, so what you are watching feels like what you are listening to and you are doing what – it’s what Windy Hills have done, and it’s what I enjoy doing, soundtrack stuff, its multi-dimensions. I have always done that, right from the start – personally for me the best films always have great music in them; something such as Paris Texas was driven by the guitar playing. Not a lot goes on in that but it’s such an emotional film… you are looking at it, you are watching it but because of the music, you are in it.’
So how does a musician and filmmaker take on a project as lofty as a sequel to a cult classic? ‘It’s a fun thing to do. I was a bit unsure at first, thought it might have been sacrilege, but all people wanted to do was go back to it. We weren’t trying to make a remake; we were doing a modern homage to it.’
Experience the Spirit of Akasha with a live soundtrack by The Windy Hills at Falls Festival. Falls Festival Byron tickets are ON SALE NOW at fallsfestival.com. Thursday 31 Dec 2015 until 3 January 2016 at North Byron Parklands. 18+ event.