Given is the simple yet powerfully contemplative story of a unique family legacy come full circle.
Told through the visceral experiences of a 6-year-old, Given follows legendary surfers Aamion and Daize Goodwin from their island home of Kauai through 15 different countries in the quest for surf and to fulfil a calling handed down through generations.
Byron Bay Surf Festival creative director James McMillan selected this film because he feels it sums up the real side of surf culture and surf community better than any other film in history. Was this something you feel as well? This movie is an ode to surfing but goes so much deeper.
Aamion – I think to document surfing at its finest it’s so important to travel without an agenda. See what you find behind that next turn so to speak.
Daize – We had no story and let the whole thing unfold naturally. Sometimes the waves were amazing, sometimes they were super flat. But the beauty of surfing is really whom you meet along the way and that’s what this story is about – the characters along the way.
You have been on a whirlwind tour with the film. Take us through your life and the reception you have had.
Aamion – People are looking for answers. They don’t want to live in fear, and really they want to believe this world is a beautiful place, which it is.
Daize – It hasn’t been anything like the whirlwind we were on shooting this film. Going to neighbouring islands, to the mainland and Australia really are like taking a sweet vacation. It has been so eye-opening to see how people are responding to this film. We knew we were onto something that was bigger than us as we started to journey across the planet but had no idea how perfect the timing would be when it came out.
On your travels in this movie, you spend time in Australia. Talk us through the most memorable moment of this location for you.
Aamion – For me the simplicity of Red Bluff was mesmerising. I have always come to the Gold Coast, and have absolutely adored everything about it. The rawness of the west coast definitely blew my mind.
Daize – I’d say the thing that stood out most was when our son chased a brown snake into the bushes thinking that he could grab it and play with it. It’s funny because he even still remembers it as well.
How are you feeling about returning to Oz, premiering your film here at the Byron Bay Surf Festival and bringing the family back to enjoy the Aussie surf community.
Aamion – We couldn’t be happier to come and experience the Gold Coast and northern rivers. Daize has been talking about the region for years.
Daize – I’ve always wanted to bring the family here and even Aamion has never been. So excited for a little family time as well living in a camper van for two weeks and exploring.
How would you describe the experience of having your life documented for so long?
Daize – Now that it’s over and the film is so beautiful, you look back and think what a special time it was. Especially as kids grow so fast and we have all of True’s ‘firsts’ documented, we’re feeling pretty blessed. It wasn’t always easy during the journey, and I even wanted to quit many times and return to our little paradise in the middle of the ocean. Shooting this movie taught me a lot, especially that without sacrifice nothing amazing is made.
One of the film’s themes is centred around family bonds. Considering a lot of our attendees will be coming as part of a family group. What do you think they will reflect on while watching your journey in this regard?
Aamion – Unfortunately we live in a society now where most kids are attached to their devices, even at meals around the dinner table. The family bond is what will keep our future solid.
Daize – Family is everything to us.
A lot of women dream of travelling with their kids, but the reality sounds too exhausting for most of us! But in your case, to be pregnant and giving birth in the middle of a trip of a lifetime, that’s next level, girl! What would you say was the good, the bad and the ugly part of travelling as a mother?
Daize – Oh, girl, there was so much good that came out of this, mostly for me as a mother learning not to let fear creep in at all. There was also a lot of hard stuff as well. Many times I wondered what in the world I was doing taking my kids on these long flights and to places I had never even been to check if it was safe. What we found is that everyone welcomed us. People were so happy to see that we, as an American family, had left our homeland and were travelling to show our kids the beauty of every country we visited. I really firmly believe that travelling is the best education and that unless we get out and travel we are only reading one page of the most amazing book.
Given – what a kid! What did you learn about your son in the making of this film?
Aamion – Once we heard him narrate a paragraph or two we knew that this was natural for him.
Daize – Honestly as a mother who has been in the modelling industry and entertainment world I wanted nothing more than to shelter our son. It was pretty clear though within the first few weeks of shooting that he was a natural and that he absolutely loved to be a part of the whole production.
You guys are going to be at Sunday’s Freestyle & Stoke Surf Day, a non-competitive day of surfing with the big names coming to the Bay. You are in the fins event at 8.30am, and Daize you are in the mermaids event at 1130am, where a winner will be chosen by the crowd and a panel of judges for the pure stoke and fun of surfing. How important is it to be a part of events that are not about points or technique in this sport that you love?
Aamion – These types of contests really bring back the reason we all started in the first place – for the fun of it.
Daize – Well that to me is the true essence of surfing. It’s all about fun and every world title or contest that I won I really was just having fun. We are honoured to be here!
Given has its premiere screening at the Byron Bay Foreshore, Friday at 7.30pm.