Surf Hunter movie creators Corey Adams, left, John Stewart, and Ben Gulliver had a wicked time at the Rip Curl x TELUS Filmmaker Showdown on May 11. The team earned a $40,000 grant to put towards making their horror comedy film. (KYLER VOS PHOTO)

Gory, goofy, Tofino surf movie earns top prize

Ben Gulliver takes inaugural Rip Curl x TELUS Filmmaker Showdown

TELUS is funding a Tofino-based surf comedy horror film to the tune of $40,000.

Film director Ben Gulliver was awarded the grant at the inaugural Rip Curl x TELUS Filmmaker Showdown event on May 11 at the Best Western Tin Wis.

His movie trailer Surf Hunter, about a boogie boarder who kills surfers, rose to the top of a deeply talented list of contenders, including: Marcus Palladino, Nate Laverdy, Desiree Bilon, Robert Fiorella, and Leanne Pelosi.

Gulliver told the Westerly he was surprised Surf Hunter was chosen by the jury panel.

“I knew that we were coming in with a serious wild card kind of Hail Mary sort of vibe. I was really, really, shocked but also super impressed that they went for something that was not, kind of, what you were expecting,” said Gulliver, who co-credited his friends Corey Adams and John Stewart for helping him create the teaser for the surf horror flick.

TELUS executive producer Jonas Woost said he was really pleased with all the concept teasers that screened at the Showdown, but thought Gulliver took that extra step, if not two, to deliver a project above and beyond the usual surf action sequence.

“It’s cinematically really beautiful. It’s got good surfing. It looks like there’s a lot of humour in it. It’s not taking itself too seriously as a thrasher movie,” said Jonas.

“It has all these elements and, I think, together it’s going to be very unusual and I think that’s obviously a good thing. In this day and age, there is so much content, there are so many films, it looks like he is going to do something quite different to at least what I’ve seen. I really can’t wait to see it.”

Gulliver likened Surf Hunter to the ‘80s cult action film Surf Nazis Must Die.

“It was a movie about Nazis surfers and they were getting killed off in really over-the-top kind of corny ways, but at the time in the ‘80s it was really serious but, if you watched it now, you would just laugh at it. I feel like that’s what we are trying to do. Trying to make something that looks like it takes itself seriously, but is actually really goofy and funny.”

Surf Hunter will premiere at the Rip Curl Pro Tofino 2019 alongside the next round of TELUS Filmmaker hopefuls vying for the $40,000 cash prize.

Gulliver and his crew have free rein to harness the funding as they see fit, Woost points out.

“We are not involved creatively at all. We want to empower filmmakers to do what they want to do by providing the funding, training and distribution,” he said.

While Surf Hunter will feature quality action sequences from Peter Devries, Noah Cohen, and other great Canadian shredders, Gulliver notes that his film is primarily about a Tofino cop and his battle with finding the serial killer who is killing off surfers.

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