Local Extras Add Extra Meaning to Feature Film
By Christine Candelaria
In October 2011, I had the opportunity to be part of Santa Cruz history, cinematic history that is. I worked as a Production Assistant on the film “Chasing Mavericks,” a biopic on the life of local surfer Jay Moriarity.
My main job was to help with the nearly 1,000 volunteer extras who showed up to be part of the movie’s big paddle-out scene, a re-creation of the paddle-out memorial ceremony that originally took place after Jay’s death in 2001.
It was a long day, starting with a 4 a.m. call time for me, while extras began trickling in at 6 a.m., along with surfboards of all shapes, colors, and sizes. There was such an excited buzz in the air, with many having skipped work or school for a once in a lifetime experience. Pleasure Point local, Lucas Lee Hale, pointed out, “I think it’s really cool that there are a lot of kids here because Jay was on a mission to travel around the world and share surfing with youth.”
The gathering of extras felt like a reunion, and in a sense it was, because many of the surfers who participated in the original paddle-out were there. Hale explained, “For a lot of us, the paddle-out, being 10 years after the original one, is really special because it gives us another opportunity to give respect to Jay. It’s also a really good day to give tribute to a lot of our fallen friends throughout Pleasure Point and all of Santa Cruz.”
Some who couldn’t make it to the first paddle-out were more than happy to come and pay their respects this time around. Also, I’m not going to lie, there were definitely folks who were hoping to catch a glimpse of Gerard Butler, the actor who plays Jay’s mentor, Frosty Hesson.
At one point, during the long wait before the actual shoot, both Frosty and Kim Moriarity, Jay’s wife, addressed the crowd with morale-boosting words. Kim offered a sincere thank you to all for being there and said she felt Jay’s spirit among the crowd. Frosty shared how impressed the film crew was with friendly Santa Cruz locals and summed it up by saying, “There isn’t any place that’s right like here, and you guys represent right here.”
It was such an honor to work behind the scenes and interact with so many passionate locals. I will admit, though, after seeing 1,000 surfers in wetsuits with surfboards it was all kind of a blur. Which explains why I let Gerard walk right past me without even noticing it was him! Oh well, c’est la vie.
Click below for some raw footage of the paddle out scene with Gerard Butler himself providing some direction!