Stephanie Gilmore’s new film: we chat to filmmaker Ava Warbrick about ‘Stephanie in the Water’

To tie in with our BIG Stephanie Gilmore interview from the current issue which you can read here, we chat to filmmaker Ava Warbrick about her new documentary ‘Stephanie in the Water’, and why she chose to tell surfing’s story from a human rather than action perspective…

From Cooler Issue 44 – Spring Summer 2014

How long have you known Stephanie Gilmore and where did the idea for the film come from?

Stephanie and I met through my father in Australia in 2009. We sat down at a restaurant at Kirra, each with a sister in tow, and started exchanging ideas for video projects. We all hit it off right away. The project developed and came together over a period of time. We knew we wanted to make something with one another and were enthused to get creative.

How is it different from regular surf films?

Stephanie and I had a remarkable rapport. We had some common background but were very different people experiencing life through different lenses. Through the process of filmmaking we shared a lot and I think that affinity comes through in the footage. I tried to understand her world, to capture it on film, to give audiences a taste of what I’ve learned, and most importantly to show Stephanie’s unique experience growing up as an athlete. Traditionally it seems surf films present a great deal of action. In this film we bring some human experience to the table as well. As opposed to explaining the sport of surfing as a whole, the film explores Stephanie’s story and thus a viewer can extrapolate on professional sport or specifically surfing from there.

Tell us a little about your filmmaking background?

I have a background in art which is what I concentrated on in school and continue to practice. I have worked on a number of films and made several shorts. This is my first documentary feature so I am very excited about it.


We haven’t seen the finished movie yet but you can watch the trailer on the next page. It finishes up with this tantalising soundbite, which I think refers to the violent attack she suffered in December 2010 at her New South Wales home:

Life could not get any better then the whole universe just flipped upside down…


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