As part of our long-standing relationship with British Airways' Community Investment team, Cloud Nine recently got back from Durban, South Africa where we spent time with Tom Hewitt and his crew of ex-street kids now-surfing professionals.
Apart from their partnership with Comic Relief, British Airways offer annual bursaries to individual projects around the world that they feel are providing long-term sustainable development to the community. Durban has a long history of homelessness and street crime, so a surfing project that can engage young street-children and give them some life-changing guidance is making a huge impact.
Following in the footsteps of Coca Cola, O'Neill and Red Bull, who have all filmed with Tom and his projects before (he's good on sponsorship!), British Airways wanted to make a film that had the same high production values every step of the way but could also convey the real impact that his story and actions have had on the local community.
Working with DOP Aaron Witchard, and the support of BA's Simon Yates, we pre-scripted, filmed and voiced over in a few short days, attaching GoPros to surfboards and getting sandblasted on what was actually a pretty cold and blustery beach.
Once we managed to actually get the kids all in the same place at the same time ("it's like herding cats" said Tom in despair) hanging out with these bright enthusiastic young guys was the highlight - you could feel the energy coming from them, all buzzing from the experience of surfing and being filmed. One requested a coffee with seven sugars which probably contributed to the general energy level.
Mugs of hot chocolate post-surf at the beachhouse never tasted so good.