The Making of First Love

We go behind the scenes with the makers of the "real Blue Crush."

Pow Wow // Johnie Gall // 09/17/12
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India, Nikki and Jess at Pyramid Rock Festival.
Clare Plueckhahn, Claire Gorman...
Clare Plueckhahn
Nikki and Fran
From First Love
From First Love
From First Love
From First Love

While we're fans of Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush, we were ready for a film about the daily triumphs and turmoils of a real female surfer. Instead, we got a story about three of them.

First Love, a new film from CosWeCan founders Fran Derham and Clare Plueckhahn, is the story of Jess Laing, Nikki van Dijk, and India Payne, three competitive surfers trying to find balance between school, surf, love and life. The film also stars Steph Gilmore, Alana Blanchard, Bethany Hamilton, Carissa Moore, Georgia Fish and Cahill Bell-Warren. We caught up with Fran and Clare to learn more about their new film and their favorite moments behind the scenes:

The three main characters in this true-life story are Jess, Nikki and India. How would you describe each one of them
Fran and Clare: As surfers we would describe each of them as determined, strong and dedicated to their sport. Jess is a gentle soul, very intuitive and beautiful from the inside out. Wise for her age she's is a true wahine—the water anchors her and reminds her who she is—when she gets too far away from it she loses track. India is a go-getter; she'll set her mind to something and pursue it until she succeeds. sShe's very strong willed and has strong moral compass. Nikki is a ball of energy and there's a fire that burns in her that you can see from around a dark corner. She's focussed and determined to succeed, she rips and she's so much fun.

The girls travel a long way from home to surf in Hawaii. What are some of the major differences they had to get used to surfing in this new place?
Crowds and heavier, hard-hitting waves with more size. Surfing in bikinis or just rashies was a pretty good 'difference' to get used to. They absolutely loved it.

The movie uses love as a metaphor for surfing: It can make you insanely happy, or break your heart. What are some of the main heartbreak themes in this film?
I don't want to give anything away too much, but when Jess can't surf it's pretty heartbreaking. Just like you can fall in love with a guy, you can fall in love with the ocean. When you're a teenager you probably spend more time in the ocean than with any guy, so the bond is strong and to have that ripped away from you is pretty heartbreaking.

Do you explore the tension that comes with being best friends with the same girls you're competing against?
Hell yes. It's a major theme in the movie, and also an issue in real life. The girls have learnt to deal with it pretty well. The difference between a good competitive surfer and a normal surfer is that drive to win and withstand the pressure of competition, even if it means beating a mate. Girls naturally compete with each other every day (mostly in a friendly way) so it's only natural. There are varying opinions on it in the film, but it's pretty clear that the race is on.

Why should a budding surfer watch this film?
Because it inspires you to get out in the water. If you didn't love surfing already, you will after watching it. It's great because you realize that you can achieve anything when you put your mind to it and it's also nice to see real people doing it. Even if they're on the other side of the world it's great to see real girls getting out there and giving it a go.

What was your favorite moment during shooting that didn't make it into the film?
Mmmm. Tough one. There are a few that got the chop. We didn't want to offend any surfers so we took out a few comments the girls made about which pro surfers they thought were hot and not. There was some cool footage of Steph Gilmore singing along to a Tame Impala song while driving along the North Shore. And also Coco Ho and Laura Enever going nuts and singing Beyonce in the car on the way to Ala Moana. So funny. Oh, and Carissa Moore doing an Aussie accent—that was awesome. Good to know that they're just normal girls.

First Love is available on video and on demand in the U.S. and Canada and on iTunes. You can also hold your own screening of the film by visiting!

Produced by Fran Derham & Clare Plueckhahn
Written by Fran Derham
Directed by Claire Gorman
Edited by Sara Edwards
Art Directed by Clare Plueckhahn

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