‘Way of the Ocean’ is local filmmaker’s first in a series

When you think of tropical islands, those little surf paradises, what do you think of? Hawaii, Fiji, Indo… the Maldives maybe. But do you think of Australia?

Matt Kleiner’s documentary “Way of the Ocean” will make you. Kleiner sets out to make surfing synonymous with Australia, the world’s largest island, in his film debuting at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

“Way of The Ocean” is a nature driven, poetic epic about the relationship between Australia and surfers through the ages. Since surfing was introduced to the island in the early 1900s, it has become a way of life and more for the people of the water-locked continent. From the Barrier Reef to the cold Southern Ocean, Australia provides some of the best surfing in the world within its 20 thousand miles of coastline.

It is also a coastline that has – for the most part – been preserved and well-kept, an important message the film hopes to convey.

“Even throughout frequent use and some over-crowding in certain places, it is clear that they look after the beaches and maintain this pristine environment. Living in Southern California makes it easy to see that we need to start taking serious steps towards cleaner water and beaches,” Kleiner said.

Kleiner, a Santa Barbara native, said the production process was a tedious one.

“I spent two years back and forth between Australia and Santa Barbara.” Kleiner produced the film without a film crew, working with his brother Ryan, the film’s art director. “The whole process, although grueling, was a lot of fun and really enjoyable… it really was the experience of a lifetime.”

While the film is not necessarily an environmental film, Kleiner hopes that it might inspire
people to appreciate the ocean and do what they can to help preserve it in our area of the world.

The film is by no means short on high-performance surfing footage either, as it features Asher Pacey, Josh Kerr, Taj Burrow, Adam Robertson, Jordy Smith, Dane Reynolds, Craig Anderson and Kelly Slater.

Using a combination of 16 mm and high definition cameras, Kleiner tackles water and land alike to create a visually stunning film about the nature of surfing and man’s relationship to the water.

“A lot of surf movies will have really great cinematography but then they slap it together with a look and sound that doesn’t fit the moment,” Kleiner said, “My goal was to try to create something that worked as one, so we spent a lot of time creating an original score to help mirror the footage.”

Kleiner believes this movie will appeal to surf fans and non-surf fans alike. “The movie was made so that people can see the enjoyment that surfing and the ocean bring to our lives and to remind people to stop and smell the roses every once in a while.”

Between the breath-taking scenery, the smooth blend of image and sound, and the spirit of surfing, there’s something for everyone in this film.

“Way of the Ocean” is part one of a five part film series that intends to span across the globe’s oceans and surf.

Kleiner said of the series, “Once I developed the concept for the Way of the Ocean series with my brother Ryan, we decided Australia was the best place to start. Surfing is a huge part of daily life in Australia and the people well and truly live by the way of the ocean.”

The second installment in the series will be covering North America, which has started production this month.

If you can’t catch “Way of the Ocean” at the festival, it will be screening again March 5th at an event hosted by Sundance Beach.


  1. looks excellent. would be interested in seeing this…