What it means to undertake a big wave odyssey as a blind surfer is set to be explored in a new feature documentary that has begun filming on the NSW North Coast.
Written and directed by Brick Studio’s Daniel Fenech, The Blind Sea follows vision-impaired champion sportsman Matt Formston as he attempts to win a fourth Para Surf World Title in California next month, tests himself in the fearsome waves of Indonesia’s infamous Tellos and Fiji’s Cloudbreak, and prepares to take on the treacherous winter swells of the New South Wales coastline.
Guiding him will be soul surfer and elite surf coach Michael “Crispy” Crisp and big wave legend Dylan Longbottom.
The long-form documentary is being produced by Heath Davis and Erin Fenech, and lensed by Chris Bland.
Formston, who was diagnosed with macular dystrophy at the age of five, is also a world champion Para-cyclist, having represented Australia at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
It was during his preparation for the games that he first collaborated with Fenech, with the pair working together at Optus and forming a friendship that would continue through to when Formston tried his hand at surfing.
“Making a doco about his story was always on the cards and now everything seems to be aligning,” Fenech told IF.
“There’s so much to his story – it’s not just his incredible achievements but also the hope and inspiration that he provides.
“There’s a lot of people who will be looking to his story to better their own lives and give them the belief they can charge forward with their own journeys.”
Fenech said they were also working to make sure the film resonated with blind audiences.
“It’s one thing to make a film that looks really cinematic but its also about asking what techniques we can apply to this film to make it fulfilling for a blind audience,” he said.
Davis said he “jumped at the chance” to produce what is his first long-form documentary.
“Daniel is such a talented and personable filmmaker and Matt’s life story is so inspiring,” he said.
“Together they have set out to achieve and create something so daring, I just couldn’t say no.
“It’s going to be such a fascinating and life-affirming ride. Everyone will be moved by it.”
Shooting will continue in various Australian coastal locations throughout 2022, with the release schedule yet to be confirmed.