Local filmmaker/photographer Patrick Trefz crafts cinematic ‘Ode to California’
Patrick Trefz was born and raised halfway around the world in Düsseldorf, Germany, and since then has lived and traveled all over the planet, while fulfilling his life’s passion of documenting his globetrotting experiences.
Surf and ocean enthusiasts can get a glimpse of some of those experiences in his recently released book of photographs, entitled “Surfers’ Blood,” which is, in his own words, about “the kinship of surfers and their tradition and bond.”
But the latest inspiration for the Santa Cruz-based surfer/filmmaker/photographer resides a little closer to home, where his new short film, Ode to California, will premiere at the Save The Waves Festival on Nov. 9 at The Rio Theatre.
The one-night film festival is a nonprofit fundraiser that tours a trio of cities on consecutive Fridays this month, and seeks to educate and entertain audiences with a menu of films related to environmentalism, surfing, and the ocean in general. All proceeds from the event will benefit the environmental programs of the Save The Waves Coalition and World Surfing Reserves.
The festival was born three years ago as a small event at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco, where it was held the following two years. But due to its popularity, the event hit the road this year, beginning last week at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, and concluding next week at its birthplace in San Francisco. “It’s an interesting format for a film festival because it’s only one night,” says event director Josh Berry, who is also the writer/producer of Ode to California. “We decided to do this event with a very tightly curated and simple format, and it’s been a success so far.”
While Ode to California mostly defies easy description, it’s billed as a “mystical journey that celebrates the unique northern California surfing experience,” and Trefz adds that it’s “an homage to California that reflects on its natural beauty, its raw power, and its mysticism.”
Trefz and Berry created the film specifically for Save The Waves. “One of the big struggles I’ve had with curating this film festival is that it’s a very unique niche, and we don’t always find the right film that fits into it, so this year we decided to make our own film that fits the mold,” says Berry. “So [Patrick] and I just started talking about different films we love, and different music and ideas that we love, and we wanted to make something that was different from what’s out there.”
Trefz describes the final product as “Carl Jung-ian.” “It’s a very abstract piece,” he explains. “It’s kind of like lucid dream footage.”
Berry stresses the singularity of vision that Trefz brought to the project. “He’s got an incredible artistic eye and he’s also just an incredible manipulator of images,” he says. “And another thing I liked about him is that he lives in the woods of northern California, and I was looking for a film that would reflect our northern California reality, because there are not a lot of films out there that do that—a lot of films are more surf-industry, southern California kind of stuff—and I wanted something that was a little more true to northern California because it’s different here; it’s cold, it’s inhospitable, and there are sharks and a wilderness that’s not always very well represented.”
The Santa Cruz festival also features Groundswell, Chris Malloy’s documentary about a group of activists on an exploratory surf trip along the west coast of British Columbia, and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee’s Yukon Kings, which follows a Yup’ik fisherman Ray as he teaches his grandkids how to fish during the summer salmon run.
Trefz says he plans to work on a longer version or a director’s cut of Ode to California to submit to film festivals worldwide, even those that aren’t necessarily surf-related. “This is the kind of film that is definitely approachable for a broader audience,” he says. “You don’t need to be a surfer to understand this film.”
But presently, he hopes that the Save The Waves audience can take something away from his film. “First and foremost, I just want people to be inspired,” says Trefz. “If I can create something that brings up creativity and inspiration in people, I’m pretty stoked.”
‘Ode to California’ will screen at the Save The Waves Film Festival at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20. For more information, visit savethewaves.org/filmfestival.