Updated: Dec 12, 2022
This article was produced in partnership with Arc'teryx.
It’s easy for a new surf, snow and adventure film to get lost in the digital forest today.
But when a film comes along that brings together incredible cast of talent, puts them in a dramatic and unpredictable landscape, explores the origin of creation and creativity — all to an incredible soundtrack — you take notice.
See the full film here.
Creation Theory is not the average surf, snow and adventure film.
Far from it.
It’s an experience … From the interstellar birth of gravity and rhythm, to their ultimate human creative expression: a surfer on wave, a snowboarder on peak, and a musician on stage … all wrapped up in an easy to watch, 20+ minute film.
There’s no doubt about it: Creation Theory is one of the best films of the year. Here’s five reasons why. — Cash Lambert
#1: The Film Makers
The genesis of Creation Theory was the confluence of several ideas from two eclectic and brilliant filmmakers — Alaska native Ben Sturgulewski, the founder of Sturgefilm, and Ben Moon, the founder of Moonhouse productions.
Sturgulewski had a growing fascination with physics and the similarities between creating a song, surfing a wave or snowboarding down a mountain. At the same time, Arc’teryx's Justin Sweeny had a similar idea of making a film based on the creative connections between surfing, snowboarding and music.
"That’s where the concept really started — how you go from the Big Bang to the places where the human spark of creation comes from," Sturgulewski said in a recent interview with Arc’teryx. "And Iceland was an ideal location to look at that — it’s such a raw, powerful place that’s still being born out of the ocean.”
The filmmakers braving the harsh and unpredictable elements of Iceland. Photo courtesy Arc'teryx Similarly, Ben Moon had been thinking about creativity, flow state, and its connection to the sports we love.
“I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about where creativity comes from and how you tap into it,” Moon said. "To me, I think a lot of it is just finding a place where you can be open — it’s like a flow state in that sense. In climbing I always felt that way — when you finally send a route, you aren’t always conscious of the effort, it just feels like this flow happens. And in the last decade, I’ve dedicated myself more to the ocean, and that’s an even more mystifying process, because a wave is a burst of energy that came from tides and sun and wind and all these factors. Ultimately, it was the cosmos that created a storm that built up over thousands of miles.”
When you bring together two filmmakers as talented as Sturgulewski and Moon, you get the sense that the result will be nothing short of award-winning.
#2: The Talent
Tofino native Coldwater specialist and 2009 Coldwater Classic champ Pete Derives; Two time Olympian and 7-time X Games Medalist Elena Hight; 2021 Natural Selection Tour Champion and industry standard setter Robin Van Gyn; electronic-indie musician Griffin Washburn, aka Goth Babe.
This is the eclectic cast of Creation Theory.
Pete Devries in his cold water element. Photo courtesy Arc'teryx
What's so interesting about the cast is that although they have several differences, from where they're from to their creative specialty, the film brilliantly ties them all together as they seek to understand flow state and creativity to enhance their skills.
“We all have our own instruments in life, whether you’re a snowboarder, surfer or musician. You have your way to hone in on the world." — Elena Hight
Carving from the mountains to the sea. Photo courtesy Arc'teryx
#3: The Plot
Space, time and relativity … sounds like we’re back in science class, counting down the hours until school ends so we can go surfing, right?
Creation Theory takes these seemingly boring and complex concepts and makes them understandable — and fascinating.
The film starts with a simple yet complex question:
“What is the source of creation?”
After that, it walks viewers through a three-tiered plot — space, time and relativity — giving a digestible explanation and marrying it with quotes and scenes from Pete, Elena, Robin and Griffin.
Pete Derives putting on a clinic on flow state. Photo courtesy Arc'teryx
What also makes Creation Theory so unique is that we’ve all seen films that have stunning visuals, from big barrels to dramatic mountainscapes, but are thin on the plot.
The film has these stunning visuals, yes, but it also has a standalone plot.
#4: The Setting
Creation Theory takes place in both extremes in an extreme location — from the mountains to the sea in the WestFjords, Iceland.
Not only does this result in snowcapped, dramatic mountainscapes and empty, barreling waves.
The film ties in this landscape to the plot by explaining relativity — being further away from a gravitational source results in time speeding up while being closer results in time being slowed down.
Because of this, as Elena and Robin streak down a powder-filled mountain, they experience a minuscule but real time difference compared to Pete, carving on an empty wave in the sea.
Dramatic to most, but this is where Elena and Robin are in their element. Photo courtesy Arc'teryx
Not only did Pete, Elena and Robin have to brave this challenging and unpredictable element; so did Moon and Struge — with their thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
“The elements were just nasty, and we were just scratching at whatever we could to make it work,” said Struge.
Moon agreed and had a surreal experience when shooting from the frigid water. “...The spookiest time was when I was shooting from the water and squalls would come through — I’d lose sight of shore, lose sight of Pete, all my landmarks were just gone.”
"It felt like the making of the film mirrored the creative process we portrayed in it,” said Sturge. “You have these experiences, you meet some form of struggle, and then you have to give it patience and time. Stick with it long enough, and you’ll find a way to make it work.”
#5: The Sounds/the Music
A soundtrack can make or break a film — and Griff Washburn’s original music for Creation Theory certainly makes it.
There’s no doubt that you’ll be grooving to the music, looking it up afterwards, and adding it to your pre-surf or pre-adventure playlist.
Elena Hight grooving. Photo courtesy Arc'teryx
Even better, Washburn welcomes viewers with open arms into his creative process, discussing everything from flow state to chord progressions, where he draws his musical ideas from and what it feels like when he puts it all together on stage.
“Music to me, it's like a free ticket to joy. It's having your instrument, having your tool you’re able to access deep parts of yourself, deep parts of the world. Digging into being the best version of yourself and creating only what you want to hear. What's going to come out? The coolest thing you’ve ever heard.”
In an era where surf and outdoor-themed music can feel overplayed, Washburn’s original score is a breath of fresh air.
Check out the full film here.