Killing Waves

The surfers fighting sewage off the shores of Cornwall for us all

Back in July, we launched a competition along with TOMS, the One for One company, to commission a film by one UK director with a vision for change. The idea was simple: create a short documentary about an inspiring group who make a difference in your community.  Filmmaker Carlos Carneiro fit the brief, winning £5,000 to direct and produce his short film Killing Waves, following the story of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), an environmental organisation seeking to preserve our beaches and campaign against water pollution. 

“If it wasn’t for them (SAS) fighting that battle,” Carlos says, “god knows what the state of the beaches would be – so you should check them out. I think we all just need to pay a bit more attention.”

Carlos, who’s 31 and founded London Sessions Productions at Abbey Road Studios, spent a week filming, along with cameraman Bruno Ramos. Set against the coasts of Cornwall, Killing Waves adopts a fresh cinematic approach to the work of SAS. The charity who purport to live for the surf have dedicated their time to protecting the seas – not just to make the voice of the water user heard, but to protect the planet on a wider level.  Carlos tells us about the process and filming with SAS executive director Hugo Tagholm and campaign director Andy Cummins:

“There were a few challenges. I’m drawn to people’s stories, so I got curious of a more personal story of Andy and Hugo, I didn’t know whether to focus to the voice of SAS or them, but I was able to find that balance. Trying to tell the story in the best possible way and document it in the most natural way without a script, meant the story didn’t really come together until post-production.”

SAS is the brainchild of a group of local surfers and beach lovers, founded in 1990. Established at grass roots level, the organisation became a national movement, with representatives across the UK addressing issues including climate change, sewage pollution and toxic chemicals. Now, they work to educate, conserve and campaign on the matter of water pollution. Hugo says:

“The film really encapsulated SAS’s campaigns and why we’re motivated to protect Britain’s beaches. Filming was good fun - it was great to have Carlos and Bruno with us getting involved in the surf and showing Cornwall’s best beaches, as well as the unfortunate impact that’s been made on our coastlines.”