‘Distance Between Dreams’

Maui’s own surfer Ian Walsh to star in world premiere film Saturday at MACC with bros

Ian Walsh slices down a big wave at Jaws at Peahi. Zak Noyle for Red Bull Media House photo

Catch one of the most historic big wave seasons on record through the eyes of Ian Walsh at the world premiere of Red Bull Media House’s new film “Distance Between Dreams” on Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. and screenings are at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and free for children 12 and younger (but these must be reserved ahead of time to ensure a theater seat).

“It was really important for me to show it at home first,” says Walsh, who grew up in Kuau Cove near the legendary Hookipa Beach Park. “We’ll take it to Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu on December 2.”

Ian says that his parents lived on Maui before he was born and his mother traveled back to Newport, R.I., to give birth to him and tend to other family members. Then his parents returned here and he spent his entire life with his brothers on Maui. He now he lives in Haiku and his brothers are in the film as well. His father, Peter Walsh, will retire from Hawaii Cane & Sugar in January after driving its tractors for more than 20 years.

“My dad spent a long time riding around on that tractor,” says Ian. “It will be fun for us to see him taking it easy as he works so hard.”

Ian’s brothers Shaun and D.K. Walsh keeping the crew safe (and catching waves) during “Distance Between Dreams” filming. Zak Noyle for Red Bull Media House photo

As for going the distance, he says,  “It’s not my first movie, but it’s the first project in which I’ve been engulfed for two whole years. It’s my first feature-length film. The MACC will be a fun party atmosphere with a deejay, surprise guests between shows and an after-party.”

The stars will walk the red carpet, and food will be cooked by Las Pinatas and Maui Cones.

Directed by Rob Bruce and produced in association with Freeride Entertainment, “Distance Between Dreams” will let viewers in on an unprecedented look into Walsh’s world, as he sets mind and body in motion to redefine the upper limits of what’s considered rideable.

Through up-close, first-person narratives, state-of-the-art cinematography and captivating sound, “Distance Between Dreams” will be much more than just a surf movie, inviting viewers to dive into the heart of the action.

“I wanted to invest my time and energy into a project that would give people a very comprehensive look into everything that we put into surfing big waves,” Ian explains. “We are able to share the good, the bad, the hard work, and resulting satisfaction that you feel when you push yourself further than you ever dreamt possible.”

Ian Walsh fine tuning board designs with shaper Chris Christenson during the 2016 big wave season. Zak Noyle for Red Bull Media House photo

The filming coincided with a record El Nino giving the cast and crew an opportunity to time mark one of the best big wave seasons ever.

“A good chunk of it was filmed on Maui,” admits Walsh. “We also filmed on Oahu and at an undisclosed location in an ocean. We did a few sessions at Mavericks in Northern California as well.”

The “we” included Ian and his brothers Shaun, D.K. and Luke Walsh as the brothers banded together on a quest to progress to surfing to unimaginable heights in the massive  El Nino-powered swells.

Linking up with the Walsh brothers as the swells built up  across the Pacific Ocean were friends including John John Florence, Greg Long, Shane Dorian and more on this wet and emotional roller coaster to survive and thrive in one of the most hostile environments on Earth.

“We spent a good deal of time on a sailboat looking for surf spots,” he says. “We had a good start to this winter. We spent some time in Indo. But in the film, it remains a mystery about our secret location.”

Of course, the training is relentless.

“The training takes a lot of time,” Ian says. “I block out six weeks before surf season. I work out at Deep Release Peak Performance on Maui.”

Ian’s daily routine before filming was waking up to two hours of surfing in the morning; then two hours in the gym pumping up his strength, power and mobility; followed by a 90-minute to two-hour bicycle ride; and one-and-a-half hours of afternoon wave action.

“Then training takes a back seat, helping to keep me fit in the water in surf season,” Ian says.

“Very few people realize what guys like Ian and his brothers go through every day, not only physically, but also emotionally and personally to remain ready and at the top of their sport year-round,” says director Bruce. “It’s a fascinating and crazy lifestyle that creates unique characters and inspiring camaraderie.”

Ian agrees. “The storyline gives a good understanding of each surfer and their character. We give back story instead of just being a surf movie with music. There is a psychology to it.”

As a bonus, the music in ” Distance Between Dreams” does rock. “Junky XL, a professional musician in L.A., who scored ‘Mad Max,’ ‘Batman vs. Superman,’  ‘Dead Pool’ and ‘Black Mask,’ scored to the action and the final product is special to me. He has such a creative touch,” says Ian. “Come check out the film. It will be a fun night.”

— Compiled by Carla Tracy