Nova Scotia

'A special breed': Nova Scotia filmmaker shoots movie about North Atlantic surfing

There's no emerald sea or palm trees in this surf film. Perilous Sea is shot on the rugged shores of the North Atlantic Ocean — from Iceland and Ireland to Nova Scotia.

Winter surfing in the North Atlantic is a sight few people ever see

Surfers Noah Wegrich and Noah Cohen get ready to hit the waves in Iceland for the film Perilous Sea, shot in the North Atlantic. (Mike Bromley)

Nova Scotia filmmaker Mike Bromley who grew up surfing off Cow Bay and Lawrencetown, has completed his latest feature-length surf movie, Perilous Sea.

Three years in the making, Bromley and his filmmaking partner Ryan Meichtry wanted to make the first surf film set in some of the world's harshest surf weather — the rugged North Atlantic.

"The North Atlantic surfer is definitely a special breed," Bromley explained from Cow Bay, N.S., with the ocean as flat as a pancake behind him.

"It's different than the blue water and palm trees that people are used to. The waves are amazing, we wanted to showcase that because a lot of times people don't get to see how good the surf is in the North Atlantic."

Filming in Nova Scotia, Ireland and Iceland

The film is set in three cold and icy locations — undisclosed Nova Scotia surfing hot spots and difficult-to-reach locations in Iceland and Ireland.  

"It was really hard from Iceland, trying to get shots on the top of mountains, [and then] dealing with snowstorms and rain in Ireland. Dealing with a Maritime winter is never easy, especially trying to stay outside," Bromley said.

It was in Iceland where they got the money shot.

"We waited in Iceland for 20 days and dealt with a lot of ice and rain," Bromley said, breaking into a grin at the memory. "And then we got a wave that no one has ever seen before and no one has shot since, I'm pretty sure. 

"It was a really special, big, blue, barrelling wave that people might not think you'd see in the North Atlantic." 

Difficult to shoot

Even without the weather challenges, shooting a surfing film is a test of patience.

"Surfing is not like filming any other sport where someone can keep doing the same manoeuvre several times," Bromley said.

Surfing sites on the coast of Nova Scotia are prominently featured in the film Perilous Sea. (Mike Bromley)

"The waves only come through every now and then, and the wind can switch at the drop of a hat. The tide changes and changes the wave surface so it is hard to get the shot we were after."  

But those shots were worth the wait.

'A different take on a surf movie'

Perilous Sea also tells a good yarn.

"Being inspired from growing up in the Maritimes, I really like old Maritime tales of the sea and the fisherman. We wanted to do a different take on a surf movie where it's not just a rock-and-roll video of people doing moves," Bromley said.

"We wanted to build a story of an old man of the sea explaining his life ... and correlate that with what the professional surfers are going through doing in the North Atlantic."

Nova Scotia filmmaker Mike Bromley describes a dramatic wave barrelling in off the coast of Iceland as the movie's money shot. (Mike Bromley)

A narrator weaves the story while a group of international surfers, including Nova Scotia's Logan Landry, create the visual magic.

"It's surreal to see it all come together. The music is all original pieces from musicians including Matt Mays who did a song for the film. It's amazing to see all these people work so hard for free. We didn't have any money," Bromley said.

"To have people believe in the project and have it all come together is special."

Perilous Sea will be released in August and is headed to various film events and festivals around North America, including Los Angeles and Vancouver.

With this project complete, Bromley is moving to Los Angeles to continue working on his film career and maybe find time to surf in warmer California waters.