Ellis Ericson Wants You To See Dale Egan’s Self-Made Biopic

by Ellis Ericson July 19, 2016 3 min read

It was the sort of film when your jaw is just on the floor. It’s not really a surf film. Dale is more of an artist, an unsung hero of Australian surfing, he was part of the early punk movement in Sydney and the UK. It’s very broad in its topics. One minute he’s surfing Warriewood and ripping, next minute he’s collecting 60’s art-deco furniture in the 80’s, then running a store in Sydney and just being an art freak. You couldn’t box him in, and it kept you entertained the whole time.

The night I saw it was the night Mick won J-Bay. I was watching the WSL corporate contest thing and all the scores, which I don’t usually watch, but I got sucked into it that night. Just before the final I went and watched the movie and it was such a drastic contrast to the surf media world. Here was this underground guy premiering his own movie to a small theatre and telling his side of the surf history.

I knew of Dale Egan from when I lived on the northern beaches. I bumped into him surfing Alley Rights one day at Narrabeen when I was riding a single fin. He was like, you like old boards? I’ve got a warehouse in Warriewood with heaps of that stuff and I’m getting rid of it. He was riding this thruster with foils down his fins which were just little nubs. I was like, this guy is trippy. He ripped too, like Wayne Lynch mixed with Derek Hynd or something. So we went back to his warehouse where he was living and it was this full surf cave with crazy memorabilia, old MP (Michael Peterson) boards stashed under his bed, art deco furniture, just this full treasure cave. I bought a jumper, sunnies, and some other stuff off him from memory.

I went and saw the movie, and I hadn’t seen him for seven or eight years, and he was like, ‘Ellis, how are ya mate?’ Straight up. And the film is rad. It was like a condensed version of his life in 35 minutes. It would’ve been a really hard thing to put together but he’s such a collector of old footage and magazine clippings from when he was a surfer, when he was a furniture collector, when he was in the Sydney underground punk movement. He had all this memorabilia which made a really good foundation for movie.

He was continually making something from nothing. He had a bunch of bad luck but he’d go out and be true to what he was about, which was recycling or being an artist and he just kept coming up and thinking of creative ways to keep pushing and living outside the box. It was inspiring for anyone out living on the fringe or trying to do something on their own. He was that guy living it, going from rags to riches, literally living that life. It was sick.

He also absolutely ripped. After he went a little bit stale on regular surfing he started to foil his fins down. Derek Hynd talks about it as being a big inspiration on him fully taking the fins out of his board. They were living in the same area, surfing Newport, and while he didn’t fully take his fins out he was one of the earliest pioneers of modern day friction-free surfing.

Someone yelled out in the Q&A afterwards: What’s the most expensive thing you’ve found? He told him he’d found 400 historical photographs that sold for $20k once. He also found some chair in Palmy someone threw out of a mansion in the 80’s that was worth $10k. He made all these wicked finds because he had a keen eye for furniture and a good general knowledge of society. He could just find these gems that propelled his life along – $20k here, $10k there, 5 bucks here – just enough to keep him going. The most interesting part of the film was watching him ride the wave of his financial situation and keep living his lifestyle.

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