Gold Coast filmmaker brings Emocean to the big screen

This April, Gold Coast Film Festival is bringing surf film ‘Emocean’ to Gold Coast audiences for the first time. Part surf trip, part love letter to the ocean, ‘Emocean’ is the baby of Gold Coast filmmaker Tony Harrington, who is currently garnering enthusiastic responses on a worldwide festival tour with the film. We barrelled him a few questions ahead of its screenings here.

Can you tell us a bit about your surf and film background on the Gold Coast?

I was brought up on the Central Coast of NSW as a surfer and as a young teenager was introduced to the likes of Kirra and Burleigh and vowed one day to live up here. I’ve now been based here at Elanora since the late 90’s. I picked up a camera at the age of 14 for some reason and started swimming out in the ocean after early dawn surfs. Basically I would get the best of the early hours of surfing and then started shooting when the lineup got crowded.

What makes ‘Emocean’ different to other surf films?

There’s a lot of amazing surf movies out there, but very few tell the full story of why a person surfs, or who the person is. In ‘Emocean’ we get to know more about who the people are and their connection to the sea. I believe that’s why ‘Emocean’ has done so well as an Official Selection to over 15 international adventure and surf festivals around the globe from London to Lisbon and across Europe, New Zealand, Hawaii and from the west to the east coast of the U.S.A.

What were some of the unique challenges involved in making the film?

There are always challenges in making any films, like dealing with Mother Nature producing the waves we were after, exorbitant travel and excess baggage costs and most of all film partners who went bankrupt or simply tear up contracts because they know we don’t have the money to come after them. We actually got stuck smack bang in the middle of Australia on our way home as a sponsor’s payment just didn’t come through, and we had to borrow money from our family just to get home. It was harsh and scary.

The title of the film ‘Emocean’ was very aptly named that’s for sure, due to the emotional rollercoaster we went through, and the film wouldn’t have been as good if we didn’t experience that.

You can catch all the ‘Emocean’ when it screens at the Gold Coast Film Festival on Friday 5 April at Coolangatta and Thursday 11 April at Coomera. The Coolangatta screening will be followed by a Q+A with Tony Harrington. Gold Coast Film Festival runs from 3-14 April 2019. For full program details, visit

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