The Dream ChaserFrank Solomon has done the hard yards. Now, his struggles are the subject of a new movie – with himself in the starring role
Cape Town native Frank Solomon is a damn good surfer, incredibly brave and, if we’re completely frank, just about crazy enough to be one of those guys who trades a relatively quiet life for the pursuit of the big waves – the really big waves.
Solomon is also as tenacious as hell. Here is a man who simply refuses to take no for an answer; it’s equally hard to imagine the seemingly laid-back surfer ever using the word himself.
Behind his relaxed demeanor lies a steely resolve—a resolve illustrated not only by his ongoing mission to conquer the world’s mightiest waves but also by the fact he found the time to document it in a movie, Let’s Be Frank.
THE RED BULLETIN: How did Let’s Be Frank come about?
FRANK SOLOMON: I never in my wildest dreams thought anyone would want to make a movie about me. But I went to a premiere that [surf filmmaker] Peter Hamblin had put on for his film The Wright Side of Wrong, and afterward we started chatting and I told him my story. After we’d had probably too many beers, he said we should make a movie and call it Let’s Be Frank. I was like “Whatever” and carried on partying. But a couple of days later he called, saying, “Remember me? I really want to do this. I think it would be pretty cool.”
What did you tell him when he asked for your story?
Well, I would post photos of my travels, so I guess from the outside it looked like I was always in these super-exotic locations. It’s true that I was traveling—I was going to California and surfing Mavericks—but in between I was working four or five jobs and sleeping on people’s floors. I wasn’t posting about that, though, so from Peter’s perspective I was living the dream, surfing these amazing spots all around the world. I think for him, as a filmmaker, the contrast between his perception and the truth was appealing, and, being super-creative, he saw how we could turn that into a movie.
So he made a fictional movie based on that contrast?
Yeah. I mean, I have had a very interesting life. I have a lot of stories, and Peter managed to take those and escalate them. Before we started he sent emails to my friends, asking for the best stories about me. From that, he changed what really happened into this wild, creative vision that is still rooted in the truth.
Like the bare-knuckle fight scene in Ireland?
In the movie, I run out of money, which is based on the truth—but I’ve never had to take part in an underground bare-knuckle fight to get some. That scene was heavily influenced by the movie Snatch. We shot in Ireland, the U.K., South Africa, Mexico, Hawaii, California — all places where I’ve traveled and surfed. We also shot the movie while I was actually traveling and surfing. Peter would come and meet up with me while I was in these locations and we’d do some movie work. It all sounds pretty crazy.
Did you always know you would live this life?
If I had told someone [in the early days] that I wanted to be a pro surfer, they would have laughed at me. But here I am. I will tell you one thing, though: Living your dreams is not easy. It has taken me 10 years of complete dedication and commitment to get on this path. I was already telling people that I was a pro surfer even when I wasn’t. I was just so committed. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking the first time I went on that trip …
Did you think your profile would develop this way?
In this day and age, you can explore and do different things through social media and stuff, which means you can be a pro surfer without taking part in too many competitive events. I do surf them, but it’s definitely not my main focus. For me, it’s about being visible and creating cool content, which is just as important for brands. So if I can keep my sponsors happy and remain relevant, that would be really cool.
So you’re making it happen for yourself?
Yes. And people really respect those who try to do that.