Two Years In The Making, Noah Wegrich's 'Elude' Is A Love-Letter To Surf Cinema
Breathtaking from beginning to end.
In this day and age, where pro surfers are only has relevant as their latest social media post, Santa Cruz's Noah Wegrich took a different approach.
Working on Elude for the last two years, Noah's finally releasing the magnum opus him and cinematographer Perry Gershkow have woven together. Stab caught up with Waggy on the eve of the release to get the backstory on why it took so long, where they went, and what's coming up next.
Stab: First, let's start with the backstory on Elude. Why did it take so long?
Noah Wegrich: We started filming about two years ago, maybe a little more. It was a funny time. I didn’t really have a sponsor at that time and I was debating whether to keep trying to be a pro surfer or go get back to school and get something going. But Perry convinced me to spend some more time filming and hang out and do it because we love it. We were just going to see what happens. So we kept filming and it evolved into Elude. It was crazy. Every chance we had, every time somebody didn’t have work and we had a little money we’d go on a trip and shoot it.
You’ve got Ireland, Indo, all kinds of places. Did you have any ideas of where you wanted to go?
We went to all kinds of places, but kind of favored cold-water spots just because I’m drawn to them. But I definitely love getting in boardshorts.
Where in Indo did you go?
We did a boat trip to the Mentawais. It was insane. We booked it a week before, just got a smoking deal. We ended up on a boat with like ten Aussie dudes. They were on a stag trip.
The first day I went up to congratulate the guy that was going to be getting married and he was like, “Oh, we actually called off the wedding. But we’re doing the boat trip!”
It was insane! From that moment on I knew we were good to go. I knew the guys were legends. It was so funny. And they all ended up charging and being super nice dudes, so it was cool that it worked out so good. We were worried we were going to be with a bunch of groms or people that didn’t want to go after good waves.
Down a mine shaft and into the devil's lair!
So, what are all the locations you filmed at?
I think we did five countries—Scotland, Ireland, California, Hawaii, Canada and Indo.
What was your favorite?
I had a really special surf in Scotland where I was alone. Perry was filming and I was surfing. It was super cool, like a dream, just both of us getting out there and doing our thing.
Doing the boat trip was also super cool. It’s something I’ve dreamed about doing since I was a little kid. I had my 25th birthday on the trip, so that made it pretty interesting. All these wild Aussie guys were sending it. It was a good time. We were worried somebody was going to fall in, but that was just a story the captain told us at the beginning to scare us. We ended up sweet.
Boat trips and birthday’s can be dicey. I remember when Nat Young was like 14 years old and went on a boat trip and ended up with a shaved head.
Nat was the most twisted little kid. That’s classic! We used to tease him when we were groms…we still tease him.
Pretty rad he just won that QS in Morocco. As a goofy-footer from Santa Cruz, did you grow up looking up to Nat?
It’s awesome. He’s a total warhorse. He just surfs comps all day and night. Such a grinder. I could never do that. I’m so amazed that he can. We were in this contest like two days ago and I had him in my first heat. I was surprised the waves were even breaking it was so flat, and I swear he dropped two sevens and I barely stood up. It was amazing.
We're just gonna keep telling ourselves that Noah can only stomp all these airs because of his booties.
And how are things in Santa Cruz these days, what’s the scene like?
It’s rad. Everyone is crazy and on drugs. The old heavy local guys are super mellow and have kids. Na, I don’t know. It’s still a bit of a scene. Guys are still getting tickets at the harbor and everyone’s still doing the same old stuff, but I think it’s calmed down a bit, for sure. I think my generation is kind of helping that. A lot of the kids are mellower now. But there’s still some mischief that goes on. We’re lucky, we have it good.
What part of Santa Cruz do you call home?
I live in Aptos, just a little south of town by 10 or 15 minutes. They call me a “south-sider.” It’s a little gang war.
There’s so much good surf north and south of town, at least you can escape the scene when you want. It’s so special. I swear you can surf in that zone every day of the year if you just drive a little.
If we could jump back to Elude, you took a long time to drop this edit. You let this thing marinate a little?
Yeah, I think taking your time and doing things slowly but the right way is my favorite.
Noah likes his neoprene as thick as his tubes.
In the day and age of social media and all the constant posting, how hard was it to stay the course on that?
It wasn’t too bad, actually. A lot of people are really caught up in the social media game, which is legit. You can make money from it and all kinds of stuff. But for me, it just started out as a full passion project. Then we got a couple little sponsors to help with getting Perry on a few more trips. Then it sort of got me the deal with O’Neill. It was awesome. It’s a labor of love, for sure. I wasn’t really thinking about getting the hip new edit every time we surfed.
Perry’s amazing. He’s so cinematic. He wrote a crazy poem to tie it all together. It’s cool. Even if there wasn’t surf in it, I’d watch the shit out of it because of all the pretty scenery, birds, and all kind of stuff.
How did you and Perry start working together?
We go back a ways. I think it was five or six years ago we did our first trip together in Baja. I didn’t even know him. I went down there with Santa Cruz Surfboards and we just hit it off. We’ve been buds since then. Surfing and filming was just an excuse to hang out after that. It just kind of grew. I think this is our third or fourth project together. This one’s definitely the Mardi Gras, the banger, we’re pulling out the guinea horn for you on this one!
And what's coming up for you now that this baby is ready for launch?
Lately, I've been working with Morgan Maassen on some shorts. O'Neill's hired him to put a few together, so we've been spending some time together, which has been super fun. I'm stoked to see everything get finished up. Working with professionals like Perry or Morgan has been a real treat.
The film's creator, Perry Gershkow, is frothier than a Sunset District cappuccino.