Elevate Difference

The Drifter

Directed by Taylor Steele

Professional surfer, Rob Machado, captured scenes from his journey through the remote areas of Indonesia. All of this came together into a beautifully narrated film. The Drifter is an amazing visual experience with some interesting observations and wicked waves along the way. The script was largely taken from Machado's own journal entries from his trip and co-written by Nathan Myers.

The film opens with Machado in Bali. His experience there was simply doing the same things with the same people in the same places. “The surf world can feel like a traveling circus. You stay at the same hotels, eat at the same restaurants, surf the same spots.” In order to feel like he his actually travelling and able to leave his comfort zones, Machado ventured to the outer islands.

One of my favorite lines of the film is “High expectations make for [terrible] travel companions.” This sentiment was placed in the moment of the film that Machado seemed to be beginning to feel a bit homesick. He soon fought off this minor feeling and was finally truly able to open himself up to the adventure. This moment seemed to be when the film becomes an authentic tale of discovery.

Armed with this new found commitment to his experience, he set up camp on a mountain overlooking a gorgeous landscape. On the remote island of Sumba, he met children of a local village who invited him to see their home. Despite a language barrier he managed to develop a meaningful connection with the people in the village. These friendships led him to assist in their project of constructing a pipe line and well.

This film is predominately marketed as a surf film. It won best film at the Ombak International Surf Film Festival and had its U.S. premiere at the New York Surf Film Festival. Tucked in between this human story were beautiful surfing scenes. These action scenes featured exciting music by The Shins, Raconteurs, and Tegan and Sara.

A large market for this film isn't being tapped. There are a lot of self-proclaimed drifters out there who would identify with the journey of Rob Machado. Anyone that enjoys a story about personal growth, the pursuit of knowledge, or just likes beautiful scenery would appreciate this film.

The end of the film left me feeling both frustrated and inspired at the same time because you hope for a neat conclusion to a self-reflection film. As Machado looks out the airplane window as he leaves Indonesia the voice over offers no comfort and certain answers about life, but it’s very honest. In some ways, it was a more comforting than contrived insight.

Written by: Andrea Hance, November 14th 2009