The newly-formed World Surf League (WSL) Studios unveiled its debut slate of programming on Monday, which includes a documentary film about 11-time World Surf Champion Kelly Slater and the series “Transformed,” highlighting how surfing has impacted cultures around the world.
Designed to appeal to surf fans and new audiences ahead of the sport’s Olympic debut in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, the slate of documentaries, docuseries and daily short-form content will be distributed across multiple platforms.
“Kelly is the greatest surfer of all time and has not only every major record in our sport by a wide margin but also so more world titles than any other athlete with 11,” WSL president of Content, Media and WSL Studios, Erik Logan, told TheWrap of the “The Kelly Slater Documentary,” which follows the surf legend’s 2019 competitive campaign, personal life, and Olympics quest.
“Pair that with this pivotal year in his career, we all felt that allowing the viewers see the level of storytelling we are embarking on was the perfect place to start. Never before will you see Kelly open up as much as he does while embracing this project … and he has more World Titles than Tom Brady, by the way!” Logan added.
“WSL Studios will be the main engine for the creation of content, with outputs not only on our O&O Platforms but the many other distribution platforms as well. From a timing point of view, the scale and size of the other platforms provide the opportunity for the studio to engage the global audience further,” he explained.
For the first time, the end of the 2019 WSL Championship Tour season in December will determine the first qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games. The WSL will qualify 18 of the 40 Olympians, two men and two women for each country.
“Having multiple points of content before and after the Olympics with WSL Studios and our core business will provide entry points for new fans to see the passion and power of this sport, with the goal of engaging new fans to witness the world’s best surfing year-in and year-out on the WSL Championship Tour,” Logan said.
“The possibility of story through the aperture of surfing is so big that we have had to really focus on some key areas with our first slate. Anchoring to Kelly and then expanding through to Big Wave and non-competition series we feel we have put some markers out as to what is possible,” he continued.
The WSL Podcast Network (in partnership with Himalaya Studios) will focus heavily with news, interviews and information, along with sharing important community initiatives such as Ocean Health and Equality.
See the full WSL Studios slate, per the studio’s show descriptions, below:
“The Kelly Slater Documentary”
11- Time World Champion Kelly Slater, has granted WSL Studios unprecedented access to his 2019 competitive campaign and personal life. Shooting began prior to the Gold Coast Championship Tour event and will continue through Pipeline this year. This never before seen look behind surfing’s most decorated champion shows fans for the first time the world through Kelly’s eyes and what it’s like to compete at the highest level.
Box to Box Films Co-development Partnership
WSL Studios has partnered with Box to Box Films for the development of a multi-episode docu series covering the Championship Tour during the 2020 season. Box to Box Films is an award winning company behind “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” documentary series on Netflix.
“Deep Blue: The Mark Visser Project”
WSL Studios and Mark Visser have partnered together on a feature-length documentary around finding the largest unridden wave in the world, and then surfing it. Mark Visser, who famously has surfed Pe’ahi at night and is the founder and creator of the Ocean Warrior course, has located what is thought to be the biggest unridden wave measuring over 100 feet. Dubbed as the “Free Solo,” of surfing, director conversations are underway for this project.
This new series from WSL Studios launched earlier this month and focused on the question, “How Surfing has changed lives and cultures?” Hosted by 1977 World Champion Shaun Thompson, this episodic series highlights one transformation story each episode, focusing on the human and cultural impact of surfing on the story and its characters. “Transformed” travels to Cuba (sport of surfing was illegal until recently) Afghanistan and Colombia.
“Surf Ranch Sessions”
A new series shot on location at the WSL Surf Ranch, where the world’s top professional surfers share waves and stories with individuals who are at the top of their professions. This innovative format uses surfing as the common thread for conversations around the parallels of elite level performance and the common love of the water.
A visually stunning adventure series with former European Longboard Champion and current WSL Commentator Sam Bleakly. Traveling the world with his longboard in tow, Sam uses surfing to explore the brilliant corners of the world highlighting often never seen coastlines and communities that live at the intersection of travel, culture, food, and surf.
“All In” Season 2
WSL Studios and Red Bull Media House have renewed “All In: Life on the Championship Tour” for a second season. One of the most successful video series of the year, Season 2 will feature WSL CT surfers and their preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games. Season 2 premieres early 2020 across WSL Platforms and Red Bull TV. Watch “All In” Season 1, here.
Each event WSL Studios follows a CT surfer from the moment they arrive at an event site. This behind the scenes series puts fans right next to each surfer as they compete through each round. See what happens between heats, conversations with coaches and how they really feel about their performances.