How an early artificial wave tripped up Hollywood’s CG set

Hollywood rarely gets surfing right, unless it’s done with enough sublime genius we can quote it 30 years later. Such was the case with the “North Shore.” But Escape From LA? This was the sequel no one really asked for to follow up “Escape From New York.” Yet, there’s a surfing scene with Peter Fonda and Kurt Russell that can make even the most hardened culture snobs laugh and embrace the joys of Hollywood kitsch.

In a recent article on Showbiz CheatSheet CG Supervisor David Jones reveals that the decision to create a scene where Kurt Russell surfs to apprehend a Cadillac-driving Steve Buscemi was inspired by the FlowRider. Yes, Tom Lochtefeld’s 1990s FlowRider that helped launch the surf park concept. Jones confessed he thought the special effects would be a simple shoot and edit since the wave involved was stationary.

“I’d seen reference to a standing wave surf park in Texas,” said Jones “You see them on cruise ships now where you blast water up a wave shaped thing and you can surf by basically standing in the middle of the curve and the water’s rushing under you so it’s supporting the board. The first of these had just opened in Texas and got on the nightly news. I said, ‘Oh,, it’s no problem, chaps. We’ll just go down to Texas, put green screens up behind the standing wave and shoot it there and then we can comp it in. It’ll be marvelous.’ That’s what we did.”

The result? Check the scene below from this 1996 classic.

(For surf history nerds the stunt doubles for Kurt Russell and Peter Fonda were pro skaters Chris Miller and Tony Hawk.)

Main image courtesy of Rysher Entertainment

Endless Surf 2023A