We present Andrew Kidman and Michele Lockwood interviewing Albert Falzon and Heath Joske.
[Ellis Ericson still from Spirit of Akasha riding a surfboard shaped by Dave Parmenter.]
Over forty years ago Albert Falzon dropped the film and soundtrack Morning of the Earth. The soundtrack became a gold record record in Australia, it’s feel good hope resonated with the people, who’s country at the time was involved heavily in the Vietnam War. The film was a stark contrast to war. It featured surfing in the pristine waters of the North Coast of New South Wales, Hawaii and Indonesia, the surfers living on farms, shaping boards, raising chickens and growing their own vegetables. It was back to nature, getting involved.
For the last couple of years I’ve been working with Albert on a new film that celebrates Morning of the Earth (Spirit of Akasha). We wanted to see if the spirit that was in the original film is still alive today. One of the featured surfers in the film is Heath Joske. In this interview Heath and Albert discuss growing up on the North Coast and what Morning of the Earth meant to them.
[Albert Falzon making Morning of the Earth]
[Albert Flazon on the verandah of his farmhouse.]
Andrew Kidman: The whole thing about having a garden, is there a philosophy surrounding it - that you realize your whole life can revolve around the food you can gather from your garden?
Albert Falzon: It is just a natural way of living, that’s why surfer’s resonate towards that way of living, it’s like being in the ocean. You go to surf and it is such a natural beautiful thing to do and if you are living in the country and you go back to your farm and you grow vegetables. It's similar to riding waves because it is so organic and so beautiful and you are still connected to nature. You create this lifestyle, and if you have a family and children well, obviously they are going to be better off because they are going to be connected to these energy fields. That is what is so beautiful about it. Heath, did you grow up on a farm?
Heath Joske: The first seven years of my life we lived in a shed; the factory was one part of the shed, mom and dad had their room, and then there was another room which me, Sage and Violet were in and then there was the living room and the bath area, but it was all one part of the one building and then from when I was about five dad started building our other house which we eventually moved into. It was a wooden pole house all made from native hardwoods. It was an epic house. We had five acres at the back of Valla and it was seven minutes drive to the beach; mum used to grow all our veggies and we had an epic orchard. We had five guava trees that used to go off every autumn and we had heaps of citrus, plenty of fruit trees, used to keep us pretty satisfied most the year.
AK: Do you remember going into the orchard as a kid?
HJ: Yeah, I used to love it. Guavas were my favourite. They’d come out in autumn. We’d have grated apple, banana and guava- it was the best breakfast ever for three months of the year. We’d have a couple trees that would come on early autumn, then next set further down the hill would come on, then the last couple would come on late autumn; so we’d just be set for like three or four months. It was epic.
[Albert Falzon, photo by Andrew Kidman.]
[Albert Falzon shooting Morning of the Earth from a combi.]
AF: Was that as a result of Paul or a combination of Paul and Jenny?
HJ: Definitely a combination of mom and dad.
AK: When we were surfing the little wave out the front here, I think it was Sage who was telling me about how your old man used to go down there and there was no one surfing, and he’d be surfing it all day by himself; the other people who lived down here would be working...he had some photos of it...
HJ: Yeah, he’s got the photos... there was not a drop of water out of place. Just perfect; no one around.
AF: If you are living somewhere like Valla and if you are patient and you are living there, you get those magic days when everything falls into place. You know crystal clear, perfect days, no one’s around and you are just there, cause you are on it all the time and your patient, you wander down and paddle out. That’s what’s great about living here, you don’t have to chase it, if you are patient, it will come to you.
HJ: I am so lazy when I’m at home. I don’t move. I go as far as like 10 minutes north or 10 minutes south. But between that area there’s so many waves. Like it’s enough to keep me pretty satisfied, you get sick of one spot and you go check somewhere else. There’s so many banks in that little zone, it’s ridiculous. AF: It’s funny isn’t it, because I just live like 30 minutes from here and I do the same thing.
AK: There’s always this thing about life that you hear, that if you move to the country there’s nothing going on. Do you think if you get involved in the lifestyle of producing your own food and you have an interest say in like surfing where you can go and get interested in something like board design then do you think your life’s fulfilled? Is it enough?
HJ: Yeah, I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything in the city, that’s for sure.
AF: I haven’t got time to do anything else.
AK: So you guys are busy, eh? Full-time, eh. I would’ve been the same for your parents bringing up a family as well, there wouldn’t have been much time to be worrying about much else that was going on. Three kids.
HJ: Yeah for sure.
AF: Your life’s what’s important. It’s what’s happening from day to day, you can have dreams and goals and work towards something but your life’s is actually a day to day routine or a day to day happening. I mean that’s all you’ve got. So you try and make it as fulfilling as possible and if you can go and surf and work in your garden and you’ve got your family and you can support yourself in that way then that’s as good as it is going to get. I mean you don’t want to get sidetracked and do you things you don’t want to do so you can get a life you want to have. The life that you want to have is the life that you are having right now so make it as good as you can and if you’re surfing and you’ve got gardens and you’ve got creative outlets, it’s perfect. When I finish my days and I go to bed at night I go, “Thank you, what a great day!” and that’s as good as your life’s going to be. I don’t look beyond the day anymore for anything. I think surfing in a way, gives you that because when you ride a wave that’s what it’s like it’s just that wave, it pulls you into the moment. And that’s what’s great about it, it keeps you focused on the moment. And if you’re surfing a lot then you’re continually living in the moment. It’s perfect mediation in a way, surfing.
[Albert Falzon, photo by Andrew Kidman.]
[Albert Falzon, photo by Andrew Kidman.]
AK: Heath, what did you think of Morning of the Earth growing up? Did you watch it as a kid growing up?
HJ: To tell you the truth, it is not something I watched a lot as a kid growing up. It was something I discovered when I was about 19. I’d seen it earlier when I was 12 or 13 but it didn’t have much influence on me, I just thought it was one of the old school films. It didn’t have that much impact on me until I watched it when I was about 18 or 19 and I was just starting to feel the appeal of the country lifestyle and felt like I was getting a bit more in touch with nature. And when I saw Morning of the Earth and the whole lifestyle they were living, it was the way I wanted to live my life. I used to watch it heaps and over the next two years, just chuck it on every two weeks or so, just to stay inspired. They were pretty much living the dream.
[Heath Joske and Albert Falzon, photo by Andrew Kidman.]
Michele Lockwood: Why do you think Morning of the Earth has meant so much to people? Why hasn’t it ever lost its charm or its message? It’s been able to transcend generations and inspire people again and again over the last 40 years. What is your feeling behind this?
AF: I think it embodied the soul of the earth through surfing, through the spirit of surfing. We’re all trapped in our lives -- either personal or professional and what happens when you show people a great piece of art or film or music that deals with the inner aspects of your life, like what I think Morning of the Earth did; it showed the beauty of surfing but underneath it, it was about the soul of the planet. And that is something that resonates with all of us regardless. So when we get trapped in either relationships or economics or whatever, life gets restrictive and what Morning of the Earth offered was an opportunity to look outside of that. It captured the simple aspects of living. In time, as people develop and grow and expand in consciousness, they relate more to the spiritual aspect of their lives.
When you think of humans, most of them are ordinary but on underneath it they are extraordinary, but that gets buried from the mundane aspects of everyday life. So I think the film has lasted because when people sit down to see it, it resonates with them. They got into surfing because they loved it for no other reason but that they purely loved being in the ocean, surfing. Then they get caught up and then they look at the film years later, and it pulls them back in.
[Heath Joske, photo by Andrew Kidman.]
[Heath Joske riding a board shaped by his brother Sage Joske, photo by Andrew Kidman.]
ML: How does Spirit of Aksaha compliment Morning of the Earth?
AF: Morning of the Earth dealt with this planet, planet Earth; it dealt with the spirit of planet Earth. Spirit of Akasha is the spirit of the universe, of cosmology. Just looking at the titles together, Spirit of Akasha is the next step up from the earth plane; it’s going more into the spiritual plane. The titles are incredible how they work together. Like, here’s your ladder and you just step up from one to the next.
If you look at the way the world has gone in those 40 years, since Morning of the Earth on just an evolutionary, technological basis, we now have the internet. If you look at that alone, just as one aspect, what you are doing is setting up the planetary brain where we have moved from the physical/emotional plane where most people function on, to the mental plane, which is just one step off of the spiritual plane. So what we’ve done is, expanded the consciousness to such a point now where most people are communicating through the internet, on the mental plane, because that is what it is, it is communicating mentally, which is laying the foundation for the spiritual aspects of life to enter not for individuals but for all of humanity. Once again, the internet is just the vehicle; it is what’s fed into it that will change people’s consciousness.
ML: You’ve been down there with Andrew editing the intro of the film for the last couple of days. He said to me that it was exactly what he needed, to have you there sitting next to him, to help him get through this last bit of the film; how it was perfect timing for you guys to come to together to finish the film off. How do you feel after what’s been accomplished over the last few days?
AF: I think sometimes when you get locked into projects like this there can be times when it is daunting and frustrating, there can be a blockage. So if someone who you love, trust and respect and are moving equally in the same direction with can step in, then that like opening up a window and some fresh air comes in and blows all the other energy out and clears it and through that clarity you can see how the pieces come together. You can be caught up in those pieces but then suddenly you can see how they all work and they fall in together. The other thing is with Andrew and me and the film is that Andrew has been putting these pieces together for the last 10 months or longer, which has been at times daunting. For me, I’ve been disconnected from the mental aspects and physical aspects of putting the pieces together but then connected to it in on another plane. So I can step in and see things clearly and when I come in I can clear it real quickly for him and then allow him to move forward on something that was just a little blockage.
Andrew is a sole trader. You know if you are a painter it is very rare to share the canvas with someone else, you can ask people what they think about it but you’ve got the brush and you’re creating the image and I think it’s the same with the tapestry of a film -- people can contribute but at the end of the day you’ve got the brush and sometimes it is good to have someone you care for and respect and love nearby to say, what do you think about that? And they can say, yeah, it looks good but what about moving that colour a little over there. And it was there all the time but because they are bogged down with it, then they can suddenly see it and say, yeah that’d be good.
ML: What are your feelings about the new soundtrack that’s been created for this film?
AF: I think it’s inspiring. When I heard the cover of the Morning of the Earth track, I just thought it’s so amazing because a lot of that music is timeless, which was the driving force behind the original film, but when you actually listen to the lyrics to some of those songs, they are equally, if not more important to what’s going on now in the world now than then. When you think of where the world's gone and what’s happened, it’s really important that people don’t disconnect. You know, you see kids today and they are so connected to technology that they seem to lock themselves away from the natural world. There’s a plus factor but a downside too. So when I hear young groups and their new interpretations of the songs where the young people can identify with those musicians because they are part of that mindset then it just gives new life to the words and the meaning of it all. I also found generally, that the music is a lot softer. When the original music was done you could hear Hendrix and other sounds coming through, it had highs and lows but now, it’s not so much to the extremes, they are more pulled together to the middle range, so there’s a real softness in most of the songs and I like that. I think that’s really great. I think in today’s world we’ve got to try to bring the extremes to the middle way and I think that’s what the music offers and to me that is really appealing. In conjunction with the Morning of the Earth screening, there will be short preview edit from Spirit of Akasha that features the surfing of Ellis Ericson and the music of Brian Wilson.
[Ellis Ericson from Spirit of Akasha, photo by Andrew Kidman.]
[Ellis Ericson riding a board shaped by Dave Parementer, still from Spirit of Akasha.]
[Stephen Cooney Uluwatu still from Morning of the Earth]
[Terry Fitzgerald, one of the surfers featured in Morning of the Earth.]
[Terry Fitzgerald still from Morning of the Earth]
- Interview by Andrew Kidman and Michele Lockwood