Yes, filming in the water was definitely challenging for Stockwell, who ultimately brought in professional bodysurfer Mike Stewart to operate the camera after a Hollywood cinematographer was taken out by a wave, destroying an expensive camera in the process. But the director revealed that the hardest part of making Blue Crush was timing.
“The biggest challenge was getting the studio to understand that you couldn’t schedule the waves,” he explained. “I said, ‘We’re going to have wave coverage. If there are waves, no matter what is scheduled, we’re going to go shoot in the water.’ So that’s what we did and we had a very flexible schedule.”
And that openness to film based on the ocean led to some of the movie’s best shots, according to Stockwell.
“Even in pre-production, if there were waves, I went out and shot,” he said. “I would say, ‘OK, this is costume test.’ But I would send Kate and Sanoe and Michelle out and some of the best footage in the movie is from wardrobe tests. Universal hated that because they didn’t have all their insurance in place, so they weren’t happy that it happened, but it was the only way I could do it.”
The studio initially brought in a second special effects unit and had plans to CGI everything, but it “turned out terrible,” Stockwell admitted, so the only effect used in the movie was facial replacement to put Bosworth’s face on Ballard’s body.
“Honestly, it’s not great,” he added. “The effects are pretty bad if you slow it down. It was the same people who did Face/Off, that John Travolta and Nicolas Cage movie. But all the waves are real. Kate paddled out on some big days and I really wanted her sitting in the lineup, with the spray blowing off the back of the waves. She definitely could’ve gotten hurt or killed, so props to her for going out.”