Cameron Buford,

A couple of weeks ago, the premier of the movie Big Wave Guardians rolled into Santa Monica. The premier for this movie was in a quaint theater mere blocks away from the Pacific Ocean. Uniquely, this film highlighted the most overlooked and most appreciated group. When those of you who chose to go out early in the morning to “catch some waves” congregate on the ocean shores around the globe, these are the guys waiting to save you should the worst happen.

When everyone plans a trip to the ocean or beach, towels, food, and some adult beverages are brought along for a day of sun and fun. Throw in the wet suit, wax, and boards for the surfers. Whether people go out for a fun day on the beach or to “catch some waves,” safety isn’t often considered. Just ask yourself, when you have gone to the beach, did you think about those risking their lives to save those many beach goers in peril?

Big Wave Guardians told a story highlighting the service of those extreme lifeguards, which I would call extreme lifeguards. As surfers push the limits of sanity with their ambitious endeavors, they also challenge these watermen, as they affectionately call themselves, that are willing to risk their health to rescue these surfers from the treacherous waters they find themselves fighting. 

This eye-opening film, produced by Mark Collins; directed and edited by Luke Stirtz, highlights how critical lifeguards are to anyone who enjoys water sports. Additionally, this movie took you into the life of Hawaiian Brian Keaulana, who played a large part in initiating some of water safety’s best practices many lifeguards use on beaches all over. Known as BWRAG, the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group is a collaboration with Brian, Pat Chong Tim, surfers Danilo Couto and Kohl Christensen.

BWRAG was commissioned to travel the world educating lifeguards and other safety professionals while sharing some of the tried and true lessons they’ve learned through generations of growing up in the water. Their fearless desire to help others on the water, combined with their modified jet ski, allowed them to make some of the most miraculous recoveries in the world’s most treacherous conditions. 

“For us growing up in Hawaii, surfing has always been like a village mentality or family atmosphere,” explains Brian Keaulana. “Because when something happens here, everything stops.”

Unlike any other movie, this movie focuses on the selfishness of those Big Wave Guardians, also known as watermen, who risk their lives to save strangers. As surfers continue to push their boundaries into unknown territories and uncommon water, they count on the watermen, whom they affectionate call themselves, to be there when surfers need them at their most vulnerable moments. 

“We are not divided by land. We are connected by water,” explains Pat Chong Tim, acknowledging that water connects people and countries around the globe.

I think that “extreme lifeguards” is a better depiction of who these guys are. As these guys pride themselves on giving a second life to swimmers and surfers in danger, after watching this movie, you will have a different appreciation for the Big Wave Guardians on the scene, as you see them rushing to assist absolute strangers. Kindly share your thoughts on the unsung heroes of the water. Let us know your thoughts on this movie review by reaching out to me on Twitter @_voiceofthefans, or email me at I also encourage you to forward suggestions on what angles or topics you would like to see discussed in the coming weeks.