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The grand experiment

Introducing a new film about surf culture and board shaping from the view of surfer Tyler Warren. John Smart

A first-time collaboration between surf filmmakers John Smart and Mark Jeremias is scheduled to premiere in July 2012. Last week, the duo released the trailer for "The Tyler Warren Experiment," an examination of surf culture and board design from the perspective of pro surfer Tyler Warren.

Warren is one of a number of surfers profiled and documented because of his affinity for thick boards with no leashes, steered by a single fin and precise footwork. The 24-year-old has grown from a curious young surfer into a respected artist and shaper whose talent has dropped him into some of the world's best waves.

"People are going to come away learning something about the shapers, the boards, Tyler, on a multitude of levels," Jeremias said.

Filming began four years ago with the crew hitting spots in California, Mexico, Australia, and Indonesia. For Jeremias, the most hectic and memorable trip came together in 24 hours. "It took a lot to pull off," he said of reaching Morocco, "and we scored one of the biggest swells to hit there in a while."

Almost five years ago, Smart and Warren came up with the concept for the film while surfing at Lower Trestles in southern Orange County, Calif. "It's gone through mutations, but the original idea was John's," said Jeremias. Added Smart: "From the beginning, it was about telling a story of Tyler working with these different shapers and the historical significance."

Devon Howard, who appears in the "Experiment" and narrated on Jeremias' film "One California Day," believes the craft behind handmade surfboard building is a story worth telling. "The world moves at such a quick pace," he said. "If guys like Tyler don't pick up a planer and pass on that tradition, then that goes away."

Jeremias and Smart have long incorporated historical surfing themes into their movies. In 2007, "One California Day" highlighted the variations between local surf scenes along the California coast and into Baja. Smart served as cinematographer for Thomas Campbell's films "Sprout" and "The Present," each showcasing as many different styles of surfing as locations visited.

"Mark and John have grander visions of showing our culture," said Howard. For this film, Jeremias and Smart corralled a revered cast, including Chris Christenson, Joel Tudor, and Dave Rastovich. Few of the characters have as storied a career in surfing than Terry Martin, a mentor of Warren's, who has shaped tens of thousands of boards over his 50-year career -- 40 with legendary Hobie Surfboards.

Editing should wrap around April, the pair said. Then it's onto scheduling a Southern California premiere and a theater tour leading up to the holiday season. "For now, this needs to be the focus," Smart explained. Jeremias already has plans for when all of that is done: "After this is done, I want to go surfing."