Frank Solomon is a South African big wave surfer and adventurer who has travelled around about half of the planet. Only recently, he’s returned from a promotional tour for the film “Let’s Be Frank” which is about his life as a pro surfer…and he even played the lead himself. We asked the surfer about his surfing goals, motivation and the obstacles he has overcome.
My father was a passionate surfer so I started to surf as a child. In the beginning I was neither the best surfer nor the most ambitious, but I just loved it – it was my greatest passion. At first I really only surfed smaller waves. With time, I took on larger and larger waves – a little at a time is how I moved on to bigger waves.
During my time at university, I noticed that I was not cut out for working a regular 9 to 5 job. I was sure that I wanted to try to live as a professional surfer because I recognized that it was the right thing for me. That's why I worked long and hard to make that happen. I accepted most any job I could get to finance all the necessary traveling, things like selling Christmas trees and restaurant work. It wasn’t an easy path that I chose for myself, but I am proud to have done it.
The greatest motivation was entirely from within: I simply wanted to prove to myself that I could do it
The greatest motivation was entirely from within: I simply wanted to prove to myself that I could make surfing my job and live from it. I wanted to show that I don’t just start things and then drop them after a while. I wanted to stick with it, and at the same time develop perseverance. What is most important to me is that I wouldn’t like to ever disappoint myself.
I have always set very high goals for myself. One of them was that I become a professional surfer, and when I made that a reality I was tremendously proud. Goals are very important because if you don’t know where you’re headed, you end up going nowhere. It is like when you look on a map for a place and you have no idea where it is. That’s a good way to not make it to wherever you want to go. Everyone needs goals or a direction – it doesn’t matter just which direction that might be.
There have been many times that I was discouraged and almost wanted to stop…really a lot of them. Two years ago I broke my back, and that was a time that I definitely wanted to stop. There was also the moment in which the money ran out and I had no idea how to keep things going. During that period I was confronted with many negative thoughts, and I asked myself why I was doing it in the first place. Nonetheless I held on because I am also a very ambitious person. I was never good at disappointing myself and I couldn’t just quit. I had to prove to myself that I could make it happen…and everyone else too.
I never dreamed that one day someone would film my life. I still think that’s so amazing!
Yes, for sure. Initially the film was a very big challenge for me. After all I’m a professional surfer, not an actor. The fighting scenes in the film were especially very demanding for me. It’s not easy to put yourself in front of the camera – I have a lot of respect for actors now. Also, at first my friends did not know what I was doing…they thought that I was just working on a small online film.
As all in all it took three years to finish the film, I often didn’t have time to hang out with them. In the mean time they have all seen the film. I was just on a three-week premier tour for various film festivals (San Sebastian, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Cape Town, London), and that was a fantastic and intense experience. I am very happy with how the film turned out. Anyway, I never dreamed that one day someone would film my life. I still think that’s so amazing!
For quite a while now I was busy with the film, and I needed a short break. Of course I do already have a few projects that I would like to work on, for example doing a travel show. Moreover I would like to keep working on my blog and settle down in Europe. I have a German passport because my mother is German and I think that there are a lot of people who are interested in surfing in Germany. That's why I would really like to make use of all of the possibilities in terms of life in Germany.
As you’d expect, I still have big surfing goals. I would like to go to Hawaii, as there are a few big waves there that I would like to surf. There is that elusive wave that I have not yet caught…I’ve been looking for that one for a long time now. I’m hopeful that I can still catch it – that is definitely one of my big surfing goals.
Thank you Frank Solomon for this interview! Keep at your surfing goals!
More infos about Frank Solomon