Surfing has existed along the coast of Africa from Senegal to Angola over a thousand years ago, but this forgotten past has been tragically overlooked by the modern world. With such a rich history at Wade in the Water’s core, we knew the main title sequence had to encapsulate the spiritual connection that is present throughout the documentary. At one point in the film a surfer mentions his rejection of the surface and intention to go deeper, highlighting a key theme of looking deep within yourself to find your identity. Together with Mesfin, we embraced this idea in our visual narrative of a surfer baptized by the water who navigates the depths of the sea and encounters the African water spirit Mami Wata (Mother Water), who helps guide them on their journey of looking deep within to find themselves.
We looked to African and African American Art to influence art style, landing upon a minimalistic painterly style that evokes harmony and peacefulness. There’s a visual contrast during the surfer’s journey with the surface of the water depicting a bright, flat, and sunny composition, but all that changes underwater where things get richer and more complex as they descend deeper into the ocean – a metaphorical representation of our central theme.