Lakey Peterson goes "Zero to 100"

Lakey Peterson didn't start surfing until later in life. But when she did, she went from zero to one hundred miles per hour, from learning to World Tour in a few short years. This biopic by Aaron Lieber tells the story so far.

Lakey Peterson got plastered today. No, literally. Keep A Breast (the breast cancer non-profit that "Loves Boobies") made a cast of her, uh, torso, which will be painted and, potentially, auctioned in support of their cause. Five days ago, her biopic hit Century Theaters in Huntington Beach, Calif. and iTunes simultaneously. Today, "Zero to 100: The Lakey Peterson Story" is Apple's top sports download. One of their top downloads, period. It can be found under New & Noteworthy, between "Django Unchained" and "Lincoln." She and filmmaker Aaron Lieber spoke with about their film while driving straight from Sculpture 101 to her next engagement, offering a glimpse of what life's like at 100 mph.

Aaron Lieber: Hey! You're on speaker. We're driving. Where are you guys driving?
Lieber: Lakey just did a Keep A Breast thing.

How'd that go?
Peterson: It was interesting. Basically, they cast your boobs and then an artist comes in a paints the cast of your boobs. [Laughs.] They'll raise awareness and money for breast cancer by auctioning them. A bunch of the girls did them. It's pretty cool.

So, I hear that your movie is number one on iTunes. Is that true?
Peterson: Yeah, it launched about a week ago now, and it's been number one in sports. I think it was like number 30 overall, but ...
Lieber: It went to 28.
Peterson: Oh, it went to 28. Yeah, it was crazy. The other day, I looked at it and it was between "Django" and "Lincoln."

That's where I found it, too. What kind of feedback have you had?
Peterson: I didn't know how people were going to respond. It's a lot of ... me. But the response has been great and hopefully, that continues.
Lieber: These little girls in the UK posted a picture of popcorn and their TV [and said] "Having a premiere with our friends!" They were having a premiere as we were premiering in Huntington -- that's insane! And this other kid messaged me and said, "I bought my little sister a surfboard a few months ago and she was too scared of the waves to surf. Then she watched the movie and now, all she wants to do is surf." It's really inspired a lot of young girls around the world.

Courtesy Aaron Lieber

Lakey Peterson and Aaron Lieber on location during the filming of "Zero to 100."

Nike's "Leave A Message" opened a lot of eyes with regards to women's surfing. "Zero to 100" is probably more accessible to the general public and sends an inspiring message, so it could be even better for women's surfing. Is that something that you were hoping to accomplish?
Lieber: While we were making this movie, all of these little girls would come up to Lakey saying, "We loved your section in 'Leave A Message'! Will you sign an autograph?" And that's amazing that it had that impact on so many girls around the world, but for Lakey to let the world see her failures and to use that as a tool to inspire all of those same girls and, hopefully, more -- I think that is invaluable.

Was it hard for you to re-live any of that stuff, Lakey?
Peterson: The part on Daisy Merrick hits me really hard every time I watch it. I almost cry every time, still. And certain stuff will speak to me at certain times. But it's cool; it's really unique to have that for the rest of my life.

Is it weird to have an entire film about your life?
Peterson: Yeah, it is. It's kind of a leap of faith. It's like, "Okay, I'm really exposing myself to the world and showing them what I'm all about," so it's been interesting for me to swallow that, but I think overall, it's really positive.

Have the other girls been supportive of the film?
Peterson: All of the girls have been really supportive, which has been cool, because I didn't really know how they were going to take it. I think they're stoked for me, and also, it's great for women's surfing, so I think they see that.

Where did the idea originally come from?
Peterson: When we were filming ["Leave A Message"] I said, "I kind of want to do my own film," and afterwards, it was like, "Hey, we obviously work really well together and I think we can make this really cool." We decided to go for it. Lieber: Yeah, definitely. Lakey was going into her rookie year with a ton of confidence. She doesn't come from a surf family, so she has no idea what she's getting herself into. On top of that, she was the youngest girl ever to qualify. There was this combination of ingredients that could, potentially, make for a good movie. You kind of jump off the cliff and hope for the best [laughs.] I think it worked out pretty well.

The title. Is that a reference to your quick ascent in surfing?
Peterson: Actually, my dad was the first one to think of that. He was in an interview and he said, "Lakey's life in surfing went from zero to 100." And we said, "That's it." I started when I was 12, which is really late for the surf world, and then all of the sudden, I was on Tour and all of this crazy stuff was happening.

You did just one year on the Qualifying Series -- is that right?
Peterson: Yeah.
Lieber: Lakey doesn't like to brag about herself. So, she starts at 12. At 14, she does the first air in women's surfing. At 15, she does the first air reverse in a women's competition. At 17, she does "Leave A Message" and just happens to qualify. And she's like, "Alright, I'm here. Now, I'm going to go for a world title, I guess," So that's "Zero to 100." That's the definition.

Aaron, you kind of seem like you're part of the family.
Lieber: You hang out with everybody, 24 hours a day, for a whole year andโ€ฆ I guess I did, I became part of the family. I guess you could say it's Aaron Lieber-Peterson. [Laughs.]
Peterson: [Laughs.]
Lieber: But yeah, it's nice to have [the Petersons'] support. They really made the film what it is.

Why was it important for you to release a proper film instead of a web series?
Lieber: With the internet, everything can just get lost. Releasing it as one unit, one story -- I think it's so important. People still want to sit down and watch a surf film.

Lakey, are you interested in filmmaking?
Peterson: Being a part of the project has definitely spiked my interest. I actually just recently picked up GoPro as a sponsor. The thing's so small and the quality's so good, I can just take it anywhere. I learn so much every day and I've been having a blast.

How much input did you have with the film?
Peterson: I had full veto power. [Laughs.] But Aaron and I work well together and we had a very clear vision going into it, so it wasn't like I had to critique it that much.

What do you love about the film?
Peterson: I really do love what it represents: Just have fun and live life, and don't let anything get in the way of your dream.
Lieber: I was really able to get deep into what it's like to lose, and to win, and to be a girl who's 17 on the Tour. I just think what's interesting in life is the human element. Lakey had a really great quote. I was like, "I want you to end the film with something meaningful." So she wrote this down: "In life, you have to accept that you are going to fail. But you don't have to accept it when you do." I think it applies to everybody.

So, where do you go from here?
Lieber: I'm starting to work on Shane Beschen's life story. I've also started coming out with Surf Grass Mats. Right now, it's just two of us, like, cutting the mats at my dad's house, but it could be interesting. I've got a few little projects. I just want to keep telling stories and keep inspiring people.

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