Bushy-haired back-to-the-future filmmaker, writer musician, and shaper from North Coast, New South Wales, best known for his soulful 1996 film Litmus. Kidman was described by the Surfer's Journal as "our equivalent of a roving medieval ascetic, spreading his high-consciousness idealism to the four corners of the surfing world."
Born (1970) in the Australian capital city of Canberra, the son of an economist father and a nurse mother, Kidman started surfing at age 10 after his family moved to Sydney. By 15, the precocious youngster was interning at Waves magazine and competing in amateur surf contests; in 1988 he was the Australian junior division champion. Kidman became the editor of Waves in 1989—at age 19—and while there met surfer-shapers Wayne Lynch and Dave Parmenter, both of whom imprinted on the young Kidman an appreciation for alternative board design and a countercultural lifestyle.
In 1994 Kidman quit Waves to focus on Litmus, a cerebral, sepia-toned movie that was a stark contrast to the slash-and-burn pop punk videos that dominated the mid 1990s. Litmus featured brilliant performances by off-center surfing luminaries such as Lynch, Derek Hynd, Tom Curren, and Joel Fitzgerald, and was set to eerie, moody music by Kidman's band the Val Dusty Experiment. Litmus didn't sell well, but was critically acclaimed, built a cult following, and helped spark a look-back-to-go-forward movement in surf movies. "I've always loved Kidman's work," said filmmaker Chris Malloy, "because it's driven by a deep, unsettled demon inside him. While the rest of us are going for a surf or watching the sun set, he's all knotted up inside thinking about shit."
Kidman released Glass Love in 2005, as a sort of follow-up to Litmus, which also met with praise from critics but lukewarm sales numbers. Last Hope, a Collection of Film and Music, made of of Kidman-curated short movies, came out in 2009; the following year saw the release of Lost in the Ether, a book-film project celebrating the surfboard shaper's craft.