Three years ago SURFING magazine editor Nathan Myers approached filmmaker Taylor Steele with an idea for evolving his annual high-performance surf movies into an online, user-generated, voter-decided short film surf contest. The result was Innersection. [http://www.innersection.tv]
In its first year, the event was exciting and new, if a bit confusing and clunky. They discovered some unknown talents (Matt Meola, Peter Devries, Marco Giorgi) and saw shining performances by inevitable stars (Nate Tyler, John John Florence, Craig Anderson). Even Parko and Slater showed up to the party. The resulting movie was no Loose Change or Campaign — highs, lows, disjointed sections, mixed reviews — but some fine surfing, to be sure.
Now in its sophomore year, Innersection has been more of an underground scene. Names we don’t recognize (Leif Engstrom, Richard Christie, Reubyn Ash). Mixed messages from the top pros (Rasta didn’t qualify; most didn’t enter). Oddball results (Brett Barley, Josh Mulcoy, Harley Ingleby).
Where’s the buzz of the first year?
While Innersection operator Myers remains a regular contributing editor to SURFING, he also lives in Bali these days, so we’re generally spared his rants and raves about the ups and downs of the project. But when he sent us the year’s final round qualifier video, we figured we’d ask for a status update on his little side-project. —ING
SURFING: Where is Innersection today versus where you envisioned it being during its conception?
NATHAN MYERS: We always knew this was going to be sort of “jump in an see what happens” situation. Taylor thought this was going to be creating each year’s next Stranger Than Fiction or Campaign-style movie, but it kinda evolved away from that. Taylor embraced that. He loves supporting new talent — both behind the lens and in front of it. There’s a lot of surfers out there who don’t have the financial ability to travel around on the WQS system or get on magazine trips, so what other way do they have of getting noticed? Innersection is totally free. It’s open to anyone. All you need is a buddy with a video camera and editing software. And despite all the voting hoopla, it’s not necessarily about winning, it’s just about sharing the joy of documenting your surf experience. Some of my all-time favorite vids never make the movie, but I don’t think less of them. The best surfer doesn’t always win the WCT contest either.
Where have you guys been successful?
Bringing to light guys like Matt Meola, Albee Layer, Reubyn Ash, Sebastian Zeitz, Leif Engstrom, Marco Giorgi, just to name a few. That’s easily our biggest success. And so fun to watch, too. Now other filmmakers are chasing those guys to work on their projects and they’re popping up everywhere. Taylor in particular has been drawing from this emerging talent pool, which you’ll see in some of his upcoming projects (he’s on a boat with Reubyn and Meola right now, in fact).
After nearly a decade of working with surf magazines, I’ve noticed how we all tend to fall into a rut of covering the same small pool of surfers for everything simply because they’re right there in front of us. It’s impossible to know who’s ripping out there in some small country or tiny island. You’re either in an office, at a contest or on a trip, so your only window into who’s surfing well is contest results or their sponsors. That’s why we encourage surfers entering Innersection to approach their section like mini-profile films, and I think after a good section you have a better sense of who a person is. It’s almost like reading a profile story on someone, except you get to actually see their surfing, their home, their country through their own eyes, and there’s no sponsor or media channel filtering that experience for you. It’s coming directly from them. Whether those sections make the movie or not, to me they’re still successful. And if we’ve created a forum where that is possible, well, that’s a success to me, even if we did it by accident.
Nathan sure can talk, so we’re giving you a break and will return tomorrow with the second part of the interview that begins with the question: “Where have you fallen short?”