By Stuart Cornuelle
SURFING Magazine Senior Editor Nathan Myers has a long history behind the scenes of some of our favorite surfing creations. As Managing Editor throughout much of Evan Slater’s tenure, he held the nuts-n-bolts of the mag together while ING was completely re-inventing itself. Along the way, he wrote the skits and scripts behind Trilogy, Stranger Than Fiction and The Drifter. A few years back, he relocated to Bali where he’s continued to cover the sport while traveling with Taylor Steele for the next Sipping Jetstreams film, Castles in the Sky. Somewhere along the way, Taylor and Nathan got to talking about how they could evolve the nature of Steele’s semi-annual high-performance surf movies to stay more in tune with the digital pace of today’s surfing. The result was Innersection.tv, an open-source solution to section-based surf films.
But as the Round 1 deadline for segment entries approaches (March 1st, 2010), we still have some questions about this “World Tour of Freesurfing.” And then we thought: hold on, we know Nathan — we pay his god-damn travel expenses. We can make him talk.
SURFING MAGAZINE: What’s your role in all this?
NATHAN MYERS: Me? I type fast. So I’m going to be reporting on the action, interviewing the surfers and filmers, and keeping Innersection members clued into the behind the scenes action. If there’s an underground section getting a lot of attention, I’ll write it up on the blog so you can check it out. If some big star is getting too many votes for a weak section, I’ll point it out. I’m going to talk with filmers about their process, talk with surfers about their section, and just try to keep the whole project very open and honest. Our vision is for more of an art project than a competition…but I know it’s complicated with all that money dangling out there.
What kind of money?
Best section wins $100,000.
And what’s the response been like among surfers and the industry? Are any big names committing?
Taylor started out this project by talking with a good cross-section of the top surfers — guys like Dane, Kelly, Taj, Mick, Parko, Jordy, CJ and more; the type of guys who always get sections in his movies. He told them, “Hey, this is the idea for the next movie…what do you think?” The general response from those guys was, “Alright, game on. Let’s do it.”
Still, right now I think there’s a bit of a “wait and see” going on from those guys. No one wants to show up first to the party wearing a tuxedo and then have everyone else show up wearing shorts and flip flops. Right? We understand that.
So is this first round going to be kind of weak?
No, in fact it’s quite the opposite. We’ve been telling a lot of the newer guys who are hungry for a section, “Hey, this is your chance to slip in ahead of the competition.” Round 1 is guaranteed to be the easiest round to qualify this year, simply because a lot of guys are waiting to see how it’s going to work. Round IV in September is going to be pretty heavy. When everyone shows up late, going, “Oh shit, this is really the last chance to be in the movie?” Maybe guys like Bruce Irons or Jamie O will just be talking themselves into it by then.
Are there any major criticisms you’ve heard while shopping the concept?
People have said, “Oh, you’re just making the surfers do all the work for you.”
Our response is, “Fine, don’t do it. There are 10 other guys right behind you who are psyched for this.” Guys fly all around the world for WQS contests only to lose in the first round. Does anyone watch their heat? Is that helping their pro career? At least here, even if they don’t win, people are going to be watching their surfing. And if they don’t qualify for the film, well, they still have all that footage to put on their blog or in their team film or whatever.
So it’s not a surf film sweatshop run by Taylor Steele?
For filmers and editors, this is a forum to show your stuff. Like a film festival. Do you think Kai Neville started out making Modern Collective? Or even filming Stranger Than Fiction? No way. Kai paid his dues making ASL cover-mounts DVDs for years and he learned a lot from it. We’re going to make sure these artists behind the surfers get proper credit for their work here, and hopefully it’s something they’re proud to be part of. A section on this movie is probably going to get more exposure than posting on Vimeo or their blog page. So, there’s that…or maybe they’re employed by a surf company and this is their job. Maybe a surfer hires them to work on the project. Maybe they’re just a really good friend. I don’t know…if you can’t think of any good reason to do this, maybe you should get back to work on your personal art film about alaias and shit. How’s that coming, by the way?
But what’s to keep this from devolving into a popularity contest? I think an unknown Brazilian doing kickflip McTwists would still probably lose to Dane Reynolds cooking breakfast. Surfing is image-driven at its core.
Hey, I could watch Dane make brekkie all day. Kickflip McTwists just give me gas. But I understand the concern. Ultimately, it’s up to surfers to decide what they want to watch. If Unknown Brazzo Dude’s kickflip mctwist has ugly broke-ass style, and Dane’s flipping eggs behind his back…well, what the hell, I still vote Dane. It’s only surfing. Do people really care about how many onshore whirlybirds you can pack into 3-minutes, or is a cool package of hip music and nifty editing enough to get people stoked? At this point, we don’t know.
I don’t know much about high-performance snowboarding really, but when I watch a snowboard video I know what I like. I’m a good judge of what I like. It’s called an opinion. Surfing is a really subjective activity. Who are we to say what’s cool?