The Art Of Killing Clips

Why surfers buy footage just to destroy it

_CW05680Jordy Smith paid for you to not see this air. Photo: Corey Wilson

Do you know how much money was spent on making your new favorite movie, View From A Blue Moon.

I don’t. But I know it was a lot.

They employed boats. Helicopters. John C. Reilly’s vocal chords. Big production crews. The best cameras. The best editors. They paid filmers to destroy A+ clips. Probably splurged on a few lavish dinners. Possibly sat first class once or twice.

Get hung up on something in that last paragraph? It wasn’t John C. Reilly, was it?

There is a business, and an art, of killing clips. It is a product of the ancient business, and art, of poaching.

If you’re a photographer (or a production team from Brain Farm) and you show up to a certain wave with a certain crew on a certain trip that you planned in advance, the idea is that you and only you have the right to shoot the surfers you’re with. Any other photographer shouldn’t be allowed to point a lens at the talent and turn the imagery into profit or release the images too early. It’s a respect thing. Most people get it. The people who don’t are called poachers.

But, in 2015, the lines of poaching have blurred. Everybody has a camera now — chances are you’re not reading this on your LG Chocolate from 2007 — and in most places, you’re legally allowed to shoot a picture or a video of a person as long as they’re in a public space (see: the ocean). Blurry.

In the case of VFABM, a lot of the trips were to exotic locations, like an island off Brazil or South Africa’s wild coast. Poachers weren’t much of an issue there. However, there was a full section in the movie — a banger one, at that — from John John’s home in Hawaii.

Hawaii. The mecca. The place where everyone sees everything. Any good day at Pipe has 30 lenses in the water and twice that on the beach. That’s to be expected at Pipe, though. The VFABM knew that all of John’s Pipe waves would be documented 100 different ways, and that they just had to document them the best. Which they did. But poaching becomes an issue in Hawaii when John does something crazy at a wave that isn’t quite as popular at Pipe. Which he did.

And so money was dolled out just to make the poached footage die.

Likewise, see that air of Jordy that we used to lead you in? That was at Duranbah, right around the time of the 2015 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Jordy stomped that thing and proceeded to shell out money to the lenses on the beach so that the world wouldn’t see it until he said so.

These things happen all the time. But the question is: Is the money spent on killing a clip worth the the value of a first-time impact on a viewer?

Watch Blue From A View Moon. See the clips that John paid for you to not see. You’ll probably say yes. —Brendan Buckley