SECOND THOUGHTS

posted by / Video / April 12, 2004

For all those naysayers who think that there are no more hardcore surfers left in Southern California – check out Timmy Turner’s latest film, “Second Thoughts.” The project, two years in the making, was unveiled last night at the auditorium of Huntington Beach High to a wildly enthusiastic, sold out crowd. There was eager anticipation for the film because most of the audience had read a harrowing 2002 article in Surfer by D.C. Green detailing the exploits of Turner and HB friends, Travis Potter and Brett Schwartz in deepest, darkest West Java.

“Second Thoughts” makes it clear that Turner and friends’ approach to travel is simple: Go hard. They take the typical Indo risk/reward calculus and multiply it exponentially. For the uninitiated here’s the jist of what they do: They take a bemo from Jakarta – one of the most dangerous cities in the world – to a rickety Indo ferry. Then they pay local fisherman to transport them to an uninhabited island and drop them off with supplies so meager that they fit on the tops of their surfboards. Next they paddle the stuff into shore where they ruin half of their provisions in the shorebreak. After that they set up camp near one of the most dangerous reefs in the world. Then they stay there, completely alone and put their lives on the line on every day in non-stop dredging barrels for a month at a time. Their struggle just to provide themselves with food, shelter and water and somehow avoid serious infection or injury, so far away from any assistance, makes this film the first to definitely depict what “going feral” truly entails. “Second Thoughts” is the type of hardcore project that makes a show like “Survivor” look ridiculous and silly by {{{comparison}}}.

Despite the dark overtones, “Second Thoughts” is by no means depressing. Mostly this is due to Turner who directs the film and provides the voice over. Turner is by no means a polished speaker, but his Spicoli-esque delivery is innocent, endearing and often hilarious. When he talks about the decision to slaughter a goat the crew brought to the island as an emergency source of food he says, “We tried not to get to know the goat real well in case we had to eat him.” Timmy Turner is a guy who’s lived an “Apocalypse Now” type story, but the experience hasn’t turned him into Captain Kurtz.

The water photography in the film is revolutionary. Somehow Turner, Potter and Schwartz were able take off on the grinding waves while holding video cameras in their hands. They then shot footage inside lightning fast barrels and were doing insane whip pans – filming the foamball behind them and then rapidly twisting forward to catch the lip as it cascaded over their heads. The barrels they shot from inside were so long that the typical slow-mo cameraboard shot was utterly unnecessary. Instead of the usual boring sequence where the action is slowed down that it takes forever for the lip to throw over, we watch from the perspective of the rider as he rifles through section after section, barely missing exposed coral heads on the terrifyingly shallow end section, in real time. If you want to show people who don’t surf what it’s like to get really tubed, show them this film.

The only flaw of “Second Thoughts” is that the waves are so unbelievably gnarly that we too rarely see the surfers make the waves. It’s frustrating because most of the time Turner and friends backdoor one hollow section after another, but end up getting shut down on the inside. There is a sequence of a shockingly hollow right, for example, where an all-star cast including the embattled Koby Abberton, gets axed wave after wave. While it’s fun to see the surfers throw up defiant hand jives before getting guillotined by the lip, much of the movie plays like an extended wipeout sequence.

C’mon Timmy, you must have some footage with higher surfer success rates. Give us some hope! - Jamie Tierney

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