Surf films are a cornerstone of our culture; they sit alongside magazines (whatever format they hit your eyes in these days) as the way that surfers can get their fix when not actually surfing. Many, probably all, surfers can’t surf as often as they like due to factors such as location, work, school, weather conditions and whatever else prevents them from getting in the sea. And so we have historically turned to surf movies, originally in the form of the theatre tour with live narration, through the eras of VHS and DVD and now the blink-and-you-miss-it web edit. Most surf films are, understandably, just surfing. They are a time-stamp of where the pointy end of surfing performance is currently at. Not the award-winning films made by Rob Lockyear and Jeremy Joyce, though. They produce films that look at current surf culture, and gently take the piss out of it ; films such as 2011s The Shaper, #Vanlife, and more recently the critically acclaimed Freezing (which the team at Beach Grit called “the funniest surf film ever made”). Surfer editor Todd Prodanovich has compared their films to “if Spinal Tap and Endless Summer had a baby”. And now they’re at it again, with plans to film the first episode in a full series in California this summer. The crowdfunding campaign to help them get the project off the ground ends at the end of this week, so if you have the financial means to help them along their way and support the sort of independent surf filmmaking that has enriched our culture for the past fifty years or so, then please do.
We caught up with Rob, to find out more about their upcoming film “The Outrider”:
In the world of surf films, the mockumentary genre is certainly the road less travelled compared to straight up action flicks or documentaries. They must also be more involved productions, requiring such things as scripts and actors that most surf-centric productions needn’t ever worry themselves with. Why did you choose to focus on this genre?
Jeremy and I were the youngest in our year. He is the most clown like person I have ever met. We were both regularly beaten by our big brothers for taking the piss. We are cut from the same cloth and comedy is just our default way of interacting with the world.
I think for a lot of surfers there comes a point in your life when you say to yourself “I’m never going to turn pro” – that happened young for Jeremy and I. Really young. I knew I wasn’t going to be a pro surfer before I had even tried it. But we love surfing and this is our way of being part of it.
Modern life doesn’t lend itself to being creative for a living so at some point we just thought – Fuck it! Let’s not try and do this for a job – let’s forget about making money or working with brands and just make films whenever we can with as many of our talented friends as we can.
We do need money though.
Because of the devotion that surfing often elicits, do you think it offers up more stereotypes to send up than other sub-cultures? How do you pick your targets?
I think our characters exist everywhere in life. Our films are about living with the choices you make. You want to live in a van – well what happens when you turn forty? Did you think about that? No you didn’t, did you? That’s what we want to make a film about. Surfing is addictive and any addiction has the ability to unravel your life and make you do irrational things which is obviously hilarious.
The themes and characters in your previous films have managed to sail incredibly close to the wind in terms of poking fun at “on-trend” elements of current surf culture. How do you strike that balance between getting laughs and the risk of some sudden and awkward self-consciousness amongst members of the audience at surf film festivals?
We were at a festival recently and this girl described us (affectionately) as ‘Sub-Gnars’ – which felt slightly insulting but completely true. So Chris Burkard has gone out to Iceland with Dane Gudauskas in a giant 4×4 and they scored a 100-year storm swell and everyone did airs and got barrelled. That sounds amazing and I can’t wait to watch it. We went out there in a Hyundai Getz and ate some biscuits. It’s not about them, it’s about us trying to do what they do with less abs. Sub-Gnar. It’s very British.
Your intention is that “The Outrider” will be episode one of a series populated with surfing characters. Can you give us a sneak preview of some of the other characters that you’re developing?
We have a former child-prodigy goofy foot from Australia who fell of the tour in a blaze of drugs and food addiction. A former pro who quit the tour and all forms of motorised travel to set up a commune on a remote island in the north Atlantic. A free-surfing, organic couple from Byron Bay who while very blessed might actually be psychotic. We are growing a dysfunctional family.
Your leading man is an established British actor who’s recognisable from his roles in numerous television series and films, including Hollywood films such as Alien 3. He also surfs. Can you tell us a little about Danny Webb and how you’ve come to be working with him?
Danny was on the judging panel of the London Surf Film Festival when The Shaper was screened – he is a good mate of Chris and Demi who run the festival but we had never met. They put us in touch, we went for a pint and we just knew straight away he was perfect. He turned up with this surfboard design book and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of board design from that era. One of our influences for the character was Marc Andreini and Danny turned out to ride his boards – at that point we were freaking out. It felt like a set up! We can’t wait to start filming with him and see where he goes with it.
The Outrider is your second international shoot; will the film have a more intentional international appeal, where your earlier offerings have perhaps been more Brit-centric in terms of the sense of humour and inspiration.
I think it’s us trying to explore the what the mainstream surf world is talking about and just having an adventure in new places! We will remain stoically British and ignore any kind of influence from those bloody foreigners no matter where we are.
Can you tell us a little bit about the storyline?
The new film is called “The Outrider”. It’s about a shaper, Mike Strident, who built an iconic board in the late 70’s but has been cruelly forgotten by the surfing world. We pick up the story 40 years later, when a young Californian surfer rediscovers the board and wants to revive the design. There are talk show melt downs, fights in the shaping bay, acid trips in Baja and finally some decent surfing on the point breaks of California. I think I’ve just given away all the best bits but promise you’ll still watch it?
Help make The Outrider happen by pledging (and enjoying some of their wonderful rewards) here.