Gifts that keep on giving!

Who isn't influenced by the great surf filmmaker Blake Keuny and the just-as-great surfer John John Florence?

Remember when Blake Vincent Keuny and John John Florence gifted us the wonderful film Done? Of course you do because it came out very recently, pairing the most progressive surfing with a clear direction not often seen in surf cinema. So simple yet so stylish yet so not redundant, which is a very very tall order in surf film making. It is difficult to capture the act of surfing differently. It is also difficult to make a surf film that doesn’t feel like every other one out there. Done was a success.

It was so successful, in fact, that Surfing Magazine, following in dear older brother Surfer’s footsteps (click here to see Surfer “Caught With Their Pants Down”), borrowed the title and overall aesthetic for their latest cover, giving truth to the old adage “One done is never enough.”

I had the pleasure of catching up Blake on Christmas Eve. He was back from the islands for one day, maybe two, and getting some much needed rest and relaxation. He is directing the next John John masterpiece, an epic, and promises to be wonderful.

Blake lives in John John’s house while filming and editing. I did not ask him the name of this new film but I’m sure that it will also be the cover title of Surfing’s issue two years after it comes out. The John John Florence creative family has long, long coattails.

10 Reasons Lost Atlas is Kai Neville’s Masterpiece

Three years on, this is still Kai Neville's masterwork… 

That golden period. All collaborative artists have ’em. It’s only years later, upon reflection, that we can trawl through their work and call it. Kai Neville, the 32-year-old filmmaker, sunglass and media house part-owner (Epokhe and What Youth), has owned the performance surf film space since his 2010 debut Modern Collective.

But for Kai, it was his second film, Lost Atlas, made the following year, that built his reputation into a profitable exercise (Red Bull used Kai for Jordy Smith’s bio movie Bending Colours).

Three years later, it’s still his masterwork. It came at a time when he had John John Florence, Jordy Smith, Dusty Payne and Dane Reynolds in his pocket (Dane is back in Kai’s new film, Cluster, to be released in the northern hemisphere 2015 summer) and more than eager to nail clips.

“I felt like my next movie people would think, well, because of Modern Collective, the next one’s next one’s going to have crazy technology, helicopter angles and a thumping soundtrack. I wanted to tone it completely down, to keep the look and the feel subtle and washed-out, nothing saturated and contrasted,” Kai told me at the time. “I wanted the music to be raw, not so fast and I liked the way I ended up shooting it. It was candid. I shot everything. I wanted to simplify the whole thing. It’s really choppy. I didn’t use any fades or motion graphics.”

As to the surfers he used, which also included Craig Anderson, Ryan Callinan and his best friend Dion Agius, Kai said, “They all surf really well, but they don’t get up, surf all day, then come in and talk surf. It’s not all surf, surf, surf. They’re interested in so many other things. The guys that I work with have to come across on screen, too. They’re really interesting people.”

You want 10 reasons why Lost Atlas rules?

1. Dusty Payne’s late frontside switches to reverse in Mexico and Sumbawa are still the apex of the Hawaiian’s performance. 

Dusty had told Kai that if he was starting a move and it was feeling lame he could tweak it mid-turn into something special. I was with Dusty when Kai showed him the movie and recorded this exchange.

Kai: He went up for an air, it was a big straight air, and he thought it was gay so he, you, turned it into a an air reverse. And, it looked sick!

Dusty points at Kai, laughs and says, “He loved the move!”

Kai: It just, like, a last-minute tweak out on the flats. It’s pretty cool.

Dusty: It just happeeeeened. I just remember it was just standard.

Kai laughs, “Yeah, standard…”

Dusty: It was looking pretty stupid and I think it still does look stupid.

2. Dusty on girl’s surfing.

On Lost Atlas Kai played pap-journalist and recorded conversations with his tiny H4 mic. And this quote from Dusty re: girls surfing is priceless in its honesty.

Kai: Dusty, what do you think about girls surfing?

Dusty: Don’t get me started.

Kai: Do they rip?

Dusty: No, they’re terrible! (In a sing-song voice) They think they should just sit on the boat and wait for it to get one foot again so they can go out and do their little tail slides.

“Ok, let me explain,” Dusty told me. “This is why I said it. I was just on a boat trip with some female surfers from the 6.0 team and I’m not saying any names…”

Dusty pauses and laughs.“And, y’know, they were ripping when it was small. And, the last day of the trip, the last session of the trip, we pull up to Greenbushes (a barreling left) and it was three feet. And, we were like…  YES! Finally, some waves! The trip was…ffffllllat! And, we go out and the only girl who paddled out was Laura Enever. And, she went. She got a couple of nuts ones and the rest of the girls sat on the boat and just watched. And, I was, like, are you kidding me? It’s finally breaking and they’re not even paddling out?”

3. Jordy Smith is refused permission to surf where there are fishermen because of “security.” Jordy responds: “What about their security when I start baptizing a few heads?”

4. Jordy Smith introduces new expression into surfers’ lexicon. Cringe. 

Again, with his little hidden mic, Kai Neville captures a candid exchange, this time between Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith in France. Their quotes are run full-screen over the pair surfing perfect six-foot French beachbreaks.

Jordy to Dane: You know that guy who interviewed me yesterday? He interviewed me two or three years ago in my hotel room and his breath just stunk… so bad… and I was just so off him and I said I’m never doing anything with that guy ever again. And I saw him and I was eggy from the get go.

Dane: I feel that if your breath is that bad to where someone is like three feet away and tripping out… It must feel disgusting right?

Jordy: That’s my worst, like, cringe. Just cringe.

5. A genre-hopping soundtrack

From Grimes to Hotel Mexico to Dead Gaze, King Tuff, Super CHillers, the Samps and Connan Mockasin (whom I personally loathe but he sure creates a mood). The result is a surf film that cuts to a variety of moods and speeds.

6. A Chilean beachbreak with Wade Goodall, Julian Wilson and Dusty Pane

This is Wade’s last great cameo in the big leagues and he does it in the most immaculate fashion, in difficult waves, with tough competition, including the most extraordinary blonde gals in little bikinis on the beach. Such style!

7. It was all shot on a Canon 7D

A masterpiece created for a few thousand bucks worth of hardware.

8. It created careers Dion Agius and Craig Anderson

Craig Anderson’s manager at the time John Shimooka told me, “That cameo of Craig’s was the start of it…  four years ago he was definitely on minimum wage. Now, he’s a top earner. Once you’re affiliated with Kai… it carries a truckload of weight.”

Said Dino Andino, father and coach of the then 17-year-old Kolohe Andino. “If you’re not top 10 in the world, you have to get in a Kai Neville movie. Ryan Callinan, he gets two waves, and it’s huge for him. You take him out of the movie and he might be super talented and super creative, but where would he be? The difference is huge. Money? If you star in that movie you can command 200 plus. If you weren’t in the movie, even if you’re doing the same stuff, you’re looking at 80 or 90.”

9. Kolohe Andino’s frontside grabs in a Canary Islands wavepool

Most surreal, an ethereal interlude in a most prosaic film.

10. John John’s Sumbawa cameo

Until Lost Atlas, the world only had a shadowy idea of how good John John was. Kai showed us.

“I had him on my radar, but he just took it to a whole new level.” said Kai. “That’s what I like seeing in surf films. That raw new talent when they’re surfing with the best guys.”


00:030: Credits.

00:31: 4:52: Mex with Dion Agius, Craig Anderson and Owen Wright, cute music, cuts to hard-core at 3:32 for a one-minute hit. First wave is an unmade tow punt by Dion.

4:52 to 6:33: Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds in France. Jordy “cringes” at the breath of a surf journalist.

6:34 to 8:59: Dusty Payne in Mex.

9:00 to 11:49: Mitch Coleborn, Chippa Wilson and John John Florence , Indo.

11:50 to 13:24: Conner Coffin, Ev Geiselman, Dylan Perillo and Owen Wright, south coast, NSW.

13:25 to 15:05: Jordy and Dane reprised.

15:11 to 16:31: Dusty, Julian Wilson and Wade Goodall in Chile.

16:32 to 18:30: Craig, Dion and Owen in Mex.

18:31 to 22:35: Craig, Ryan Callinan, Dylan and Yadin Nicol in Indo.

22:36 to 24:26: Dusty and Julian in Chile, points. Backside finners.

24:27 to 26:58: Jordy in Europe. Is refused permission to surf at a beachbreak because of a couple of fisherman, because of “security.” Jordy responds: “What about their security when I start baptizing a few heads?”

26:59 to 28:27: NSW South Coast, reprised.

28:28 to 30:23: Julian, Ev and Kolohe Andino, trippy wavepool session, Tenerife.

30:24 to 33:12: Kolohe, Andrew Doheny, Dusty, mainland Mex.

33:13 to 34:35: Kolohe Andino, cut to Sweet 17 by Dirty Beaches.

34:36 to 37:36: Yadin and Julian in Costa Rica.

37:38 to 39:51: Dion and Craig, with a cameo by Chippa, north coast NSW.

39:52 to 42:46: Dusty, JJ and Chips, Sumbawa, Indo.

42:47: Credits roll to In Power We Trust the Love Advocated by Dead Can Dance.

45:22: Finish.

…this is Hilton Beach, one of only beaches in the Tel Aviv metro area that ain't banning surfers. Soon every single surfer, and every single SUP, in the city is going to be jammed into two lil beaches. The joint's chaos already. But, then, no one handles adversity like the brave Jews! Who else made a crummy, forgotten desert bloom green!

Shmear of the Day! Surfing Banned in Tel Aviv!

It ain't a gas when one of the funnest cities in the world gets heavy on surfers. But blame the SUPs!

Right about now is a fine time to taste the exquisite fruits of the most progressive, and secular (natch), city in the whole of the Middle East. Tel Aviv, oh it’ll steal your heart. The hospitality! The food! The sparkling can-do spirit!

In Tel Aviv, and unlike Jerusalem a couple of hours drive away, there are no heavy vibes, religion is kept at arm’s length, mostly, and along a promenade that runs along the ocean-front, you’ll find 12 clicks of sometimes very good beachbreaks, jetties and reef.

Yeah, so it’s flat for the most, but it’s about this time of year when the winter swells are lighting up this most eastern point in the Mediterranean. Click here for a trip I made with Josh Kerr, Craig Ando, Creed Mc and Dion Agius last winter.

(The movie, which I made with Toby Cregan, is interesting ’cause when I split Stab the movie was re-edited to remove all the references to Jewish history, a result, I believe, of the magazine being spooked by anti-Semitic sentiment. Even after this dumbed-down version, the anti-Jew comments were everywhere. A commentator called Bodhi wrote: “Isn’t this the video that belongs to that puff pro Israel piece published a few months back. the one they had to pull, because quite obviously stab had their lips placed so firmly around an Israeli cooks cock!”)

Lately, howevs, SUPS, which are a plague here like most soft-wave haunts, have caused so many accidents the local government has banned surfing from eight of the city’s 13 beaches.

The beaches where surfing is now banned include Topsea, where Doc Paskowitz and friends got the brave Jew into the sport in the first place and a jetty called Tel Baruch which is as rippable a wave as you’ll find anywhere. At the end of the clip that y’might’ve clicked on above, you’ll see Creed floater-saluting the setting sun – that’s Tel Baruch.

“Surfing is growing everywhere and the same here, surf schools every where, and so many SUPs,” says the surfer Artur Rashkovan, who owns a surf shop at Hilton Beach and who is one of the main players in the getting-Gazans-into-surfing group, Surfing for Peace. “When the SUPs got in the game, the mess started and I don’t need to tell you, many got injured, surfers and swimmers, so the lifeguards pushed to have an order which will ban surfers in eight spots and it started during the winter, when only surfers are in the water (dumb).”

Just recently, Artur’s pal Tamar was fined 750 New Israeli Shekels (what a handle for a little currency!) or around $US200 for surfing.

“Now, just imagine,” says Artur. “They want to push the thousands of surfers in the city into those already crowded spots, Hilton beach and the West Beach. Seems rational, right?”

If surfing in Israel matters you, how about you swing here to Artur’s Facebook page and join in the fight. 

Get a hot holiday date tonight!

...and still find time to surf!

There is only so much time in the day and what with Christmas dinners, opening presents, saying hello to people you do not know/care about, lighting candles, putting candles out, eating candy, watching Chevy Chase movies, thinking about shopping, egg nog, throwing away wrapping paper, being generally depressed, football, peppermint, family pictures, dancing like an asshole, regurgitating other surf website’s content (if you happen to be The Inertia), Bing Crosby, being too hot, being too cold, snow, standing in lines, agreeing with people just for the sake of not talking anymore, going broke (if you happen to be the World Surf League), crying, opening mail, there is even less.

How is a man or woman supposed to fit both surfing and online dating into the schedule?


Like this.


Merry Christmas from BeachGrit.

Aerial view of Teahupoo
The French-made cinema release Imagine is going to give you chills. Y'ever see a fresher vision of Tahiti's most famous reef?

Must see: An Extreme Sports Movie That’s Actually Good

French made cinema-release Addicted to Life is going to give you chills…

For one, I’m not normally one for cinema-release melanges of “action sports.” Surfing is real fun to do when you’re not chasing the wheel at work, a chance to connect with pals, a way to keep off those rings of fat away without hitting a treadmill, and maybe a life-or-death thrill or two here and there.

When I want to watch surf it’ll be the ultra-hard surf candy of Kai Neville’s cuts or the autobios created by Dane, John John or Jordy Smith.

Booming anthems cut to HD footage of snowboarders, skiers, biker riders and big-wave surfers, thrown onto a 60-minute reel is the nadir of what I think of  when I think of surfing. I don’t do pompous and I don’t trade in faux danger.

But this… this… I like.

Maybe it’s just how unselfconscious it is; maybe it’s ’cause the flying men in their wing suits are the most wonderfully crazy things I’ve ever seen.

The director Thierry Donard has been making his La Nuit de la Glisse (The Night of the Slide) documentaries since 1984 and the films have this very French, very romantic quality. How can we not love?

(Click here for more details…)