For those trying to align the curves of the puzzle, the trailer is below.
A Trailer: "Proximity" By Taylor Steele
Plus, a few words with the director himself.
Sometimes, the videos that stand out are the ones that callback to basics. Good design is as little as possible. The world’s best surfers, paired together, surfing perfect, unparagoned waves. Less, but better — because it concentrates on the essential aspects, a product unburdened with auxiliaries. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
Which is why we’ve been anticipating the release of Taylor Steele’s Proximity. Just look at the casting alone: Steph Gilmore and Dave Rastovich in Baja; Craig Anderson and Rob Machado in Chile; Shane Dorian and Albee Layer in Northern Europe; Kelly Slater and John John Florence in the South Pacific. Style, performance, the romance of travel and exhaustively candid conversation. Surf cinema is made of this.
As we inch closer to the red carpet release, we called Taylor to learn a little bit more about the film. Seeing how it stacks up and stands out alongside his other classics that moulded an entire generation of surfers and filmmakers alike.
Stab: What inspired you to you to make Proximity?
Taylor: Surf films today are in an interesting place. For me, making surf films is a way to reset. I do commercials and a lot of other films now with lots of people involved, other people to appease. So making surf films is a way for me to be selfish and make something that I’m excited about, because I’m making the final call with everything.
It’s a way to reset my filmmaking, go back to how I started, and get that inspiration back. Which is why I’m not in a rush to make them every three or four years, as I am patient in waiting for something to really excite me.
The idea of getting icons from different generations that are still relevant together and seeing how they interact on land and in water. See how they push themselves surfing wise, that’s what got me going this time around. To ask: What would they talk about if they were in a room together? Be a fly on the wall. All those sorts of things, still as a surf fan myself, made me want to try this project.
So, pairing surfers that complement one another together for trips. What was the most surprising duo that clicked? I’m extremely inspired by Steph Gilmore’s surfing and her overall vibe. So I’ve been racking my brain over who would be the perfect pairing for her. I really wanted somebody that surfed like her, carries themselves in the same way, and travels the same way.
I went with Dave Rastovich as a fit. I thought maybe it was a little bit of a stretch, until I put them on a trip together and realised how similar they really were. It was intriguing to not only see just how much they’re alike but also how they just took different paths: Steph with competition and the Dave with freesurfing. They relate to each other on an overall “good human” sort of way. I felt like I learned a lot by being in the same room with them, like I could be a better person by the end of the day.
Where did you shoot for that particular combo? The whole idea was to take surfers to different places where you haven’t really seen them at before. I thought it’d be cool to take Steph and Dave down to the desert in Baja. We went to these unknown points that, while suiting their style, also have an overall ruggedness, being in the middle of nowhere. But Baja was great because it’s so foreign and new to many people, and seeing someone with a status like Steph down there presents such a unique contrast.
Were there any other locations where you filmed that were maybe a bit more unexpected or untraditional in a sense? We took Rob and Craig into the snow, which is not somewhere you would normally see those guys. They’re not like the Malloys, as in they’re not known for being hardcore travellers. It was interesting to see them in an uncomfortable environment. By putting them in a situation that they’ve never been before, we knew they’d bond and have more of an experience on the trip.
Was there anything you implemented in the film, whether it be something technical in terms of filming equipment, or a new style of perspective, that you haven’t done before? There are a couple things. On the filmmaking side, I really wanted to push myself with having a natural story arc involving conversation, rather than it just being a visual piece. That’s the stuff I’ve picked up from my recent commercial work.
Another aspect I technically brought in was the virtual reality element. By that, I mean we shot a short virtual reality film for each location that’s a part of the viewer experience when attending one of the premiers or art galleries that coincide with Proximity’s official release.