Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content.  - Stab Mag

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We love Chucky, but this works too. Photo: Jimmy Wilson

Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content. 

A toast to ‘Toasted.’

features // Mar 13, 2023
Words by Coral McDuffee
Reading Time: 11 minutes

Editors note: To celebrate of Caity Simmers’ maiden CT victory we’ve unlocked this Premium interview for everyone, enjoy:)

This week, Caity Simmers released her premiere personal project ‘Toasted,’ a 23-minute ode to classic surf film, her youth, and an affinity for the tools.

After the drop, ‘Toasted’ has received praise from our Stab Premium audience praise like: 

  • “She may not know it yet, but she may have just put out an edit every grom girl will watch on repeat for years to come.” – 🙂
  • “fucking entertaining surfing, and killer soundtrack. looking forward to her edit “burnt” coming out in however many years in a chapter 11-esque career transition. – Arubaito
  • “i didnt want it to end.”- Manbearpig

Even before accepting her invite on tour, Caity has altered the playing field for the female surfer. Is your author surprised? Not a bit. 

I met Caity at our local jetty when she was eleven years old. Even then, riding a boog, the lines she drew were absurd. Through surf, we became good friends and developed a routine.

Grom (Golden) Days. Photo: @Wavesofahi

Most mornings, at the crack of 9am, we’d drive down PCH for a surf or lot troll. Our cherished routine includes blasting Lauryn Hill, icing the imposters (you know who you are), eating Primo’s tacos, and sharing lofty thoughts about what we want to contribute to the world. 

Caity, a classic film geek, wanted to make a really sick surf movie. As an actual nerd at the time (a college one), I saw the void this film would fill. Both of us wanted to make it happen, but we weren’t sure how we should go about it.

Eight months ago, I took an editorial job at Stab. Meanwhile, Caity had some time off after telling the WSL “thanks but no thanks.” There were no more excuses. Our first trip together was Ramble On, Australia. After that, we put our ideas into writing and hit the gas. 

And along came ‘Toasted.’

Below is a conversation between two friends about the film, and so much more. 

Stab:A few people say your edits look like they’re from the past. Do you take inspiration from old surf movies? 

Yeah. I watch Dane Reynolds’ Marine Layer stuff a lot. I watch a lot of skate and snowboard videos too, which is my main inspiration for editing. FA and Hockey X is dope. I like how they show the action part of everything. They show them all hanging out and people on the streets. I love the randomness and all the dumb stuff, it’s funny to see. 

Literal and visual inspiration from FA.

What do you want to see more of in modern surf film? 

I want to see more surf videos and less people just posting their good clips right away. You’re gonna get a lot of likes on Instagram at first, but it’s gonna be sicker if you save it. Most of the time, I’m not gonna remember your Instagram clip three days later. But if it’s with a song and some other clips then people go back and watch it again. 

Who do you want to see more films from? 

Everyone. But more girls surf films especially. Right now it’s rare. There’s  Frankie’s new video that Quinn edited, which is crazy and has nice music taste — but there’s not enough. 

O’Neill girl gang from our ‘Toasted’ premiere in Santa Cruz.

Why do you think there are not many girl surf films? 

Um, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because women’s surfing has evolved later than mens. 

Is girl’s surfing at that level now?

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. Hopefully people will stop saying ‘It was good for a girl.’ Like, Moana’s wave was fucking gnarly. That wasn’t good for a girl. That would have been good for anyone and everyone. 

How do you think the media portrays women’s surfing now? 

I feel like women’s surfing in general is sometimes not taken too seriously. And I feel like when you’re a girl, you’re kind of pressured to try to be a model and all that shit. But it’s getting better and it’s cool to see more freedom in women’s surfing. In Jalessa’s video, “Macaroni in a pot,”  it was sick how she directed and did the art and the music.

What was your goal when you created Toasted? 

The goal was to make people feel how I feel when I watch a surf edit. After I watch a Dane Film, I’m all hyped to go surf — that’s how I want people to feel when they watch my film. Another goal of ‘Toasted’ was to make a surf film that I actually liked and would inspire people. Especially girls.

Make way make way. Get Z is here.

When you started inventing ‘Toasted,’ Sierra Kerr, Molly Picklum, and Bella Kenworthy were on the featured list. Why them? 

I’m good friends with all of them, and I want to go on trips with my friends. Also, because they are at the forefront of progression. 

It was actually Molly who proposed the first Mexico trip right before the US Open. She made that first trip for ‘Toasted’ happen. Not me, which is kind of sad, but also pretty sick. So shout-out to Pickles. Then I forced it into being a Toasted trip. [laughs] 

Later we were all talking about how it was the highlight of our year in terms of surf trips. 

What was so fun about it? 

We were just trading off waves and singing out in the water. 

What were you singing? 

We do Rihanna, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber. We just get sunburnt, do karaoke, and eat PBJ’S. 

Hang around for the credits section of ‘Toasted’ to hear Caity’s vocal prowess.

Who has the best voice? 

I feel like I’m definitely not it. Maybe Molly. 

This was not a painless adventure, correct? 

Yeah, I got really sunburnt. I had bubbling rashes on my knees and couldn’t walk half the time, but at least I could surf. And then I got a skin infection. 

SunBum was Caity’s first and most practical sponsor.

A skin infection? 

Yeah, from the dirty water. I could barely walk through the airport on the way home. Then I had to take antibiotics, which made me get more sunburnt, and then I had to go to HB everyday for the US Open where it was 90 degrees. My face was peeling off. 

Acid peel, very nice. So, you get back from Mexico with a little skin lift and some footage. Why did you pick the name ‘Toasted?’ 

Well, it’s from your car cause it looks like a toaster. What is it? Scion X? The thing smells horrible and it kills brain cells. 

Pretty much since I was eleven, you would pick me up every morning to go surfing and we would pull up late to school in that thing, then leave our wetsuits in there. It steamed up the box so it just permanently smells like vile. I think you were fifteen or sixteen, so I would have to duck down every time we saw a cop. That car is a historic artifact, really. 

The Scion XB at her finest.

Other meanings? 

When we were in Mexico all sunburnt, we kept saying ‘We’re toasted.’ Like, when you’re all sunburnt and can’t think a single thought. And also you can toast to something. 

I guess this whole thing is a Toast to your year at home. 

Yeah, there’s a lot of different meanings  And in my opinion, it sounds stupid, but also cool. That was kinda the goal. 

An illustration of the statement above.

Alright, so you have Mexico clips and a name. What was the next step?

The goal was to have good surfing in it, so that meant getting footage. All those trips weren’t specifically for my movie. I was still doing the “Challenging Series” and Stab High. So it was hard to find time for the trips. 

We got really lucky with everything. It’s not like we got huge barrels and absolutely scored, but I think we got good waves for the time we had. 

Remember what happened when we first got to Indo? 

Oh yeah. We went to our hotel and people followed us.

You mean the scooter mafia? 

You’re saying it’s mafia, it’s not a mafia. It’s the guys who bring you the scooters. 

When we walked in our room there’s this five inch spider in the bathroom. I was like, ‘Coral look! Look!’ Then the man with the moped runs into our room, and he grabs the spider with his hands and it crawls all over him. We’re both screaming at this point, but he smashes the spider and then we were chilling. I’ll have that image forever. 

But in Lakey Peak every morning we would wake up at 5:00 AM and it was windy. 

The windy mornings of Lakey Peak.

Not what we expected huh? 

Yeah, we expected it to be offshore barrels, but I guess we shouldn’t have, because that time of year it’s windy every morning. Luckily, we still got swell and poached clips from Stab High. 

Talk about your Lakey Peak exit. 

So two days after Stab High, I needed to be in Portugal for the Challenger Series. And we booked the wrong flights at the wrong airport. We were at the restaurant and all hanging out and it was probably like 11pm and I found out I had to leave at 1:00 AM to make it. And then I was told there were machete wars. 

Hours before Nate Lawrence sounded the alarm.

And you had to drive through the machete war? 

Yeah, there were a bunch of guys on it with the machetes at 2:00 AM. And then when we got to the airport, they wouldn’t take my mom’s card, so we sat at the airport for two hours. One of the worst travel experiences of my life. 

Ok you get to Portugal, then what? 

We met up with a filmer, Gui [Guilherme Martins], who is the homie. Most of my good clips were the days I had heats, because those were the best days of the swell. We filmed at a spot around the comp with a sick barrel. Then we met up with our friend Quinn in France which worked out because he was already there shooting Frankie’s film. 

Would you say Portugal and France were the luckiest part of Toasted? 

Yeah, the luckiest part was getting waves in between the Challenging Series.

A clip from a minutes away from the competition zone in Portugal.

Mid to late November, you’re back home from Europe. At what point did you decide you were going to edit ‘Toasted’ yourself? 

Before we had the editor lined up, we were going to send it to Nick Green, and then I decided I was going to try to organize the clips. I had them all on three different hard drives. And so we spent probably a week marking the A clips, the B clips, and the lifestyle clips.  

One night I was looking at the footage and I decided to make a Mexico section. I was inspired by all the clips and Nick sent a good song. 

Then I showed Stab, and they liked it and asked if I wanted to edit the whole thing. Luckily, Nick is the nicest guy ever and was stoked I was editing it. I had never edited more than a five minute edit, so it was overwhelming. 

This was FriYAY.

Why is creative freedom so important to you? 

Creative freedom is important to me because I would hate to have a surf film that I’m featured in not feel like me. I wanted to have control of everything — the editing, the music — because that’s what makes a surf film for me. I wouldn’t want to watch a video that I don’t like.

What’s the downside of creative freedom? 

The work I guess, but I wanted to do the work. 

How did it feel to work at the Stab office? 

It was cool, I came in almost everyday when I was home. We had some late nights in the office jamming to music and getting stuff done, which we were all dreading at the time. But when we look back, it was fulfilling and I think I’ll miss it. 

Our serious in-house editors. Blake Michel and Caitlin Simmers.

Do you like the flow of editing itself? 

I love editing. It’s fun to be able to control your videos. It’s weird because I hate watching myself, but then I edited a whole movie of myself. 

Also it’s the best way to critique your surfing, I probably watched my clips 400 times each. 

Yeah you were a 9-5’er for a moment. What was the most frustrating part? 

Premiere. There’s a lot I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to do it. Blake Michel [Stab’s in-house editor] taught me a more efficient way of editing — like a bunch of shortcuts. There’s too many buttons.  

Also, missing media. A couple times clips would disappear and I didn’t know where the clip was from and had no way to find it. And sometimes your computer crashes and the whole edit gets thrown away. Fuck missing media and also when your mouse starts to like make that wheel of death or whatever it’s called. Fuck the wheel of death. That thing is nightmarish.

The ominous wheel of death.

What else? 

We had multiple songs that we really wanted to use, and we had to throw a lot out — that was hard, because I edited the surfing to the song. 

The morning we had to have it finished, one of our main songs got denied. Just random out of the freakin blue — left field. We were crying that morning. Just melting. I took a cold shower, we went to the office, then our licensor, Lory, really helped us out. She sent a bunch of pre-approved songs and we were able to make one work. 

So yeah, that was probably the low point. But it all turned out good. 

What surprised you about editing? 

I guess this wasn’t surprising but it takes a lot of time. More than you think it takes when you’re watching a final 20-minute film.

What feels more rewarding? Finishing ‘Toasted’ or winning that CS at Snapper? 

Um, probably finishing ‘Toasted.’ 

Why? 

I have been working on it longer. And the premiere was probably the high point. It feels like winning even though you’re not winning anything. It was my dream to have a surf premiere. We did it in Oceanside because I was born and raised there and I love Oceanside. The Moose Lodge is a pretty core location.

Moose Lodge never looked so pink, punk, and packed.

Would you say that’s the moment this whole thing got real? 

Yeah. It’s a vulnerable position when you’re watching all these people watching what you made. It was really scary, but it was damn sick. 

Do you expect to create more content while you’re on tour?

I’m expecting to try and hopefully do it. 

Can Molly and Caity drop a film together while CT’ing?

You created an Instagram called @toastedmedia760. Is that a brand? 

No, it’s lighthearted right now, but maybe one day. I just want to drop some videos and see where that goes.

Do you plan to continue creating girls’ surf edits and spearheading that cause? 

Yeah, I definitely plan on making more edits that feature female surfing and girl shredders or boy shredders or whoever shreds — or if you don’t shred and just want to make cool stuff. 

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