Interview: Noa Deane Has A One-Eyed Pony Named Larry David + A $10 Film Called ‘Mash’ Out Now
On barbecuing cash making surf films, why Hawaii is emotional, Nozvid getting ripped down on 150K plays.
7:00PM: James Kates is making edits on ‘Mash’ an hour before the sold out opening premiere in Bangalow. 9:00PM: He and Noz are being given a long, thundering ovation in a completely maxed out pool-room-cum-function-space.
Mash is a banger (pun fully intended) – a complete departure stylistically from Nozvid which was three years of A++ clips chopped together to Basement Jaxx and Sunami.
By contrast, all the music in Mash is bespoke (Noa and Katesy made about half of it). Mash leans into his personality (there’s audio from friends and family talking to what makes Noz Noz), and a bunch of it is shot on film (it’s one of the prettiest surf films you’ll see this year).
“This is the barnacle-encrusted, death-defying fucking pinnacle,” Jed Smith recalled after watching, speaking to Noz’s slab artistry. “I could watch people launching themselves over bone-dry rock on thin pieces of fiberglass for my entire life and never get bored.”
The 47-minute film elegantly crafted by James Kates is out now on Vimeo On Demand for $15 AUD ($9.99 USD).
“It’s the price of a schooner and a half,” explains Noz. “I know some people would rather drink a beer than watch it, and I know if you sell shit it riles people up, but I’ve gone a different route with this one. I’ve got a mortgage and I would love to just put shit out for free and fucking pay filmers out the ass, but it just doesn’t really work. Every cent is just gonna be reinvested into making more vids.”
More from Noz below.
That was a pretty swift turnaround after Nozvid. Tell me about Mash
Yep, it was just under a year. What Mikey and I were going for with Nozvid was just more to showcase the best of my surfing with no compromises on anything to do with music or clips. This one leans a bit more into my personality, which I’ve never really tried to show at all. It’s kind of more what I’m doing right now in the present tense. Katesy and I made probably half the tunes, and friends of ours made the rest. We bootstrapped it pretty hard.
Everyone wants to license big tracks but obviously you’ve got to pay for it and it isn’t cheap. I almost see it as a good problem because it forces you to unearth new music or to make it yourself. What was the story with Nozvid getting ripped?
When you have the luxury of budget like Kai did back in the day you can actually buy sick songs rather than ripping them for free. That’s ideal. But the thing is a lot of songs have short licenses on ’em anyway, so even if you go to use one of those songs, you might only get it for three years and they could turn around and take your video down again. So it’s gnarly and expensive and music makes a surf edit. It might cost 60-80 grand to own a song in perpetuity, no one’s got that coin right now.
I still don’t know what the drama was with Nozvid because I see a lot of other videos that have some pretty crazy songs on them stay up and I’m like, ‘fuck, I don’t know why mine got taken down’. It had 150,000 plays on it at the time. I mean, it’s annoying because Mikey and I poured a lot of time into what at that time was our best work just to have it fuck off out of the internet.
With Mash I was like ‘fuck this, we’ll just make it ourselves’ and that way there’s no risk of having it pulled or demonetised. You can’t neg out too hard, it was a learning. You can still watch Nozvid on Vimeo.
The surf industry is in a funny spot right now. There’s obviously macro-changes with Boardriders getting sold and contracts getting torched or down-sized. At the same time, November was one of the most incredible months in surf cinema we’ve seen in years. It’s been really uplifting to have all this amazing art come out in a time when the industry forey says ‘tomorrow will be worse’.
Yeah, we always talk about this stuff where we’re like, ‘we’re not going to stop doing it because it doesn’t make any sense financially’. You know what I mean? It is your job, but it’s also like, fuck, you got to kind of weigh it up to a point. Like yes, you are binning money, but at the same time you’re doing what you love.
The public response from all those videos has been really validating. Harry’s one for instance sold out back-to-back screenings in Thirroul. Then Russ’s one was the most people fucking screaming I’ve ever seen for a clip. The Epokhe one was packed to the brim as well. I can’t remember seeing that many people at prems since Strange Rumblings.
It’s so much more powerful when the community comes together to celebrate the art.
Does it feel like the expectations of being a freesurfer have changed significantly over the years. Particularly with social media playing such a big role in marketing?
It’s a weird one being a freesurfer right now for sure. Either you put stuff out on the night and don’t worry about trying to develop it into something bigger, or you scrape by building and bankrolling quality stuff that you’re proud of. The reality is things get buried pretty quick whether you’re proud of them or not. Nozvid was pretty serious and took a couple of years to make, and I fucking burnt through so much cash doing that and it got ripped from the internet.
So to set the table: staying relevant requires you’ve got to be doing one of these two things. For me, I just find it hard to blow shit out on the gram. I made a bunch of web clips that are 10 minutes long, then the last two major projects I’ve done were over 30 minutes. Obviously in the past I didn’t charge anyone for it and kind of used whatever music I wanted and it kinda went down the gurgler. Point is: you need to compromise somewhere.
Is there extra pressure to surf well when you’re paying a filmer a day rate? Do you feel that in the water where you’re like, fuck, I’m blowing it and I’m torching cash?
Yeah for sure. Sometimes you go somewhere and you think it’s going to be cooking but it ends up being shit and/or crowded. If you’re lucky they might say ‘don’t worry about paying me for that session. It was shit’. But that can only happen so many times. You’re going to have to pay for sessions.
The flip side of it is when you’ve maxed out the budget for the month and then there’s a pumping day and you’re like, ‘fuck, I should have been filming. I probably could have got some sick shit’. It’s a bit of a juggling act. I’ve paid for a bunch of clips and ended up not using them.
Tangential question. You spend a good chunk of time in Hawaii. More so than most Australian freesurfers. Obviously there’s all these cliches about it being ‘the proving ground’ or ‘surfing’s Mecca’ or whatever – how do you view the significance of performing in Hawaii?
I’m doing the Pipe Masters and I think I’ll be back there in January again. I think it’s one of those places you get nervous right before you go every year because it can go either way in Hawaii. You either have an amazing year where you get crazy waves or you really struggle. It kind of just is a gnarly place with a crazy, powerful energy. I think it brings up a lot of emotions for people. I think that’s why there’s a lot of focus on that because it sort of shows how people behave under pressure. It’s a mind game.
The waves are the main reason why everyone goes there though, obviously. But it’s also just a crazy melting pot of the whole industry in one spot at one time, and that doesn’t really happen anywhere else. Snapper and France were a bit like that in the past where you’d see all the whole surf world in one place but that’s kind of died off. It’s almost the last thing in surfing where everyone still is looking at it as a thing which you have to be there for.
Agreed. It feels like it’s one of the last traditions that unites surf culture. There’s a kernel of truth to most cliches, the ‘proving ground’ thing still holds meaning to people, which is probably why guys get bashed for dogging it at Pipe and still winning World Titles
Yeah, it still means something having a good performance there, whereas someone might go crazy elsewhere and it just doesn’t hold the same weight, really. That’s not to say you can’t make it without going there. There’s plenty of people that are fucked up at surfing that don’t do Hawaii, but I think you gain a lot of respect for surfing those types of waves and ripping.
The Pipe Masters waiting period starts tomorrow. A bunch of people have complained that it’s not the ‘real Pipe Masters’ cos it’s not all the CT/specialists are in it. What do you make of that claim?
I know heaps of people were writing off the event, particularly last year, like, ‘oh, well, Vans just puts their surfers in it and it’s half Hawaiian and yadi-yada’. And I can see where they’re coming from. If you don’t have John John and shit in there, then I get what they’re saying.
But the interesting thing is the dude who won it last time (Balaram Stack) was never going to get a run in a CT and he fucking could have won it as a CT too. You know what I mean? So I feel like all the people who painted it out as this thing saying it’s not the real deal semi went down in flames with him winning it. I’m sure if an air guy won or someone who wasn’t as deserving, it probably would’ve buried it a bit harder. But fuck, he’s put in 15 years there, and he’s one of the gnarliest dudes to ever surf Pipe.
I think there’s always going to be controversy if someone doesn’t feel like they’re represented. But they’re blowing up for a reason – because they want to be in the comp and it’s mental. You can’t please everyone and everyone misses out from time to time. You can’t neg out too hard. If you wanted to run the ‘realest’ Pipe Masters, you’d need a fucking time machine and to have Bruce, Andy and Derek Ho in his prime.
Final question. Mash and Munch, you got heaps of food themed titles. That a coincidence?
Yeah, that’s a coincidence. We called it Mash because it was just going to be random clips mashed together, which is funny because it kind of came out completely different to that. Munch is my dog’s name and I just couldn’t come up with anything else. So I used that. It’s so hard coming up with names because as soon as you come up with it, you’re kind of over it already.
Chat GPT gave your film a good wrap – lets end on that
‘Dive into the radical world of Noa Deane, the enigmatic wave warrior who rides on the edge of chaos. This high-voltage surf biopic captures the rebellion, raw energy, and relentless pursuit of adrenaline that define Deane’s life. Brace yourself for a cinematic thrill ride through the grittiest waves and the untamed soul of a surfing renegade.’ – Chat GPT
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