7 BTS Full Frames From ‘Motel Hell’ - Stab Mag

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"The way Harry was surfing in Java was insane to watch. He was so tuned in. He ended up breaking all his boards and the only one he had left was a Ben Webb. He didn’t think it would handle the power but then he went out and ripped the shit out of it. Some of the turns he did on that board in the video are amazing.” All photos and extended captions by Tom Robinson

7 BTS Full Frames From ‘Motel Hell’

“He got flogged on the takeoff and pushed into a underwater cave for a long time trying to wrestle his leash off.”

Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Get the 128-page Motel Hell newspaper here.

Harry’s Bryant’s Motel Hell premieres on Stab Premium in less than 24 hours. If you haven’t already seen it, I suggest AirPlaying it on the big screen with the Sonos on full blast. Quality productions warrant an equally high-quality viewing experience – anything less feels like a small injustice. So engage them senses as you would a rail on roundhouse, to the best of your limited abilities. 

Motel Hell took three years and a lot of blood, sweat and beers to make. Most of it happened with the same three people involved – Haz (surfing), Dav Fox (filmmaker) and Tom Robinson (stills). Tracks were supplied from Shining Bird, Low Life, Total Control, plus a bunch of local artists from around Wollongong. 

For this BTS piece, we spoke with Tom (better known as Lob), a former pro bodyboarder who’s made his crust shooting skateboarding primarily.

Tom printed 2,000 128-page Motel Hell newspapers filled with the best frames from the trip, which you can purchase at his website for $20 a pop. Some of the interviews in the back, Wade Goodall’s in particular, is worth the price of admission alone. His South Australia war story cuts close to the bone (more on that below). 

“I like that they’re so easy to damage,” says Lob. “Hard cover books are obnoxious. Like “who the fuck do I think I am?’. Plus can you fold a hard cover in half? Roll it up and wedge it between two things? No you can’t. With this you can stick it in your toilet and if half a dozen people piss on it, it will look even more mental.”

A powerful pitch. 

Here’s seven BTS frames from Motel Hell with extended cappies for color. 

“That picture is what spawned the whole project for me. It was the first clip Harry got and one of the best clips in the whole movie I think. It’s in a very remote place and it’s not even a good wave necessarily. People go down to that area to get all those crazy gnarly pits, so that wave is kind of burgery and soft for down there. That session was fucking classic, Haz was out there for four hours and he couldn’t put a wave together the whole time. He was snapping, punching his board and shit, which I’ve never seen him do. And then he finally gets those two in the video. He does an air and lands and gives Dav and I the finger. It was a real moment. Just Haz, Dav, Dorf and I.”
“That’s the right off a breakwall further up north in Morocco. We went there for a left, which is odd because Morocco is known for its right points. All those kids in the foreground were pretty staunch, I kinda had to bail mid-session cause it was getting bit heated. The first trip we did was in the middle of Ramadan so a lot of the local crew weren’t surfing. The second time I even went out bodyboarding there one day and got yelled at. It’s not like they just snap on you but it’s definitely a bit of a weird vibe.”
“That’s Wade sitting on his snapped board after he almost drowned. They [Haz, Eithan and Wade] had been getting blown out of stand up pits all afternoon, which you see in the film. I had one bar of battery left and I was just talking shit with Rippy [Hayden Richards] when Wade came in. I was like, ‘oh, you broke your board’. He just replied ‘you have no fucking idea what just happened’ and grabbed a beer from the esky. He’d gotten flogged on a takeoff and was stuck in an underwater cave for a long time trying to wrestle his leash off. Ultimately, he had to break his board underwater to reach the surface by which time he was white as a ghost. I don’t think he would want to see that shot to be honest. He’s such a soft, caring family man and I think putting himself in that situation rattled him to the core.” 
“That’s one of my favourite photos. When I first started shooting surfing I was super loose and shooting really wide photos and then over time I started cropping photos tighter and becoming more and more of a surf photographer, so I had to snap myself out of it. I like this shot because of the long period swell. It’s nice to see just one single wave with nothing else in front or behind it. We were down there for two weeks that trip and the waves just kept coming and coming. We ended up running out of water and we had no food left. Harry’s dog Baz was with us and we gave him our last drop of water. Harry and Dorf had half a warm XXXX each and went out and did that. It was fucking nuts.” 
“We flew into Ireland that morning and we knew the swell was going to fill in. When we went to get a hire car we realized we didn’t have a license between us. I didn’t have one, Haz was too young to hire a car, Dav only had a digital version and Wade’s was snapped in half. We got to where we were staying at 2:00AM and this was what we woke up to. 

Wade had been helping out with community work with the Northern Rivers floods and dealing with his own situations that run of weather caused so he hadn’t surfed in a month. This was the first session and he got absolutely fucked up. He almost died three times during the film. Meanwhile, Harry was out there standing in pits. Mind you he actually had proper boards, had been surfing heaps and Wade had just plucked a three-year old gun from under the house.

I shot a sequence of this wave just with them in the foreground and every single frame except this one Wade is looking away. You could tell he was just going, “holy fuck, this is so gnarly. I’ve had three hours sleep, haven’t surfed in a month, I’m in a 6mm wettie and it’s 10 foot and heavy as fuck.”
“This was the first trip Dion had done since breaking his leg. I just love how there’s the whitewash on the rock behind him because he’s wearing all black, if it weren’t for that he’d get so lost in the frame. He’s so fucking gnarly for a 38-year-old.”

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