Stab Magazine | A Post-Production interview with Kai Neville

A Post-Production interview with Kai Neville

This morning the world was treated to the first trailer for Kai Neville’s new film, Lost Atlas. After 12 months’ production time, the snapshot has delivered on the hype. Especially considering it’s a hype so difficult to live up to, such was the impact on the surf film industry of Kai’s first production, Modern Collective. Y’know what’s in Lost […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

This morning the world was treated to the first trailer for Kai Neville’s new film, Lost AtlasAfter 12 months’ production time, the snapshot has delivered on the hype. Especially considering it’s a hype so difficult to live up to, such was the impact on the surf film industry of Kai’s first production, Modern Collective. Y’know what’s in Lost Atlas, y’know who stars in it and where it was shot. You know how good it’ll be. But what you don’t know is the behind-the-scenes perspective, Kai’s thoughts on the film, his expectations of himself and that of others, and the conscious decision not to make Modern Collective, part two. Stab spoke with Kai at length about these topics and more, to find out what you don’t usually find out about producing and directing a surf film.

In your eyes, how does Lost Atlas rate? Is it the best thing you’ve done? I’m always critical of my work. I like to be a perfectionist. I was really happy with Modern Collective, ’cause it was the first proper full-length film I’d directed. But this time, I’m really happy ’cause this is the first film I’ve actually produced out of my own studio, and that I actually own. I think it’ll really set in at the premiere seeing people’s reactions. And hopefully they’re good reactions, not throwing bottles at the screen. That’s when I’ll be really stoked. When it’s all over and it’s for sale, then it’ll kick in. But for now, I’ve been too busy to sit down and think about what just happened.

Is it scary trying to live up to expectation after Modern Collective? It is. It sits in the back of my mind a lot, but most the time I just use that as fuel. The expectation’s there so I’m just like, ‘I’m gonna work really hard and try to reach everyone’s expectation.’ I use that a lot. And at the same time, I just don’t care. I mean, I do, but I try to tell myself in the back of my head, do what you wanna do and don’t worry about what everyone thinks, ’cause it’s just gonna affect the end product. Modern Collective was more successful than what I expected, but I’d be silly now to do a Modern Collective II, so I tried to do something different and went about making the movie in a completely different way. I wanted to make it more unexpected.

Has it taken longer than you thought it would? It’s actually been pretty smooth. I thought it’d take a bit longer just ’cause it’s the first project I’ve produced and there were things I had to learn. The longest part was the pre-production. Setting up distribution deals, working with sponsors and trying to get the funding and get the thing off the ground. That was completely new to me. But everything worked out well and the sponsors were really supportive of the project. There were tedious little things like menus and iTunes that I didn’t know really existed. I thought that leading up to the (soft) premiere I would’ve been scratching, trying to bang it out the night before, but it actually wasn’t too bad.

Are the fruits you’ve shown vibing on it thus far? Of the small crews I’ve shown (the film received rapturous applause when it was screened on the recent Red Bull boat trip in Indo), which has been really nerving, the feedback’s been really good. I just felt like we didn’t know what Modern Collective was going to be like, but everything came together and the boys were going pretty mad. I guess this time around I just wanted a no-frills approach. I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s being over-produced in surfing, not really fitting the vibe of where the sport’s going and where the kids are at these days.

Seems like an obvious question, but I’ll ask it anyway – what was your aim with the trailer? I just wanted to set the tone of the film. It didn’t take too long, I just wanted to show snippets of each trip and capture a bit of a vibe. One thing I didn’t wanna do was a dramatic trailer, like (puts on epic, mock-Hollywood voice) ‘Lost Atlas… coming soon’. I mean, we did that withModern Collective, which was cool at the time, but this was always gonna be different.


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