I waited 8 hours for that clip and now it's on Instagram!
Story by Morgan Williamson
In today’s technologically advanced times, high quality clips come from inexpensive equipment, and every new cowboy on the sand’s holstering a camera, eager to make their way into the surf film scene. “It seems that in the past two years, the amount of poaching that’s been going on is relentless,” Mini Blanchard, the acclaimed lensman of Dane Reynolds and co-creator of Marine Layer Productions tells Stab. “Unfortunately it’s public domain and there’s not much we can really do about it. It’s something Dane and I have dealt with for years.”
Just as surfing has its unspoken laws, filming also contains such rules and regulations. “It’s just the nature of the beast,” Shane Fletcher, Noa Deane’s main film guy says on the subject. “With things like Instagram, everyone’s craving that instant gratification. Hawaii in December for example, you can’t ice clips. You can try but you’re tripping if you think that’s going to happen. The whole surf bubble's there. I would feel like an absolute goober walking up to somebody at Rockies and telling them they can’t shoot Noa. There was one day in particular when we shot at Rockies for over eight hours straight – we were just trying to get one banger. Noa finally landed this one crazy straighty, before we got back to the house it was already on Insty edited and logo’d up. It was a bummer, I waited eight hours for that clip. It’s all good though, it’s just one air, Noa will stick another huge straight air.”
The consistent poaching of clips has made working on long term web projects or feature surf films more difficult. “The Mentawai’s has been a tricky one for filming over the last few years,” Kai Neville says in regards to concealing the clips of Craig Anderson knifing his way through macking Kandui’s on a 5'4" Hypto Krypto in his recent film, Welcome to Elsewhere. “Cameras are cheaper and there’s so many more filmers these days. Most the time everybody’s cool and works together. The best way to do it is figure out who everybody came to shoot, and tell them that anything they miss of their guys, I’ll film and swap footage for anything I miss of Craig, or whoever I happen to be shooting with at the time. That usually keeps it pretty mellow. The main thing is when you travel three days to a location and spend a bunch of money getting there, the last thing you want to see is what you came to shoot up on the internet a day later. It’s like a slap in the face.”
“If you’ve organised an overseas trip, the normal etiquette is there,” says Shane. “You find out who's shooting and what for. If it’s somebody I don’t know I offer to shoot them doubles, then we can just trade footage. That way they don’t use our stuff and they know I have no intention of using theirs. I worked on Cluster a lot with the crew. When everyone’s invested so much time it’s easier to tell people that we’ve been working on this for two years. When it’s a bigger project people usually understand. For a web clip, it’s harder. You've just got to approach it with respect and not have your head up your ass.”
According to most, we've now reached a point where exclusive footage is only obtained in remote locations. “It all depends on where you’re shooting,” says Andrew Schoener, the other lensman of Dane as well as Dillon Perillo, Brendon Gibbens and Yadin Nicol. Andrew worked on Loaded, Sampler and Boiler Boys, amongst other projects. “That Sandspit swell last Thursday was out of hand, there were so many guys there shooting. People were sending shit to Surfer and Surfing within the hour of the clips happening. With that kind of immediacy keeping clips to yourself becomes hard, especially keeping clips of Dane. With all the El Niño hype, home this year's been really bad. I don’t even bother going to places like the North Shore to shoot.”
“There’s certain waves that are just a free-for-all,” says Kai. “Spots like Snapper, the North Shore, Tahiti and Trestles. No one goes there to get exclusives. If you’re going to shoot any of those spots you’re going to have to piece it together and put it online that day. When you shoot crowded, big name spots like that you've got to know what you’re getting yourself into. John John’s stuff for View from a Blue Moon they kept pretty tight while shooting in places with a lot of cameras. They did a good job keeping it all under wraps.” (Though, when you have a budget of $3m it’s a lot easier to keep clips away from the public.) “I’ve had to pay some locals off before to not use clips I wanted saved, not much more than a hundred or so and buying them a beer at the bar later,” says Kai.
“It doesn’t help that Dane and I are always filming at those types of spots,” says Mini who knows poaching all too well. Most prominently evidenced by Norwell9's Free Dane Reynolds Clips Daily Because Mini Blanchard's a dick series. “Most guys filming know we have a project we’re working on. The main filmers all know each other and respect each other and their projects. There’s a certain responsibility that comes with filming. Anyone can go down to the beach and do it but some people don’t have any etiquette at all. These days you just hope that nothing goes up, you can’t really say anything to anyone anymore. But, unless Dane’s called you down to shoot, you shouldn’t be filming him. It all comes back to that public domain thing, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“At the end of the day it’s only surfing,” Shane tells us. “We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.”