Stab Magazine | The death of the wipeout section with Kai Neville and Joe G
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The death of the wipeout section with Kai Neville and Joe G

Story by Theo Lewitt For the last three days, all eyes have been glued to West Oz. Glitterati free surfs at North Point, tubes at Main Break (thanks, Kelly), and, our favorite, 30-minute increments of juice at The Box. But, also carnage. Lots of carnage. So much even the WSL is dropping daily wipeout clips. Kerrzy’s scorpion flip […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Story by Theo Lewitt

For the last three days, all eyes have been glued to West Oz. Glitterati free surfs at North Point, tubes at Main Break (thanks, Kelly), and, our favorite, 30-minute increments of juice at The Box. But, also carnage. Lots of carnage. So much even the WSL is dropping daily wipeout clips. Kerrzy’s scorpion flip and Melling’s lip-line Italian necktie stand out, but everyone’s got favs. There’s nothing wrong with feeling a little sadistic enjoyment while watching repeated slams from the guys who aren’t supposed to fuck up. The Germans call is schadenfreude, enjoyment in the pain of others. But, this carnage at The Box also triggered something else in us… a little nostalgia. Flashbacks to a time when Taylor Steele was the Kai Neville, and films weren’t complete without a wipeout section. The heroes of surf eating absolute shit. We dialled-in surf auteurs of our current gen, Kai Neville and Joe G, to find why the blood climax has been exiled from the modern flick.

Stab: So, what happened to the wipeout section?

Kai: Well, I don’t know if it was just my generation, but when I think of the wipeout section, I think of Taylor Steele and his films. The climax of his films, after someone’s part, was the wipeout section in pretty much every one. So I feel like he really kind of set the benchmark, and that was his vibe. As a filmmaker, when you trying to create a project, you’re always trying to put your own spin on it. I felt like having the classic wipeout section would’ve been just biting Taylor’s steeze too much. I love wipeout sections, I mean, they can be really funny. If anything, we try to throw the wipeouts into sessions so they kinda flow with a session. If a guy eats shit and then lands something sick, I love that and I love throwing it in there. I just feel like Taylor nailed the wipeout section. Of course there were a few filmmakers that did it before him, too, but for me, growing up, that was his vibe.

Joe G: That’s funny, I don’t know what happened to it! I was actually talking to CJ Hobgood and a couple of the Globe guys about this when we were making Year Zero. We really wanted to have a wipeout section, but we shoot everything ourselves on such focused trips, so we don’t really have a ton of the craziest wipeout clips. We actually talked about doing a trip to Cabo just to go surf that crazy shorepound there at Lover’s. CJ was so fired up to get absolutely destroyed on a 20-foot shorebreak. Dion and the other boys were sitting around looking at him like he was kinda crazy. Like, “is that really what we want to do right now?” But everybody was up for it and we actually decided to do it. The swell unfortunately never really came through, so it slipped away. But, I would love to have a wipeout section in a movie. It’d be so sick!

Seems like storylines have claimed a bit more precedence nowadays. Would a wipeout section get in the way?

Kai: It does, I think. Even just the words, “Wipeout Section,” sound kinda cheesy. I think things have just changed a bit. When you think of surfing in the 60s and 70s with songs from the Beach Boys and songs like Wipeout, I guess everyone was just eating shit a lot! It’s just like a classic association…”Wipeout! Surfing!” But it’s a bit corny now, so maybe the current generation of filmmakers is trying to steer clear of that. If it’s a wipeout now, it’s more about someone trying to land something huge and not making it. It’s an attempt more than a wipeout, I think. And with the guys I film, usually we’re filming beachbreaks and onshore reefs. I’m not chasing Jaws and slabs and things like that. So, I don’t usually have the craziest wipeouts in the classic sense.

Joe G: Well, the films that I’ve gravitated towards are less like the stuff that I grew up on, even in my early career working for Taylor. I felt there was more opportunity to tell stories in the films, so there’s not really room for a traditional wipeout section unless it just happened naturally when you were shooting somewhere. But, I actually think with Cluster, Kai’s new movie, the opportunity to have a wipeout section kind of opens again. I think what he did with that film was really rad. A section-based movie looks really good now because we haven’t really seen one in a while.

Do you think there’s gonna be a kitschy re-emergence?

Kai: Yeah, I think there totally will be. I think everything sorta comes full circle. You know, one generation hammers it home and the next generation tries to do their own thing. And then, like fashion, it comes around again. I can already see some of the youth making films in surfing now are getting back into that vibe. They’re bringing skits back and will probably bring the wipeout section back, too. Look at Toby Cregan and Creed and that whole crew. So, yeah, I think it’ll come full circle f’sure.

Is candid footy the new wipeout section?

Kai: Yeah, 100 percent.

Joe G: Yeah I could see that. On-land wipeouts!

Has the digital age, with the instant web-clip, partially ruined the wipeout section?  

Kai: Definitely. There’s a lack of larger scale projects and a desire to work towards something over the course of 12 months or so. Everything is very instantaneous and everyone’s kinda pressured to get content out themselves. People want you to bust out, like, 12 webclips a year. Everything’s very clip based now… three-to-five minutes at a time. When you collect all of the best footage for a year and get to the editing part, you’ll have this hilarious candid footage from the whole year, and a few wipeouts. But for me,  unless someone just ate shit for a whole session, the “wipeout section” kind of gets eradicated.

Joe G: Totally. There’s so many different things that have changed. It wasn’t just that everyone was saving clips for Taylor back then, rather, it was literally that back then, that was the only place to put your clips. We shot, and then the clips would sit on tapes on Taylor’s bookshelf until he was gonna edit the movie, and then they’d magically become a part of something that people would actually see. So, now, you can put something up the second it happens, and everybody does because they need to get followers for their sponsors because their sponsors need them to have bigger digital presence, or whatever it may be. There’s so much pressure to put every little moment of any value out on the web as soon as possible. It’s a cool thing in many ways, because as a consumer of videos or surf culture, you get to see a ton of stuff all the time. But, the trouble is that it becomes hard to gather up and hold the best shit that happened in the past 12 months of surfing and have everyone watch it together in a room, screaming their heads off.

What kind of challenge does this pose to the filmmaker?

Joe G: Well, you know what you’re up against and you know what a webclip looks like these days. Everyone has a filmer and everyone is putting content out all the time, so when we go to make a movie, we tend to try and wrap it all in a theme or a concept. The goal is basically to create a world that doesn’t exist in real life. So, whatever we’re doing is kind of in our own little universe. When we bring it out, it’ll feel special because we have to make it that way. If it’s not exclusive and it’s not a specific concept or goal that we’ve set, it’ll just turn out like everything else.

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