Kelly Slater Single Fin Sessions, Vintage Tom Curren And Momentum II’s Secret Tapes
Taylor Steele’s unlocked archives inside.
When HBO producers decided to tell the Momentum story, they showed up at Taylor Steele’s storage unit somewhere in San Diego, loaded a rental car full of old, rapidly decaying tapes that hadn’t been seen for nearly 30 years, and split.
They were searching for the unseen gold from the New School generation’s most prolific filmer, and as part of the process, agreed to convert Steele’s voluminous archive from analog to digital. Steele admitted at the premiere in L.A. that it was an endeavor he probably never would have taken on himself, that the tapes could easily have decayed, and the footage likely would have been lost to the sands of time.
With HBO’s Momentum film now in the can, Steele’s entertaining himself with a little pet project called The Momentum Files on YouTube. Cutting clips together from any and all of Steele’s various projects over the years, the goal is to post something new to the newly launched YouTube channel every day.
“They digitized and amassed this huge archive of materials for that HBO project… but most of it didn’t end up used in the film, which is less ‘surfing’ and more documentary about their friendships. There was so much cool stuff, and a ton of other things we had just been sitting on hard drives, we thought it would be cool to create home for all that stuff,” explained Nathan Myers, who’s been working with Steele for 15 years and is collaborating with him on The Momentum Files.
It’s still early days on the channel, but they’ve already mined some gold. The “secret video” at the end of “Momentum II” with NoFx doing a cover of “Stand By Me” is a classic. There’s Kelly Slater ripping a single-fin cut to Ugly Casanova’s Barnacles, Tom Curren being Tom Curren, Benji Weatherly bedazzled on roller-skates, and all kinds of other hijinks that made that era unique. Shane Dorian with frosted tips and sideburns spinning donuts in a muddy parking lot is another memorable moment.
“Raw materials will be appearing on Youtube daily, rolled out in the eras they were created,” continued Myers. “From the early ’90s on up til present day. So, if you’re subscribed, you’ll be along for a ride through all that history, or you can just pop in anytime and check out what interests you.”
One thing that really stands out is how much boards have changed since the era of the “glass slipper.” Long, narrow and rockered out, it’s amazing those guys surfed as well as they did on them. Everyone appears a bit over-gunned in most of the clips, which pre-date Machado’s love affair with the fish, the “retro revolution” and the newer design aesthetics of short, flat and wide. A young, skinny Donavon runs by in one clip with a pintail under his arm that looks like a frickin’ water ski.
The other obvious thing that stands out is the hair. Donavon wasn’t farming it back then, while Dorian’s was so god damn fucking good. Slater’s wasn’t bad either.
The Momentum Files is a bit like flipping back through your high school yearbook. It’s fun to look back and get lost in it all. There’s some good times, great surfing and plenty to laugh about, but maybe the coolest thing is that most of the Momentum crew are still in the water, ripping and doing their thing.
Bear with us, as we look back through the rearview.
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