The Remarkable Impact Of Seven Days Seven Slaves, 156 Tricks, And Doped Youth
Discussing the Ozzie Wright films with a lasting legacy.
(Ed Note: With more than two decades of "professional surfing" under his belt and hardly a trophy to show for it, uncultured surf fans might wonder, "Well then, what the hell has Ozzie been doing this whole time?"
The answer is pretty much everything.
Ozzie has traveled the globe several times over, surfing the world's best waves with the world's best surfers. He's started a surf rock band, featured in surf-centric art shows, and inspired multiple generations of surfing's non-binary talents.
Most famously, he's starred in and helped direct some of surfing's true cult classics, from Seven Days Seven Slaves to 156 Tricks to Doped Youth – each of which boosted his profile across Australia and the world, thus laying the foundation for his 20-plus years as a relevant surf entity.
Naturally, we wanted to ask Ozzie about the making of those films and how he feels they affected his surfing trajectory.
We'll let Ozzie explain below)
Ozzie glides through the archives.
Seven Days, Seven Slaves
Oh yeah. Seven Days, Seven Slaves – I guess that's the first one. That was just seven days in the Mentawais with myself, Dan Malloy, Taj Burrow, Jake Paterson, Luke Hitchings, Nathan Webster, and Matt Hoy. It was a sick group. We had a great time.
I was probably about 22 or 23 at the time. I remember I had painted the shit out of my boards the night before we went – there was so much paint on them. Jake Paterson was looking at my boards and just laughing, like, “Mate, these are gonna fucking sink.” One of them had virtually five millimetres of paint on it – just cracking. It was a piece of shit. It was hilarious.
That was a wild trip. I remember Hoy going mad for two days. I think Hitching surfed in a dress at Macaronis.
We had two days of Macaronis where it was really small and we were doing behind-the-wave footage. We’d surf and have somebody film us from the rubber ducky. That was really fun because we'd never seen any of that kind of footage before, so coming out and watching, we’d be like, “This is so sick!”
There was no real angle to the film. We just surfed, filmed it, and put a song to it [laughs]. We didn't get an amazing swell or anything, but there were still such good waves. It was fun.
Waves Mag sponsored the film and put a cassette on the inside of their cover. Since everyone got the movie really cheap, it got a huge reach – even before the internet and everything. People would pass the cassettes around to their mates and it went pretty "viral". The whole country saw it. That was a real help to my career.
Currently for sale on Ebay.
Volcom Australia wanted to make a little movie. I think my mate Hollywood pitched them the idea – he'd made Seven Days, and with that being a success, he was like, “Let's do another one. Let's do it on you.”
But Hollywood didn't want to film it – just edit. So I got my mate Cowboy to come everywhere with me and film. I was like, "If I'm going to travel around the world with anyone, I probably want to go with Cowboy." So we got Cowboy a camera and he’d never used one before or anything. We just went around the world having a hell time and filming some surfing here and there. That was the best thing about it, just travelling around with my mate.
This was before the mainstream internet, so there was no swell-chasing. There was no idea of what's going anywhere. I don't know what we were following. We were probably just doing what 20-year-olds do, like, "Oh, someone's got a couch we can crash on here."
We just cruised around a lot. It was almost like we were backpacking, but we’d have the support of Volcom along the way. There's a Volcom house in France, so we’d go stay there.
Europe stands out because we’d go there with the World Tour, so there’d be heaps of Australians there. The whole Seven crew were there.
Then we’d spend like six weeks in Bali with a big crew. That was really fun too. When you're that young, it's amazing to be on long trips with your best mates with no real agenda except surfing.
I think with the grommets now, it's so serious and everything comes out so quickly. Everyone knows where the swells are, so it's this intense thing – who got the best waves at Kandui yesterday, you know?
You score more now, that's for sure. Everyone scores the swell of the year, and they know exactly where to go at what time, but we were just cruising around and seeing what we could find. It was a different time.
It was kinda weird having a film mostly about me, but the reaction to 156 Tricks was pretty good. That seemed to put me on the map a bit more – even some people in America saw it. I look back on that time really fondly.
Always goofy, never regular!
I don't know how Vaughan came up with Doped Youth. I think Waves just wanted to do another movie for the cover of the mag, then I came up with the idea of making it a Battle of the Bands, and we made up all these stupid names for everybody.
Vaughan wrote the script and directed it. From start to finish the whole process only took two weeks. We didn't even film any surfing. Everyone just had to get their own supply of surf footage. I was calling everybody and going, "Have you got any clips you can put together for your section?"
I'd been collecting my footage and just scabbing it whichever way I could. I'd film it off the television screen. My girlfriend at the time would film me surf. Half my sections were filmed with my own camera by my girlfriend with no tripod.
Nowadays it costs like $500 to film a day with a RED Camera. It's so official. We were just scavengers back then.
It's pretty funny that people still talk about these films. They all felt so loose and silly at the time; it's hard to believe people even remember them today. But I'm glad we made something people liked.