Ask Stab Anything — Vol. 1 - Stab Mag

Live Now: How Surfers Get Paid — The Queens of Ascension

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Ask Stab Anything — Vol. 1

No stupid questions.

// Jul 30, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 6 minutes

At the end of every week, we send out a weekly newsletter titled ‘This Week In Surfing’, summarizing the most significant happenings in the last seven days of our little world. For the past month I’ve been closing out these newsletters with a subtle offer, which reads; 

If you’ve read this far, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to ask our team of loosely bundled creatives any question you want.

No part of Stab is off-limits.

Whether your question is for Big Dick Power Surfer, Mikey C, any of our devoted filmmakers, Ethan Davis, myself, Sam Mc, or even our graphics intern Cole, we’ll do our best to have them answer it. Though, you’ll likely need to be a Premium subscriber to see the responses.

Email your questions to [email protected] — and include the words ‘no stupid questions’  in the subject line. 

Below, you can read our team’s responses to some of the more interesting/relevant questions we’ve received over recent weeks. 

If you missed out on this first round but still have a pressing question you’d like answered, feel free to email me — we’re hoping to make this a regular occurrence. 

Let the games begin.

Can you put written articles on the mobile app and/or is the Stab app going to feature print articles soon?

Taylor Paul, Director, Stab Premium: Unfortunately, the company we use to develop / run our app (they’ve changed their name several times, from Maz to Zype to Backlight) only supports video. That said, we are not loyal to them. If anyone knows of a white-label app development company that can make us an app that supports text and video, please send them to [email protected]

Is Drive Thru 11 happening?

Taylor Paul: If it is, we haven’t been talking to them about it yet. The question we ask ourselves internally — are Stab Highway and Drive Thru too similar? Highway definitely out-performed Drive Thru last year, but that could’ve been because we promoted the hell out of Highway. Regardless, your question inspired me to reach out to Greg Browning to see what he’s been working on. Would love to have more of his work on Premium.

Why doesn’t the WSL secure longer event windows? Do the athletes not want to block off so much time for travel? Would the permits be too expensive? Some other cost reason?

Mikey C, Editor-In-Chief: I’m not sure I have the authority to speak on the WSL’s behalf, but fuck it, I’m gonna do it anyway. Your instincts are correct — it mostly comes down to costs. Costs for permits, costs for rental equipment, costs for keeping their staff housed, fed and paid. Also, the surfers would definitely be bummed if they had to book Airbnbs for a month at every location.

From a fan’s standpoint, we obviously want surfers to compete in the best waves possible but, if that means having them surf for two days, then take two weeks off, then compete again, you’d kinda lose interest in the event. In a sense, shorter waiting periods are best for all parties.

In an ideal world, the WSL would have open waiting periods at all their different venues and pull the trigger when preferred conditions are imminent. But that provides so many logistical issues, it would be almost impossible to pull off at their scale.

Mikey, you surf rather good, would it be possible during product testing to bring a no-name disguised surfer into the Joyride mix, something like the stig (Top Gear style)? I feel this would relate more to the everyday surfer or average joe that surfs a lot but isn’t getting stickers and photos.

Mikey C: So I’m not good enough to be a pro, but I’m “too good” to be a board tester. Goddamnit!

Actually, this is a great idea and certainly possible from a logistical sense. It would also be nice to include someone who’s more “average-sized” than myself. I’ll have a chat with our team and see if this is something we want to implement moving forward. 

From left to right: filmer/editor Will Stiles, resident potato Mikey C, producer Garrett James, and ex-editor/producer Cori Stephens

My question is for someone in your post department. In all your videos the music is always really good. I’m curious about how you handle the music licensing. Do you have a contract with a specific vendor? Do you just put all your budget into music? Something like HSGP seems like the music licensing cost alone would be astronomical. 

Will Stiles, Filmer/Editor: Music licensing differs from project to project. It all really depends on the budget, turnaround time, and overall theme of the project. Some sections of the bigger films, the editors and producers work deals with artists that we really like and want to use in the films. For the smaller projects, we’ll spend countless hours on royalty free websites to find that one song that will work in a section.

On almost all of our films, our beloved Rick Snowden will cook up various tracks. We’ll discuss the brief with Rick and send him references/moods we’re looking to reproduce. Rick will hop in his studio and jam out so many tracks, I don’t know how he does it! Rick is the man. We’ve also recently been getting a lot of bands/artists reaching out to us, asking to use their music in any upcoming projects. We love finding new artists that way and we encourage anyone to reach out.

How do you get yourself psyched to film on a shitty day, and how do you restrain yourself from dumping the camera and gearing up to surf yourself when the waves are good?

Dylan Roberts, Filmer/Editor: When you go on a trip you’re in the mindset of making a film, so you’re not thinking of surfing yourself. Generally the goal is to find amazing waves and document them as well as possible. When the waves are really good, there’s no place I’d rather be than capturing the magic. 

The times that it does get tough, however, are the days when it’s a little smaller and clean and looks extremely fun but might not feel impactful enough for footage. You’re wondering if this will contribute to the project or even get used. Those days are when it can get really tough standing on the beach.

Filmer/editor Dyl Rob on said “small/clean” day.

With top-ranked surfers traveling with filmers, there’s probably more footage than ever before that they have to sift through and choose from. Perhaps inspired by recent discussions about contest wave scoring, I wondered if you could do something on judges vs. filmmakers vs. surfers for scoring waves. I know that contests have criteria like speed, power and flow. I wonder what the criteria are for filmers and surfers? Style, consequences, isolation, blue water, view count, nostalgia, appeal to the non-surfing public? And, does this extend to equipment?

Blake Michel, Filmer/Editor: This is definitely something all filmers think about. To make money as an editor you have to be fast, in surf that means sifting through the “daily” footage and quickly rating waves. I can speak from experience that this has helped me get better at scoring surf in general — contest and free surf stuff. There is definitely feedback between surfers and editors when it comes to higher ranked clips, what makes the edit, what doesn’t, and why. Breaking down tricks and dissecting camera angles is huge too, if you have that luxury.

I can’t speak for every film, but in general the most important criteria for clips is:

  • Wave/location and its characteristics
  • Quick explosive surfing
  • Trick choice
  • How it was filmed
  • Camera/fps
  • What angle makes the surfing look the best
  • Variation from other tricks done already for the project.

Why is it blasphemy to put a grip on twins? I kind of get not putting it on fishes, but it’s funny some people are so staunch on not putting them on any twins!

Holden Trnka, Associate Editor: I’ll just leave this photo here.

@sadpads

What happened to Ashton?

Taylor Paul: Ashton is living his best, globe-trotting life, focusing on No Contest (our travel show with Red Bull) and other projects.  

Opinion on Great Lakes surfing? Is it legit, a novelty, or just some kook shit? 

Big Dick Power Surfer: The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system in the world and should be a source of immense pride for yourself and those around you. Note that you are going to die at some point and so if you spend some portion of your finite time on this planet pursuing 2-foot, windy hell-bowls in the snow then you are confirmed core.* Verdict: LEGIT!

*As long as you don’t post a photo of yourself with an ice beard after. You made the decision to surf when it is cold, utilizing products designed to keep you safe and comfortable while surfing in the cold. Nobody gives a fuck.

Mikey C and BDPS laying down the law in Ep. 1 of Stab Hwy.

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