Go to New York, Watch a Surf Movie: Castles In The Sky
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By Nathan Myers
Taylor Steele has to shield his eyes. “My god, what is that light?” he says.
“That’s the sun,” I explain. “That’s where God lives.”
“Is that what it is?” he says. “It’s so bright.”
Taylor’s flesh is moldy. His eyes are bloodshot. He stinks of taurine, glucuronolactone and Bintang. And the movie is finally finished.
Well…not finished finished, but finished enough to go surfing. So that’s what we’re doing. Taylor grabs a Slater-shaped Wizard Sleeve, jumps onto a motorcycle and heads down to his local reef a few hundred yards away while the computer screen where his eyes have lived the past five weeks blinks with that magic/awful word: “RENDERING.” I grab a Gary McNeill “Bollywood” board — inspired by watching Rasta surfing one in India — and choke on his dust.
I’m afraid he might drown.
The title “Castles in the Sky” refers to dreaming of something unreachable… which pretty well describes Taylor’s recent workload. Castles has been three years in the making, including extensive travel to Iceland, Vietnam, Africa, Peru and India with surfers like Dave Rastovich, Rob Machado, Craig Anderson, Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith. The film is a natural evolution of his Sipping Jetstreams vision, but (having just sat in on a preview) I’d say this one comes off a bit edgier and has better surf. There’s great wipeouts, magnificent indigenous beauty and an over-all ambience of travel stoke.
Everything you’d expect from Sipping…and a bit more. The movie will come out with copious behind-the-scenes materials, a soundtrack recorded by surfers like Timmy Curran and Dan Malloy, and travel journals created by Dane Reynolds, Rob Machado and Dion Agius.
If all that wasn’t enough to do, Steele’s also been finishing another film with called Melali: The Drifter Sessions, which basically revives all the surfing not used in The Drifter with an original score by Machado and Jon Swift’s new Drifter-tour band The Moldy Manatees. Turns out, an amazing amount of great surfing was cut from Drifter to maintain Rob’s “solo” vibe in that movie, including sessions with Dan Malloy, Shane Dorian, Timmy Curran, Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds. The DVD contains a few versions of the film, one with the band playing the score live (like a concert vid) and one with lots of dreamy Indo footage that fell onto the hard-drive floor during Drifter edits.
While I’m aware this is starting to sound like a Poor Specimen commercial, I should mention that Steele’s also been running Innersection in the midst of all this edit madness. The next round starts a few days before the first Castles premier. Fun fun.
You should see his office. Maps and hard drives. Cameras and tripods. Mags and energy drinks. Souvenirs from Africa, Peru and India. Surfboards from Taj Burrow, Dane Reynolds and Andy Irons on the wall. Travel books. IPods. Maps. Journals. Photos. A grease board on the wall lists sections, songs, edits, alongside a bunch of Taylor’s signature cartoon doodles. The place is chaos. A full-on war bunker…after the bomb hit it.
That’s why his skin all peels off when he finally hits the water. His arms are wobbly little noodles and he forgot to put wax on his board. All the boys in the lineup say, “Hey Taylor, you’re back. Where did you go?”
Taylor says, “Go? Huh? What?”
“You’ve been out of town, right?”
“Town? Huh? Where?”
The bright light is still confusing him. All the colors. The feel of real-life ocean water. He’s not used to being outside. And maybe he shouldn’t get too cozy. The film still needs to be color corrected, sound engineered, box-setted and premier partied…the first of which is on May 4th in New York, “the city that never sleeps.” (Wonder why he chose that place?)
Despite his edit atrophy, Taylor’s muscle memory is still pretty good. He bags a set wave right away and goes flying down the line. As he runs through a series of turns and carves, it’s clear his edit-brain still back in the studio: Off the lip = “did I get Dion’s voice-overs yet?” Cutback = “did we remember to swap out Losness’s train scene?” Floater = “has Dane turned in his journal yet?”
Then the wave closes out and I see a glimpse — just a brief flash — of Taylor starting to dream up the next project. The guy clearly can’t help himself.
He’s almost done, and he’s just getting started.
After three years exploring and pioneering new coastlines in every corner of the earth, award winning surf filmmaker, director, and producer Taylor Steele, executive producer Sandrine Lima of Reel Sessions, and VAS Entertainment, have chosen to present the World Premiere of Taylor’s latest project Castles in the Sky at the famous NYC landmark theater Tribeca Cinemas. The May 4, 2010 event, hosted by the NY SURF FILM FESTIVAL, will see Taylor Steele and his cast of surfers converging downtown for this special screening, photo exhibition and fundraiser for Waves of Health, a 501c3 organization of doctors “volun-touring” their time in surf destinations.
Castles In the Sky is a visual whirlwind that follows surfers to the farthest reaches of the known surf world and beyond. Castles in the Sky is a completely new approach to surf filmmaking. Filmed in five countries over three years, the movie delves into the true heart of the locations while the surfers travel through them with a sense of open-minded awe. With never-before seen waves, an original score, and some of the best surfers in the world such as Jordy Smith, Dane Reynolds, Rob Machado and Dave Rastovich contributing their art, passion and athleticism, this is as close to the experience of pioneering new coastlines as you can get without getting on a plane.
“We created Sipping Jetstreams to inspires surfers to break away from the pattern of traveling to the same well-known destinations, but as a result, we ended inspiring ourselves to do the same. Before that film was even done, we were already planning this next evolution of the project with a whole new list of destinations. With a much more elaborate plan for Castles In The Sky, we learned of the intricate ways things can go wrong. If Sipping Jetstreams was like an ambient dream you have after travel, Castles is more like the experience of actually being there.” says Taylor Steele. “The whole point of Castles in the Sky is to inspire people to investigate a little deeper in their travels — really getting to know the locals and cultures they visit. The people at Waves of Health embody this vision a step beyond what any of us are doing by actually investing themselves in the regions where they work and personally giving something back. They are actually an inspiration to us, so it’s an honor to be able to help them out in any little way possible.”
A Q&A Session with Taylor Steele, on location film production photo exhibit, beverages courtesy of Pabst Blue Ribbon and local DJ’s spinning eclectic sounds from around the world will keep ticketholders entertained before and after the film in the adjacent Tribeca Cinema Lounge.
Tickets go on sale April 20, 2010. 10% of Ticket Sales and a silent auction will go directly to benefit Waves of Health.
The World Premiere of Castles in the Sky thanks our sponsors for their contributions towards this film project and premiere: Sipping Jetstreams, REEL Sessions, VAS Entertainment, NY Surf Film Festival, Surfing Magazine, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Waves of Health.