The world is bombarded with surf stimuli hourly on the web, yet we remain unfulfilled. Taylor Steele seeks to remedy that with his new film "Proximity."
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 16 June, 2017 - We recently spoke with the man who stamped the blue print for the modern surf video. Taylor Steele, the creator responsible for the decades-long genre of quick edit surfstar- focused shot-from-the-beach videos set to third-wave punk rock and interspersed with tepid comedy sketches, has moved on.
He moved past this a while back with “Sippping Jetstreams,” “Castles in the Sky” and Rob Machado’s existential angst bio “The Drifter.”
As Steele developed as a film maker his work became more focused and cinematic, inviting audiences to slow down and absorb it all. A 180 degree departure from his “Momentum” and “Focus” projects of the 90s, this neo Taylor Steele rewards viewers with his latest release “Proximity.”
The surfstars are still there: John John, Kelly, Ando, Rob, Steph, Rasta, Dorian and Albee, but the action-focused surf porn takes a back seat to the dialogue between the world’s most loved surfers.
The film includes a surf trip through the snow with Craig Anderson and Rob Machado
The eight surfers are paired together in different locations across the globe and we see four very different relationships emerge. It makes for fascinating viewing for any surf fan and Steele exposes much about these surfers merely by placing a microphone on them and filming them hanging out.
We get to watch a star struck Albee Layer try to process the fact that he’s actually on a trip with Shane Dorian and Taylor Steele. We learn that Dave Rastovich has a future as an interviewer, getting Stephanie Gilmore to open up outside her world of boxed contest professionalism. And we watch John John and Kelly, sometimes visibly uncomfortable with each other, talk about competition, world titles and more as they square off in a chess match followed by a free surf at a playful, windy right-hander.
And that’s what makes this movie a gem for any surf fan. Viewers get to shift between watching great, cinematic surfing by the world’s best while also learning about these same surfers through their open (and sometimes guarded) dialogue.
Why did you feel the need to make “Proximity”?
I needed to reset my film making self and surf films are my core. It’s my how I started making films and is a place that refreshes my creativity.
How is this film different from other projects you’ve done?
I really pushed myself to make something that is unique and never been done before in surf films. I feel I achieved that and hopefully people like it. Generally people don’t like change so maybe they need to watch it a couple times to adjust to the style.
What were some of the hurdles you had in making this project - any near death experiences you care to share with us?
We almost drove off a cliff in Mexico when the road work signs in dark were not seen. The road just dropped off 100ft. We barely stopped in time.
You’ve paired surfers together in specific locations, like Kelly and John John in the tropics, Dave Rastovich and Stephanie Gilmore in Baja Mexico - did you chose certain locations to fit with the surfers’ personalities, or was it just random?
The locations were for each surfers strong point in waves, the environment to bring out something in their personality and to find something in surf that is exclusive.
Shane Dorian and Albee Layer journey to Scotland in "Proximity"
Dave Rastovich talking to Stephanie Gilmore is really cool because he just cuts to the chase immediately with her and you can tell she’s a bit guarded at first, then opens up. Share with us some things that surprised you in the making of this film.
Just how much each crew is similar and inspired by each other on land and in water. All the younger crew looked up to the older surfers for their entire surf lives so they had questions they were dying to know. It was fun to allow a platform for them to let loose and ask away.
Anything else you’d like to add about this film?
I think the best way to experience this movie is to relax. As the modern surfers are overly stimulated and bombarded with surf content. Every day there are webisodes that are A+ and WSL contests the surfing is next level. Yet we aren’t fulfilled. So this movie is to challenge the way approach our daily lives and the way we consume surfing. Slow down. Breathe. If you that do you can learn a lot from surfing and maybe something from this movie.