Dill And Beeg Make A Surf Flick

We talk to Dillon Perillo and Brendon Gibbens about their new film, "The Dill & Beeg Project"

After becoming pals on a few clutch missions filming for their respective parts in Kai Neville’s Cluster, Dillon Perillo and Brendon Gibbens carried the momentum from their standout 2014 performances into last year and came out the other end with one hell of a DIY highlight reel.

Traveling together to Reunion Island, Portugal, Sumbawa, and Micronesia, Perillo and Gibbens first co-production, The Dill & Beeg Project, comprises some of the duo’s most loose and irreverent surfing to date — all massive inverted hucks, and torqued, nose-picked fin throws — and even finds the boys packing some solid ones at P-Pass. We caught up with Perillo and Gibbens at the SURFER office while they were meandering around California, chasing waves and filming.

So am I right in believing most all of this was filmed this last year? How’d this whole thing come about?

DP: Yeah, our first trip was in March of 2015. We went to West Australia, to stay at Creed McTaggart’s. And I don’t know if we had made plans at that point to make the movie, but we got clips really fast and started to feel like we had something going.

BG: Essentially, we wanted to just build on what we’d been doing the year prior. Even though Cluster came out in 2015, we filmed for that almost the entirety of 2014. So we wanted to make something ourselves from what we were doing for 2015. But pretty quickly it morphed into this much bigger project. We’ve spent way more money than we thought we would, but it’s something we love doing, so it’s been worth it.

As far as focused freesurfing projects, there seems to be a nice little trend of films this length. What drew you guys to that?

DP: With something that length, there’s less B-clips. It’s mostly A-stuff, and it makes more sense as something that’s free on the internet. I really like doing the one-year thing. Like Sampler, that’s the best way of doing it.

BG: Yeah, I mean, all Dane’s stuff, and Noa [Dean’s] videos as well— it’s progressed into people putting more time and effort into something a little more worthwhile than just these short things.

Brendon Gibbons, flaring up while freaking out in Reunion Island. Photo: Alan Van Gysen
Brendon Gibbens, flaring up while freaking out in Reunion Island. Photo: van Gysen

So who’s been working on this with you?

DP: Andrew Schoener has been the main guy for most of the film. But we’ve also shot with Jack Taylor, who works with Craig Anderson a lot. Jack came to Indo with us. And then our first trip was with Toby Cregan and Tom Jennings.

BG: Andrew lives up in Santa Barbara and he works flexible hours, and he’s really reliable. It’s definitely been us three as a team. He’s brilliant, though, and very professional. Great work ethic.

Let’s talk about the Reunion Island trip. For those who might not have read Alan van Gysen’s piece from last year, what was it like being there right after the attacks?

DP: We’d been planning this trip to Reunion, because, well, it’s Reunion and everyone loves that place. Then that poor kid got bit. But AVG, he was like, Listen, chill out, it’s not that bad. But I mean, there was a warning on our flight, telling us not to go into the water. I mean, it’s illegal to surf there right now. We had to hide from the cops. On the walk back to our hotel one day, I was like halfway there, and I had to jump out of the road and hide in the bushes.

BG: Local kids told us that if they see you with a surfboard they can fine you up to like 50 euros or something. And then every time we’d walk down to the beach, people would show us the sign saying it wasn’t safe to go in the water. There was a lifeguard there that had quit surfing because of the sharks. I guess he was one of the main locals there, and he’d just straight up quit.

Dillon Perillo, happy to have his feet on dry, predator-less sand in Reunion. Photo: AVG
Dillon Perillo, happy to have his feet on dry, predator-less sand in Reunion. Photo: van Gysen

Doesn’t that feel historical in a weird way? That people are actually quitting surfing because of shark attacks?

DP: Yeah, since when do people actually quit surfing because of sharks. But you know what, here’s my theory: There are more people in the water, everyone has a camera in their hand, and they can connect to some sort of news outlet or social media immediately. And everyone loves bad news, you know? Like, shark attack stories just go crazy. That and plane crashes. A shark attack happens on Pluto and everyone knows about it in two minutes. It’s still more dangerous to drive, odds-wise.

So, what, you guys just played it cool?

BG: No, I was honestly really scared. There were times when it was just Dillon and I in the water, and these cross-shores would come up — the water there is this very dark, dark color blue, and you can’t really see anything. So if Dill or I caught a wave, for whoever was out the back by themselves, it wasn’t a very nice feeling. But we wanted to get the job done, because it’s what we were there for. But for me, it felt like we had escaped jail driving to the airport to fly home.

Perillo at P-Pass, which "has to be one the most expensive surf spot you can go to." Andrew Shield
Perillo at P-Pass, which “has to be one the most expensive surf spots you can go to.” Photo: Shield

Speaking of fear, it looked like that P-Pass session had some moments. Tell us about that little mission.

DP: [P-Pass] has to be one the most expensive surf spot you can go to. It seriously cost us like three grand just to get there. But any strike mission like that is going to cost an arm and a leg, and it’s going to be a schlep to get there. But we wanted to get some really good barrel footage, because so much of the film is onshore winds and smaller waves and just airs.

BG: Yeah, we wanted to get just a couple good barrel clips. And we’d been watching this swell just going back and forth, “Should we go? Should we not go?” And we ended up booking the ticket on a Sunday and left on Monday morning. And we scored it like double overhead, not as big as that massive one that Mikey [Wright] and Jay [Davies] got, but cleaner. And I kind of think surf movies don’t need that much barrel footage. A couple slo-mo clips each and we’re happy.

Brendon Gibbons laying into a fun one at one of the best sessions of his year, a clean, crisp, solid day at P-Pass. Photo: Shield
Brendon Gibbens laying into a fun one at one of the best sessions of his year, a clean, crisp, solid day at P-Pass. Photo: Shield

DP: Beeg got the biggest wave of his life.

That true?

BG: [Laughs] It wasn’t even that big. I’m not particularly into riding big waves. I’m kind of terrified of them. But it was perfect and the winds were ideal and, back to the money thing, it was just so expensive to get to Micronesia, so I felt like I had to give it a go.

DP: Yeah, we’re producing this thing on our own, and half the budget is coming out of our pockets, so I’m always looking at these trips thinking, Was it worth it? Because people don’t realize how expensive it can be to make something like this happen. You need money for the songs and to pay someone to help edit it. You need money for everything. And I’d never had to deal with any of that.

Well, you two seem to have been able to finish this thing and not kill each other.

BG: Well, we’ve only been close friends for the last two years. We’re fortunate that we agree on a lot of things, as far as what we want the film to look like and our tastes in music, and we definitely acknowledged that we push each other in the water.

DP: We surf good together, yeah. I guess Matt Meola and Albee Layer have done stuff together, but no one in our peer group have done anything like this. But I think pro surfers should work together more often. Surfers don’t have to be these like separated souls or whatever.

Brendan Gibbens, casual in Reunion Island. Photo: AVG
Brendan Gibbens, casual in Reunion Island. Photo: van Gysen