In this dark and twisted true story, Dayten Likness — a Canadian tradesman who didn’t know boardshorts from basketball shorts ‘til he was 21 — quit his life, fell for surfing, moved in with Christian Fletcher, and co-founded a film production company with SURFING’s own Chas Smith. All in around five years.
In his own words, here’s Dayten’s journey from the backwoods of British Columbia to the helm of an in-demand surf film agency in Venice Beach. —Andrew Sayer
I was born and raised in a blue-collar suburb of British Columbia known as Maple Ridge. Inland. Nowhere near the ocean. I never knew or cared about surfing.
High school was nothing more then 4x4ing and doing drugs, then you get a tradesman job. That’s how it is, and I was on that route. By the end of high school I was prepared to be a journeyman welder and had a high paying job up north. Way north. Cold. Uninspired. No clue of the outside world. But who doesn’t want to make over $100,000 a year at 18? Years passed me by.
2005 hits. Unhappy. Partied out. One week at work I get in a fight with the foreman. Fuck this…so over it. The cold. The work. The lifestyle. The people. Two days later I bought an overpriced, immediate ticket to Australia. Didn’t tell my work, my chick, my parents, my landlord, or my bank. I just went. Grabbed what I thought were surfboard shorts, a Sony VX 2100 that I’d recently bought on a drunken shopping spree, and went. POOF!
Two months on, I decided that I was never going back to live that life. I called home and told everyone that. I fell in love with surfing. Nothing else mattered or compared. I ended up in Bali after living in Oz for a year. Still no Canada.
After a surf one day, I pulled out my Sony and was shooting my friend at Keramas and a dude comes up to me. I thought he was going to yell at me for poaching shots, but he asked if I got a clip that he missed. I had — poached the shit out of it, and he needed the clip. Ha! Later he asked if I wanted to work for him and move to Bali. I said, “I’m going to fly to Canada, sell all my shit, truck, everything, buy new gear, tell everyone goodbye, and I’ll be back in two weeks.” Did it.
2007. I’m in Bali. Not partying. Driving to Keramas and Bingin, shooting everyone, every morning, hoping a pro would show up so I could maybe sell a clip. No one wants to talk to a nobody with a camera. I ended up buying a bootleg Final Cut Pro disc and tried to start to edit. Eventually I started selling clips and getting noticed. Giving people footage of themselves the next day at the beach. Poaching. Haha. It paid off.
Jump ahead one year and I’m renting a house with Christian Fletcher on Bali. I wake up one morning after a long night of partying and go downstairs to Jamie O’Brien knocking at my door. He wanted to see some clips he’d heard I got of him. I was pretty stoked he even knew where I lived. He checked out an edit I did and asked if I wanted to make a trailer for his new movie, Who is JOB?
Next thing I knew, I was in Hawaii on Jamie’s film crew, being whisked around to places I never thought I would see: Tahiti, Japan, deep Mexico. We were just compiling footage with no real concept of how we were going to make this movie different from other surf movies.
We’d just gotten back from Mexico and I was told to go meet Jamie’s friend Chas in Venice Beach while Jamie went to the US Open.
I was sitting on the side of the road, still drunk from the night before, with a White Russian in hand waiting for Chas Smith to pick me up. I’d never met Chas Smith. Didn’t know if he’d be weird on the fact I was drinking at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday. I was sitting on my pelican case when his rental car came flying down the road at top speed and nearly did a power slide to stop right in front of me.
This guy was all right in my books.
“Is that a White Russian you’re drinking?”
“Sweet. You got any left to make me one?”
Chas and Dayten finished Who is JOB? in 2010 and formed Haole Pounder Productions, where their saga continues. Haole Pounder is currently working with Kolohe Andino on a release slated for late 2011. See the trailer below.