Dane Reynolds sees surfing through a very cracked lens, and yesterday, I took a look through that lens. I made my way into his hotel room about 80 minutes later than I'd said I would, stepped over a not-so-cold 30-pack of Coors Light and settled in for what Dane called "The West Coast Premiere Tour." In attendance for this West Coast Premiere, and hovering over Dane's MacBook with us, were John Florence, Kai Neville, Blair Marlin, Darren Crawford, Dusty Payne, Chris Coté and Dane's girlfriend Courtney, who is lead vocalist and drummer on many songs in the film.
"Is there a bar on this floor? I'm not sure I can watch you guys watch this," Dane said as we all snapped blue-mountain Coors and prepared to hit play. "It's not that kind of movie."
After some coaxing from Courtney, Dane managed to stomach the pressure and settled in for the first-ever screening of Thrills, Spills and Whatnot.
And it begins with a mistake. A fall. Many falls. Choppy edits and sounds. The film is a moving 'zine, shot about 99.9% on real, actual film. It looks incredible, even with a few not-on-purpose sun flares. It is like nothing the surf world has done before. There are no logos. It's gritty. And fun. Nothing makes sense, except all of it. Like Joyce's Ulysses. Or Benjy in The Sound and the Fury. There is no hook. No arc. No final sections, or sections at all. Or titles. And I'm pretty certain you're all going to hate it.
But what this film will do, and what Dane is doing for surfing — at a time when webcasts are in HD and our precious lifestyle is under siege from logos and energetic liquids and aerial assaults and helicopters and blimps and f—king Target — is he's done something for the sake of doing it. And from what I can tell, no other reason. And he did it nearly all by himself. Dustin Miller helped film and edit a bit, but this is Dane. And for fans of Dane Reynolds, this is as close to the man as you can get. Don't believe anything else. Believe this. Dane likes to create things and go surfing. And this is one of those things he's created and he does some surfin' in it, but for those of you who are expecting to see innovative, groundbreaking action, you will be disappointed. For those of you who want to see what things look like through Dane's sandy lenses, well, enjoy. I sure did.