Aliens Was Here

Volcom films come with a certain level of expectation. From Magna Plasm to The Bruce Movie to Psychic Migrations, every movie stamped with the stone has turned out to be a big-time hit for more than two decades.

With Aliens Was Here, that trend won’t change.

However, unlike the aforementioned films, Aliens isn’t a year (or two) in the making, nor does it have a big-time budget, interviews, skits, or even a story. Rather, it’s a collaboration between filmer / editor Jimmy Kinnard and surfer Ozzie Wright, and it’s a mashup of the best of a month in Indonesia with nearly every surfer on Volcom’s team. Of course, it’s also sprinkled with Ozzie’s art and animation, inspired by his Aliens Was Here graffiti on his rented van.

Making a movie from just one month is tough, but Volcom timed their trip with back to back-to-back swells last summer, and their team divided and conquered. At any given moment in late June and early July, surfers from team Volcom were getting tubed simultaneously on at least three different islands in Indo. And the top moments from all of it is what made this movie possible.

We called up Jimmy and asked him what he had to say about the project.

Interview by Zander Morton
Photography by Tom Carey

How did Aliens Was Here come to be?

At the start, I wasn’t even hired for the job [Laughs]. I’m good mates with Ozzie and I was cruising with him, and the boys [at Volcom] him me up to film “The Dock” project with Ozzie and some of their crew over here in Bali. So I did that, and from there, I was just dropping by the house they’d rented every day afterward, and getting the crew fired up to go surfing. So I hustled the job, really, just by being there and getting them to go surf [Laughs].

Was creating a film always the end goal, or did it come together after the fact?

Bali can be the most productive place on earth, or the least productive, depending on the crew [Laughs]. But after “The Dock” project, I saw another swell coming to Indo, and it was obvious the waves were going to get good elsewhere. Because when it gets big, Bali kinda sucks, unless you’re surfing Padang—there’s really nowhere else to go. So I rounded the boys up and we headed to Lombok, and as it turned out, we completely scored. So that was the start.

From Volcom’s end, I don’t really think there was a plan to shoot for a movie in the beginning. They just figured they’d get the whole team over to Indo at different times and shoot for a bunch of a stuff: “The Dock,” individual rider sections, stuff like that. But nobody knew exactly what we were shooting for. Then, after we got some really good waves, I spoke with the guys at Volcom about mashing our trip together with everything else we had gotten, and that’s where this idea for a film really started. So collectively, Aliens is the trip we did, along with some stuff of the groms at Bingin and a couple beachies around Bali, and the side trips some of the other guys did to Sumbawa and Java.

What’s the story behind that tagged-up van?

We rented this little van for the trip, and Ozzie wanted to paint it, along with Noa [Laughs]. Ozzie was just like, “If the guy doesn’t like it, no worries. I’ll pay to have it re-painted.” And yeah, the guy wasn’t into it at all, and we had to re-paint it after the trip. But it was only about 300 bucks. Not too bad.

There’s always a level of expectation from any film with Volcom’s name on it. Did that add any pressure?

Totally. I actually made Valley Of Scum with Ozzie awhile ago. So, when the crew at Volcom decided to move forward with this one, Ozzie flew back over to Bali to edit it with me. But the waves were good, so we pretty much went to Desert Point and surfed most of the time [Laughs]. Ozzie just wasn’t going to sit down and edit when there’s waves.

Did you have to corral his ideas in, or do you guys have a similar vision?

I get on good with Ozzie. He’s so raw. And everything he does and says and draws is clever. He comes up with so many cool ideas and campaigns, and you don’t really have to mess with them too much. But for this project, it’s pretty raw in the sense that it’s just good surfing along with Ozzie’s animations and titles. Which is what the boys wanted. It’s not like Osmo Thrombo. It’s more like surf porn with alien characters throughout it. [Laughs]

Speaking of Volcom’s films, what’s been your favorite over the years?

156 Tricks, for sure. But like you said, all their films are great. I just like their oldest films the most. Magna Plasm was mental. It was so raw.

At the end of the day, what was the biggest challenge with Aliens?

It was a challenge putting it all together after the fact—getting 10 hours of footage from four different cameramen, with about 30 different surfers, and mashing it all into a 15-minute movie that has everything from a 12-year old grom, to Ozzie, Noa, and Mitch [Coleborn], and making it all work. But that said, we’re definitely happy with how it all came together.