Taylor Steele and Nathan Myers' groundbreaking film competition Innersection recently finished its experimental first of four rounds. Based on a progressive platform for surfers and filmmakers alike, the premise of the event is for surfers and filmmakers to enter a two- to three-minute section that will be featured in one of Steele's newest movies. And did we mention the best segment pockets $100,000? Needless to say, Innersection is causing a major buzz. We caught up with Nathan Myers to talk about the first-season outcome and what he and Steele are expecting for the next round of clips.
Where did the concept for Innersection come from?
I was around while Taylor was finishing Stranger Than Fiction, and the problem was that there were too many great guys and not enough space in the movie. We started talking about how to evolve the concept and how we can start to utilize the strengths of the web. The conversation continued as we worked on The Drifter and Castles in the Sky, and Innersection is the result.
What are your expectations for the spring round now that the winter results have been announced?
Winter was the blind "pioneer" round. People had no idea what was behind door #1. It kept a lot of people from entering. Now that they've seen the system, seen what people respond to and seen a few winning examples, I think we'll see a wider and more focused series of entries. I'm already dubbing this the International Round, with some surprises from unexpected places around the world. There are a lot of great surfers out there who's never had a forum to get noticed like this. It's exciting.
I know the prize money is $100 grand, but nevertheless, are you receiving more or less entries than you imagined?
To be honest, we didn't know what to imagine. But in the first round we received about exactly what we thought we might. And in this round, it will probably be a few more…but nothing un-manageable. Now that a round has happened, people see the caliber of surfing and realize this isn't a "bro contest." Any bro can enter, but he's probably going to feel pretty out-classed. The caliber of surfing is really high. The top-ten of Round One were all worthy of making the video…and it's only going to get heavier.
Regarding the project, you've said that "our vision is more of an art project than competition." What are some of the ways you're seeing filmmakers bring art into the entries?
The filmmakers are the real visionaries here. Watching 20 rodeo flips in a row would just get you desensitized. But if a flip is perfectly timed to the music, built up with a series of other maneuvers, it can have a huge impact. We try to tell the filmers to approach their section like a mini-profile film…so that we get a feeling for who the guy is much as how he surfs. If you look at all the winners from the first round, the guys who accomplished that all did really well. Dylan Graves showed his home breaks and trip to the beach. Losness showed his surf obsession (and creativity). Mikala goofed on themes. Nat Young gave a good Santa Cruz vibe. Nate Tyler's was a nice, natural vision of West Coast surfing.
What came about that made filmmakers these days switch from sections being seemingly random, towards plot, and now to staying consistent with a theme/story?
I think you're just seeing the cream rise to the top. If you look back to the days of film, the filmmakers always told little stories and had themes to their sections. That's because it was hard work to make a film (not to mention expensive), and so not just anyone could do it. You had to have some talent. Then video cameras came out and pretty much anyone could stand on the beach, film every wave, and whack it all together. They didn't even need to talk to the surfer. Digital made it all worse, and the Internet even worse. Suddenly there was too much content, too much footage. It was completely overwhelming. But when a filmer puts in some thought, and really produces something of quality, it stands out from that sea of mediocrity. I think that's what you're noticing. Themes, storytelling, and good filmmaking have always been around…they've just got buried under all the other shit. We're trying to help it rise to the top and get noticed. I think the filmmakers you see doing well in Innersection will be the same guys you see coming out with some great surf films in the next couple years.
Do you feel that many of the filmmakers are creating something with the same tone and style as the last couple Taylor Steele movies, or are there some truly original pieces coming out?
Taylor's style of surf filmmaking has had a huge influence on the industry. He basically developed a genre. And we are making one of those films with this project. This is the next Taylor Steele high-performance film. So, the filmmakers' styles should have some TS influence in them, but they should also bring a bit of their own style into play too. Again, we were really stoked with the success stories from Winter Round. That's just what we were hoping to see. And now Taylor's working with those filmmakers to make their sections even better, so they will be original, but also influenced.
Do you think that better surfers/filmmakers are really actually "waiting" before they get serious and submit something?
Oh, I know they are. It's not so much "waiting" as it is stockpiling and preparing. It takes a while to build up good clips. And some of these guys are working on multiple projects. The top surfers take this stuff so seriously; they don't want to show up with mediocrity. They want to blow your mind. Fall Round is going to be scary.