Poor Specimen’s New Films, New Website, New Surfing

SURFING MAGAZINE: You keep telling us you're about to take a break, but it seems like you're planning more than ever right now. Are you a closet workaholic?

TAYLOR STEELE: I hope not. I just really love what I do. Most of the time it doesn't feel like work. But yeah, there's a lot going on for 2009.

What projects are in the works for Poor Specimen right now?

It’s a crazy time for us. We have so many different projects going. We have the Drifter movie about Machado’s journey thru Indonesia. It's in the editing bay right now but it has that potential to be something special. Coming up this next month we are filming DRIVE THRU OZ, so I am helping Greg get things prepped -- but he pretty much has it under control.

As under control you can have with the drive thru gang. Then we have Kai Neville's new movie, MODERN COLLECTIVE. That stars Dane, Jordy, Dion, Yadin, Mitch and Dusty. I am excited to see what Kai does in the director's chair. I know that it's going to be really different and creative.

Also we have our DAYS OF STRANGE movie as well.

What about Castles in the {{{Sky}}}?

We are half way done filming for that movie. Trying to go places that truly inspire us on all levels. I just got back from Peru a couple days ago. It was such a powerful place. Everywhere you looked there were cool visuals.

Well, seeing as you're so mellow about all this, seems like perfect timing to launch a whole new online platform to reinvent the surf downloads market?

I feel that technology and people are forcing a change in distribution. It's an overwhelming time to be a filmmaker, but it's also an exciting time. There are so many ways to release a movie. As a filmmaker, your goal is to have as many people see it as possible. You also want enough money to make your next one. Those are the two things you have to balance. I noticed over this last Christmas break that Stranger Than Fiction was being pirated online like crazy. So, I figured, that's my fault for not having an outlet for those people to download it. I'm trying to facilitate that with this new website.

Just like the music industry, the DVD market is changing into a new form. It's not that people don't want movies, they just want them in a different way.

The way I look at it is: we are entering the next phase. For the last 30 years, its been VHS or DVDs. Now, for this next phase, it's all about variety. Different people like to watch surf movies in various ways. Some people love the classic DVD on a big screen at home. Other people might want to have it on their iPod and watch it on their way to the beach. Another group might watch it online. It's just about having different options for everyone. We are using YOUREEEKA as our new online distribution outlet. It's really fresh way to get the new movies. Since online sales uses no packaging, it's also more eco-friendly.

How does the new website accomplish this?

Our new website allows people to rent it, download it, or just stream it live -- there's several options. Still, I have such a long, great relationship with the surf shops that I don't want to just cut them out of the equation. So we've been working out a way that surf shops can put our movies on their website and sell it through their channels, as well as continuing to stock the traditional DVDs that lots of people still love.

What is Days of Strange?

We had so much remaining material from Stranger Than Fiction that we felt the footage needed to be seen. Also it's been eight months since the last movie came out. So everything we've gathered since then is in there too.

What else do you have coming out this year?

THE DRIFTER is coming out this summer. It's really exciting because Warner Brothers Music has signed on board to take it to the next level. We finished the movie last winter and everyone involved was really excited. Then the crew at Warner Brothers saw it and said, "This is incredible -- we can make something really big out of this if you let us." So we have been working with their editors and producers to take it to the next level.

What else?

Drive Thru Oz is coming this summer as well. Then CASTLES IN THE SKY this fall and Modern Collective this winter.

That's quite a step up from your previous film-a-year quota. Five films in one year?

[Nervous laughter] Yea-ah, well, it's not just me working on them these days. Not like the {{{90}}}'s. Now we are a team. We have Kai directing Modern Collective and Greg directs the Drive Thru's. But yeah, it's a pretty stacked schedule. Poor Specimen is trying to single-handedly end the recession for everybody.

What's going on with this Drive Thru?

We've got an all time crew. Andy Irons, Occy, Pat, Donavon and Benji, and we're hooking up with Yadin Nicol and Taj Burrow. Greg has a whole bunch of ideas to take this one way over the top. We did Australia before, but this one is a completely different area. We are starting in West Oz and hoping to hit South Oz.

And Castles in the Sky is the one you're most intimately involved with as far as traveling, filming, editing and everything else, right? What's going on with that currently?

Castles is our follow-up to Sipping Jetstreams. For me it's important that it's not just a sequel. We want this one to have it's own life. We're trying to go more in depth with the local people, go to more exotic locations -- so far we've gone to Iceland, Vietnam and Peru, with two trips that are just as diverse on the schedule. We have a surfer from each trip working on the film's score with Dylan Raasch, from Years Around the Sun. He's doing a completely original score for it. Dustin Humphrey is doing another book as well. We're just trying to take it all to a new level on visuals, story telling and audio.

Is there a way for people to indicate how people prefer to watch their surf movies, whether it's DVDs or downloads or iTunes or whatever?

I think people just speak with their actions on that. I have a feeling that it will be a bit of every thing. So we are just trying to prepare for that.

POOR SPECIMEN's new website goes live TODAY (3-12-09) -- check it out at:
@poorspecimen (twitter)