Approaching the Innersection


Mike Losness on Taylor Steele's new project

How much longer could everyone who's anyone fit into an annual Taylor Steele film? That seems to have been the question that motivated, the new user-generated and user-judged surf movie production experiment that's set to launch next month. One man who's no stranger to the Poor Specimen factory is San Clemente's Mike Losness, who — after undergoing surgery for a hernia — flew straight to Bali to get clips, and plans to pack in a Mexico jaunt for last minute footage over the next two weeks. This, he hopes, will bring his "segment" over the two-minute minimum just in time for entry into the first round of Innersection competition. They're billing it as the "World Tour of Freesurfing," and Mike, for one, is a believer.

SURFING: The Internet has just about laid waste to history's "one big video per year" model. How important is a Taylor Steele segment today?

Mike Losness: Yeah, the last 6 or 7 years, you almost had to be in a Taylor Steele movie if you wanted to be a freesurfer. I know I used that in negotiating with my sponsors, like, "Hey, I'm not gonna be doing the whole WQS this year…but I'll be filming for Taylor's next movie."

It's changed a lot now, though, and that's why Taylor has had to take this different approach. I think that if you're in a Taylor Steele movie from now on, it'll still be gnarly, but — for me — it won't be the same as when I had a full section in Campaign 2.

So why hand over your work straight to Taylor, when you could instead do your own thing? There are so many other avenues for distributing content. Blogs and all.

I'm not a Dane Reynolds — I couldn't just throw my stuff up on a website and get the same attention as Dane. So [Innersection] is a platform for me to get my best footage out there and actually have people see it, because to be honest with you, if I were to put my best stuff up on <>  — which I have — maybe just a few people would see it. But if I put it on Innersection, even if I don't get voted for, a lot more eyes will still see the footage.

It's going to be one of the biggest websites in surfing. As soon as the first cycle is up on March 1st, who knows? Maybe there will be 500 surfers who have uploaded videos, and tons and tons of people are going to go on there to watch them. So from my perspective, it's a great exposure thing.

How much of your effort is aimed at Innersection right now, versus travel, contests, photo trips, etc? Are all your eggs in Taylor's basket?

For this first cycle, I'm putting all my effort into it. I feel like the best guys — the Hobgoods, Slater, Dane, those guys — they'll probably put their footage up towards the end, during the last cycles later in the year. So I feel that if I have a chance to get voted in, it's going to be sooner rather than later, and then I can develop my part over the course of the year, doing the same level of work I'd normally do for Taylor's movies: Maybe 3 or 4 trips, plus filming at home.

What percentage of your sessions are filmed now?

In reality, probably like 70%. My filmer's still in high school. [Laughs]

How much does having a filmer cost these days?

It all depends — if I'm going to take someone on a trip, that's where I'll have to pay more. I pay their way, and then on top of that, from $50/day if it's really cheap up to $300/day, depending on who the person is.

Is it cheaper in Bali? Most things are cheaper in Bali. Are there people down there who do it for less?

Yeah, there are a few Balinese kids who film, but I work with Ivan [Tanjung] — Rizal's brother — who's worked for Taylor forever and always been my really good friend.

Well, let's agree to stay in touch to see how this project develops.

It'll be interesting, man. Like, I was surfing with Kolohe [Andino] at Salt Creek today, and I asked him, "Hey, are you going to submit something for the first cycle of Innersection?" I expected him to say, "Yeah, I've got some sick footage and I'm going to do it," but instead he was all, "No, I'm not doing that. I'm not good enough." I couldn't believe it. He's young, people love the way he surfs — I'd think guys like him would be all over it.