It’s Finally Here


Modern Collective: A review

By Stuart Cornuelle

Yesterday at 4:45PM, Kai Neville turned up in the SURFING offices with a Nike backpack. Inside was a hard drive containing the final cut of Kai's newborn film, Modern Collective. The lights were dimmed for a private screening on a PowerMac. Somehow, Kolohe Andino appeared, and sat down with us to watch.


Some background: SURFING had been the troubadours of Modern Collective since the project's inception about, like, a hundred years ago. We'd heaped on the hype like it was it was the first black president, or something. At this point, we were pretty over it already. The film couldn't possibly meet our massive expectations. "Modern" had become a banned word in the office. Then Kai pressed play.


Well, blow us down.

Buy or boycott, cry gayness or greatness, but as of right now (October 28, 2009) Modern Collective is simply a better surf film than we've ever seen or imagined.

We'll here consider the seven (not six) stars of Modern Collective individually, and then let the world draw its own conclusions once the premiere tour kicks off with a Hollywood blowout next Tuesday.


Mitch Coleborn: The Dr. Seuss Character

Mitch is an odd, colorful question mark of a human. He's slinky and loose and adorned with a mustache that actually works on him. Mitch in Mexico and Reunion Island, especially backside, will be the new standard for goofyfoot surfing. Maybe Owen Wright is as good.

Dane Reynolds: The Disinterested Idol

Dane will soon react in the only reasonable way to us – the army of copycats and wannabes who watch him like unoriginal hawks. Dane will stop surfing and move far away from us, and we'll like him more for it. There's one poignant lifestyle shot that will come to symbolize his celebrity. And Dane's footage on the now-famous Dumpster Diver boards will fill a million order cards.

Dion Agius: The Digitalist

Not everyone realizes that Dion started very late in surfing, being a sponger for most of his gromhood, or that he almost abandoned it for a career behind the camera. He's built his enormous profile with his own bare hands, plus the Internet. That doesn't mean Dion can't surf. He's charming and fashionable, but his footage takes center stage in ModColl.

Dusty Payne: The One Who's Hawaiian

If Dusty were from Newport Beach, he would have still been one of the six surfers chosen for the film. His small-wave shredding – hucks and airs and carves – is good enough to make him a star. He should be happy with that. But Dusty's from Maui, and when the waves get big and hollow, he quietly steps above the rest. Like Bruce or Andy Irons, you could watch Dusty surf barrels all day and not get bored, which is rare.

Yadin Nicol: The Skateboarder

There's no world championship tour in skateboarding really, so video and magazine parts are the top priority for skate pros. They literally, purposefully break themselves to get better clips and photos than the competition. Yadin does that in ModColl. He flies dangerously high off big, overhead ramps. He makes ski-assisted airs look puny. Yadin earns his place the hard way.

Kai Neville: The Artist

Taylor Steele got famous with corny skits plus high-action surf clips plus punk rock. Kai Neville is not Taylor Steele. Modern Collective is an art project. Non-surfers will be impressed. Surfers will either not like it or will quit their jobs and become starving writers and painters and filmmakers, inspired by this scruffy little elf from Sydney with the magic editing vision.

Jordy Smith: The Best One

When this film makes its way out into everyone's computer screens and DVD players, the world will realize something: Jordy Smith is the best surfer alive by far. He is better than Dane and Kelly and Mick Fanning. At least in waves 8 feet and under, this is true. Modern Collective will reveal it to the world. No fooling.

Probably you should go to one of the premiere tour stops below. That's just an honest and friendly suggestion, from one group of surfers to another.

Modern Collective Teaser for O’Neill from Poor Specimen on Vimeo.


**Please disregard the typo on the flyer, the Santa Cruz premiere will be held at the Del Mar Theater.**