Watch: Trenton Phillips in ‘The Contestant’

Northeast Florida surfer / skater gets his priorities straight

Trenton ‘Tarpits’ Phillips is certainly one of Northeast Florida's most idiosyncratic surfers. Miscellaneous out-of-the-water interests like Anime-inspired artwork, sludge-metal guitar, skateboarding, and college coursework keep him occupied during flat spells. But when there are waves, Phillips—usually dressed in all black, doom-metal rattling the windows of his sedan—is a recurring character in the parking lots of the region's most popular breaks. And he's a consistent standout in the water, as well, riding atop all manner of surf craft, from Involvement era longboards to twin-fishes and self-shaped miniature planing hulls.

"I just go with whatever seems fun at the time," he says of his multifarious interests. "Whether it's surf, skate, band practice, art–whatever I'm hyped on at the time–I know that can’t sit still and I've learned that if I'm not feeling inspired or motivated on a particular thing, that it's best to not force myself to do it. Have fun or quit."

This Fall, Phillips set his sights set on stacking clips for the "1WV 1FN" longboard video contest put on by L.A.-based mixed-media collaborative INNOCNTS. But with so much on his plate already, he admits he had to make some tough choices.

"We went after it pretty hard this year. We basically were filming every single day. I eventually got dropped from all my classes and bailed on my pizza delivery job," he says. "Toward the end of the submission deadline, though, we realized that we had a ton of clips that weren't necessarily entry-worthy, yet shouldn't die. So I thought, 'Let's just make a longer edit.'"

With dozens of clips highlighting his technical footwork, quirky approach, and casual longboard-style already in the can, Phillips enlisted the help of his camera-owning pals and eventually came up with an edit that illuminates his versatility on a shortboard, as well as a skateboard.

The above short film, titled "The Contestant," features the distinctive Northeast Florida stylist gliding across the region’s beach breaks and tearing into the streets of Jacksonville's urban core. Though he’s re-enrolled in school, Phillips is still on the job hunt. We’re not sure how great “The Contestant” look on his resume, but we think it looks pretty darn good here.