by Jack Coleman
Your new film Happy Beach comes out this week, it features an all star free surfer cast and shot was shot on super 8mm film. Dane Reynolds, Alex Knost, Andrew Doheny, Ozzie Wright and Ford Archbold – most indie surf filmmakers would love to have just one of these guys surfing in their film. Can you talk about your experience working with each surfer?
Guess that I am really fortunate to live close and have access to some of the guys you just mentioned, like Andrew Doheny, Alex Knost, Josh Hoyer, and Ford Archbold. We all live in the same area, go to the same parties & shows, and surf the same spots. I’m lucky to live in California, it’s just so sweet here, man! I met Chippa Wilson through Hoyer, and Ozzie through Knost. It was almost surreal to meet Ozzie. When I met him he told me, he’s seen my work and liked what I was up to. Wow, I was blown away.
Another thing about all of these guys they’re so free thinking. They love film and all the mistakes that come with the process, how imperfect it is, and were willing to let an unknown surf filmmaker shoot them. There is a ton of guys beating down the door to shoot these guys, and they let me in, they knew I was up to something different than the other film dudes.
Dane I met at a show in San Francisco, and he was familiar with my music videos (which was way surreal and really cool), so I told him I was starting to do surf stuff and we’ve been friends ever since. His girlfriend Courtney is rad too. Without her enthusiasm for life, we wouldn’t have met. Droid, Alex, & Ford are now on my speed dial, and I love these guys, they’re changing surfing. Well, besides Ford, he IS surfing.
Every surfer has strengths and weaknesses to their surfing. What aspect of his surfing impressed you the most?
Dane – What can I say that hasn’t been said? Dane is Bigfoot. He is a big blurry monster that roams the coastline. The handful of times I shot him, it was like a Bigfoot sighting. Like you’re not sure if it was real so you watch the footage and tell people that you saw him. It’s pretty weird, but not as weird as being Slater, that shit is weird.
Dane was coming off of multiple injuries when I was making this film so he was just so stoked to be back in the water. His agility was really impressive. Like a cat, with really big claws. He is obviously the man and stands for everything I love about surfing, and the guys who make it up in and out of the water. Dane really has no weaknesses; he is like titanium. I guess his weakness is everyone is in love with him. It sucks to be so loved by everyone. Wait, I take that back, his biggest weakness is he has obligations to shoot with other film dudes other than me.
Alex – Alex and I had just recently finished shooting the POLYESTER film, so I am very familiar with him. As that project progressed and he basically started to see how amped I was to shoot surf, we became pretty close. By the end of the film, we had the same skin tone and hair length and some people thought we were brothers. It got weird but totally awesome cause I was a mutated clone step brother of the coolest guy in modern surfing.
Alex excels pretty much in everything. He is such a standout anywhere he surfs. He gets more waves than any person I have ever seen in the water, ever. Like 5 years ago he was pretty much a longboarder, Now he is just an amper, going for it in big stuff with shorter boards. He loves the barrel, and does all of this without a fucking leash. He’s a lunatic. If you ever get a chance to see him live do it, it will totally humble you, like you wanna surf like him so bad it hurts. It is truly the art of motion. Alex’s weakness is how cool he looks. I mean, damn, you seen him? It’s not his fault he looks so awesome. He is a perfect blend of his Dad & Mom, blame them.
Droid– Droid is literally on fire right now. The cats meow. Everybody is just eating it up. It;s cool cause he is really funny. Not like funny, like funny, but just funny because of hereditary traits that are not normal for most people. When Droid surfs, he is kinda a flower on the wallpaper, like, you don’t really realize he is shredding until after the session is over and you see the rest of the guys in the lineup struggling. He just flows like a mini Tom Curren. Droid possesses a special bottom turn and his famous forehand explosion re-entry thing. Now that everyone sees that, he excels in contests. It’s really fun to watch him get the scores. It’s always like “What the fuck was that? That was sick!” He seems to be a big part of the future of surfing, or at least to me, he is way up there, a one of a kind character that all the other great young surfers are not. Droids weakness is big waves. He doesn’t want any part of them, but neither do I, so its cool. WIthout Droid, I would’ve only made 1 surf film.
Ford – What impresses me most about Ford is when he surfs is the speed and velocity he travels at. Fords favorite all time favorite surfer is Ozzie, so Ford kinda surfs like Ozzie, recklessly controlled.
How cool is Ford? I’ve never seen him in a contest, he hates Lowers, and isn’t really known as a big wave dude. He’s just one of a kind, like a orchid or something. When he surfs you see this unusual blond hair – or pink or blue hair – this lengthy body with a wide stance. Sometimes almost like stinkbuggish in waist high crap. But when it gets overhead and you get to the nuts n bolts of what he is doing, it’s truly fun to watch. And his style is so sweet, in all conditions. I recently saw footage of his Dad, and he surfed identical to Ford. Even he is rubbing off a bit on the legend.
I have also seen Ford blow up a bunch of spots just like totally outta nowhere, like “Whoa, Ford is going nuts!” Fast hacks, sick sick sick layback turns, kinda half way down the face. He rides the barrel so sick pulling into closeouts and really late takeoffs, Ford chases the wave and Alex Knost and I are like his biggest fans. He is like the little brother, I never had. Just so damn likable outta the water. Ford’s weakness is Lowers. He goes out and its like kryptonite, done, where’s Ford? Then he paddles out at Uppers or any other spot and is the best guy out, just lapping people.
Most people only get to see these guys in finely edited clips reducing hours of water time to mere seconds of flash. But sitting on the beach, watching their entire sessions you must get an entirely different view. Tell us somethings about each of these guys that you might not see in the media out there.. i.e. frothing, mellow, consistent, streaky, blows up in bad conditions, good conditions certain wave excels in, etc..
Chippa – Man, I really tried not to like him early in his career. I was definitely like, who the fuck is this guy doing skate shit with all the tattoos, lame. But he is so mellow and really nice, always kinda has this smile in and out of the water, really contagious and super sweet and friendly demeanor. Every wave is a treat to watch. It’s really really impressive in person. He does so much shit in 1 session, it’s literally mind bending. He just makes it look way too easy flinging around like a top, insane. He really is a freak, don’t let those tattoos fool you either. He will not try to arm-bar you or start shit with anyone. He is a lover, especially in the water. Anyone can approach him and have a chat. Next time you see him in the lineup, try it. He will kill you with kindness. He is truly a cat, a really cute one, like a kitten that lands on his feet whenever he falls.
Alex– Alex is the morning guy. He is usually up around 6ish and is down to drive anywhere. It’s good vibes. Blackies, Malibu, San O, and Churches are his main points of interest. But now that he is riding mid-lengths and shorter boards, he’s on it around the other spots in Newport, like River to 54th Street. Last week, I saw him on a Neck Beard Dane gave him and he was blowing tail to adjustments in the white water, then seamlessly connecting into the shore break to reverse airs. I thought it was Droid from down the beach. Nope, Knostradominence. I’ve coined the phrase. “You don’t even Knost” all the work that guy puts in on his surfing is above and beyond the other guys. That is why he is loved. He’s got soul. One time I had to meet him at 5 in the morning, just to get a picture and some rare film of him shaping. He’s really into it and it’s hard to see behind the Knost curtain. He protects that soul from others.
Ford & Droid – Notice I bunched these 2 together? Because they are kinda 1. Here is how their surf day begins and ends in a nutshell: 9:30-10am – Wake up-ish. 10:20am – Get coffee and food. 10:45 – Check surf (usually blown out by the time they get out. Sick light and waves in the morning they missed, of course). 11:15am – Surf til one of them gets pissed at crappy conditions and punches a hole in their board, because it’s totally the boards fault that the waves are textured and crappy. Give board away to stoked grom or a broke friend. Go get food after surf. Play music. Drive a crappy car, usually a really crappy car that rarely starts. It’s a toss up. Droid will then retreat to the shaping shack where he makes all of his friends free boards that he pays for himself with his contest earnings and all the money he saves by driving a crappy car. Awesome. Ford & Droid talk to their multiple sponsors throughout each day, checking in and usually letting them know they are going on a trip, and can they pay for it? They always do, like at the drop of a hat. I think Ford is the coolest surfer in the world currently. He doesn’t have to enter contest, pose for lame company catalog shoots. When he does a shoot, he shows up late because of van trouble. They adjust the shoot to just let him be himself. He is pretty much, besides Danny Fuller who now fronts Chanel No. 5 fragrance, the TOP male surf/model in the industry. Not many guys can say that.
Photos by Jack Coleman. Slider image by Keegan Gibbs.