Here’s part 2 of Ian’s Bali catch-up guestpost:
Behind the scenes Drifting, with Rob Machado and Taylor Steele
When I caught up with these guys for the Hurley shoot a few weeks back they were in the final throws of production for a couple of different projects. To be honest the Hurley thing probably couldn’t have come at a worse time as far as their productions went. Nonetheless everyone pulled together to make both shoots happen in a very effiicient and effective way. Taylor’s house is production central with a full edit suite and one of each of the top 30 guys’ boards on the wall . Story boards and story archs on erase a boards everywhere, plane tickets and helicopter bookings, timing swells and timing pro surfers schedules, it was like watching a surf version of Peter Jackson filming multiple Lord of the Rings movies all at once.
The day before was spent shooting a much needed scene in the Denpasar airport. The scene was somewhat involved as it called for a long dolly shot and some shots of Rob cruising through airport security. This was all done without permits of course and in classic surfer style they said they were filming a PSA on airport security to show American tourists how safe Bali is now. The whole thing went off without a hitch and with the blessings of the Indonesian TSA. Much of the film was shot this way.
The filming at the warungs of Uluwatu were the final shots needed before Rob hopped on a plane and went straight to the California contests and the ASR circus. The contrast between the two places and vibes couldn’t be more opposite.
I look forward to seeing how they piece this together. It’ll be great to see that airport scene.
Back in Oz now, awaiting our fate in the form of a flight back to the States on the 10th. But our hearts and minds are still firmly implanted in Bali, even if our rain-soaked goosefleshed skin tells us otherwise. Both Ian and I have some more (and more) to say about that magic leg of the trip so we’ve decided to do a big giant catch-up post that goes back through some more highlights of our island life of bliss.
For my part, there is just one last memory I wanted to relay, the rest would be too tough to capture, hopefully you’ve gotten enough of an idea to hop on a plane when you can and see the magic for yourself:
•Something I never got to a chance to describe is the endless game of ATM roulette we played the whole time we were in Bali. See, the Indonesian rupiah is so inflated by now that 5 dollars US is something like 50,000 of their currency. Thus, if you spend any time in a Balinese bank, you will see people carrying in backpacks containing brick upon brick of rupiah. They look like some sort of criminal, but are more than likely just a vendor trying to exchange their day’s earnings from the store. Because of this inflation and because it was high season when we were there, the ATMs on the island regularly ran out of money, only they don’t say this, they give you an error message that makes you think there is something wrong with your card so you’ll spend loads of time and money trying to reach your bank back home.
But pretty soon, we got in the swing of things and learned to play the game.It goes like this: get in line, watch the people in front of you for the nod or the shake when they come out of the booth, think you can do better anyway and try it, futiley, for yourself, drive on until you find one that works which could take days.During that time you ration your supplies and hope for places that take credit cards, which most do not. Things could get so bad that it was not uncommon to hear a young Chinese couple exclaiming with such glee at getting the equivalent of $50.00 out that you’d think they were playing a slot machine. In fact, one day a group of us got very angry as we qued behind a Frenchman who just kept sticking his card back in to get more until we were all sure he’d cleaned the machine out. At the dirty looks he received upon exiting, he grinned and said, “I kipt on weenning zo I kipt on playing.”
Now for Ian’s part, see the guestpost below plus the next one (“Loose Ends 2”)
Phantom the Menace
So I get the call in Austrailia a week before we split for Bali that there may be a possibility of doing a commercial for Hurley’s new Nike-lab inspired high tech fabric “Phantom” boardshort. Ironically enough, the local surf shop that’s a few minutes from where we stayed in the ritzy area of Whale Beach (Northern beaches , Sydney) happened to be the #1 seller in the world of the previous model. I had just heard that info a day before, now I’m being contracted to do a commercial for them…weird.
1st question from my agent/co-producer is “Ian, can you pull this off over there?” This was a very slick ad campaign combining 3d effects , CG environments and live action greenscreen. This is my specialty…in America, but in Bali? Going through the normal channels of filming in another country proved fruitless and would have crippled our limited timeframe and budget with bureaucracy and bribes.
Just a week before we left for this trip I went to the premier of Taylor Steele’s new kick ass and take no prisoners surf flick: “Stranger than Fiction”. Aside from all the bleeding edge surfing, high energy music, and rapid fire editing, was a lot of greenscreen work. “Aha!”I thought, Steele’s been living in Bali with his family for several years, and hes got a greenscreen. I made one phone call to Rob and it was magic. The next day I took a ride from the mountains of Ubud where we were staying and made my way to the villas amongst the rice paddys of Caangu. My last time here there was one bombed out looking cinderblock of a restaurant and that was it, now…quite a bit more development, but no addresses, no street names and no villa names makes finding someone really challenging. After taking every single dirt-track, and sideroad, I finally made it. It was like a scene out of Scarface
when my driver pulled me up to the massive villa amongst the paddies. On the second floor deck looking down at me and my driver stood Rob, bronzed, backlit, rocking some gold rimmed Dragon glasses and looking comfortably feral after having been embedded in Bali from our shire of Cardiff for the past year filming with Taylor. His entourage of editor Sebastian, shooter Yvonne Tangung (Rizals brother), Sipping Jetstream’s DP legend; Todd Heater and of course Mr. Steele. So after two weeks of coming up “bupkas”, in a day I had the whole deal sorted out…sort of.
Aside from having a killer co-dp/producer and Steele’s Red Camera we didn’t really have much. Even up to the morning of the day of production we got a call saying we had to move to a different facility. No problem right? Oh, by the way , the place were moving you to is a professional badmitten warehouse on the outskirts of the rice fields, and guess what? the annual Bali Island badmitten championships are happening at the same time our talent ; Mr Machado shows up for his greenscreen work. So we go with the flow like bamboo and flex and say yeah. And it works out. Producer Mavis flies in from the OC with his driver Ben and …Bada boom, bada bing! We get our shots.
Although the week leading up to the production was a little hairy, the day’s events unfolded like many chaotic motorcycle filled intersections of this island; at once it seems like despair and that there is no way out, but miraculously, every time, all the elements come together , everyone works together to create art and in the end, survive…That’s what everything’s about, right?!?
Here’s part 2/2 of Ian’s catch-up NSW posts, this time it’s a pic post of his side of the Ulladulla trip:
Here’s a post, part 1 of 2, catching you surfers up on Ian’s exploits in Southern New South Wales:
Me mates Pancho , South mission expat and our host, 80s Northern Beaches pro legend Matt Jones took a few “sickies” off to show me down the coast.
The tightly wound “onion” spinning between Tazzie and SA had just the millibars and distance to throw us a solid south swell. The weather seemed to be cooperating so it was off we went. After a few “flat whites” we began to see the size difference between the Sydney “beachies” and the more exposed Coal Coast, aptly named for the abundance of black stuff breaking off from its primordial slabs. Every point and reef was exploding with raw power with few takers to give us any size reference. After mind surfing several of the area’s standouts, we made our way south and discovered a few spots that we could paddle into. The swell was juicy and super consistent but it wasn’t all that clean being so close to the source. There was a lot of water moving about which made it an intense paddle and take off situation. When I did finally decide to “take one in” I simply stopped paddling as hard as I could and got swept down the point by the raging rapid-like current until getting hammered by the ten foot + shorebreak at the beachie a 1/4 mile in.
When we all returned to dry land I likened the experience more to white water rapids than an epic day the point. In the end we got to see some of the area’s reefs and points come to life. After all the driving and energy spent chasing waves we realized that a surgical 1 hr flight up the coast to Angourie or points north would’ve been more fruitful to let the swell even itself out . When I logged onto Swellnet afterwards I realized we had made the wrong choice. Everyone up that way calling the same swell “the best winter swell yet! “
Northern Beaches Sydney has been small but fun. Offshore, 2-4 foot every day. No complaints. In lieu of any quality surf shotz here’s an ode to the making of two of my all-rounder boards that get me through the “everyday”waves such as these. Had fun in the weeks and days before departing SD with Steve on the Pendoflex asymmetrical and Jeff Mcallum 6-2 pintail quad. Both these guys are a pleasure to work with,Coltrane on the speakers makes it go down all the better; spazz jazz, catylist -supreme.
The grom armies descended upon the three rivers area just before dawn. (See Rusty Gromfest –biggest grom contest in this hemisphere). They first seized the beachie at Lennox and quickly mobilized and spread to all surrounding points, reefs, slabs and crags. Their presense would not have been as warmly accepted had the fairy gods not smiled kindly upon the land and blessed us all with absolutely perfect waves and weather. If you cant beat em’-join em.
But after several mind blowing surfs with the “little people”, we decided to seek out Shires south not yet affected by the grom invasion. When we rolled up to the lookout at Angourie the scene was idyllic. Six guys out, perfect conditions and swell wrapping all the way down the point. It only got better when I paddled out and everyone decided it was time to go in. I surfed my trusty 6-2 Mc Callum pintail quad with pedigree to boot (tail of a Brewer/nose of a Frye) which Jeff and I had made just before departing. At one point after kicking out of yet another down the line screamer I looked up the little green hill on the tip of the point to see Abi and Ginger walking hand in hand and waving. It doesn’t get much better than this I thought. I’m a lucky guy in a lucky country. As we make way to leave tomorrow for Sydney I can honestly say we got a very good sampling of this coastline every single day.
Grateful list for the day:
1. that I didn’t walk into that huge (by non-Aussie standards) spider in the middle of the trail today while hiking around Broken Head
2. that the water was warm enough that Ginger and I could get our clothes totally soaked and still stay warm in the sun while Ian got shacked right in front of us
3. the mama and baby dolphin in the clear blue waves next to Ian and the cola colored sea sponge with a honeycomb patchwork of holes that G and I found on the beach
4. that nobody (like my husband) teased me that Jews Point is so close to Snapper Rocks on one of the trailhead signs. What are they trying to say, anyway?
Last night’s high pressure whispy dews in the sky gave way to an even “higher pressure” today. Super crisp, lip parching dry offshores blew all night. Felt like a snappy day at the Ranch in October with similar size and perfection to boot. Everywhere was a perfect 1-3+ depending on if you had some scale to measure it by. Lennox looked as ammazing as a “flat” point could look and the fact that it was still ridable on a longboard and still no-one was out (due to the cold) made it seem that much more pristine. Scale is a relative feature here as pictured in the large knight on the Pacific Hwy chasing Abi and Miss G. So when I paddled out at the local beachie tonight I was pleasantly surprised to find overhead, hyper -wedging double ups with a backdoor freindly attitude. The hard offshores making everything a possibility.
Today I learned to say Mullumbimby with absolute authority while directing Ian up the Pacific Highway and out to Minyon Falls in the Nightcap National Forest. The town’s listed in the Lonely Planet guide as being formerly known for it’s marijuana, the distinction having been usurped by nearby Nimbin. We didn’t see any herb, but saw what looked like a lot of longtime herb smokers in Mullum, as the locals refer to it, as well as groovy shops like Shanty Town and Tutu Lu’s Tatoos that were mixed in with the more traditional Middle Pub on the main street corner as well as farming supply shops like the one in which we bought Ginger’s rainbow gum boots (see pic).
After Mullum, it was a short way through some wet, windy, forested roads to Minyon Falls. The way reminded me very much of upper Northern California or the Oregon Coast with it’s densely green little roadways opening occasionally on sweeping expanses of cow meadows and orchards. These meadows would often catch a stray cloud along one hillside or a swath of sunlight slipping out from behind the patchy grey sky and the light would be true magic. The two main differences between this area and, say Mendocino, was the fact that we were so far removed from urban centers and dense populations and in the biodiversity of the rainforests. At first glance from the car, it all looked very similar and the underbrush consisted, in fact, of the same sort of vivid ferns and thick vines and bushes as the West Coast forests. But the top of the canopy and most of the tree-stands inside the forest were eucalyptus of various types rather than the conifer pines and redwoods of the Pacific Northwest. Also, there was the occasional yellow yeild sign with a hopping kangaroo or a heartbreakingly cute koala silohuette reminding us that we were, in fact, very far from home.
All in all, with opera on the local radio the rise and fall of the road, we seemed to be in some sort of countryside epic set centuries ago. It was all a little too lulling for the little one though and as we were cutting it close to her naptime, we had to resort to singing jingle bells and loudly counting out cows and barns in order to get her to the Falls awake.
Minyon Falls did not disappoint. The wooden planked trail that leads to the top of them through the dripping green bush lets you know that it is 100 meters down from the lookout. Ian had Ginger on his chest in the carrier and I had to fight the urge to let my stomach do the talking and not yell for him to come away from the edge. But the view was breathtaking, standing atop the cliff with all that power hammering way down into a tropical ravine, sun and clouds playing on the valley around us like an aria. Of course the battery on the 35mm camera with the extra heavy battery pack and obscene lens was pathetically lifeless when we got there, so it was decided that the whole trip would be undertaken again with more time before the nap and a fully charged battery.
“You shoulda been here last week mate”…yeah, yeah, yeah, I was surfing So Cal as good as summer gets…ever! Going from the longest warmest days of the year to the shortest (not quite coldest). The day after we arrived the first winter storms hit, which helped to bring the surf back up. Went for a fun surf at the beachie in Byron called “main beach”. Being that its school holiday there were a lot of groms frothing to do 540 reverse fakie McAirs on anything that pitched (or didn’t) I felt as though I had paddled into a pro junior event. Everyone seems to rip here.(see picture).
Surfed my beautiful new asymetrical Pendoflex fish 5-7 and 5-9 respectively with a double bump quad on the backhand and a 101 bamboo keel on the forehand. The thing GOES! And in a land of design laboratory test tank theory such as this it actually gets a good looking over quite a bit by the local mad scientists. My friends Steve and Cher Pendarvis worked hard to make this before our blast off. Steves first version which we based off of Christensen’s own fav asym fish came out a bit heavy and fuller than we’d have liked. So while I was still putting it through the test turns with the local Cardiff shredder crew on a perky Sunday morning south swell, Steeve was pulling his second all-nighter , “cramming” to get an A. By Monday morning I was presented with vers 1.2 . It was half the weight of the first, thinner, narrower, and a serious Pendopaint job ready for Byron and G land. Thanks you guys.
Surfed “The Pass” last night. Didn’t expect much from the view a mile away, but when I walked through the rocks around the point the ocean revealed a dredging righthander sucking the sand off the bottom and rocketing riders through a cavernous takeoff section that was reminiscent of La Conchita North side pier , or Sandspit with a heavy rip. Between squalls the sky opened up and peppered the lineup in pink reflective clouds turning the whitewater an electric cotton candy pink contrasting with a gun-metal gray glass-off, and black pits of destruction reeling before the deadly rock takeoff zone. Some of the best sessions seem to happen when you least expect it or when your expectations are zeroed out, such as today.