A quick chat w/Taylor Steele

A quick chat w/Taylor Steele about “This Time Tomorrow” – today. 

We’re all driven by a passion for something – ‘the pursuit of surfing the same wave twice is every surfer’s dream.’ ‘This Time Tomorrow’ the latest film released by award winning producer/director Taylor Steele, follows two talented free-wave surfers Dave Rastovich and Craig Anderson, on an 8 day journey chasing a single storm cell across the Pacific Rim to realise this dream.

Released in September this year at Film Festival in New York Surf Film Festival, the film captures the commitment a surfer makes to his mission, albeit the complete exhaustion both physically and mentally it represents.

Empire Avenue’s Cultural Editor Valentina, takes a seat and has a chat to Taylor Steele, the man behind the lens, who gives us an insight into the concept and journey.

VZ: Tell us a little bit about how the concept of ‘This Time Tomorrow’ was born?

Taylor Steele: In 1985, Mike Stewart, a Pro Bodyboarder went on a similar journey. He chased the same swell around, but didn’t have anyone to video it. I was so inspired by the spirit of the journey and have been sitting on the idea for over 10 years, until I finally felt ready as a filmmaker to get it off the ground.  I knew I would have to face harsh travelling conditions and run & gun shooting styles to capture the right footage and Castles in the Sky & Sipping Jet Streams are two projects that definitely prepared me for this journey as a filmmaker.

I ran the idea past a few people and had some positive feedback. Then when the massive swell showed up in Tahiti, it was obvious this was the time, it was the right swell. 

VZ: You followed one wave around the planet in a total of eight days – how many miles did you do? Buses, planes, automobiles?

TS: I think all up we did around 20,000 miles. We flew from Australia to LA – LA to Tahiti, Tahiti to LA – everything goes through L.A! LA to Alaska to finish. 

VZ: Why the Pacific?

TS: The Pacific has the furthest body of water, so you really get a great contrast between land and water. In Tahiti its dramatic mountains that come straight from the ocean and massive waves. Then Mexico was more desolate and dry with long point waves.  LA is crazy with crowds. Then back to mountains jetting from the ocean but this time its’ not tropical but freezing with icebergs floating near by.

VZ: Did you develop an emotional attachment to the swell? Does it have a pet name amongst the group? 

TS: That was actually a bit of an experiment. I really wanted to explore the emotional attachment or synergy between the wave and the surfer. To see if they share the same energy, almost like a dance. This became hard though as we all ended up slipping into this state of delirium because of the intensity of the travel and the level of attention to our environment. It was almost like being intoxicated by lack of sleep.  

Although, I did end up learning a little more about the personality of a swell; the swell is kind similar to the human life span in the sense of that it starts out aggressive, curious, like a two year old – displaying that destructive nature that comes with the territory of finding your way in the world. As it develops, it starts to smoothen out, it gets a little more comfortable and defined, and then at the end, it’s almost at peace – like you imagine you would be at the end of your lifespan. 

VZ: How did Dave Rastovich, one of Australia’s most iconic free-surfers, and Craig Anderson, our up-and-comer, become involved in this project? 

TS: I reached out to Dave early on in the project. I’ve worked with him before on films of mine (Castles in the Sky) and I know that he is a great traveler, consistent surfer; really just the perfect person for a trip like this. He was really excited about the idea for a few reasons, mainly that it was such a contrast to what he usually does which is spending lengthy amounts of time in one place. 

Next we had to find someone who complimented him, and Craig was a natural choice as he has been the one to watch when it comes to free-surfing in Australia. We reached out to Craig about two days before we left, and without much notice at all and no idea what he was really getting into and he agreed. I would say that Craig is probably up there now as one of the best surfers a filmmaker could work with. He’s super easy going, great to travel with, has an awesome cutting edge and progressive surf style. 

One of the earlier memories from this is when we got to Tahiti, the swell was massive and Craig was standing there watching the waves crashing, he said “how did I get here?!”

VZ: You had a few other surfers jump on board? 

TS: Yeah, Kelly (Slater) was pretty excited about the project and jumped on at Tahiti. He showed us some secret spots and helped arrange jet ski’s and then jumped on the Californian leg as well. Alex Gray met us in Mexico and Chris Del Moro joined us on part of the journey in Alaska. Everyone had such a spark, they all felt nicely connected to the project in some way. Although, we (the original crew) were so connected by our state of absolute delirium from lack of sleep and relentless travel, I’m sure some of the guys that jumped in and out of the journey  probably felt like they were the sober person at a party! ha ha. 

VZ: What was one of your main highlights from the tour? Can you give Empire Ave a little behind the scenes?

TS: There was one pinnacle moment in making this movie that shook all of us out of our delirious state. 

We really needed to score some great waves in Mexico. It’s usually crowded and can be so unpredictable. We’d had such a great run in Tahiti, we were all tired and I knew that we really had to get some great stuff in Mexico within the short time span of two days we were there for. Arriving half way through the first day, the waves were fun, but not iconic. I was a bit nervous thinking, tomorrow was our last day there. We woke up jumped into a car and headed to our surf spot – this was a risk in itself. The spot was an hour or so hike one way, and some parts through waist deep water with all of our gear – there were so many factors that we had to consider. What if we hiked for an hour one way and the break was crowded? There were onshore winds? What if our gear got wrecked during the trip? Deciding to risk it, we got moving – and coming out the other was just paradise. We were like ‘wow’. 8 ft waves, perfect conditions, no one was out there. The guys surfed for eight hours straight…

VZ: Are you going to attempt another trip like this? If so, what would you change?

TS: Definitely. I learned a lot through the production of this trip. There will definitely be a few changes made for the next film. That’s the fun thing as a film maker, seeing how you can do things better… I’ll leave the rest as a surprise. 

VZ: Thank you, it’s been such a pleasure. 


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