Epøkhe have just dropped a 40-minute feature.
Directed by Kai Neville and starring the brand’s now formidable team (Dion, Taj, Chippa, Jack, Nate Tyler, Coleborn, Brenden Gibbens, few groms) it’s available for download only, meaning that while you might have to sit there for halfa to get the goods, at least you won’t have to fuck around buffering. We managed to jag an audience with the ever-busy Kai to get the good word on his latest creation.
What’s been happening? You been on a solid Euro tour?
Yeah, I’ve actually been on a bit of a whirlwind. I think this is kind of the last leg, but you never know. We went to Paris, I was over there for the eyewear trade show with Epokhe, then we went straight to Italy to work on the next range, and then straight from that into the European tour for Listen Now, Misty Dawn. Then back at home for Honest Ale—so it’s pretty much been a wine and beer drinking tour! But somehow productive. The funny thing was, Dion, as he does, gets real excited—as you guys probably know—and locks a million things in advance. He kind of locked in this Euro tour before I’d even finished the film.
Editing on the fly.
It was so stressful, but it was kind of a blessing. I guess with the Epokhe project, it’s our own thing so it’s pretty relaxed. It’s kind of finished when it’s finished. It’s more of a passion project between me and the team, so it could have gone on forever. So Dion putting a premiere deadline is actually a good thing, because I was like ‘holy fuck I need to finish this thing’. So I’m editing in airports and on trains, while Dion’s talking to Ukrainian distributors, which rolled into the tour. So we went on a pretty mad tear, but it was good being a little transient and shaken up—I think it helped the edit. Working on it in Italy, Paris, wherever, it gave it a different feel rather than just being locked away. Really fun just working, drinking wine and bouncing it off the boys. I literally pressed export 24 hours before our first premiere. I had one of those sleeps where I was literally checking my phone every hour while it was exporting—the movie’s about 40 minutes so it takes at least six hours to export on my laptop. I checked the export and the sound was good, the visuals were okay, and we were off to Hossegor to show it in a big warehouse for the first time.
Had you always planned on making a 40-minute movie?
We planned on doing one trip to Byron, but the waves were really shit so it kind of backfired. We did the first two Beauty Pockets’ in one trip with the team, and this one was going to be a similar vibe, just to introduce a few new surfers. We didn’t get the waves, then we all went off on our normal jobs. The boys then started going on a few trips, I started the go on a few trips, then Chippa joined the team and all these things started happening. It grew out of nowhere into a bit of a beast, unintentionally. Our hard drive just got bigger, it went from one terabyte to six in no time. It was fun for the brand and fun for the team, and good to work on something other than your average web clip.
I guess it gave you the opportunity to get more filmmakers involved with the project, unlike previously on your one-day shoots.
Yeah the boys have their own filmers and we pulled footage from them, it was a full team effort—everyone was excited about it. Before the deadline Creed said ‘hey I’m bringing some footage over from West Oz’, meanwhile I’m thinking he already had some good stuff. So he dropped this hard drive over and I thought, holy shit, he had one of the best parts in the film now. It was good to have those guys, we didn’t have any budget and it takes a lot of hours working on these projects. So to see those guys pumped to be a part of it kind of got me jazzed to edit all those hours.
It’s an interesting one, where formats are getting smaller and web clips super frequent, then you’re able to bring out a feature without too much notice and get everyone psyched about it.
I feel that bigger projects these days have to be huge to grab people’s attention. There’s so much content out there, people feel driven to consistently drop content to keep brands and consumers happy. I guess even though this was such a big project, it was kind of stripped back and we were able to do things on little budget. For Dear Suburbia I had the support from brands so things were different, but that’s kind of fallen by the wayside now and a lot of larger projects have gone along with it. So this was pretty much taking it back to basics. Working with friends and pooling together to make something everyone’s psyched on.
Tell me about your music selection process?
Music in surf films is one of the most important elements to create a vibe and help the visual language. It tells a story—you’ve got to keep the film paced, keep people engaged and make it exciting when it needs to be, then tone it back at other times. With the soundtrack, I always like to keep it surprising and not expected. Sometimes I look at a section, like Indo and I think ‘I want to amp this’. I might think punk, or 80s punk rock, or The Cure. But it didn’t feel right to me, so I ended up using this acoustic, really slow track that just worked for that section. It was the polar opposite to what I had planned, but just fits in. It’s a lot of trial and error, I get a feel for how sections should sound. Then it’s a matter of hacking into your music library and finding that track which really captures the vibe you’re going for.
What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen, and instrumental stuff like Tortoise and Stereolab. Classics like Iggy Pop, a little bit of dance, been listening to a bit of Simple Minds. My taste kind of drifts through different genres, like the soundtrack of the film. I’ll listen to whatever, something to get me through the workday, something to edit to, something to get psyched on. It was actually pretty funny when I think about it, when I was colour grading, because I was so drained I was just hammering Kendrick Lamar, drinking so much coffee, drinking so much wine and just getting jacked up to colour grade. I was spending hours tweaking all the colours on this 40-minute film because some of the footage was actually really shitty quality. If you’re grading something that you shot on RED consistently, you can kind of breeze through it. But some of this was so much work to get it to blend with the clip before, it was a fucking nightmare. So I just had Kendrick on repeat.
Have you seen any live music this year?
I ticked Radiohead off this year, I went and saw those guys in Florence which was fucked up. They’re one of my favourite bands and I’ve never had a chance to see them. I managed to hang out backstage for a bit but was too freaked out to say hi to anyone. It was a pretty trippy experience, just a sick concert with a bunch of Italians losing their minds.
What’s on for the rest of the year?
I’m starting to wind down, I’ve had a few of these commercial jobs to stay busy and free up time to work on fun projects like Listen Now, Misty Dawn. So I’ve kind of been on a pretty crazy tear. I think I’ve got two or three weeks left of work and then I’m going to kick the feet up, drink beer and hang at the beach.