P R O X I M I T Y : The Review
COASTALWATCH | REVIEWS
A film by Taylor Steele
Photography by Todd Glaser
Produced by Michael Lawrence & Garage Entertainment
The work of filmmaker Taylor Steele has shaped much of my life as a surfer. Momentum, Drifter, Castles In The Sky, Campaign, Here & Now and Innersection, just to name a few of my favourites. When first-look clips started dropping for his new production Proximity there was a build up of energy around the potential of the film to make a significant impact in a digital world that’s saturated with surf videos.
The film lived up to expectations. How could it not? The cast is so strong and the raw dialog between the world’s best and most respected surfers is naturally executed.
Steele doesn’t make surf films for a career anymore. He sees these projects as a way to reset himself and feel more connected to who he is and what he’s interested in.
In a chat before the film, he said that the idea for Proximity stemmed from simply seeing a photo of Rob Machado and Craig Ando standing next to each other. “I was like, man, they’re so similar in spirit, what would those guys do on a trip together? As a surf fan, I wanted to be in a room with them and be a fly on wall listening to what they’d ask each other and the answers they’d give.” And that’s what is the most unique aspect of this film - it’s the ultimate surfing fan-out.
Taylor Steele gets props alone for just logistically succeeding in making sure Kelly Slater and John John Florence, two of the world’s most sought after athletes, got on a flight together. Side note - he travelled to Hawaii and personally got them on that plane.
One of the opening scenes of the film is so simple, yet so metaphorically relevant to where they are both positioned in their careers right now. As they sit under a single dimmed light in what appears to be a tin shed on an island in the Pacific somewhere, they play chess. And who wins in a chess game between Johnny Florence and King Kelly?
There are a lot of questions asked and answered. Albee Layer queries Shane Dorian, “Do you think you have you caught the best wave of your life yet?” John John asks Kelly, “Do you still get nervous before heats?” I can’t even imagine what was left on the cutting room floor.
You could sit and watch the conversations alone, but what about the waves? In the 52 minutes there are amazing deserted island waves, half-foot slab waves, long, South American point breaks and waves that Albee Layer said might have been 30-foot smaller than Jaws but just as difficult to surf. You’ll get your fix and then you’ll want to book a trip.
Steele’s goal for the film was to make something more than a webisode. He wanted to convey something that felt unique and has an emotional charge to it. Proximity is another outstanding chapter in the filmography of Taylor Steele. I just wish it was longer. Bring on the outtakes.
You can catch P R O X I M I T Y in Australia this week
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