*This interview was originally published in Volume VII, May 2020.
Wasted Talent: Where are you guys in these crazy times?
Wade Goodall: I’m at home in Bangalow (near Byron Bay). Riding it out with my family.
Shane Fletcher: I’m just bunkered down in my little pad on the hill at Kirra. Could be in worse places!
WT: We know you two are always travelling around—what was your last trip before going into lockdown?
WG: My last trip was to Mandiri Beach Club with my dad, brothers and a couple of my old mates for Dad’s 60th birthday. It was fun. Haven’t done a family surf trip in a long time. Just surfing. After filming so much last year it was a good change of pace. We just got back before the world changed.
SF: Not a whole lot since Hawaii actually. I bounced around Oz a little bit before the world stopped, but after such a busy year I was laying low because we were scheduled to tour the film around the world with Vans…but that obviously isn’t happening now.
WT: Can you talk about when you two met and your relationship throughout the years?
WG: I cant remember when I first met Shane but we were mates way before we got the chance to work on anything together. We had spoken about doing something for a long time but it never really worked out until Monster Children asked him to do a little clip on me. We had about two weeks and what came of it was Turtle Business. I always loved the stuff Shane made with Noa (Deane). The Cheese vids were so good. After Turtle Biz, Pentacoastal was forming in my head and I asked Shane to be a part of it. I knew he could do the best job of capturing what I wanted visually and his work ethic is psycho. He doesn’t ever stop. Luckily he was down.
SF: I’d invited Wade on a few trips I’d done in the past but he hasn’t had an easy run with injuries and things so nothing really ever came to be. Then after we did Turtle Business, we were just having a beer one afternoon at the pub down from his house and he started talking to me about his ideas for Pentacoastal. He asked if I’d be a part of it and I was psyched.
WT: Let’s not beat around the bush too long…how did the idea for the project come about/evolve?
WG: The whole idea came from a longing to stay in Australia for the winter. One day I was driving, listening to Nick Cave and I heard the word ‘pentecostal’. It stayed in my head until I got home, I looked at map of Australia and drew a pentagram over the top. At the end each point was a place I wanted to go. That was it really, I had my map. That’s where I was going to do surf trips with my friends and make a film called Pentacoastal. I wanted to do abstract hand-painted animation and for whatever footage that wasn’t surfing to be aesthetically pleasing and not pointless. Before I took it to Vans I asked Shane if he would be interested. He was keen, so after getting Shane onboard I pitched the idea and Vans backed it. They gave me the chance to make my first major surf film and I’m real grateful for that.
SF: After Wade came to me with the idea, it was more a process of trying to get some costings and a framework in place to make it happen. It can be so hard trying to factor all the invisible variables that come with trying to film surfing, but I got a blueprint together and Wade took it to VANS. They were keen to get behind it. I’m really grateful to them for that—from their perspective we’re pretty much down here at bottom of the world so for them to entrust us with a budget and just let us do our thing was really cool. Once we got the green light I was all in. I knew this was a precious project to Wade, and it turned out it was for me too. Also working with your mate, you’re going to give it all you can.
WT: Who is part of the movie and how did you decide who to get on board?
WG: We ended up getting Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Tanner and Pat Gudauskas, Harry Bryant, Kyuss King, Dylan Graves and Dane Reynolds to come on trips.
WT: What are the pros/cons of filming almost only in Australia?
WG: Not many cons to be honest. It’s the most diverse place to surf on earth. With some truly inspiring landscape.
SF: Australia is amazing! It’s home. It was a struggle to find the balance between escaping crowds and also respecting areas that are precious. Too many people go to places and are so eager to show it off on the ‘Gram like right there and then. That sucks. I tried hard to keep it low key and if that meant sacrificing a backdrop or two, so be it.
WT: It seems like you spent a lot of time in the Australian desert. Can you talk about these missions?
WG: A few places we filmed in were quite sacred so we made sure not to give anything away. The whole premise of the movie was to celebrate getting away from the hoard and enjoying those far-out places with your friends. So we placed a lot of importance on not blowing them out for the sake of a video. That happens too much these days.
SF: It was great to get completely away. I had my swag setup with my laptop inside. It was a logistical nightmare for charging camera gear and trying to film a movie but I loved it. It was really special to bring Nathan [Fletcher] down there as well; it’s such a unique place and it’s really cool to see someone experience it for the first time.
WT: Any wild stories from the road?
SF: There was one trip with Harry and Nate where we were pretty much driving across Australia and the diff blew up in the middle of nowhere, just on dark. I think it was a week before we even got in the water (laughs). Once we got there something else just kept on happening. We got stuck in the desert. Blew a radiator. We got a flat tire and the spare was ceased on it too… But it was the best trip and I’ll keep these memories forever.
WT: Who was a standout/who impressed you the most whilst filming?
SF: Wade! I mean the guy is so modest he’d probably have no waves in the film if he edited it (laughs). But to know where he has come from with injuries (three broken legs) and whatever and watch him shut shit down was really cool. Dane too, obviously. He’s just a favourite of mine to watch surf. We didn’t score but he did some shit that I was tripping on. Harry gets an honourable mention too cause he’s just ‘the Hazz’ (laughs) but everyone was giving it some! It means a lot to me personally when people are down to put in, especially when the waves can be testing.
WG: I really loved watching Harry when we would go to a slab. He’s as good a slab surfer as he is at doing jumps. I was really impressed with his camping setup. Guy has everything you need and more in his Landy, which comes in handy especially when the Landy breaks down. Dane turned some average waves into some of my favourite moments in the film. He is still the best guy to watch surf in my opinion. Pat Gudang does some wild shit in West Oz. I feel bad that we got no waves on the trips with Dylan and Tanner and Nate Florence. I wish we could have given them some better opportunities because they surf so good.
WT: Can you talk about the paintings/animations in the movie, and the process behind them?
SF: We’d storyboard a scene that conveyed Wade’s initial ideas and then I’d go out and shoot it.
I’d cut it together into sequence and Wade would then have a reference to paint from. It was a huge process but so worth it. His paintings were amazing and really came to life on the screen!
WG: I wanted to add some abstraction in between the surfing. Animation seemed like the best way to achieve that. With it being my first animation there was a lot to learn but that all happened naturally throughout the process and I am proud of the end result. Painting and then scanning 1600+ frames for what appears in the movie took me eight months. I think it made me a better painter and I really loved the process. I can’t wait to have an excuse to do more.
WT: How does the collaboration process work, with you both being in charge of directing the film, in terms of before and whilst shooting?
WG: Shane and I both had our areas. This was my bastard child and he respected that. So the initial direction followed my original vision until we had collected the footage. Then we adapted it to what we could with what we had, whilst staying true to the original idea. I know how good he films and that’s why I asked him to be involved, so I didn’t need to get in his grill in that respect. I’m big on collaboration and even though we think totally differently and annoyed the shit out of each other sometimes, every idea was worth the other’s time and I think that’s how it all worked out in the end.
SF: Like I said before, I was grateful that he entrusted me to bring this to life on the screen. I think we have a mutual respect for each other’s creativity, so from the start my goal was to compliment the foundation Wade came to me with, rather than compete with it. Filming-wise, we had a common goal for the overall aesthetics. I was pretty much left to shoot it how I saw fit. But I think even though we approach things very differently, and can piss each other off at times, we took the time to hear each other’s ideas and that only strengthened the end result.
WT: What about post-production?
WG: We hardly slept and we smoked a lot. Coffee stopped working and we nearly burnt Shane’s house down. Twice. Shane can really edit though—I think he knows some stuff other people don’t on the computer. So he pushed the buttons and I sat beside him either on his drum stool or the beanbag. I learnt so much, a lot of which I have now forgotten. He edited the film, but through the process he let me go over every millisecond with him which was cool. Sections were to be mixed and trip or region based. Each point of the pentagram basically. And we just took our time to make things seem right. Both visually and sonically. We also spent a lot of time on transitional parts because that’s a huge thing for cohesion in long plays.
SF: I think we both went a bit crazy (laughs). We filmed longer than we planned cause we’d gotten skunked a heap and just kept chasing content until the last minute. So it was a definite pressure cooker. I feel surf projects are usually a bottom-up approach: where you have a loose plan, but mostly just hoard all the clips and then decide how it works best to put it together. Mainly because you can never guarantee you’ll get the waves. But this was really a top-down approach. There was a clear plan right from the start as to the pentagram points on the map and the chapter structure we wanted to achieve. It was a nightmare at times because you could have the best ideas but if you don’t get the waves it just falls apart. Being a longer format piece I spent a lot of time being mindful of the compositions in frames and tried to find leading-lines that would be complementing between clips. I think Wade was tripping on that sometimes (laughs). Also I always try to be mindful that the artistic direction or theme of a piece doesn’t reach beyond the level of actual surf content but I think we got the balance right. It’s a surf film after all—we wanted it to make you want to escape and go surf with your mates.
WT: This one is more for Wade: how is it to be both directing and starring in a movie you’re working on?
WG: It was fine. A lot of pressure with calling trips on but the surfing side was nice. I haven’t had the chance to film that much in a long time so it was really fun to not be injured and have something to work on. It was all-consuming though and when we weren’t filming I would be in the studio painting or organising the next step. It took me away from my family a lot and it was hard being away from the kids but they were super supportive and I’m lucky to have that love and understanding at home.
WT: The last section at PPass (top image, page 181) is pretty special. Can you talk about that specific trip?
WG: The PPASS trip was a game-changer for the film. After a really unproductive run, that trip was a true gift. As the forecast was variable and the Pipe Pro was on, nobody else flew in. It was me and whoever was already there. A few guys came out and got some amazing waves but for the majority of the time when I was surfing, I was by myself. I’ve never seen waves that good with nobody out before. It’s my favourite wave in the world and to have it to myself for a few days was euphoric. All the other trips seemed to fall into place after that.
SF: This was possibly the biggest win in the whole project. We were actually both away on a Vans catalog shoot and we saw a chance at scoring it and just couldn’t say no. There was only one flight path that would get us there in time which was wild. We literally booked them at like 9pm, packed our shit—I drove all night to get us home to pack our stuff at like 4am, and then we continued straight to Brisbane for our flight—I think it was five flights later we landed around midday and were on the boat with all our bags and went straight into shooting. It was crazy, looking back. But so worth it. It just came together and we got blessed on that one!
WT: With a constant flow of clips released daily on the Internet, can you talk about the importance of full length films for you?
SF: I feel like short amp-up clips die when they just became adverts and mandatory posts, which dilutes what might actually be in them. I’m a fan of the mid-length pieces. It gives the clips some integrity and a purpose. But full-lengths are still my favourite—it’s a challenge to get the actual surf content but you can explore more ground and break away from the air reverse web cult.
WG: It’s just a personal choice. I like the idea of gathering clips for a purpose. I like to watch surf videos with more than one surfer in them. My idea suited a full length so thats what we did. I think 10 minute clips are cool though for someone like Noa who can have you exited for that whole timeframe. But I think there will be a bigger shift towards full length again soon. They tend to be more about surfing and less about advertising. I guess they can also be boring but that’s a personal thing also.
WT: What specific films did each of you grow up watching?
WG: I watched everything that came out. I’m more selective with stuff nowadays but growing up I couldn’t get enough. Taj’s movies were my favourite though. Sabotaj and Montaj. Then Seven Days, Seven Slaves. Campaigns. Raw Irons.
SF: For me it early on it was also all TB (laughs). Sabotaj, Montaj, Seven Days, Seven Slaves. They were on repeat. But Doped Youth was a big one too, then came Campaign 1 & 2andTrilogy. That was my diet of surf films.
WT: What films (short or long) have been stand-out for you in recent years?
WG: I really like what the Rage boys (and Jelly) are doing. I just watched Rage 3 and it’s psycho.
Craig’s stuff is always tasteful. I love The quieter you are the more you can hear. Russel Bierke’s surfing in the movie he did with Andrew Kaineder (Flow State) got me wanting to maybe get hurt again. Weird Waves rules too.
SF: Craig and Kai’s The quieter you are the more you can hear was so well done! Chippa is always doing wild shit. Shaun Manners too! His stuff in Rage 3 was next level. I’m probably most excited for some stuff I know Dane is working on. Also Dion has got something really special coming!
WT: You’ve both been in the surf-film game for years now. How much easier/harder is it to get budgets/make a surf film in recent years, compared to ten years ago?
SF: First up, I’m really grateful to Vans for their trust and backing which allowed us to do this. I’m a bit young to have been able to tap into the money train that it used to be but usually now you have to pitch it where there’s a direct kickback to an advertorial or e-commerce element. I don’t mind that if you’re allowed to keep some creative control. Ideally I’d like to do an independent project and just take it way out of the box. But right now, who knows what’s after Covid-19.
WG: It definitely seems a bit harder now to get budgets than say, the 2000s. But if you have an idea that you believe in you have to just do it. We were so lucky Vans believed in us and supported the film. If they weren’t interested I was going to do it anyway but it would have turned out way shitter and probably would have been filmed on a handycam. I guess surfing is in a weird time right now on its wall street side. But I feel there will always be surfers like John John who will get budget to film. There will forever be great independent filmmaking too and you gotta give it up for the people making great films off their own backs. Like Harry from FUNBOYS.
WT: How do you think the surf-film landscape will be in ten years time?
WG: Who knows. Things are looking pretty reptilian.
SF: There’s a lot of lame vlogs and shit out there but the pendulum swings both ways. Hopefully as that whole sphere of content grows, the pendulum will have an equal counter swing and create a demand for more tasteful full-length pieces too.