Ah, the dirtbag lifestyle is a wonderful thing. The freedom and rewards are boundless, especially when you’re tough enough and smart enough, to make it work to your advantage like Taylor Lane and Ben Judkins. This duo, of course, turned one of the most yucky aspects of human existence into something rather beautiful: they used cigarette butts found on their local beach (combined with recycled Marko Foam) to create a fish that was actually really fun to ride.
Just ask Jack Johnson, who the boys got in touch with and who then laid feet to wax on the tobacco-ridden creation on his beloved North Shore. And man, did he make the thing look good. But this is definitely a passion project for Ben and Taylor – who periodically finds himself living in his van when he’s not at home in Venice. “Our own personal paychecks have made this thing go,” Taylor told me.
We hosted Ben and Taylor at our EVOLVE Summit in August as they spoke about their cigarette surfboard project and laboring to get a film on the project finished in the next year (working name: The Ciggy Board Boys). The only problem has been getting the film paid for. Well, last weekend certainly helped. The board ridden by Jack sold for $21,000 during an auction at the Oceana SeaChange Summer Party, half of which went to paying off the boys credit card debt and other expenditures on the project. The other half went to SeaChange, which to date has raised over $8 million for ocean conservation. Ben’s and Lane’s board was recommended for the auction by a mutual connection.
So is this a new means of raising money for the film? Have said celebrity ambassador ride said board – then auction off the prized piece? “This was less of trying to milk celebrity status than endorse the board and we went back and forth on whether we wanted to do it,” Taylor said. “But this may be a way to (further) fund the film – and people would get a bitchin board that’s functional and goes towards a great cause.”
So what’s the actual timeline on the film that shows how cigarette butts (yuck) can go towards making cool things to ride? They’re hoping for the next year as Taylor says they have 60 percent of the film in the can. But they don’t want to sell interest to raise money and lose creative control (probably a good call). “That’s really our goal but it’s hard because if we’re not funded we’ve got to continue to do our day jobs but that’s the give and take if you want to keep some level of creative control,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to throw a bunch of people on board we may or may not be happy with when we just want to tell a story of the board and the journey. (Despite not having much money), we’re in a unique position to say what we want.” Yes, the dirtbag lifestyle definitely has its advantages.