New York and New Jersey have yet more waves today. Not huge, but decent: waist-high, offshore. When the metropolitan area experiences any run of surf, no matter how vanilla it seems by Cali standards, it’s tough to stay out of the water. But this evening, surfers willingly stay dry and gather at Anthology Film Archives in the East Village for the New York public premiere of Mikey DeTemple’s SIGHT/SOUND, hosted by SMASH.
I ask SMASH’s Tyler Breuer if he surfed today.
“Was there surf today?” he queries.
“There was in Jersey…”
He looks mildly dejected and explains that he’s been running around all day, setting up for tonight’s event.
Twenty minutes later, a sunburned guy in a Hawaiian shirt walks in and asks Tyler, “You surf today?”
I linger just long enough to hear a rueful “No…”
The show is sold out, and at 8:30, the theater is packed. Tyler walks up to the mic and says he is especially excited to host the film since Mikey is a local guy. “It’s some of the best New York footage I’ve seen in a while,” he adds, “so don’t beat him up.”
Mikey DeTemple, unmistakable with his round frames and side swept blonde locks, glances around, and says, “Wow, this is one of the most packed premieres we’ve had.”
There are actually people sitting on the floor around the edges of the room.
SIGHT/SOUND, which features Chris Del Moro, Kassia Meador, Alek Parker, Ryan Burch, and Tyler Warren (among others), is Mikey’s ode to the “elegant and raw” order that is surfing.
The film begins with an ’80s techno beat on downers. It marries tightly cropped, slow motion barrels and intense action with blazing sunsets. From longboards and lord boards to bodyboards and power hacks, there is literally something for everyone in SIGHT/SOUND. And what kind of right coaster would Mikey be if he didn’t include some cold water exploits?
“For this film, I had one thing that I knew was missing, and it was something key to me, that I really wanted to include,” Mikey says. “Snow.”
“I’m from New York. I’ve lived in New York pretty much my whole life, so I wanted to include that. We were going to go to Iceland, we were going to go to Norway, we were going to go to Tofino. We had all these options, and I was just watching the weather and I had everybody on standby. Finally, everything really started coming together for Nova Scotia and it was a really easy option. I called everyone and was like, ‘Meet me in Portland. It’s going to snow a lot.’ Pretty much, the response was, ‘It’s April 1st–is this a joke?’ But it snowed like 16 inches up there. It was insane.”
Icy New England and aqua Caribbean, old school noseriding and progressive airs – it’s all tied together by Mikey’s stylish aesthetic. The coloring is beautiful. The soundtrack is…
“That’s really my favorite thing to do, is pick the soundtrack,” Mikey says. “I really enjoy listening to music and finding new stuff. I don’t ever want to put something in the movie that’s been heard a hundred times.” But if his last film, Picaresque, is any indicator, it’s music that you’ll probably start hearing a lot. Many of the songs on Picaresque’s soundtrack were hijacked by mainstream advertisements, so yeah, Mikey has a pretty good ear. In fact, even the environmental audio – the grate of wax application, whooshing water, and footsteps in high grasss – is pitch perfect.
Not only is the film hypnotizing, it’s also fun. It inspires serious surf envy, and I surfed this morning. (Sorry, Tyler.) And that’s pretty much the point, isn’t it?
“Basically, it’s just the people that influence me the most,” Mikey explains. “I want to go surfing with people that I can just get psyched on and watch, and I think have amazing style, and can ride anything. I mean, I handpicked everyone in the film.”
With a crew from all over the planet, the logistics aren’t always easy, but “it’s still awesome,” Mikey says. And he was obviously thrilled about showing them New York’s potential: huge, rolling swells “somewhere just east of the city.”
“Chris Del Moro–he’s been everywhere. All over the world. He, in my mind, is one of the best surfers I can imagine, and he was actually losing it. He’d never been to New York before, no less surfed perfect point-like lefts. They were all in love with the place and had amazing first experiences. I told them all they should probably never come back because they’ll never get it that good again,” he laughs.
Mikey says that he was heavily influenced by the surf films of yore and SIGHT/SOUND is definitely a sort of throwback to the pre-Innersection days. Tyler asks, “How is it making a movie in this climate, when everything’s changing so fast?”
“The Internet’s kind of ruined the world, pretty much,” Mikey states, matter-of-factly. “People go out now and they film a session and that afternoon, it’s up on Vimeo and all over Facebook and Surfline and whatever–literally five hours later. The classic surf movie is kind of… I wouldn’t say it’s phasing out or anything, but… I think it’s cool that there are people out there still trying to do it. That’s what I want to do. I want to keep making the classic surf movie, like they did in the ’60s, where some of this footage is two and a half years old, but none of you guys have seen it yet. There’s no difference between that and stuff that was filmed this afternoon that’s up on Vimeo tonight.”
“So support your local filmmakers!” Tyler concludes.