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How Was Ireland’s First Surf Film Festival?

by on Friday 29th March, 2013   15588 Visits   Comments

“IT’S well organised isn’t it?” Remarked more than one person, surprised that an Irish surf event hadn’t already descended into chaos. Far from it, the the first ever Shore Shots Irish Surf Film Festival held in the regenerated Smithfield area of Dublin proved a roaring success, not least for Guinness sales. The loudest shouts of the night were saved for the Short Film Category, the heart of the festival. Hooting and hollering from a group not normally found together but coalesced by love of the West Coast.

So who won? Mickey Smith submitted two edits, one of Ferg, one of Tom, either could have won but the Ferg edit claimed it. In second place was Peter Clyne, whilst James Skerritt’s third place went down to a casting vote elicited from an absent judge who had to be levered up from the bar below. Welcome to Ireland. You can organise the best event in the world but you’d better make sure there’s a piss-up at the end of it and the free bar bill cashed-out at double the allocated amount. Chris McClean won the international section with Beyond the Scars a short film about surfing freezing corners of the North Sea.

It wasn’t formal, just a chance to see what’s been going on in the rest of the country and encourage those really hardcore and inspiring surfers who are out in the water day after day.Shane and Aidan, festival organisers

The boys here take understatement to their own unique level, something which is reflected in their films and their reticence to applaud themselves. But this was a small chance to celebrate their own success rather than allowing the rest of the world to celebrate it for them. From the mastery of Mickey to the retro film styling of Yuji and the crazy genius of Dylan Stott meant choosing a winner wasn’t the point. Ireland is alive with talent and for one night amidst the Smithfield monoliths to the tiger economy flitted a deep shoal of creativity. But you already knew that.

This is all you can see of Ferg's winning edit for now... It'll be live on his site soon. Encompassing two years of his life this one is special, and having lost his sponsors (Relentless and Analog left surfing) this short film will be the primary display in his come-and-get-me shop window. It was epic, you'll like it.

It was great to get everyone under the same roof and that the judges weren’t afraid to pick two bodyboard clips in the top three. It shows how Ireland is and that there is no separation between the two sports.Shane Meehan

Mickey pulled out all the stops with his edits, a series of sessions spreading back two years and planned for release a while ago but canned by the departure of Relentless from surfing. Lucky for the festival and the audience, but unlucky for anyone who fancied a tilt at the top facing such a unique set of circumstances. But whilst he might have won he is flanked by a cadre of top young talent all out there all making quality edits appear from a combination of talent and determination. It certainly isn’t the money you go into filming surfing for and in second place sits Peter Clyne a phenomenal young talent, “he’s a genius” Stephan Kilfeather told me in no uncertain terms. Peter naturally denied this, admitting to any kind of natural ability is pretty passe.

“It was some buzz seeing Shambles getting kegged on the big screen. Coming second in the contest was a nice surprise too. Shore Shots is another epic day (and night) in the Irish surf calendar.”  Said Peter Clyne on coming second.

“It’s great to see events like Shore Shots film festival happening in Ireland.” Said a chuffed number three James Skerritt. “When you make films its always motivating to have the opportunity to see them on an actual cinema screen and festivals like make it happen. The Lighthouse Cinema is a amazing venue and looking forward to heading back there next year. Coming third topped off the night for me for sure, bodyboarding in Ireland is such a massive influence for everything that is happening here now so it was great to see Shane and Shambles getting the recognition they deserve.”

“I loved it” Said Shane Meehan “It was great to get everyone under the same roof and that the judges weren’t afraid to pick two bodyboard clips in the top three. It shows how Ireland is and that there is no separation between the two sports. The likes of Ferg and Hugh pick up the boog and we longboard and surf too. That is the next clip, reverse rolls!”

Aidan Ellis and Shane O’ Donoghue deserve a huge amount of credit for organising the whole thing. “I first came across the event a few months ago and got in touch with Shane and Aidan.” Said Monster manager, Allan Mulrooney who saw potential in the nascent festival and wanted to use his green fingers to help realise the event’s ambition. “The lads already had a great plan in place with the Generator and the Lighthouse Cinema. After I sat with them in our first meeting I saw that they had sourced some great international edits and a few surf blockbusters which would really draw the crowd. I also saw where I could help and how Monster becoming involved would bring the event to a new level. They had an Irish edit section but had no prize and no way of drawing the videographers in. We all love a cash prize so put up €500 for the best Irish edit. After that I set about putting together a team of judges from the surf industry and help to spread the word.

It was our first year so we really didn’t expect everything to go half as well as it did. We ended up with surfers travelling from all over to take part and we surprised everyone by filling two big cinema theatres on a Saturday night. We were trying to build an event where the real athletes and film-makers could meet up and hang out while the rest of us could check out their photos, buy them a beer and watch some amazing footage of what they’d been up to all winter. Shane and Aidan, festival organisers
“The Irish edits section was what I really looking forward to and I wasn’t disappointed. Peter Clyne and James Skerrit really showed us why body boarding is such an integral part of the Irish surfing scene with some great surfing from Shambles and Shane Meehan. Dylan Stott had some wicked POV action and it was great to his stylish antics on the big screen.

“I suppose it came as no surprise that Fergal took the top prize down along with Mickey on camera. What was such a surprise to a lot of people was the level of surfing Fergal shows in the clip. He has some of this footage over two years so every clip is insane!  For me I voted for Fergal’s edit because I felt that he had pushed the level of paddle surfing to a new level here. I really think the edit will blow people away when it comes out. As always Ferg was really humble with the win and was stoked that the reaction in the cinema was so positive.”

Our unofficial pick is this out-there short by Dylan Stott. “We had no budget and no film gear save a GoPro and I’ve no training for editing video. I stoked to be shown in the same venue as them.” And then when asked if he could put it on Vimeo afterwards he said: “This is all pretty much for the laugh. I’m pretty chuffed for getting a Dropbox account. That’s about all I can do for the year.”

We were lucky that we got an amazing venue for the afters—everyone likes a good party but it’s also great to be able to show off how much quality surfing, photography and film-making is going in Ireland. If we can get half that amount of good footage next year then we’d love to try and do it all again.Shane and Aidan, festival organisers

What about the actual movies on the Saturday? Well Taylor Steele’s Here & Now was a rootsy return to the surf flick for Mr Steele, a bro-spectacular which proved to be remarkably watchable. Was it all filmed on the same day? An amazing achievement. Storm Surfers 3D was a great movie, great characters, pinpoint character development and the conflict between the insanity of Ross Clark-Jones and the conservatism of Tom Carroll played out beautifully. Best of all was the opportunity to see a new perspective, 3D works in surfing and the angles broke acres of ground. But it’s not really a big wave movie, more a buddy movie, and it looked dated juxtaposed against the winning shorts where they were paddling and sticking more critical waves than Storm Surfers 3D were towing. Don’t even think about comparing it to what has gone down at Peahi these past winters.

It was a blast, however you top-and-tail it the vibe was genuine, everyone had a ball. “The event also gave me a good chance to throw a party with some carnie-folk juggling, fire breathing and some good tunes! Said Allan “To say it was a late night would be an understatement. The crew limped back to their trains, buses and cars the next days and made their way back west with some almighty hangovers.”

“We will see some incredible surfing here throughout the year and hopefully this event now gives the surfers and videographers a place to showcase their best bits. I’d like to thank every surfer, photographer, videographer or surf fan for making the effort and getting to the event. That’s what made the event such a success and that is what will drive it on in the future.”

The crowded auditorium hooting and hollering the shorts © 2014 Brian Carroll


James Skerritt accepting his award © 2014 Mikee Hamilton


The folks behind the scenes getting some much needed R&R © 2014 Brian Carroll


Does the man on the right look familiar? ... © 2014 Brian Carroll


James Skerrritt, Tom Gillespie and friends. Entrusted with Mick's prize purse Tom was last seen heading for the hills. © 2014 Brian Carroll


Goofy and proud © 2014 Brian Carroll


The Storm Surfers audience getting the full 3D © 2014 Brian Carroll


Can you tell who the sponsor was? And no the answer is not Red Bull © 2014 Brian Carroll


The most hospitable (and drunk) nation on earth © 2014 Brian Carroll


It was a great festiva and we've avoided using the word craic anywhere... © 2014 Brian Carroll

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