A Digital Short Study

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posted by Stab

A coupla weeks ago, Stab Magazine enjoyed a stay at Corona’s La Casa Residency in Byron Bay. Jay Davies also went, and delighted the house with his presence. During daily sessions in a protected corner, the West-Australian turned it on every time and dazzled. We are fond of Jay’s juxtaposed warmth on land and aggression in the water. Along with those belonging to Marine Layer Productions and Salty Beards, Jay’s online clips, released through his portal, Elsegood Productions, are in ours, and Stab’s, top three favourite (and most well-received). And, consistent! While his brother, Wyatt, does all the filming and editing, Jay involves himself quite a lot in the process, and clocks a lot of time watching surfing online. So, in a time when web clips hold such gravitas, despite having such a simple formula (or is it?), Stab Magazine’s Elliot Struck sat down with Jay one night over many Coronas and discussed, among other similar things, what makes a great digital short. Aspiring internet surf stars, take note.

Portrait by Shinya Dalby

Stab: What makes the best clips?
Jay Davies: Music is a huge thing. It should be something you can enjoy by closing your eyes and just listening. But performance is the biggest thing. You also want good-looking waves. If the waves don’t look good, you just don’t wanna watch it. You need to be drawn to what you’re watching. No one wants to fantasize over one-turn waves on a one-foot beachie. It’s about trying to find the fun in it. Every time I sit down with Wyatt (Jay’s brother and filmer/editor), if something doesn’t look like it was fun to do, I say “Let’s cull that.” The main thing I try to do in my clips is to give people the feeling of fun. If I’m having fun, then maybe people can see that and get psyched.

(Interview continued below)

Are you ruthless? For a while I was putting out a lot of s***. I kept posting rushed stuff, just to be consistent. And, to meet demands of people saying, “Where’s the new clip?” and my brother getting rattled that he hadn’t produced something. I was like, stuff that, let’s just do what we wanna do. Wyatt is the most cut throat, he doesn’t wanna shoot on choppy slop. I only wanna shoot on that stuff to learn what I’m doing wrong, y’know? It’s like training for me. I don’t wanna show that stuff online, I only want the best of the best. That’s what we’re both drawn to, working out how to put the best in front of people.

Does having someone on the beach push you? It’s hard having my brother on the beach, ’cause sometimes I push myself to a point where I’m over-trying. Not because it’s my brother, but because it feels like I need to perform. Especially if I go surfing on my own, and not with my mates sharing waves and having fun. If I’m surfing on my own and Wyatt’s there doing his job, I’m doing my job… well, not that it’s a job, it just falls in that category sometimes. And I over-froth, I lose that actual awareness of what I’m trying to do, which is catch a good wave and have fun. Which is the simplest thing. But sometimes you just lose that grip and go, f***, what did I just do for two hours? And why am I stressed? There’s those things that f*** you when you have someone on the beach. If you pretend no one’s there, and you’re just doing it like you would any other day with no one on the beach, that’s the key.

(Interview continued below)

What clips from the last year particularly stick out in your mind? I saw one of Kelly the other day which was a boardshort ad in Indo, and it was just crazy. It’s all filmed and put together really well, but what makes it such a good clip is that he only gets a few waves, probably in the one day, and they’re like, seven of the best waves that you would ever wanna get. You’ve gotta not be afraid of keeping it short if you need to. No one’s got the time and you only wanna get on with showing the best part.

What’s the ideal clip length? I hate to say it but even a five minute Dane Reynolds clip might lose a lot of people two thirds of the way through. Even though everything in it is f*****-up, you’re in a different head space when you sit down to watch a full movie, compared to sitting down and watching a web clip. You want a short hit to get psyched on. That’s our generation’s brains these days, and it’s what happens on the internet. You lose focus. There’s no ideal time, but two minutes is pretty good. A minute and a half even, then you’re done.

Will clips evolve from the current trend? I’d love to see it all get really raw again, like back in the day, first thing you see: Bang! Someone just racing for something. It’s what you watch something for, to get psyched. Sometimes you watch to see how someone surfs, other times to see how they edited it, but the majority of the time it’s to get psyched. Back in the days of Taylor Steele movies you’d get amped through the roof. I’m not saying we need to bring punk back, just have a song with a good groove and keep the editing really simple and raw. – Elliot Struck