Deus ex Machina and the Journey of Se7en Signs
Guest contributor and Se7en Signs director Nathan Myers talks about the first trip of the film with Harrison Roach and Joel Fitzgerald.
The destination of every journey is to arrive back home and see it all with new eyes.
As we screened the final Se7en Signs film at the Deus Temple of Enthusiasm in Canggu, Bali last week, it surely felt like coming home. This is where the journey began, in more ways than one.
Deus Indonesia founder Dustin Humphrey and I used to travel together for SURFING Magazine projects. We both did several projects with Taylor Steele, which in many ways led us to this point. Se7en Signs is a tribute to the travel-film style documentaries Sipping Jetstreams and Castles in the Sky, but with Innersection’s own twist. Where the Innersection films gave surfers a platform to create their own Momentum or Stranger Than Fiction, Se7en Signs was giving the filmmakers a chance to make a surf film based on cultural, scenery and the romance of the road.
As we sat in the Temples’ creative offices briefing the team on the mission ahead, it felt like old times. Then they loaded the trucks with camera gear and extra boards, fired up the bikes and hit the road. D.Hump and I were left in the dust…and that didn’t feel like old times.
But the team we’d sent to Java was all-star. Harrison Roach and Joel Fitzgerald had both shaped their own boards and tuned their own Deus bikes for this trip. The plan was to get up to a region they knew a bit about in Java, then wait for a big swell before heading out to a series of breaks that hadn’t been filmed before. A completely new wave.
There were some good longboard sessions and a lot of fun times in Java that never saw the final cut of the film, because when the swell did come, it was a really a big one. Dustin and I saw it coming from Bali and just couldn’t sit on our hands anyway. We jammed up to Java and met the team in time to witness the epic sessions that would form the finale of Se7en Signs.
We actually arrived in the dark, so had no idea what the ocean looked like. There’s no where to stay in the tiny town nearby, so we were sleeping on the floor of a local restaurant. The restaurant served fish and fried octopus bits, which we called “octo-corn.” Not much else. But Joel Fitz loved it there. He kept raving about the place. Wanted to write ‘em up on Travelocity. Such a legend.
You could hear the swell before you saw it. Thunder in the darkness, rumbling against the pre-dawn prayer calls and rooster crows. And when you saw it, you couldn’t quite be sure it was really that big. No one else in the water, of course. No previous knowledge. No lineup spots or paddle-out knowledge. When Joel and Harry finally reached the lineup we saw just how big it really was. (At one point, Dustin mumbled something about “biggest waves he’s ever seen in Indo,” and he’s seen A LOT of waves in Indo.)
I guess the “Behind the Sections” video and the movie tell the rest of the story. The boys surfed the first day of the swell, and the second was just way too big – washing through with nowhere to sit or paddle out. The third day they scored again, and that was it.
Both Joel and Harry broke a few boards and leashes, and swimming back to shore was no easy feat. I always thought the session was over when they finally got in, but usually they just grabbed another board and headed back out. Every wave was a leap of faith. A test of courage. And I’m really glad we had three cameras on the beach to catch all the angles. We brought a water filmer for this one too, but after his first swim he claimed it was too sketchy to continue. Gnarly out there.
The boys put a lot of miles on those bikes and boards for this trip…and the final result is pretty amazing. Portuguese filmmaker Joao Rito was the Innersection winner to cover this section of the film, and did a great job with creating his own music and really capturing the epic journey the surfers undertook to discover this wave.
One trip down and we’d really set the bar high for the rest of the Se7en Signs trips to come.