Dear Suburbia, will world premiere August 2nd during the US Open of Surfing and it’s shaping up to be quite the piece of celluloid. A few weeks ago, Kai loaded up his PA Blake Myers, about 20 hard drives, a few bottles of wine, a bounty of Coors Light, and one too many Harmony Korine films and headed into the mountains near Big Bear, California.
They returned exclaiming death to the web clip and the triumphant return of the barrel — whatever that means. They also returned with a rough cut of the film and some seriously awkward silences between them. Kai explains his reasoning for the random landlocked hideout and touches on what to expect from Dear Suburbia,.
Photography from Sugarloaf by Kai Neville and Blake Myers
Kai Neville: Dear Suburbia, is a freewheeling narrative. I don't dive too deeply into stories or anything, but with these films (Modern Collective, Lost Atlas, Dear Suburbia,) I'm much more interested in what I'm looking at and telling a story through the actual visuals and generally getting people excited to surf and travel.
Since the start of this film I’ve had certain images in my head about the absurd nature of some people’s lifestyle and what we do. We are so lucky to surf. It’s an escape. What the fuck would we do if we didn't surf? How weird is it and how lucky are we?
I have reservations and fascinations about Middle America — and even though this isn't Middle America it does seem that the more you venture away from the coast things get pretty fucking weird. I don't know what it is. Inland Australia is empty — like completely empty. America, however, is densely populated and it freaks me out. I think on the drive out I was wondering about how the fuck people live here, what do they do, how different their lives are. I wondered what goes on behind the closed doors. I can't be away from the ocean a week without accumulating the weirdest anxiety.
This was the perfect setting for what we were doing. It worked well with certain themes of the movie. Why we do what we do, the beauty in travel and the unknown. The major contrast of the spontaneous lifestyle on the road juxtaposed with the sleepy suburban lifestyle. Leaving the four-bedroom with a picket fence and the 9 to 5 behind and getting reckless.
We found a cabin in Sugarloaf that was rad. It was basically a wood hut with a fireplace, family décor — it looked like they just stepped out. I set up my travelling editing suite and got to work. And then it snowed the first night. It was June, but it snowed.
With Blake there, it was good to have someone to share the lunacy with and bounce cuts and edits off one another. Any longer and we would have gone pretty mad. Up all night banging music and cutting up surfing clips and airs in the woods. There was a Big Billy Bass hanging on the wall — you know the ones that sing? That would fire up and that would mean break time. After staring at the screen for hours, Billy would light up and it was time to for a cold Coors and a moment of fresh air.
We drank a lot of coffee, wine and Coors Light. Twenty minutes away is a cool town with Mexican restaurants and cafes, so we would mingle with locals and get weird looks after telling them we were in town editing a surf film.
I don’t watch too many movies before I edit, but I did recently watch Elephant, Last Days, and Control. You should all check out the surf films Magnaplasm, Searching for Tom Curren, Feral Kingdom and These Colours Taste like Music. Very cool shit.
Some of the scenes are a mash of surreal images. The audience perception may differ but these are some of the images that came to me after exploring this absurd theme.
I went into the cabin with a pile of raw footage; I came out with a rough layout of the whole film. Now I'm just tweaking it all and we’ll show the world at the US Open in August, and then we’ll be touring it around the US, including some of Middle America. We’re loading up the vans and just hitting the road.