Photos by Rob English
In a style that finally befits our surf scene, "Dark Fall" premiered to a raucous crowd, some sweet music (Chris Arena, Jumpship & ASG) and a venue (House of Blues in Atlantic City) that set the stage for a kick-ass surf film. It was an unreal scene and way more Hollywood than the typical showings in the local community center.
The surf flick was one of the most highly anticipated in years, as it promised a high def depiction of our beloved New Jersey in all it's glory. And even with our hardcore surfers' bs meter at a perpetual high, it didnt disappoint. Anchored by a cast of our best pros (Sam Hammer, Zack Humphreys, Andrew Gesler, Chris Kelly, Mike Gleason, Matt Keenan, Rob Kelly, Al & Clay Pollioni...), the film took the crowd through the 4 seasons (with winter getting the biggest hoots, of course), highlighting the colors, sounds, waves and temps that make our experience here what it is. The level of surfing was as solid as any I've seen in a surf film and I felt well and truly represented, for perhaps the first time. There was no filler footage and no holding back as these guys charged some days that will blow your mind. One particular session off some unnamed jetty saw huge air drops and long, dark barrels in surf that was way, way overhead. There are a significant number of pros in our little state (about 12 full time) and every one of them wants the dream more than the next. Their hard work, commitment and pure love for the sport shines through with every air, ridiculous barrel, late drop and roundhouse they pull.
In between the Jersey thing, Dark Fall takes the boys' on the road to Teahupoo (Tahiti) and The North Shore of Hawaii. The North Shore section was particularly impressive if just for the fact that it showed that the boys have been putting their time in and earning respect from the locals that are diplomatically described as hard core. With the world converging on the tiny "7 mile miracle" every winter, it's not the most welcoming place in the world, but our boys have found a second home and a place amongst the chaos. Gleason, Humphreys, Gesler and the Pollioni brothers pull into 8'-10' Pipe and Backdoor with the aplomb of guys surfing 2ft. summer Jersey. No wasted movements, no claims, no pomp and circumstance. They're battling it out and holding their own. And, more importantly, the locals respect their gig. Pipe heavyweights Kalani Chapman and Flynn Novak share some cool thoughts on the openness and positive attitude they've received from our Jersey ambassadors and those guys don't give it up unless you've earned it. As a bonus, the footage was peppered with some other big name international pros like Jamie O'Brien, Derek Ho, Braden Dias & Cory Lopez. Kelly Slater himself showed up in Tahiti and shared some fun reef passes before the big day that saw perfect, grinding barrels at Teahupoo.
Airs also play a huge part in this film and the young guns in particular should take note of the innovation, body positioning and fearlessness our lads display. It's pretty sick stuff and everyone sticks way more than they don't. Thought it cool too that the same guys pulling into barrels are the same ones hucking themselves above the lip. Once again, it's that versatility you need to make it here and the effort is unmistakable. With a deep dose of class, the film concluded with a generous nod to Dean Randazzo, the godfather of the New Jersey pro scene and a solid inspiration, particularly for his relentless bouts with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Sir Randazzo (as he should be referred) paved the way for everyone you see on the screen and all the boys take a moment to share their thanks and respects. In a group that's as competitive as they come, it's obvious that they're all just fine with battling for second. And by the way, Sir Randazzo still rips. There's one backside, lay-back, look-back-in-the-barrel that was pure poetry in motion. Ahhhhhhhhhhh...... The Director, Alex DePhillipo, is graciously having another screening at the House of Blues in AC on August 13th for those that couldn't make the first. Do yourself a favor and get on down there to see it. There's nothing like seeing the film on the big screen and you'll get to thank the boys in person for representin'.