Following on from a spectacular debut year is tough. And just like that notorious second album syndrome the 2014 Shoreshots Irish Surf Film Festival needed to pull something out of the bag. Fortunately the weather played ball and Europe's epic winter defined a remarkable festival.
The edits were dominated by XXL Ireland, and the winning edit by Dylan Stott barrelled from top-to-bottom, incorporating standout sessions at Mullaghmore and Prowlers whilst retaining the honesty which permeates the Irish scene. For Craig Griffin, a guest judge and director of Uncharted Waters (the excellent Wayne Lynch documentary also shown on the Saturday) said that the insight provided to an outsider swung the pendulum towards Dylan. Essentially what was a bedroom production was elevated by the frankness and humour on display in the heaviest of situations. And we'll be dropping the edit just as soon as he finishes filming mobsters in New York.
I knew I had a pretty good thing though – then during the screening it was pretty loud with hoots and whistles. That felt good. When they called my name for overall winner I was walking on air.Dylan Stott
"I didn't think I was going to win." said Dylan Stott "I know how talented Peter Clyne, Kevin smith and Mickey are. I knew I had a pretty good thing though – then during the screening it was pretty loud with hoots and whistles. That felt good. When they called my name for overall winner I was walking on air. To win something like that in a room filled with my peers is nearly otherworldly. The level of film was so much higher this year and I still got the nod. Cloud 9. Those hundreds of hours of mental anguish editing the thing suddenly didn't seem so bad."
The other awards? Last year's winner Fergal Smith came in a close second with typically ridiculous surfing. Peter Clyne received the overall cinematography award, having a hand and several feet in more than one classy edit. Paul O'Kane received an award for being an all round legend and helping to improve water rescue standards. Other standout edits included all of them, not least Cain Kilcullen who almost snuck under the radar into a winning slot but left with nothing but acclamation and a hangover.
"I'm delighted with how things went this year, we've already seen a huge jump in standards as surfers and film-makers start saving some of their best work for the big screen." Said one half of the festival Aidan Ellis "We had way more edits submitted than we had time to show and we really could have filled the cinema twice over. The quality of work coming in made it really hard to decide what got shown, especially after such an epic few months of swell all over Europe.
We've already seen a huge jump in standards as surfers and film-makers start saving some of their best work for the big screen. Aidan Ellis
The feedback we got from surfers was also all positive about the event too. I think they enjoyed meeting up to enjoy the show and maybe be recognised by their peers or brands in the industry. All those cold, lonely winter surf missions really pay off when they have an audience cheering them on over a few beers in the cinema. The judging might be taken seriously but most of us are really there to enjoy the show and meet up for a party afterwards. For such a small island, it's still incredibly rare that everyone comes together and compares stories about what they've been up to all year and maybe plan a surf mission for the months head. We had a ball putting it all together and really hope we can try and keep it going for next year."
"It was such a privilege to watch the Irish winter unfold on the big screen." said Monster's Jonathan McKechnie "I think the right winners were chosen and additional props go out to Conor and that screamer from Tom Butler."
"It's about getting the surf community of Ireland together." According to Allan Mulrooney "The surfers, photographers, brands, and really important this year all the young innovative artists and entrepreneurs under one roof, to meet, chat and enjoy many many beers. The standard of surfing has improved so much here but the standard of events and the opportunities for the youth and talented hasn't grown at all. Hopefully we can help to change that."
On a side note, when the votes rolled in for The Winter Session and young Irish matador Conor Maguire had been voted in by the 36 shortlisted surfers the obvious thing was for us at Magicseaweed was to hijack the presentation at Shoreshots. The party went up to 11 after the presentation – as only the Irish can – and that's all we can commit to paper and you can probably guess the rest.
*We'll be dropping the stunning festival edits one by one in the coming weeks. Also stay tuned for more from The Winter Session.