The fifth iteration of Ireland's Shore Shots Surf Film Festival has just wrapped and with a fully packed cinema, a huge cultural offering and the who's who of Irish surfing royalty amongst the ranks, it is sure to be a year to remember.
It's a difficult task, reinventing and reimagining something year on year to keep people coming back and interested. But the Shore Shots team added a few extra surprise bits this year. Yes, you get to see some of the best movies around at the moment, and the Irish short edit competition is incredible, but there's also talks with the likes of Alan Simms, Belfast's techno night extraordinaire, chats with photographers and videographers and much more.
Having attended since its incarnation (bar last year, as my daughter had just been delivered by a stork) I’ve watched this event grow from a speculative gathering created by Shane, Aidan and Allan in back streets of Dublin through to a must-attend surf culture crossover / inclusive / cultural melting pot which celebrates all of Ireland from its Sligo outpost.
The diversity of entertainment on offer struck me the most, and how that side of the festival has developed over the past few years. I’d walk from watching William Aliotti slot a Lagos wedge to Lucia Griggi talk about years on the frontline of surf photography to a surprise find of Alan Simms talking about bringing techno to the Shine nightclub in Dublin during the wild west 1980s and 90s – with everything in between. This is a cultural event which we should all attend given half a chance.
Surfing wise, if you can slip the noose of last night, a few minutes in the car either north, south or west will see you at some of the finest points and reefs in Europe.
As a side note being a judge in the Irish short edits panel was tougher than ever with four or five entries which could all win for different reasons, and only one Maldives trip for the winner, it was an impossible choice. The level of filming / surfing talent on this stretch of coastline is phenomenal.
Also an honourable mention to Tullamore Dew and the best sponsor an Irish surf fest could have to fuel a Saturday night which would have sunk Hunter S Thompson but not the Strandhill / Bundoran or Lahinch crews. And congratulations Peter Conroy, Captain Safety of Irish surfing, on surviving your stag do which coincided with the event.
Finally thanks to Allan Mulrooney, Shane O’Donoghue and Aidan Ellis, plus all the willing hands, for putting in the months of work to bring this together every year. Give yourself a few days off but we are all looking forward to seeing what you bring together next year and you can count on our full support.
Last year was my first taste of Ireland's Shore Shots Surf Film Festival – and it was always going to be a tough gig to follow. Yet this year, the second set in the stunning Sligo Model after shifting west from Dublin, was a captivating mix of all things Ireland, once again showcasing that tight-knit surfing community.
The talks intriguing, the films were top notch and the short movie competition truly popped the hood of the Irish scene, offering up some of the Emerald Isle's best surfing over the past year and, hell, maybe even some of the best in Europe.
It's no surprise though, is it? That crew have drawn blood and laughed together. Got flogged at Mully together. Those relationships between filmer and surfer are as important as the partnership between ski driver and tow surfer – each person on the job knows the intricacies of the other, such as, where to train the lens or sling the ski. Given the right platform, plus a healthy dose of whisky on tap, those resulting short edits flow along with an electrically charged atmosphere. And it's here that Shore Shots sings.
As with last year, those arty shots or portraits of surfers, photographers, videographers shown in mega-size, were met with good humoured jabs from the crowd, but, equally, the barrels and XXL commitment pulled cheers and applause, yells and nods in comradery at what their peers have achieved.
Chris Case took home the best Irish edit for Brotherhood, bagging a trip to The Maldives as a result, with Stephen Kilfeather's film starring Gearoid McDaid taking second place. And if that clip's anything to go by, Gearoid may just be the most barrelled surfer in Ireland.
This is a cultural event and it was as much fun sitting and watching movies such as Dirty Old Wedge as it was listening to the talks from some of the best in the business. Such as, Lucia Griggi, interviewed by big wave charger Easkey Britton. A multi-faceted chat, dipping into industry issues surrounding women and vignettes into Lucia's time spent shooting on the world tour.
I put it out there last year but it bears repeating; Barry Mottershead, South African transplant who now calls Sligo home, is a bonafide story-teller. With Andrew Cotton as his interviewer, you got a legitimate dip behind the curtain of the big wave scene and the anecdotes that come with the territory. Their conversation had flow and poise – a solid blend of humour, shock and insight.
And the evenings. The Irish contingent sure know how to throw a party. The crux of it? Shore Shots is a calendar staple for Irish surfing, and in my opinion, an exemplary show-case for all things Emerald Isle. Cheers to all the crew for a great time, already looking forward to next year.
The atmosphere in the main cinema for the Shorts at Shore 2017 was like little else I've experienced. I went as a first timer and the way that packed house lit up for each and every film should have had me on my feet, thrusting a beer in the air, making noise with my fellow fans and industry comrades throughout—had I not been doing my best to concentrate on the extremely difficult task of picking a winner to send to the Maldives.
So, while I sat rotating paper, pen, beer and applause, hooting and hollering filled the arena as Ireland's most esteemed chargers exited emerald green pits. There were recoiled yells as folks were sent over the falls at shallow slabs and sighs and laughs as some popped up, arms in the air, smiles on their faces giving it the all clear.
And then there were the laughs. The Dutch Pancake Crew began the somewhat unexpected bout of comedy by basically learning how to ride a hydro-foil on screen and Tow to Toe starring Peter Conroy kept it light as he comedically hung up his guns, tow boards and stashed away skis to spend a winter walking a longboard.
The range of exceptional editing styles, filming techniques, story-telling, humour and straight-charging made this beyond difficult for us at MSW as judges, but in the end we congratulate Chris Case for the second year in a row on taking the win for Brotherhood—an encapsulating tale of the crew pushing the limits and Mullaghmore Head this particular winter.
However, there's a lot more to this festival than film. There are the talks, the characters and the stories they have to tell. And one I can't help but mention begins with sitting down on a hungover Sunday (Saturday night's bar crawl was something else...) to listen in on Andrew Cotton playing the role of interviewer with South African and now Sligo resident, Barry Mottershead.
It felt as close as you'll come to getting in behind that big wave scene as Barry recounted how his love for big waves began in Ireland, how they and the people kept him there, plus a horrific but wittily told tale of his first experience at Nazare that left him running up the beach holding his fin-sliced face together.
I could go and on with detailed accounts of every time I sat in on a chat, was struck by a big green barrel shot on a wall or wowed by outstanding cinema, and yet I must stop. So, thanks to Shane O’Donoghue, Aidan Ellis and Allan Mulrooney for an invite to an outstanding festival—what's on for 2018?
From the Organisers
Each year, the event is painstakingly organised by Allan Mulrooney, Shane O'Donoghue and Aidan Ellis. It's a few days after the event that we catch up with the boys to ask about their event highlights.
Allan said: ''I grew up in Sligo, and grew up with most of these guys. The festival gives me an opportunity to hero what people like Shambles, Barry Mottershead, Conor Maguire and Gearoid are doing on a daily basis. It takes a lot of guts to follow your passion and do what you love. It’s too easy to fall into the norm, get that 9-5 job and let your surfing go down the drain. These guys are not only chasing every swell, they are dedicating their lives to the ocean and working alongside some incredible talent, they are now capturing and documenting that journey.
''Shore Shots gives them an opportunity to showcase that passion to a captive audience. As always we had key learning’s from the event and we already know what needs to change next year to build and grow it. But for the audience that came this year, I think they met a great crew, had a few drinks and made some new memories. As a community on the west coast of Ireland, Shore Shots is that one time of year where you can be reassured that even when you’re surfing alone on that freezing winter day, your part of an epic community.''
''We raised the roof again this year with a wedged cinema for the always entertaining edits,'' Shane adds.
''We were thrilled to showcase Ian Mitchinson's photography. But for me the really standout elements were the live interviews. We loved having people like Easkey, Lucia, Cotty and Conor Maguire spend time describing their achievements and plans. Next year we will add more Irish figures from the arts- Dorothy Cross spoke this year and we need to hear about not just surfing but people's relationship with the sea on Ireland's western coast. Big up msw for making the trip.''
Aidan says: ''Speaking for the organisers, I'd have to say we were pretty pleased with how things turned out this year. We were able to showcase the surfing and talents of some of the best surfers in Europe on the big screen and then hang out with them over a beer afterwards.
''As always the edits were a dramatic rollercoaster of emotions as we got to watch some amazing footage from around Ireland's coast as well as some incredible high-octane stuff from some of the bigger spots like Mully and Aileens.
''A real highlight for me was seeing the standard of film-making go from strength to strength, there's just so much good stuff coming out of the Irish surf community that I think the judges found it quite difficult to pick a winner from such a strong selection.
''We were also happy to introduce a few new elements to the festival this year - talks and interviews and discussions that we hope will showcase what life is like on the west of Ireland and maybe encourage more people to move here and celebrate our amazing coastline.
''As always, a special thanks and shout out has to go to the surfers, film-makers, volunteers, speakers and sponsors who made the whole thing possible.
''We've got a couple of plans up our sleeves for the months ahead and we're always happy to hear from anyone who wants to collaborate on a new project or get involved and help us to support Irish surfing.''