Photos: A Look-Back at the Greatest Moments From Kai Neville’s Films

by Miles
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Surf films used to be a huge deal. Taylor Steele, Joe G, Jack Johnson, Thomas Campbell, Chris Malloy created works that shaped surfing’s culture. Kai Neville came up under Taylor Steele, filming and editing Taylor’s projects for a few years before Taylor gave Kai his first big project: Modern Collective. After the success of Modern Collective, Kai went off on his own and a year later he put out Lost Atlas. Then he made Dear Suburbia and capped it off with Cluster.

With the lack of independent surf films being produced these days, I decided to take a trip down memory lane to look at some of the highlights I got to witness while working alongside Kai on his film projects. Thank you Kai for making these films and getting so many surfers psyched up before surf sessions!

Chippa Wilson, with a tweaked-out slob air at Macaronis. Easily one of my favorite guys to photograph, Chippa always kept things interesting. His part in Cluster was an instant classic.
Brendon Gibbens, Kai Neville, Chippa Wilson, and Ryan Callinan photographed in the Canaries. We didn’t get the best waves on this trip, but we had a lot of fun nonetheless. Sometimes you need to pay your dues and get skunked in order to appreciate when you score good waves on a shoot.
Creed in West Oz working on his part for Cluster. Creed’s rise to fame from Kai’s and Joe G’s films was very cool to watch. His surfing had a different approach and everyone enjoyed watching his unique style.
Picture-perfect Indo with Creed and some of that style I was referring to.
A lot of thought went into the creative for Cluster film. Kai had a vision and brought specific backdrops and colors and tones to each location. It was a lot of fun shooting the stills alongside Kai and Blake.
Kai, with his trusty 16mm camera. A lot of the trips we shot on film for the motion and the stills. It was at a time when film wasn’t trendy, but I really enjoyed using different mediums to capture these trips.
Noa Deane’s rise to fame through Kai’s films was even more extreme than Creed’s. By the second trip we did, he was already blowing everyone’s mind.
Noa Deane and guitar, France 2014. Cluster really exposed the difference between the free surfers and the WSL surfers and showed how good life was outside of a jersey. All these guys got paid a lot of money to just travel the world and surf with their friends. That’s not happening these days!
Kai put a lot of trust in me to get the boys into the best waves possible. Looking back now, we scored some crazy setups that I haven’t seen that good since! It always feels good when you score good waves with a great crew.
Kolohe Andino, channeling his inner Archy while filming in the Mentawai Islands for Dear Suburbia. The boat had an all-star crew of Dane, Taj, Kolohe, Evan Geiselman and Jack Freestone.
Kai Neville, Travis Ferre, and Scott Chenoweth checking out some of the footage prior to the Dear Suburbia tour.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Dane Reynolds in Dear Suburbia is the greatest surfing of all time.
Big stomps call for celebration. This was a Cluster film trip in France and the camaraderie was at an all-time high. Guys were pushing each other and this moment is Kai high-fiving Noa Deane after he landed a huge air.
While in West Oz filming with Kolohe, we ended up surfing with John John quite a bit. He was filming for his own project, Done, but after West Oz we did a few trips for Dear Suburbia and it was clear on those trips that John John was becoming one of the top three surfers in the world.
Kolohe Andino, inside a drainer on one of the funner days I’ve ever seen at this beachbreak. Kolohe surfed in a split-tone Nike wetsuit this trip that was white and orange. Some loved the look, some didn’t. I liked it.
Julian Wilson, in Australia while filming for Dear Suburbia. For this section of the film, Julian and Kolohe drove up and down the East Coast of Australia searching for ramps.
Dane surfed in a button up shirt during most of this trip. This was one of the first trips for Dear Suburbia (2012)
France with the Cluster (2015) crew. Dion, Mitch, Noah, Blake, Chippa and Kai.
This is from the same trip for Lost Atlas. Mitch Coleborn, getting creative on a closeout section.
Dusty Payne, filming for Lost Atlas (2011) in Indonesia where we had light winds and rippable waves for two weeks straight. Dusty was surfing incredibly well on this trip!

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