INSIDE BALIWOOD, Pt. 3: Inside Stranger Than Fiction With the Bali Crew
Baliwood boasts arguably the highest performance surfing going on planet-wide – especially when Taylor Steele’s crew is running production on a flick. This type of thing is bound to be happening on a regular basis, since Steele lives here full time as well as a heap of other career-maker photogs like Jason Childs and the lot. On-camera talent has steadily been migrating here as well over the years with the likes of Benji Weatherley, Nathan Webster, Mikala Jones, Rob Machado, and Taj Burrow each currently calling Baliwood their official second home away from home.
Finally, Childs, from behind his 600mm made the call; “Somebody go help him!” Rizal Tanjung and I ran out and carried him back to the warung. It was drama straight out of an episode of Baywatch—minus the big, bouncing, silicon boobs. – CHECK OUT PHOTOS FROM THE SESSION HERE!
Burrow recently purchased a pad in the same neighborhood as Steele and Machado. “I just love kickin’ it here, watchin’ it, then goin’ back out,” said Burrow. “So sick.” The easy access to countless world class, and highly photogenic waves that Burrow describes, is the same magnetic force behind the oncoming surf media juggernaut, now charging full-steam ahead into Baliwood.
What I witnessed during that particular day of filming, both in and out of the water was indeed, as Steele’s forthcoming film’s title implies – Stranger Than Fiction. For instance, Taj pulled off the most flawless alley-oop grab I’d ever seen. It was so impeccably executed, it looked computer animated. A perfectly composed rotation above the lip followed by a feather-weight landing—high in the pocket—coiled and ready to pump into the next launch.
Fast-forward a few beats: I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was part of the script or not—because either star player Dion Agius was really, really good at acting—or he was in trouble for real. He had just come in and was trying to stand up in the shallow shore break, but kept falling down. Finally, Childs, from behind his 600mm made the call; “Somebody go help him!” Rizal Tanjung and I ran out and carried him back to the warung. It was drama straight out of an episode of Baywatch—minus the big, bouncing, silicon boobs.
Turns out Agius broke his foot when he pulled into a barrel and hit a weird backwash bump at precisely the wrong moment. “Here I am with TB, CJ and Steds,” said Agius while lounging under the shade of the warung, his swollen foot on ice and propped up on a stump. “Three of my all time favorite surfers. Pretty much the trip of a lifetime and I go and break my foot and had been stinking it the whole time before it happened. So I pretty much ended up getting no clips the whole trip—besides some funny wipeouts. So, yeah this is pretty awesome.”
Meanwhile, out in the water, the all-star cast including Burrow, CJ Hobgood, Bruce Irons, Luke Stedman, Kai Otton, and Tanjung along with a supporting cast of local shredders Marlon Gerber, Dede Suryana, Pepen Hendrik and Wayan “Betet” Merta are all pushing 110% in hopes of scoring clips worthy of making the final cut. Irons was boosting massive go-for-broke airs that had Steele sweating bullets on the beach. “I hope he doesn’t hurt himself,” muttered Steele to no one in particular.
Tanjung claims his part in Stranger will be his best segment yet. Why? “Because I get to practice in Bali[wood] everyday,” he boasted. The waves that day supported Tanjung’s claim—glassy, immaculate, peeling overhead right-hand barrels. “You really can’t leave,” said Otton who declared it was the best surf he’d seen his whole trip. He literally surfed till he puked that day. “I went in just now and puked in the bushes again,” stammered Otton to his mates out in the line-up. “It was just water that came out this time. I stayed in the hotel room last night and just got maggot.”
Despite his ferocious hangover, Otton managed to came up with some fairly accurate critical analysis: “This is the most rippable wave anywhere.” Both he and Burrow were just frothing on it. “This is better than any boat trip,” gushed an ecstatic Burrow. Word to the wise: get on it now while you still can, because this wave is fast becoming the Baliwood equivalent to the back lot of Paramount Studios. It’s simply a matter of time before the only people allowed to surf here are those with legitimate agency representation and SAG card credentials.
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