SPOONS: A SANTA BARBARA STORY
An interview with Wyatt Daily by Glenn Sakamoto
Wyatt Daily is the director of the upcoming film Spoons: A Santa Barbara Story. The film explores the history of California surfing, the diverse personalities of the region, and how Rincon, the local break, influenced surfboard design because of its perfect walls. We spoke with Wyatt to learn more.
What was the inspiration behind your upcoming movie “Spoons?”
In 2013, I was digitizing an archive for the Rincon Classic surf contest which Roger Nance started in the late ‘70s. When I dug in, I found an incredible cross-section of surfing history that was specific to Santa Barbara. I then got the chance to interview Renny Yater and learning about his influence and continued work ethic revealed a personal story that transcends surfing.
What makes Santa Barbara a breeding ground for surfboard innovation and design?
Rincon, Rincon, Rincon. The wave is the one thing that everyone points to as the mechanism for surfing's evolution. It's an incredibly quality and versatile wave, with fast sections, hollow sections, steeper sections, and a very long ride. This makes it good for any type of surfing from longboards to shortboards, air mats and even bodysurfing.
Unlike driving a closed circuit racetrack or in downhill skiing, surfing takes place on a fleeting medium that constantly moves. When Rincon breaks it's as consistent as a wave gets, which allows for designers and surfers to remove one of the variables when they are testing equipment. Shapers began to explore how rocker, length, volume, and fin design had different performance characteristics.
Who are some of the subjects featured in your film?
Al Merrick, Bruce Brown, Marc Andreini, Kirk Putnam, Ryan Lovelace, John "Ike" Eichert, Shaun Tomson, Conner Coffin and of course, Renny Yater. Renny's story is the through-line, and as one of the originators he's still going strong. But George Greenough's story is also incredibly important, and we're hoping he'll share his perspective. Santa Barbara's surfing history is so rich that it seems every time we talk with someone we turn around and there are three more people whose stories we need to tell.
If you can choose one or two of the people profiled in “Spoons” that have had the greatest impact on surfing, who would they be?
Wow – thats tough. Renny Yater and George Greenough are the main underpinnings to the story; their influence is profound and affected the whole nature of Santa Barbara's surf scene and the sport at large. But this film is also about the guys who were in the middle of everything – shaping, surfing, fishing – who also had a massive influence but not the recognition. In that case I'd have to include John "Ike" Eichert, one of the unsung heroes of surfboard experimentation in the early 60's.
This film is also about the guys who were in the middle of everything – shaping, surfing, fishing – who also had a massive influence but not the recognition. In that case I'd have to include John "Ike" Eichert, one of the unsung heroes of surfboard experimentation in the early 60's.
Who are the people involved in the production of this film and what are their backgrounds?
The film wouldn't be possible without the connections and support of Roger Nance, owner of Surf ‘N Wear's Beach House. Our production company, The Paint Shop, is also dedicated and passionate about this story, co-producer and editor Ian McGee, our talented director of photography Amado Stachenfeld, assistant camera John Tipich (and grandson of Bruce Brown), Corey Cho and a handful of friends who've lent an ear and an open couch over the years.
What have been some of the challenges in making this film?
Surfers aren't very accessible people, especially the legends from the older vanguard. They just have a different attitude about surfing; what it is to them vs. what it's become. Their humility often underplays their role in how surfing evolved, and surfing is just one part of their life and they sometimes feel they've already talked enough about it. This has made for a challenging process to make this film – it means hanging around the surf shop a lot.
What can we expect to see in “Spoons” and when is it scheduled to be released?
Expect never-before-seen archival footage in Super 8mm and 16mm formats, including unpublished footage from Bruce Brown's personal archive. You might see some mysto-spots (which will remain nameless) with a certain air-mat rider turned kneeboarder, and you'll see the subjects of the film, including shaping and Rincon, in a way that hasn't been shown before. We are aiming to submit to film festivals in September 2017, with community showings to come soon thereafter.