The golden commodity in an edit, apart from good waves, is time to film. Your home coast might be firing, but if you’re across the world, busy chasing shin-slappers on the Qualifying Series, the process of stringing together a knockout reel gets complicated. Time was the very dilemma for Margaret River’s Jacob Willcox and filmer Isaac Jones in the making of Filf, the new collaboration between the West Oz team that showcases the cool slab savvy that’s gained Willcox the admiration of barrel riders near and far. Compress that time to collect footage to just three months slipped in-between trips, and you get the constraints that Willcox and Jones dealt with.
“It’s so hard to make an edit when you’re traveling so much for the ‘QS,” Willcox told us from Europe. “I can’t afford to bring Isaac with me or anything, which would be radical. But whenever I’m back home, and the waves are going off, I hit him up. It’s pretty cool to see the end result [in Filf]. I would’ve liked to get a couple more sessions, but it’s at that point where it would sit there for another six months because I’d be gone from home again. But it’s time to get it out there, and to see what people reckon.”
“It’s our routine, really,” says Jones. “If it’s good waves at home, and we’re both there, we’ll go shoot and look to nail something. Mainly toward the end of last year, we had a lot of stuff backed up, and then he was doing the ‘QS, so we stopped getting clips for a while. But then maybe halfway through this year, we started getting good waves again.”
“It was difficult to work hard for a week, and then he’d travel for a month or two,” he continues. “When he returned, we’d quickly squeeze in whatever we could when there were good waves. Me and Jacob have put out three clips now, so we’re a bit of a team, we love working together. He’s my favorite person to film. Every year, we try to smash out a clip like this.”
Filf brings to mind just that kind of verb: a smash of heavy barrels and full backhand roters, set in the dynamic battlegrounds dotted through WA. Particularly memorable for both Willcox and Jones were two days spent in Yallinngup at Rabbits, the sand-bottom right that gets gnashingly hollow when it’s working. And the conditions made for the best Rabbits that the two had ever seen. The moments were proper for the opening section of Filf, when Willcox stands tall in a giant backhand barrel after a difficult takeoff. And then, to drive the point home, he drives through another long backhand tube.
As for Willcox and Jones individually, the narrow window to finish the clip has offered its own reflections in their fields behind the peak and behind the camera.
“I think all my edits change quite a bit with each one I put out,” says Jones. “I always try to build from new ideas. For some reason, it’s always at midnight I get creative. I try to work through the daytime, but come late at night, I start innovating and getting my work done then. But I think my filming in general has evolved a lot over the last couple of years. I’ve had a lot of insight from Tom Jennings who shoots from the water over here, for example. He’s helped me out a fair bit, and he’s got a clip in the video. He’s helped me a lot through the filming process.”
“I’ve probably learned more on the road [on the ‘QS] these last few months than I have in my whole life so far, I reckon, even though I haven’t had the results I’d like.” says Willcox. “Me and Isaac went up north for a bit after the US Open. I got a loss there, which was tough. Then we went to Bali for the possible start of the Padang Cup. After coming back to West Oz, I just wanted to surf some good waves around home. Surfing back here in West Oz, I was able to get back to my roots — Why I love surfing in the first place.”