There is a moment in Surfdonkey Episode Nine when Lance Moore is asked how long it's been since he was in the water. "About... 23 days," he says. Not "about 25 days." Not "about three weeks," but "about 23 days." This is a guy who clearly lives for being in the water, if he can estimate with that kind of clarity. The problem---in Episode Nine, anyway---is that he's done damage to his ears for having been in cold water a little too often.
That's just one of the misadventures---or shenanigans, as Lance would call them---documented in the short videos posted on Surfdonkey.ca. The site was started by Lance and his brother Craig as a way to share their activities with the wider world, many of which are surf related as Lance's day job is running the surf shop Dacane on Blowers Street. The idea to shoot films came from capturing both the activities around the surfing lifestyle as well as those related to the business: they do independent tests of products that come into the store. Episode 11 looks at the viability of a heated wetsuit--- maybe the first of its kind in Canada.
"My brother Craig went to film school at NSCAD, like everyone else in the city," says Lance, who also spends his downtime writing treatments for TV shows, and feels that the unique thing in their video documents are the challenges of surfing in this climate: "How crazy it is because it's so cold."
The best way to describe what they do would be "branded entertainment"---podcast-like---with episodic content shot on digital tape, explains Craig. "I like to describe it as a reality-style, online video, ongoing," he says. "It's easier to describe it as an online show than, say, short films."
Craig knows the culture and the world of surfing from having been into it years ago. Craig and Lance considered doing dramatic, scripted content, but found with just the two of them, it would be too unwieldy. "From my experience, what I know works is keeping it really simple and keeping it true to what's actually going on," says Craig. "So we sat down and had one of those 'ah-hah' moments where it was like, what's really interesting is Lance talking about surfing. He's got the expertise and a band of cohorts that are very colourful," including top-level surf people that come through town. "Lance has a built-in horseshoe in the right place. There are different things happening all the time."
The first show went live online in August 2008. The shoots go for about a half-day at a time; Craig edits what they have and posts it online. The site hosts 11 episodes currently, with three more in the can. Lance has been able to lure some local celebs to be part of the upcoming episodes, including Newfoundland native and national comedic force Shaun Majumder---who is an old friend---and Dartmouth rocker Matt Mays. They've also interviewed surf legend Tom Curran, the "Wayne Gretzky of surfing."
What started as something of a lark has become a bit of an online hit, with 60,000 downloads and climbing. "The audience is growing around the world," says Craig. "We've got people in Australia and California, the UK and Germany who all really like what we're doing. In turn, it promotes Nova Scotia."
An organizer of the Surfilm Festibal in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, has also been enjoying the brothers' work, and contacted them to solicit one of their clips for this year's festival, running June 11-14. "I took one of the ones I hadn't released yet," says Craig. "It's unique. It's a cold-water experience, of surfing in -8ºC." Craig also arranged for the clip to get Spanish subtitles for the local audience.
As for the future of Surfdonkey, Craig sees it as a profit-making venture. "It's a showpiece for me and my company, Spider Video," says Craig of his corporate video productions, which he plans to expand into different things. With the web being the main avenue for his work, and the world watching, surf shenanigans are just a jumping-off point.
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