A Movie by Brian Conley
C Life Productions
A view inside the tube, or the outside world
from within it, is the holy ghost at the heart
of our addiction. It is the fleeting vision
we chase through our surfing lives, both a
place and a moment, where mystical things
happen, time expands and boards are broken.
That’s why Brian Conley’s sublime solo tube-cam act works
so well. It slices straight to the heart of surfing’s deepest desire,
or, as George Greenough put it, to “the innermost limits of pure fun”.
Like Greenough, Brian Conley makes films from the
surfer’s-eye view. He’s interested in what we see, the third eye,
the nearest thing to being there. So Conley films the very waves
he rides and brings us along with him for every foot of the drop
and curve of the cavern. To do so he employs fish-eye and an
array of camera angles – helmet-mounted, backpack, hand-held,
front board-mounted, tail-mounted; there are probably others.
The waves he rides are notable for their cleanliness, and
their consequence. Mostly large, Mexican chambers of horror
and Tahitian meat-grinders, there’s also some from Baja and
Western Australia, mostly shot from within.
These are often the kind of waves that many surfers
wouldn’t want to be in, let alone with several kilos of
hard, heavy camera-hazard located somewhere about their
person. It’s a testament to Conley’s skills as both surfer and
cameraman that he pulls it off with such grace. Slowed down,
strangely silent but for a fitting soundtrack of ambient, almost
background tracks by Michael Eaton, the curtain warbles
ahead in a strangely unthreatening fashion while Conley steers
calmly along aquatic ley lines.
And in case you’re wondering, there should be no hesitation
in mentioning Conley in the same breath as Greenough.
He’s worthy of the association. Along with Timmy Turner,
who’s Second Thoughts and Burning the Map employ similar filming
techniques, no one has brought us so much inner tube-time
since Crystal Voyager.
The camera technology, while high-end, is actually
becoming more and more available. These guys don’t have to
invent their own cameras like Greenough did. In fact, it’s a fair
bet that they represent the vanguard of a wave coming to all of
us, anytime soon – cheap, high-quality helmet cams – so we
can all film the innermost limits of our own fun, and catch our
holy ghosts. – ADR