10 March, 2016 10 March, 2016


Werner Herzog, a great but self-confessed lunatic of a German director, once said that if we do not develop new adequate images, “we will die out like dinosaurs.” It’s a bit of a ridiculous statement, but it does emphasize the need for good, fresh media. And with 57 new short films created by all the aspiring South African filmmakers that entered Zag Shorts, presented by GoPro, it’s safe to say that we won’t have to worry about this proverbial extinction for a while. Apocalypses aside, it’s time to congratulate Steve Michelsen on becoming the official winner of our first short film competition for his incredible short featuring Shane Sykes – Silence of Eyes.

Take a look at the top eight crop of fresh films entered into Zag Shorts 2015/16.

With subjectivity playing such a role, a film’s beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. This, coupled with the quality of entries we received, made deciding a final winner extremely difficult. From the top eight monthly finalists – selected by Zag, GoPro and yourselves (by public vote), Silence of Eyes by Steven Michelsen and Skeleton Bay Sandpit by Josh Rowe were the two standouts in particular. Their different styles, quality of cinematography, epic surf action and unique story telling ability left the judges micro-analyzing pixels in a desperate attempt to justify why one should win and not the other.

After a week’s worth of back-and-forth debates, the consensus for an overall winner remained completely evenly split. Even after calling on outside opinions from some of SA’s most respected filmmakers, the split vote wasn’t budging. So, in coherence with the official rules, the final decision came down to public votes. [Drumroll]

When voting closed, Steven Michelsen’s Silence of Eyes held 250 thumbs up – 146 more than that of Josh Rowe’s Skeleton Bay Sandpit – which racked up a respectable 104. Congratulations once again to Steve for a deserving victory as the official winner of Zag Shorts presented by Go Pro. For his effort, Steve walks away with R20 000 in cash, bragging rights, and the opportunity to jump on board and document a Zag surf trip. We’re pretty sure Shane will be dishing out a few high fives too.

Silence of Eyes, featuring Shane Sykes. The official overall winner for Zag Shorts 2015/16.

Silence of Eyes – Synopsis
Shane Sykes talks about the influence that his childhood role-model, Julian Wilson, has had on his surfing. The talented KZN north coast local also speaks about making it onto the CT, with the ‘pot of gold’ being to become a world champion. His explosive power is very easy on the eyes.

Why we digged it
The pace, the soundtrack and Shane’s insight into his surfing for starters, as well as the top notch cine featuring him absolutely shredding all over KZN. This is one of those films that you can watch over and over again. The structure and treatment is unique, matching Shane’s style: relaxed, but powerful when it comes to his surfing. In congruence to this style, the pace of the edit ramps in and out of super slow and mellow, to instant explosive speed. Synced perfectly to a good track and you’ve got a winning formula for a very decent surf clip. The drone footage isn’t a bad addition either.

Words from the Winner
“Wow, it’s been such an experience and journey with Zag Shorts, there were so many amazing films in the mix that were seriously good contenders. I really think SA has a bright future in film and I am super proud of all the boys who dropped an entry. It’s so hard to explain the stoke I’m feeling. There really isn’t a parallel to measure it against in SA yet but know that I’m grinning from ear to ear.

Shano thumb
This frame grab from Silence of Eyes shows the quality of both the surfing and cinematography of the film.

About The Film
“Shane and I have been filming together for years, Dane Patto (Quiksilver Marketing and Retail Manager) once called me out of the blue and said he had just signed a kid that surfed identical to Julian Wilson. My first thought was yea yea, but my word he was right. A few years later the resemblance is even more uncanny, and I saw a gap to show the world how much they surf alike.

The project took about 3 months from start to finish. We ran into some walls with the music copyrights as like most bands Son Lux didn’t own his own music. Eventually we came to an agreement with the label and were able to release the project, just in time for Xmas!!

Gear Check
It’s always been important to use the correct gear for the right shot, specifics vary as much as the variables in surfing so in this project we tried to cover all the bases by using (GoPro Hero 3+ 120fps, Phantom 3 pro 4k , 1080 SONY FS100 120FPS and the big daddy SONY FS700 240FPS 4K).

Thanks sooooooooo much to Zigzag, GoPro and of course Shane Sykes for the opportunity to make and share this film with you guys.” – Steven Michelsen

A Word From the Sponsors
“We are so stoked with the entries for Zag Shorts presented by GoPro. The level of film making has blown us away. We love the introduction of POV shots and aerial footage that take a production to the next level. We hope that more surfers and film makers us this technology to showcase their stories.” – GoPro

Although the margins narrowly fell into Steve’s favour, a huge congrats and respect must also go out, not only to the top eight finalists, but to everyone who submitted their own unique short film. The names of these creatives certainly don’t go unnoticed, and we have no doubt that we’ll be seeing a continuous push for bigger and better projects from everyone who chooses to dust off those lenses, get out there, and shoot gold for the next one!

Josh Rowe’s Skeleton Bay Sandpit. The competitions first monthly winner.

Also Worth Special Mention

The following films may not have made it into the top 8, but with something as small as a handful of public votes potentially being the deciding difference, their quality was still right up there and well worth a watch.

Take a look at Luke Patterson’s Happy Place

Richard Van Wyk’s Deep in the Burgh
Jerome Mosetic’s Pelagic Amphibians
Grant Clegg’s J-Bay Winter Dawns
Alan Stewart’s True Colours
Josh Rowe’s Reverie
Dougal Patterson’s Wooden Bones
Graeme Brunt’s Bevan Willis and Josh Redman Hawaii 2015
Matt Gardener’s Jacko
David Van Rensburg’s A Man and His Horse
Ryan Collins’ The Colour Perspective of Ian Thurtell
Julian Culverhouse’s Mozambique
Richard Hambloch’s Southern Cross
Chris Rogers The Never Ending Wave
Brendan Pieterse’s Now Departing From Melkbos
Johan Lamprecht’s 1000 Reasons
Joey Calhau’s People Inside Big Barrels.
Zag Shorts Logo

Zigzag, GoPro and the public all have an equal say in determining the winner, with each contributing 33.3% of the final decision. For the final leg, Zigzag’s vote was split between Josh and Steve and GoPro voted for Steve. The public votes swung the final third of voting power in favour of Steven Michelsen, making Silence of Eyes the unanimous winner.

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