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Taylor Steele’s Castles In The Sky


I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Encinitas showing of Taylor Steele’s new movie, Castles In The Sky.  It was held at the historic La Paloma theater in front of a boisterous, sold out crowd.

I’m a huge fan of Taylor Steele’s work, so when he got up on stage and introduced the project as special to him I knew it had to be good.

If you look at the poster for Castles In The Sky you will see that it stars India, Peru, Vietnam, Africa, and Iceland.  A bit odd, considering that there are some big name surfers in the movie.  But while the surf stars in the film are A-listers, they aren’t really the stars; the film is more about the land and cultures that they visit – a visual journey through a global tapestry.  The imagery that Mr. Steele has captured is full of color, life, and culture from all parts of the globe.  Sometimes I find the “culture as opposed to surfing” routine a bit overdone, but in Castles it absolutely worked.  I think that the quality of the photography was the ticket here.

Photo: dhump/

That gorgeous cinematography extends to the surfing, where every drop of water, ripple, and rail grab is captured in full color film.  First stop was Iceland, where Dane Reynolds and crew conquer a windy but beautifully peeling righthander in what looks like some sort of bay.  You can see the swells wrapping in under huge snow covered mountains.  The crew also dips into a frigid, barreling left in what looks like a sunrise or sunset session.  The contrast is beautiful, with golden sunlight glinting off the glassy waves as the surfers pigdog into the tube.  This got the crowd going pretty good.

Jordy Smith and crew hit a throaty looking wedge in Vietnam (I think it was Vietnam but I could be wrong).  Jordy pulls some amazing maneuvers, and I’m not sure that he doesn’t  use velcro on his feet.

Rob Machado tackled Peru with his signature fluid style – the hometown hero here in Encinitas, he got the crowd hooting as well.  I know Machado doesn’t air it on every wave, but I have to say that in my opinion he has the most visually pleasing style of all the pros.   Dave Rastovich, another crowd pleaser, catches some amazingly glassy waves in India, and even shoots through a gnarly looking concrete pier.

Other surfers include Dan Malloy, Kalani Robb, Mike Losness, Tim Curran, Craig Anderson, Pete Mendia, Dion Agius, Kai Barger, Gabriel Villaran, and Mitch Coleborn.

A few of my friends commented that there “could have been more surfing,” but I have to personally disagree.  This isn’t Modern Collective, so don’t go in with that expectation.  What you can expect is a perfect blend of amazing photography of people, places, monuments, and surfing, all mixed to an excellent soundtrack.  I know it sounds cliche, but it’s amazing how much culture is out there in the world.  Sometimes we have to look beyond our personal bubbles to realize it.

Check the Castles In The Sky website for more information on the tour schedule.  If you can get to a premiere showing I highly recommend it!

CASTLES IN THE SKY from Sipping Jetstreams on Vimeo.

Hayley Gordon

Hayley Gordon has been surfing for over 20 years. Riding both shortboards and longboards, she's traveled the world to surf but mainly sticks to her two home locations of San Diego and Long Island.

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