For the second year in a row, accomplished filmmaker Taylor Steele and his organic tequila brand, Solento, are bringing Solento Surf Festival to Encinitas, this year for four days of music, films, and surf competitions. From Thursday, Sept. 22 to Sunday, Sept. 25, guests are invited to enjoy documentary screenings, live conservations with accomplished surfers, athletes, and filmmakers at La Paloma Theater, and a culminating surf competition at Seaside Reef in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
View this post on Instagram
We sat down with the prolific filmmaker, tequila founder, and festival curator to discuss all things surfing, filmmaking, and his beloved hometown of Encinitas. For a full schedule of events at Solento Surf Festival, check out the festival’s social media.
What motivates me most about filmmaking is hearing the effect it has on people and the idea that it's inspiring somebody to expand their thinking on their own views; whether it's travel, surfing, or something else.
View this post on Instagram
The films that I decide to make are usually based on what I'm inspired by. In the 90s, it was performance surfing, the 2000s was travel based (showing the world in a beautiful light to inspire my daughters to travel) but lately, it's about showing the similarities and connections of different people. Usually, the key themes are about connections and shared moments.
When I was younger I moved away from the Encinitas area, and lived around the world; Bali, Australia, and then NY. When I came back there were elements of each place I missed. Instead of comparing or complaining about what I was missing, I decided to bring my favorite elements (art, conversation, and films) to Encinitas. Kind of like they did in the old days when tribes would send out their people to explore and they would return to share stories of their adventures. This is a modern-day version of that.
The first annual Solento Surf Festival was three days of films, music, and conversations. This year, we are adding a fourth day; the Seaside Reef Takeover. In the future, I’d like to loop in more music, more panels and more locations. All within the parameters of improving ourselves and being inspired by the people around us.
I surf Seaside Reef 90% of the time. For the other 10%, I surf Del Mar Beach Breaks. Internationally, my favorites are Jeffrey’s Bay (South Africa), India and mainland Mexico.
Waverly or Alce 101 for dinner with friends, Alila Marea for a sunset cocktail with a view, Casero Taqueria for a team lunch, and Monarch for happy hour. All of these places pour a perfect Solento Tequila.
My advice for aspiring filmmakers: It’s a magical time to make films, you can make a 1-minute film or a ten-hour series and either could get a ton of engagement. Whatever unique story you want to tell, use the right platform to tell it. A lot of filmmakers come up to me and say “you were making films at the right time, you could make DVDs and sell them.” But really, it’s only getting better - now there are a thousand different ways to get your story out there, you just need to find the platform that's right for you and your story. Make something that you authentically care about, something that you want to see. That’s how you’ll resonate with people.
Tickets for the Solento Surf Festival can be purchased here. The festival will take place at La Paloma Theater and at Seaside Reef in Cardiff-by-the-sea. All proceeds for the culminating surf competition, and drink sales, will be donated to the Changing Tides Foundation and Sustainable Surf.
Photography by: Yew! Images / Getty Images