The Winter Session Interview

November – February, our friends at Magicseaweed host a surf film competition that shines a light on the hard yards search required to commit just one epic winter session from one surfer to one 90 second edit, rewarding the eventual winner with a serious travel budget to spend on the dream trip of a lifetime. Well that’s just the sort of project that piques our interest. With just over a month to go, we caught up with Magicseaweed Editor Edward Temperley to find out more about The Winter Session… 

December’s winning Winter Session edit from Damaspirit featuring Freddie Meadows

What was the idea behind The Winter Session?

The idea bubbled up somewhere in Dublin with a couple of guys from Monster (Allan Mulrooney and Jonathan McKechnie) a few years back. We wanted to create a different kind of contest, one which hadn’t been seen before and rewarded that idea of scoring a perfect session, as opposed to an edit containing lots of single waves from multiple sessions. Essentially we wanted it to be true to the reality of surfing brutal winter waves in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. No one will ever submit an edit in boardshorts for this comp. Well, no one sane anyway. We were fortunate that Nixon jumped on aboard and have been really cool partners, just allowing us to make our own way.

Starting out with a twist on the common concept of the internet edit was a little daunting. We had no idea if people would understand the idea, or even if anyone would even enter, and it might not sound laid back and surfy but we worked hard behind the scenes to get it into people’s consciousness. Thankfully surfers got it and began to dig the concept which was incredibly rewarding as it gave them a new avenue for expressing themselves at a time in which winter suddenly became fashionable. Which is great, but remember that surfing in sub zero temperatures is still just as cold and uncomfortable as it ever was.

Ultimately we ended up achieving a second goal which was to create a decent document of the winter as a whole. A lot of the main sessions which went down found a home with us at The Winter Session and having all that under one roof is pretty cool.

We sent the winner of the first year, young Irish charger Conor Maguire, off to Indo on a boat trip around Sumatra with his two filmers and that suddenly that difficult first year was complete. Meaning it was time to start on the following year’s ideas.

This year we decided that rather than prescribing the destination we would offer a travel budget which would allow surfers to create their own dream trip. We hope it will help someone realise a long help travel / filming ambition.


Aaron Pierce looking at Fergal Smith

You have a number of categories and awards up for grabs.

Initially we loved the idea of one winner but in reality we ended up neglecting so many worthy people that we thought that we should reward the other facets of the winter experience. So temperature and commitment became categories. We also wanted to reward the increasingly awesome POV angles we were seeing and general innovation in filming, as well as your more standard performance-type award.

Basically each category fills a niche we felt was under represented last year and we’ve had a load of great companies jump on board to support us like Go Pro, C-Skins, Fourth Surfboards, Surf Ears and SP Gadgets. So now we have five categories plus two monthly winners which is quite a lot of prizes to giveaway.

How long does it run for and how do filmmakers get involved?

The comp runs in the 4 months between November and February. Any session filmed after October 1st 2014 is eligible for this year and we are well into the penultimate month of January so anyone who wants to get involved should start thinking about getting those edits in. All you have to do is download the sting and send your edit to: [email protected] and off you go.

Generally we like to have a brief chat with the surfer and filmer in order to bring in a little context around the edits. Often on the internet you see these sad edits sitting marooned on a website and you have no idea what the context was and what lengths were undertaken to go and bring this wonderful entertainment to your desktop or mobile. I would find that really dispiriting as a filmer and it is something we try and avoid.

How do you pick the winners and how can people support their favourite?

The two monthly winners are picked by a panel of surfers who listen to the public reaction to the monthly shortlist but will also apply their own bullshit filters. Everyone hates those “please go here, sign up this marketing database and vote for me” pleas which devalues creation process.

The final winner is voted on by each the shortlisted surfers themselves (each month we shortlist 10 sessions). So there will be a list of up to 40 judges at the end of the process and they each get one vote (and can’t vote for themselves obviously). These is no second place in this contest which might seems a bit brutal but it is competition – so no apologies there as we are trying to find the singular session.

What I’d also like to say is a massive thanks to all the surfers and filmers who enter, you are all legends for going to the lengths you do stuck on a windy reef in the middle of a rainstorm whilst most sensible people are huddled inside watching Game of Thrones.

Cheers Ed! Check the link for more details on The Winter Session