It’s been five and a half years since Andy Irons left this world.
“Irons, 32, withdrew from a professional surfing event in Puerto Rico last weekend due to illness and passed away during a layover en-route to his home in Kauai, Hawaii,” read the Billabong statement released just hours after his death. “He had reportedly been battling with dengue fever, a viral disease.”
As we all know now, it was darker things than dengue fever that took Andy’s life. There’s since been a lot of untruth and speculation published about who Andy was and what killed him, but half a decade since he was found lifeless in an airport hotel room in Dallas, Texas, the honest story of the life and times of Andy Irons will soon be told in a new Irons family-approved documentary.
“That feeling will never go away,” tells brother Bruce from the confines of Stab’s Venice office. “It’s still hard for me to believe he’s not here. It sucks, that will never change. You’ve just got to learn how to deal with it… five fucking years.”
The film, which is currently untitled, is produced by the Teton Gravity Research group, former Billabong Marketing Director Enich Harris, in partnership with Bruce and Lyndie Irons. With most of the filming banked and the edit process underway in LA, Stab spoke with Bruce and Enich to get the facts. Here’s what you need to know:
Andy, with fellow Kauaians Dustin Barca and Reef McIntosh.
Enich on the film’s origins: “Lyndie and I had been talking for the past few years about the movie. We talked about potentially working on a project together when the time was right. In October of 2014 I called her because she’d been having a lot of different people calling her about a movie on Andy. I suggested that we should talk to Steve and Todd Jones at Teton Gravity Research (TGR) because they had a relationship with Andy and they’re brothers themselves. They just came off doing an award- winning documentary called Jeremy Jones’ Higher about their brother. The storytelling was top notch (eventually nominated for an Emmy). Lyndie thought about it and that’s kind of how things kicked off. Steve Jones and I flew over to Hawaii in November 2014, and met with Lyndie and worked out all of the details.”
Bruce on giving the green light: “The Jones Brothers, who are producing the documentary, they knew my brother really well. I’m really comfortable with them making it. My biggest concern is that it’s done right. Who wants to watch a documentary about someone who they know is nuts and it’s not done right? It’s going to be touchy. It’s definitely touchy for me, but it’s good to get out a lot of these emotions that I’ve been holding in. It’s been therapeutic.”
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Enich on the film’s objective: “At the end of the day we want Lyndie, Bruce and the family to be proud of this movie, proud of Andy and proud of his legacy. This project’s going to be a cautionary tale, but it will also solidify Andy’s legacy. It’s amazing that he was a three-time world champ, but he brought a lot more to this world than just surfing.”
Bruce on the film’s message: “Everyone knows how my brother went. It might be a little offensive to some, but at the end of the day I hope it can help some kid out from not going such an extreme way. Growing up we never had the parental advisory of what’s right or wrong, we just had to learn it. Hopefully this can be a positive thing for young kids coming up with a lot of talent, a lot of money and not a lot of guidance. It’s gonna get into the good days and it’s going to get into the dark days. But in the end it’ll all be positive. Who has a perfect story to tell? In order to have that type of drive, there has to be struggle.”
Enich on who’s in it: “We started the interview process in April of 2015. We’ve made five or six trips over to Hawaii, interviewed all of Andy’s childhood friends on Kauai, his whole family and close friends on the tour. The important people in Andy’s life have been interviewed. We’ve done over 60 interviews and have hundreds of hours of tape, but narrowing down who actually will appear in the film is going to be a very difficult process. Gathering the archive footage has been a spider web. It’s one of the main areas I’ve been focusing on. You go through Andy’s life and it was captured in every different format, it pretty much spans the whole gamut. We have tracked down some amazing, never-before-seen footage from all parts of Andy’s life. It’s exciting to find things you know people have never seen before.”
Bruce on the script: “They hired writer Anthony Bozza. He’s the same guy that did autobiographies for Eminem, Tommy Lee and Slash. He’s really good.” (Note: Bozza is a former writer for Rolling Stone and has written the autobiographies of AC/DC, Mick Fleetwood, INXS and baseball player Derek Jeter.)
The lesser-seen but highly captivating into-the-tube angle of Andy’s Waimea shorebreak tub at the 2009 Eddie.
Enich on the Irons Family Involvement: “Bruce has been totally committed to this project. He knows how important this is for his brother. Both Bruce and Lyndie want the film to be totally honest and tell the real life story. They both feel strongly that Andy would have wanted it this way. The Irons family has been very supportive throughout the process. We have worked closely with the parents, Bruce, and Lyndie.”
Bruce on the release date: “It’ll be done when it’s done. Probably sometime in 2016, but if it takes until 2017, that’s when it will come out. We aren’t going to sugarcoat it, that’s not my brother. We’re going to tell the whole story.” (Note: The film is currently projected to be released in January 2017.)
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