Surfer Shane Dorian travels to remote parts of Scotland to find the perfect wave

In Outside TV‘s eight-episode original series “A Life in Proximity,” eight of the world’s most talented surfers spend each episode searching for waves in the most exotic of destinations. In the series’ first two episodes, pro-surfers Shane Dorian and Albee Layer travel through the rugged, breathtaking Scottish countryside seeking the most epic and challenging Atlantic breaks.

The goal?

To go somewhere completely remote to ride the cleanest waves they could find. The concept of proximity — as stated in the first episode — is, “having two surfers at the top of their game be able to relate to each other in a way no one else can.” When experienced big wave veteran Shane Dorian was asked who he thought would be his best companion for the journey, he named the younger, uber-talented Albee Layer. To him, it was a no-brainer.

From the production room to the break

Produced by Teton Gravity Research (TGR) in association with Taylor Steele, the series premiered on October 19th exclusively on Outside TV Features. TGR created “A Life in Proximity” as a result of award-winning director Taylor Steele’s full-length, similarly titled film, “Proximity,” in order to delve deeper into the lives of the athletes and landscapes featured in the original film.

“With talent so stacked on a project like Proximity and so many intense locations explored, it’s almost impossible to showcase every highlight in the confines of one film,” stated producer Taylor Steele in a press release. “With the ‘A Life in Proximity’ series, we can take viewers further into these incredible trips and show meaningful moments that we just didn’t have room for with the original release.”

The Shane Dorian experience

An unforgettable experience, Dorian recently opened up about his journey, the adventures he and the team experienced along the way, and what his personal goals were for the Scotland expedition. Right away, Dorian told Digital Trends, “Honestly, I was just hoping to score good waves and enjoy myself. I was stoked to go to Scotland for the first time and soak up all I could.”

“We felt very confident with our Plan A and realized we had no Plan B once we really needed one.”

Patagonia’s recent film “Right to Roam” highlights Scotland’s unique land use laws, which allows for unlimited exploration of private land for recreational purposes — as long as respectful measures are taken. What these laws meant for Dorian and Layer was that the entire coastline was open to them. When they first arrived in Scotland on the tail end of a big swell, they searched the countryside high and low for promising breaks but found none. Dismayed and discouraged at the thought of missing their window, they considered calling it quits.

“We were definitely baffled,” Dorian added. “We felt very confident with our Plan A and realized we had no Plan B once we really needed one. Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating and the spots we thought we would score at just didn’t turn on at all.”

At the whim of weather

There are unique challenges involved with the creation of any surf film due in large part to the unpredictability of Mother Nature. Even as the swell continued to subside, Shane, Albee, and the film crew soon came across a hopeful break. What initially lifted their spirits immediately vanished when the location turned out to be a popular surf spot holding a locally-run competition. After speaking with a few participants, they decided to hop a ferry to a nearby island and try their luck there. Unfortunately, the last ferry had already departed.

“I was pretty concerned we might have to pull the plug on the entire trip as the first few days of the swell we weren’t getting any good waves,” Dorian told us. “We decided to explore some known coastline, using Google Earth and just putting on the miles. We stumbled upon a diamond in the rough and the momentum of the trip totally shifted in our favor.”

shane dorian interview a life in proximity todd glaser
Todd Glaser
Todd Glaser

It was out of sheer chance the crew happened upon an area they’d later refer to as “Blood Eagle,” an amphitheater-like destination boasting a shallow reef break most surfers wouldn’t dare paddle out to. Dorian and Layer, however, saw significant promise buried beneath a dangerous challenge.

“There’s something so special in discovering a wave for the first time,” Dorian explained. “I’m sure that wave had been ridden at some point but we hadn’t heard of it and when we first saw it, we thought it was just a novelty wave. We didn’t know if it was even surfable. Many of the waves were far from perfect and would just morph into these strangely shaped things people don’t usually think of riding. Luckily, I was with Albee and we’re both find the beauty and fun of surfing weird waves.”

Paddling into the unknown

The two daring surfers donned their thick wetsuits, climbed down a rocky cliff and slab, and paddled out into freezing cold water to see what surprises their secret cove might have in store.

“We just goofed around on it since the conditions weren’t right,” he admitted. “Since we had no other plan for the next day, we decided to come back at dawn to check it and to our surprise, it was firing.”

The team spent the next day — along with an additional day at the end of the trip — catching as many waves as they could at Blood Eagle, of which Albee named after an old Viking torture method and on account of the surreal, gladiator-esque surroundings. While they were able to surf superb waves and capture plenty of awesome footage for the film, it was a bond developed between the two surfers which served as the highlight of the story.

“I surfed with Albee a bunch before the trip but only in big waves at Jaws [in Hawaii],” Dorian said at the end our conversation. “We’ve had a healthy and naturally competitive vibe going from the start, so it was fun to get to know each other a bit better and surf totally different kinds of waves. It was also fun to be on a trip with just the two of us as surfers. We spent a good amount of time just waiting for waves and talking about all sorts of stuff and cracking up.”

It’s clear the memories he had made with Layer would last a lifetime. Follow along with the rest of their journey by downloading the Outside TV Features app via iOS, Android, Roku, or Amazon.

Movies & TV

‘What We Do In The Shadows’ turns Jemaine Clement into a creature of the night

With a career as unique as the man himself, Jemaine Clement’s star is still rising. From his HBO show (and band) Flight of the Conchords to his TV spinoff of What We Do in the Shadows, we dig deep into the funnyman’s many roles.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Get loud with the best outdoor speakers to rock your party in any weather

From rugged, solar-powered backwoods listening companions to floating pool party jam boxes, the best outdoor speakers partner with your lifestyle to let you listen to your favorite tunes wherever you go.
Emerging Tech

Autonomous package-delivery robots are ready to steal your mailman’s job

Starship Technologies is launching a robot package-delivery service in the U.S. and U.K. For a monthly subscription, customers can get packages delivered at a time of their convenience.
Outdoors

This low-maintenance ebike makes it easy to get into urban commuting

Priority Bicycle's new Embark model is an ebike that has been built to be a low-maintenance model built with urban commuters in mind by offering reliable and durable components built to last.
Cars

Bright idea: this motorcycle jacket has built-in lights that sync with your bike

Motorbike leathers are there to protect riders from injury, but they can make bikers difficult to see in the dark. A stylish new LED-equipped leather jacket hopes to change all that.
Outdoors

Snowfeet combine skiing and skating into one awesome new sport

Snowfeet are sandal-like footwear that slip on over winter shoes or snowboard boots, turning them into a set of skates that allow the wearer to slide across snow or glide downhill.
Outdoors

Built to take a beating and still perform, these are the best hiking watches

A proper hiking watch should track exercise metrics and act as a navigational co-pilot during any kind of hike. Ideally, it'll even have a built-in GPS system and sensors. Here are five of the best hiking watches.
Outdoors

GM is getting into ebikes, and it wants you to help name them

General Motors has just unveiled its first-ever electric bikes and has launched a $10,000 public contest to help name them. Tip: It's probably not worth suggesting "Bikey McBikeface."
Outdoors

BioLite's FirePit gives you a smokeless campfire, and it's available now

The new BioLite FirePit uses an innovative design and a built-in fan to create a smoke-free environment for cooking and enjoying a backyard bonfire. The device makes sitting around a fire a much more enjoyable experience.
Outdoors

Lime splashes $3 million on a campaign to encourage safer electric scooter rides

Keen to boost its image and keep local communities onside, scootersharing outfit Lime is spending $3 million on a campaign to teach its users how to ride more safely and responsibly.
Outdoors

These bike lights use the magic of magnetism to generate power

Magnetic Microlights are a new option for cyclists that use nothing more than magnets to generate power to illuminate a bike light that is bright, eco-friendly, and increases the safety of riders.