In 2011, genre-defining surf filmmaker Taylor Steele released a special project showcasing parts from 25 of the world's best surfers in a film titled, "Innersection: Blue." At the time, many of the surfers in the film were still relatively undiscovered, but what they lacked in name recognition they made up for it in talent. And this project opened up new doors and jump-started several careers including Matt Meola's.
Instead of following his previous method of working directly with A-list talent, Steele wanted surfers to submit their own parts for the film. He spiced up the pot by offering a $100,000 prize to the best part as decided by voters.
The winning edit went to a young Matt Meola, who submitted one of the most groundbreaking parts in modern surfing. It had everything from heavy waves, to technical turns, to masterful barrel riding. But the most impressive element of it all was his air game, which was years ahead of its time.
"We thought it would be cool to have people video and then submit for the movie. I'm loving the fact that the unknowns are coming up and making a name for themselves and using this platform to help their careers." Steele said in an interview with SURFER.
Much of Meola's exceptional air surfing can be attributed to growing up on Maui, one of the windiest places in the world. There, local surfers including Clay Marzo, Albee Layer, Kai Lenny and Ian Walsh, consider the wind to be an opportunity rather than a threat.
Since winning "Innersection," Meola has been featured in a number of films, including John John Florence's "View from a Blue Moon" and other Taylor Steele favorites such as "Here & Now." While he never chose the competitive route, he's been invited to compete at the specialty Red Bull Airborne events hosted at some of the premiere air locations on tour including the Gold Coast, Keramas and France.
And last year, close friend and fellow Maui surfer Albee Layer called Matt "the best air surfer of all time". It's tough to disagree after seeing what Meola has managed to pull off, including his Corked Backflip which earned him "Best Maneuver" at the 2019 SURFER awards.
For more of Matt Meola and to watch the entire "Innersection: Blue" film, head here.