Monday, March 26, 2012

Hippy Hoots & Shakas

Bird's Surf Shed will be the venue for the first ever San Diego Surf Film Festival May 11-13, 2012. Photo by: Shawna Suffriti

For the past five decades, hoots and shakas have echoed throughout theaters in celebration of the art of surf cinema. This gathering of the tribes made its debut in 1953 when Bud Browne introduced Hawaiian Surfing Movie, the first commercial surf film that was shown anywhere. John Severson and Bruce Brown followed suit by creating the standard style of modern surf films, complete with slapstick comedy routines. Add Jim Freeman, Walt Phillips, Greg MacGillivray,Hal Jepsen, Bill Delaney, Greg Weaver, Spyder Wills, and Steve Soderberg (to name a few)and you have a dynamic collection of surf films that have taken us on a saltwater journey around the globe and back.

Today’s surf filmmakers are tenfold. The progression of technology and surfing has made the sport even that more exciting to capture on film. Many of these independent filmmakers, however, have a  difficult time promoting their films and spreading the stoke.
It’s something that La Jolla native, bodysurfer and filmmaker Pierce Kavanagh wants to change. That’s why he, his wife Petra, and friend and artist Ed Lewis came up with the first ever San Diego Surf Film Festival (SDSFF).
The inaugural event, May 11-13, will be held at Bird’s Surf Shed in San Diego, a world famous restored quonset hut filled with an impressive collection of historically significant surfboards and artifacts.  Twelve  feature-length films and 20 short films centered around surfing will be shown during the three-day festival.     The names of the films to be shown will be announced April 14.
The event, which will kick off with a VIP party on May 10, will also feature surf-related art and photography by local artists.  Since San Diego is synonymous with surfing, the City of San Diego will present the San Diego Surf Film Festival with a proclamation on the opening night, Friday, May 11.

The SDSFF will be a platform for independent filmmakers from around the world to showcase their talents.  This will truly be an international event celebrating surf cultures from around the world.
“This festival is all about promoting and congratulating the individuals who create surf cinema simply out of passion,” Pierce Kavanagh says.
“A lot of our friends are independent surf filmmakers and we started to notice that it was becoming harder and harder to make surf films as an independent art form. The motivation of the film festival is to help support the independent filmmaker, give them promotional opportunities, help place them into distribution deals and get the public behind them. Doing this will allow them to get their freedom back and ultimately we will have better films because of it.”

To Kavanagh, San Diego and Bird’s Surf Shed are the perfect venues for the festival. After all, the San Diego surfing community has had a major influence on the history and development of surfing through its unique surfboard designers and remarkable surfers. San Diego may not be the birthplace of surfing, but there is no denying the contributions and innovations that this beautiful city and its ocean loving community have provided to the surfing world. The San Diego surfing timeline consists of such revered names as Bob Simmons, Carl Ekstrom, Larry Gordon, Butch Van Artsdalen, Skip Frye, Mike Diffenderfer, Bob Hansen, Pat Curren, Bill Caster, Steve Pendarvis, Mike Hynson, Dale Dobson, Rusty Preisendorfer, Joe Roper, and Hank Warner, to name a few.
“Intertwine this amazing surf history with 75 miles of diverse coastline, a new crop of creative board designers and an incredibly deep talent pool, and you soon realize San Diego simply lives and breathes everything that is wave riding,” Kavanagh says.

San Diego's famous surf breaks such as Wind 'N Sea, Black's, Scripps and Swami's act as a venue for many surf filmmakers and photographers from around the world. Photo by: David Gray

The main goal of the San Diego Surf Film Festival is to bring the entire global surfing community together on a grassroots level.
“This is the main reason why we are going to put a twist on the competitive film festival concept.  We don’t want this to be a popularity contest, or a way to promote a particular brand so we are actually letting the filmmakers themselves decide on the awards” Kavanagh says.  “Surf Films are one of the most important mediums we have to honor our most beloved pastime and lifestyle. We want this to be a time to come together, enjoy each other’s company and be inspired by the works of art that these artists and filmmakers worked so hard to bring to life.”

Check out for more info and tickets!

SDSFF creators, from L to R: Ed Lewis, Petra Kavanagh & Pierce Kavanagh
Photo by: Mark Bromley

Check out the promo video:

San Diego Surf Film Festival Trailer from misfit pictures on Vimeo.


  1. OMG I have to go! Sounds awesome!

  2. Yes Lauren! Join us! Some great films are already coming in! woo hooo

  3. woot!! So excited to be a part of this event!
    Elise Nicole

  4. Thanks Elise! We're stoked that YOU are a part of it too! We are so lucky to have so many talented peeps like yourself around us!!! Mahalo sister!