Surf’s Up

In 1994, after more than 12 years of living in Hollywood, I returned to my hometown, the coastal suburb of Manhattan Beach, California. 

The idyllic seaside community seemed a world away from the chaotic, troubled urban landscape I was leaving. In Los Angeles, I had spent years documenting the emerging AIDS epidemic for a public radio station, then produced cable TV documentaries and educational videos on a host of urban woes, from homelessness and water pollution to substance abuse and mental illness.

Junior lifeguards waving at the camera.

Junior lifeguards ham for the camera in Manhattan Beach.

Settled into a five-bedroom house overlooking the sparkling Pacific, I had a gig I couldn’t turn down—housesitting for the owners, dear friends of mine, who were spending the summer in France.

I hadn’t intended to work, but the Beach Cities Health District was planning an educational program on beach safety for children, and they needed a video.

My friend and co-producer Daal Praderas agreed to write the script and I signed on to shoot and edit the project and design some graphics.

Watch the Video

The 20-minute video featured lifeguards, a shark and a world-champion surfer. One of the narrators, Keith Neubert, was a former NFL player turned actor.

Computer technology had advanced to the point that we could design graphics right on the desktop, so we saved a fortune on postproduction. But we still edited the old-fashion, linear way, using tape decks and an electronic controller.

The Surfrider Foundation, one of the sponsors, later adapted the video for its Respect the Beach campaign.

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