Even when we were youngsters, Bruce Brown was one of my best friends in the neighborhood, always hanging around my parents’ house in Seal Beach, California. Everyone seemed to gravitate there because my dad was sort of a mentor for all us kids who were getting into the then-new sport of surfing. Bruce’s dad had a little camera shop down on Belmont Shore called Brownies Cameras, so Bruce followed a natural path of creativity from a young age.
When we reached our teens, Bruce and a few other guys started putting together some very basic, 16mm surf films that would premiere in our local high-school auditoriums. Bruce would sit on the stage with a microphone and proudly narrate his surf film in front of the audience. At this point in surfing, these were really the only social events focused around the sport. Posters stapled to telephone poles around town advertised, “Surf Movie! Tonight at Newport Harbor High School.” So of course, we all went. It was something fun to do! I was generally featured in a substantial section of these surfing films as well (said with a grin).
Bruce’s movies always stood out from those of other filmmakers at the time for two reasons: His editing techniques were exceptionally creative and his narration was second to none. The movies featured all the best local surfers, including myself in many. There was no money involved; we just did it for fun.