2017 Florida Surf Film Festival Announces Awards

Left to right:  Kevin Miller, Executive Director; Scott Hulet, Editor – The Surfer’s Journal; Takuji Masuda, Dir. – BUNKER77; Ira Opper, Dir. – The Secrets of Desert Point; John Brooks, Festival Dir.; Keith Malloy, Dir. – Fishpeople

November 19, 2017

New Smyrna Beach, FL – The Fifth Annual Florida Surf Film Festival (FSFF), presented by Monster Energy, is a wrap, and the juries and founders are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 awards.

The 2017 festival kicked off Friday with Perilous Sea, the award-winning work of Mike Bromley and Ryan Meichtry.  Sometimes, the east coast gets good, in Nova Scotia…  The further reaches of the Northern Atlantic also produced for the duo, who won Best Surf Movie – Short and Best Cinematography – Short for their efforts.

Joe G.’s world premiere of Cult of Freedom – The Australia Part, pulled in Viewer’s Choice – Short with some footage of Taj right after retirement, and the Globe boys – Dion Agius, Eric Geiselman, Nate Tyler, and Noa Deane, among others, taking to the air and free-falling into thumping, clear-water caverns with the director’s personal voiceover giving light and humor to their travels.  Mr. G. included 16-milimeter work, provoking audible gasps, old-school howls, and an undercurrent of whispers.

Next, right into Ira Opper’s vision and Bill Heick’s family footage of friends who roughed it in the early days of Lombok’s eastern parts in The Secrets of Desert Point.  Ira used Bill’s voice for the voiceover, a personal touch that resonated with veteran travelers.  Ira met with and greeted questions from many fans during the course of the weekend, and shared some harrowing stories of engine failure in the Java straights, only to be rescued to score incredible footage for his ESPN series back in the late 80’s.

Friday night ended on a big note.  Albee Layer and Dan Norkunas presented their work Nervous Laughter and drew a huge grom-count.  The footage of the often-hilarious Q and A can be found online, but the work speaks for itself.  Find it somewhere and enjoy.

On Saturday morning, Sam George, filmmaker, surfer, and voice of surf journalism for many fans, greeted 14 early birds to the founders’ room of the Pabst Visitor’s Center and Gallery at Atlantic Center for the Arts.  What followed was an eight-hour workshop detailing the creation and execution of documentary filmmaking.  As a veteran story-teller and Emmy Award winning director, he shared knowledge that only comes from having brought an idea to the screen, many times.

Matt Warshaw sits in on Sam’s Workshop. Photo: David Moorefield

Saturday night, Church of the Open Sky, winner of the Best Soundtrack – Feature award, brought a thoughtful look at how the act of surfing can bring joy and gratitude into the lives of surfing communities.  Beauty in sound and sun-saturated images from Sri Lanka and Australia initiated new fans and veterans to Nathan Oldfield’s stunning, peaceful work.  It was nothing short of perfection.

Eric Ebner came to the festival expecting a t-shirt, and he walked away with Best Documentary – Short.  His film, The Bull, is the quintessential short bio-doc about a Baja surfer, Glen Horn.  His often home, the bluffs of Never Never Land (kept confidential by the filmmaker) could be found with a little bit of research.  Crafting a movie with such efficiency and beauty happens infrequently, believe it or not.  Eric did it.

Keith Malloy brought the lives of six people to the screen.  Somewhere in Fishpeople, each and every fan found the confidence, dedication, and courage of the ensemble cast too much to bear.   Keith Malloy shook a lot of hands, took photos with fans, but he also managed to gain even more respect as a filmmaker and artist, if that’s possible.  His ability to find the emotional key upon which a segment depends and embolden it with editing, scoring, and strong interviews makes his film this year’s Viewer’s Choice – Feature.

The final film of the 2017 festival documented the life and ultimate sadness of a man wrestling with inheriting millions of dollars and the absence of a father-figure.  Bunker Spreckels stumbled out of the forest onto the North Shore of Oahu in his teens with a creative, youthful approach to Pipeline and penchant for partying.  Oh, and his step-dad was Clark Gable. The feature film jury unanimously voted Takuji Masuda’s Bunker77 Best Documentary – Feature for 2017.  The films essence was captured by a near end-of-life interview by Craig Stecyk, that weaved throughout the film, ominously and from the bottom.  Despite the love and support of his friends, his heartbreaking early death came at the throes of addiction and abuse.  Sometimes, you don’t get back up when you hit rock bottom, and Takuji told the story in a dramatic climb and fall structure, capturing contemporary’s recollections, anecdotes, and photographs that combined with Stecyk’s interview, complete this excellent documentary film.

The screening panelists have entered their selections, along with our viewers’ choices.  The awards are as follows:

  • Best Documentary – Feature:  Bunker77; Director – Takuji Masuda
  • Best Surf Movie – Feature:  Proximity; Director – Taylor Steele
  • Best Cinematography – Feature:  Under an Arctic Sky; Director – Chris Burkard and Director of Photography – Ben Weiland
  • Best Soundtrack – Feature:  Church of the Open Sky; Director – Nathan Oldfield
  • Viewers’ Choice – Feature:  Fishpeople; Director – Keith Malloy
  • Best Documentary – Short:  The Bull; Director – Eric Ebner
  • Best Surf Movie – Short:  Perilous Sea; Directors – Mike Bromley and Ryan Meichtry
  • Best Cinematography – Short:  Perilous Sea; Directors – Mike Bromley and Ryan Meichtry
  • Best Soundtrack – Short:  Pedro’s Bay – Director – Eddie Obrand
  • Viewers’ Choice – Short:  Cult of Freedom – The Australia Part, Director – Joe G.

Juries include: Feature Jury – Scott Hulet, Sam George, Christian Beamish, Joe Turpel, Matt Pruett, Chad Campbell, and Ben Mondy.  Short Jury – Matt Warshaw, Lewis Samuels, Matt Kechele, and Bryan Forand.  Festival director, John Brooks, and executive director, Kevin Miller, also submit votes for competition.

We were again proud to have Monster Energy serve as our presenting sponsor for this year’s festival, providing travel and lodging for the filmmakers who attend the festival.

Surfline provided coverage and marketing services for the 2017 festival as our principal media sponsor.

Cigar City Brewing and Oskar Blues Brewery served as the festival’s official beer sponsors, with St. Augustine Distillery serving as the official spirits sponsor of the festival.  Clancy’s Cantina and Café Verde served as the festival’s official food sponsor.

Other sponsors we’d like to thank include:  Serenity Springs Recovery Center, Globe, Brian Layman Wealth Management, Richer Poorer, Anson Stoner, Encyclopedia of Surfing, Florida Virtual School, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Dakine, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Nixon Watches, JT Handcrafted Surfboards, Holistic Movements, Biological Consulting Services, Mangrove Bay Design, Lundev Homes, La Ponderosa Beach and Jungle Resort, Total Vision, SDR Massage, Funxion IT, Hampton Inn, Red Dog Surf Shop, Kembali, and Surfrider Foundation (Volusia/Flagler Chapter).  A silent auction featuring some of our sponsors’ products was held in the Pabst Visitor Center and Gallery.

Florida Surf Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to invigorate surf culture and artistic appreciation by exhibiting contemporary documentary films with surfing as a focus from artists far and wide and operate featured-artist workshops in journalism, photography, and filmmaking.

–Kevin Miller

Meet Paige Laverty – this year’s feature photographer

By Ashley Brooks

New Smyrna Beach, FL – Imagine your biggest daily dilemma upon waking up being, “Do I shoot or do I surf today?” This is the life surf photographer and Ocean Beach local Paige Laverty has carved out for herself. A world traveller and adventure seeker, Paige has spent the last 20 years trekking across the globe, living abroad for stints in both Italy and Buenos Aires, backpacking through over 40 counties, and spending 5 years living in The Big Apple before moving to San Francisco to learn to surf. After just one lesson in Stinson Beach, Paige knew she was hooked and that life would need to change in order to accommodate this new found love of surfing. She ditched her high paying 9-5 job in favor of flexible gigs like driving for Lyft/Uber and babysitting to have ultimate freedom to surf or shoot photos whenever the waves were good.  She is now a regular in the Ocean Beach lineup, both as a surfer and photographer, being one of the few females swimming out to shoot from the water. Her shots of Mavericks have been bought and published by Surfing Magazine as well as Surfline, and just this year she was commissioned for a Mentawai boat trip as a staff photographer. Paige is living the quintessential surfer’s dream, planning her days and travels based on the ocean swells. Come meet Paige and see her work at the New Smyrna Beach FSFF Nov. 10th and 11th at the Atlantic Center for the Arts where her photography will be both on display and available for purchase.



Florida Surf Film Festival Announces 2017 Official Selections

Photo: Nervous Laughter Archive

New Smyrna Beach, FL – Florida Surf Film Festival (FSFF), presented by Monster Energy, is proud to announce the official selections for the feature film and short film categories for the November 10th and 11th main festival, its fifth annual event at Atlantic Center for the Arts. This is the 4th and final installment of the year-long festival, preceded by the February, June, and August quarterly screening series.  FSFF will also screen some featured works of the festival on November 16th in Cocoa Beach at the Surfside Playhouse and November 17th at The Abbey in Orlando.

Attendees for the New Smyrna Beach festival include:
  • Sam George – Documentary Film Workshop
  • Keith Malloy – Fishpeople
  • Takuji Masuda – Bunker77
  • Scott Hulet – The Surfer’s Journal, Editor, Juror of FSFF
  • Dan Norkunas, Nervous Laughter
  • Albee Layer, Professional Surfer in Nervous Laughter
  • Ira Opper, The Secrets of Desert Point
  • Matt Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing, Juror of FSFF

Passes are available here, and one-night passes will be on-sale at the door for $20 and a two-night pass runs $30.  Passes for kids 11 and under are also available for $5/night and $10/two-nights.  Patron level support is also available in limited numbers for $125/pp., which includes a festival poster, 2017 limited edition t-shirt, FSFF Tervis Tumbler, dinner both nights from Clancy’s Cantina on-site, two-night festival pass, and four drink tickets (add a spouse for an additional $75).  Tickets for the Cocoa Beach and Orlando events are also available for sale for $20/adult and $5/kids 11 and under.  Please email Kevin@floridasurffilmfestival.com with any questions.

Filmmaker and journalist, Sam George, will be hosting a full-day documentary film workshop on November 11th; details are available at www.floridasurffilmfestival.com.  Matt Warshaw will also be in attendance from Encyclopedia of Surfing with all of life’s answers.  Chad Campbell, Filmmaker (5th Symphony Document) and juror, will also be available to classic Tavaua boatman stories and will be available for questions.

FSFF differentiates itself from others due to its year-long presentation of works, all of which are included for competition for the 2017 festival year.  The curated feature documentaries (longer than 30 minutes) have been balanced-to-taste and avoid too much of any one genre.  For instance, the big-wave genre has been prolifically documented in the last couple years, and as such, two features are included in the festival, one of which, Distance Between Dreams, screened in February 2017 to a packed amphitheater.  The other big wave venture is from veteran documentarian, Dan Norkunas, who will be in attendance, and features Albee Layer and friends during one of the best winters in recorded history.  The film is rightly titled Nervous Laughter.  Historical documentaries have also made a good showing this year with Bunker77 (Takuji Masuda, who will be in attendance) and The Secrets of Desert Point (Ira Opper, also in attendance) making the list for November.   Leaving the cubicle behind for a look at surf travel, Alena Ehrenbold debuts her beautiful film Blue Road that will leave fans broke but happy on some distant coast.  Rounding out the feature category, Fishpeople, a new film by Keith Malloy, who will be in attendance, will highlight the lives of six people who could not separate the ocean from the narrative of their life if they wanted to.  The Church of the Open Sky will be a fantastic conclusion to the festival offering classic and new shapes on a canvas painted by none other than FSFF veteran Nathan Oldfield.

Filling the lineup of short films (under 30 minutes) in November, new works by Mike Bromley, Sam Sykes, Gustavo Imigrante, Andy Miller, and Eric Ebner will see the light of the big screen.

We recognize the difference between Best Documentary and Best Surf Movie.  Those who approach the art form by documenting, even if mockingly, a character, locale, etc. with personal interviews, historical footage, and anecdotal clips will be in competition for Best Documentary, and those movies focusing on the high performance, action-driven sequences will compete for Best Surf Movie. This award will be extended to short films as well. In addition, Best Cinematography and Best Soundtrack will be awarded for both feature and short films, along with a Viewers’ Choice award.

Friday, November 10, 2017


  • Commencement/introduction by John Brooks, Festival Director
  • Blue Road – Alena Ehrenbold, 44 min.
  • Perilous Sea – Mike Bromley and Ryan Meichtry, 27 min.


  • Fresh Rubber – Andy Miller, 7 min.
  • The Secrets of Desert Point, Ira Opper, 45 min.


  • Nervous Laughter, Dan Norkunas, 69 min., starring Albee Layer
  • Cosmic – Sam Sykes, 12 min.
  • Reef Road – Gustavo Imigrante, 21 min.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


  • The Church of the Open Sky – Nathan Oldfield, 55 min.
  • The Bull – Eric Ebner, 13 min.


  • Untitled – Joe G.
  • Fishpeople – Keith Malloy, 49 min., starring Dave Rastovich & Matahi Drollet.


  • Bunker77 – Takuji Masuda, 90 min., featuring Bunker Spreckels

Florida Surf Film Festival’s jury, comprised of twelve individuals with journalistic, cultural, and/or experiential factors will determine recognition for the following awards:

Best Documentary – Feature; Best Surf Movie – Feature; Best Cinematography – Feature; Best Soundtrack – Feature; Best Documentary – Short; Best Surf Movie – Short; Best Cinematography – Short; Best Soundtrack – Short

The following two awards are selected by viewers’ enthusiasm for the films during the festival and feedback during the nights of programming to staff:

Viewers’ Choice Award – Feature; Viewers’ Choice Award – Short

Juries include: Feature Films – Scott Hulet, Christian Beamish, Joe Turpel, Matt Pruett, Chad Campbell (planning to attend), and Ben Mondy.  Short Films – Matt Warshaw, attending, Sam George, attending, Lewis Samuels, Matt Kechele, Nick McGregor, and Bryan Forand.

We are proud to have Monster Energy serve as our presenting sponsor for this year’s festival, providing travel and lodging for the filmmakers who attend the festival.

Principal Sponsors:  Surfline, Globe Brand Apparel and Footwear, Anson Stoner (Advertising and Creative), & Encyclopedia of Surfing

Major Sponsors: Florida Virtual School, Serenity Springs Recovery Center, Brian Layman Financial, Dakine, Costa Del Mar, Red Dog Surf Shop, Kembali Board Shack, and Clancy’s Cantina

Sponsors: Cigar City Brewing, Da Kine Poke Bowls (Orlando), Taco City (Cocoa Beach), Nixon Watches, Waterways Travel, SDR Massage, Mangrove Bay Design, Biological Consulting Services, La Ponderosa Beach and Jungle Resort, Total Vision, Holistic Movements, Surfrider Foundation (Cocoa Beach and Flagler/Volusia Chapters), and Hampton Inn.

Among other notable partners, Florida Virtual School is a new supporter as well as renewing support from Serenity Springs Recovery Center.  Anson Stoner has also provided our graphic design, once again, for t-shirts, posters, web graphics, et al.  Brian Layman Financial is our partner for your investment needs.  Encyclopedia of Surfing provides our historical and archival needs.

Previously screened entries during 2017:

February 11, 2017:

  • Bezerke – Andrew Kaineder, 14 min.
  • Beauty and Chaos – James Skerritt, 7 min.
  • Riskey Business – Guy Mac, 25 min.
  • Fields of View – Cyrus Sutton, 10 min.
  • Distance Between Dreams – Ian Walsh and Rob Bruce, 62 min.

June 16th, 30th and July 7th:

  • A Road Through Galicia – Luke Pilbeam, 8 min.
  • Guide to Getting Girls – Victor Pakpour, 15 min.
  • Pedro’s Bay – Eddie Obrand, 27 min.
  • Masa – Dominic De Salis, 4 min.
  • Proximity – Taylor Steele, 56 min.

August 17th, 18th, and 19th:

  • Journey to the End of the Night – Patrick Trefz, 4 min.
  • Surfers’ Blood – Patrick Trefz, 56 min.
  • Vacation Island – Morgan Maassen, 5 min.
  • Broken Dreams – Sebastian Zanella – Gabriel Novis, 7 min.
  • Under an Arctic Sky – Chris Burkard and Ben Weiland, 40 min.

Florida Surf Film Festival mission: 

Florida Surf Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to invigorate surf culture and artistic appreciation by exhibiting contemporary documentary films with surfing as a focus from artists far and wide and operate featured-artist workshops in journalism, photography, and filmmaking.

Sam George Documentary Film Workshop – November 11, 2017

Sam George will be conducting a one-day documentary film workshop for early to mid-career filmmakers and enthusiasts on November 11, 2017, at Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL.  The fee is $95.  There are no prerequisites for this workshop.  A basic understanding of filmmaking would be helpful, but the workshop will likely be small and cater to individual questions and needs as determined throughout the day.

Click HERE to reserve your spot now!

Here’s a draft of the agenda for the day, and may be tweaked for any special interests if time permits:



  •  Sam’s background and current work.

STUDENT INTRODUCTIONS – Backgroung, inspirations, aspirations…



  • How to condense a concept into an effective, easy to understand (and pitch) log-line and treatment  (with examples).


  • Shaping and articulating the story, beyond the broader concept. Includes narration versus sound byte.



  • Familiarization with the subject matter, sourcing pertinent imagery, establishing narrative authority.


  • Choosing (and streamlining) the voices that will best articulate the film.

12:30 – 2:00PM LUNCH by Clancy’s Cantina

  •  Questions and storytelling/sharing



  • Establishing style of interview and camera technique (with examples).


  • Developing rapport, conversation versus questioning, the follow-up, leading the witness, following narrative.



  • Are they necessary? When are they necessary? Techniques and pitfalls (with examples).


  • Developing a style, setting tone, pacing (with examples).

4PM – 5PM


  • Clip and still photos, animation, graphics, licensing versus copyright protection.


  • Use of music, composed score versus ‘needle drop’, licensing challenges (with examples).

Click HERE to reserve your spot now!

As both a former senior editor for Surfing Magazine and former editor-in-chief of SURFER Magazine, Sam George, 60, has been writing about the sport for over 33 years and is acknowledged as one of the sport’s leading experts. George has written and/or directed a number of acclaimed surfing documentaries, including the 2004 Sundance Film Festival official selection Riding Giants and other films such as Pipeline Masters, The Lost Wave: An African Surf Story, and Hollywood Don’t Surf, which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

Sam’s latest documentary Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau, premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and screened as the premier episode of ESPN’s prestigious “30 for 30” documentary series. It went on to win a 2014 Emmy Award as part of that series.

Sam has written and edited more than half a dozen books on the subject of surfing, including Surfing: A Way Of Life (1992), Surfing (1994), Tom Blake: Surfing 1922-1932, The Perfect Day: 40 Years of SURFER Magazine(2001 Surf Life (2003). SURFER 50 (2010) and The Big Juice (2011)

One of the sport’s most well-traveled surfers, Sam has explored the coastlines of over 40 countries, riding waves on every continent save Antarctica. On one of his latest adventures, he rode waves near the Arctic Circle on the north coast of Iceland.

A former professional competitor, Sam is also one of the pioneers of stand-up paddle surfing and is currently Senior Editor at SUP Magazine.  He still competes in various stand-up paddle surf races, accruing a number of age group victories.

Matt Warshaw Will Attend 3rd Quarterly Screening Series in August

New Smyrna Beach, FL – It’s no joke.  The recorder of our sport–the history, quotes, photos, videos, stories, and occasional feather-ruffle–Matt Warshaw will join Florida Surf Film Festival for its three days in August.  More specifically, August 17th, 18th, and 19th for a cocktail hour before each screening in Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and Orlando, respectively.  Guests will enjoy his indefatigable discomfort at addressing more than one person, in person.  They will watch him sway, consider, confirm or debunk, parlay or present, gesticulate or guffaw at your insightful, unpredictable, and enlightening questions and recollections.

Be part of the awkwardness.  BUY TICKETS HERE  Let’s see just how many subscriptions to his e-service, Encyclopedia of Surfing, History of Surfing, and finally Above the Roar (interviews) we can wrangle from our rich brethren, in the hopes of supporting his dogged quest to document the fervent, colorful, and blowhard characters of our sport, not to mention the events and the non-events.  It’s disgustingly cheap, and if there’s an altruistic bone in your body, you’ll sign up for life.

Come and be near, as I did one summer day in Brooklyn in 2012, when I realized that all of my favorite articles from the late 80’s were actually written by The Man.  Talk about what makes a good surf movie.  And what keeps you watching WSL events.  Find a minute to buy him and beer and get a photo.  There is absolutely no reason he won’t paddle out with you even.  But we’ll need some luck in August….  See you then.

June 16th Pedro’s Bay Premiere

By Ashley Brooks

New Smyrna Beach, FL – “Many extraordinary tales have been told of Pedro’s Bay, but none so strange as the story of one brave traveler’s journey to discover paradise.” ~ Pedro’s Bay

This opening line sets the tone of Vissla’s newest cinematic adventure, Pedro’s Bay. The films’ initial scene brings to mind the cult classic The Princess Bride, with a young boy discovering an old, dusty book under a couch. As he begins to read we’re taken along with him to a mythical island filled with “crystal fountains and tiki gods, emerald mountains and flying fish,” where there are endless aquamarine barrels and sandy beaches. Derrick Disney stars as the films “brave traveler”, Bryce Young the “Caba Kaa” and James de la Pena as “Boy,” with other appearances by Cam Richards, Gunner Day, Brendon Gibbons and New Smyrna’s own Eric Geiselman.

Photos by Christian Oehmke

Eric and Cam were both in attendance at the sold out June 16th New Smyrna Beach FSFF screening of Pedro’s Bay, along with cinematographer Brian Elliot and Vissla media marketing manager Keegan Fong. All four guys were game for a little Q&A with the crowd after the film, but were all tight lipped when it came to revealing the actual filming locations, leaving us trying to find the elusive and mythical Pedro’s Bay for ourselves.

If you missed the June 16th screening, the Florida Surf Film Festival will be showing Pedro’s Bay again this upcoming Friday June 30th at The Abbey in downtown Orlando along with Taylor Steele’s newest film Proximity, and again the following Friday July 7th at the Surfside Playhouse in Cocoa Beach. To avoid getting sold out of these next two screenings click ORLANDO or COCOA BEACH to buy your tickets now. There will be giveaways at both events, including a copy of the book Pedro’s Bay and a $200 shopping spree from Vissla.

Listen to Kevin and John on Real Radio 104.1 – Tom and Dan Show

Photo: Ashley Brooks


Orlando, FL – On June 26th, on A Mediocre Time with Tom and Dan (aka A Corporate Time with Tom and Dan on Real Radio 104.1), founders Kevin Miller and John Brooks did an interview about the upcoming screenings in Florida Surf Film Festival’s new territory, Orlando and Cocoa Beach.  The festival is presented by Monster Energy.  You can listen here.


Proximity and Pedro’s Bay at The Abbey in Orlando

By Ashley Brooks

Orlando, FL – The Florida Surf Film Festival is expanding in 2017, with two new venues and multiple new events, creating even more opportunities to view your favorite surf flicks amongst friends. If you missed out on last weeks SOLD OUT screening of Eddie Obrand and Vissla’s latest film, Pedro’s Bay and Taylor Steele’s newest film Proximity, your next chance to see both films is at the FSFF’s first additional venue, The Abbey in downtown Orlando on Friday, June 30th with Doors at 6pm and movies at 7pm.

Located on the ground floor of the Sanctuary High Rise in downtown Orlando, The Abbey is a cultural hub for Central Florida, offering a unique setup with an elevated stage, a full size movie screen if you’re into the traditional sit down movie watching experience, as well as five 60” high-def TV’s located throughout their full service bar if you want a more laid back, social experience.

Either way, tickets are selling fast, and you don’t want to get sold out of another showing, so CLICK HERE ORLANDO to purchase your tickets now.