The world lost a true surf pioneer in Bruce Brown this weekend. Having captured an essence of surfing and bringing it to the masses via his iconic film “The Endless Summer,” Brown created the genre of surf films, launched thousands upon thousands of surf trips and continues to influence filmmakers of all types today.
The 1966 film holds up plenty more than 50 years later. And as a tribute to the late filmmaker we’ve put together a list of some very interesting things you may not know about Brown and his magnum opus.
5. Dale Velzy bought Bruce Brown his first Bolex
It was Southern California surfboard shaper Dale Velzy who helped 19-year-old surfer-lifeguard Brown get started. In 1957 he purchased a brand new Bolex camera, editing equipment and gave Brown a $5,000 check for expenses. This led to Brown making his first film, “Slippery When Wet.”
4. There was no film crew
RIP Bruce Brown. Always loved this shot of Bruce rocking the white Chuck's with his black suit getting ready to embark filming on The Endless Summer. Still remember the first time I saw his masterpiece as a 12-year-old. One of the opening shots was Fred Hemmings riding a wave at Bowls, and that ride was imprinted on my mind and psyche. It was pure salt water joy. Nearly three decades later, I still think about that celluloid wave every time I paddle out at Ala Moana. Thank you and Aloha for the Endless Inspiration Bruce! 📷 courtesy of @surfingheritage #legend #endlesssummer #surf #style #brucebrown #surfingheritage
“The Endless Summer” is true to its story in that it really was just the three of Brown, Robert August and Mike Hynson. The three surfers traveled light, with just two surfboards and camera gear that weighed less than 100 pounds. The four-month journey to produce one of the best surf films ever is all the more inspiring given the minimalist approach to the whole project.
3. The title was set before the movie was made
According to History of Surfing, “The global ‘perfect wave’ quest wasn’t born until Brown’s travel agent told him that he’d actually save $50 per ticket if he continued flying east around the world. Brown then realized that by crossing the equator, the summer season was doubled — ‘The Endless Summer’ was picked as a title before Brown began filming.”
2. It was a hit in Kansas
Leading up to its worldwide release in 1966, Brown was hustling trying to find distribution for “The Endless Summer.” He would have premieres here and there in beach towns to drum up support, noise and earn some money to keep climbing along. In the winter of 1965, Brown took “The Endless Summer” to Sunset Theater in Wichita, Kansas — America’s most landlocked city. Over those two weeks, it outgrossed both “My Fair Lady” and “The Great Race.”
1. The story behind the iconic poster
Brown commissioned then SURFER art director John Van Hamersveld in 1964 to create the movie poster because Brown claimed Van Hamersveld was the only artist he knew. Van Hamersveld was paid $150 for the assignment and thought nothing of it after that (he was hired to do some work and then simply moved on). Except two years later when at Chouinard Art Institute, a classmate told him that an ad for “The Endless Summer,” featuring the image he’d designed, was in The New York Times. The rest is design history.
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