2020 Ohana Gala
Honoring surfing’s most influential filmmakers, the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center’s annual Ohana Gala is coming to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on June 6, 2020. An assemblage of some of the most groundbreaking, creative and inspired minds ever to train a lens on a surfer, it is SHACC’s honor to recognize the following for their contributions to surf filmmaking:
John Milius: An Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and director, in the surf world Milius is most revered for his seminal film “Big Wednesday,” which not only captured the essence of the surf community in the Vietnam era, but also employed the talents of such luminaries as George Greenough, Gerry Lopez and Peter Townend. Milius is also the author of the screenplay for “Apocalypse Now,” which famously features a Renny Yater spoon in one surf-themed scene. Milius’s accomplishments and contributions run deep in Hollywood, but it’s his dedication to showcasing surf culture in a real and authentic way that makes him a hero to wave-riders the world over.
Greg MacGillivray: In 1972, Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman released “Five Summer Stories.” It was an instant classic. With its vibrant, breath-taking cinematography it helped usher in a golden era in surf movie making. MacGillivray/Freeman followed up on their success with “The Sunshine Sea” in 1973. As his career as a filmmaker evolved, MacGillivray expanded his aperture, making a series of award-winning nature films. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1995 for directing “The Living Sea” and in 2000 for his film “Dolphins.” MacGillivray is also credited with developing the technology around IMAX, which first debuted in his film “Everest.”
Taylor Steele: In the 1990s it was Taylor Steele’s fast-paced videos that introduced the surf world to what would come to be known as the Momentum Generation, which included 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, Pipe Master Rob Machado and big-wave pioneer Shane Dorian. Steele’s first two films “Momentum” and “Momentum 2” became the gold standard for surfing in his era. Blending explosive, progressive surfing with a vibrant punk rock soundtrack, he spoke to this new generation that was taking their performances above the lip. In 2018, HBO released the Emmy-winning documentary “Momentum Generation,” which detailed the life and times of Steele and his friends.
Thomas Campbell: A critically acclaimed artist, Thomas Campbell has provided the visuals for a generation of free-thinking, creative surfers, skaters and artists. A filmmaker, sculptor and photographer, Campbell’s work initially came to light through his involvement with a group known as the Beautiful Losers—a bi-costal art collective inspired by various aspects of street art culture associated with graffiti, skateboarding, punk, and hip-hop. In 1999, Campbell released his first feature-length surfing film, “The Seedling.” He followed that up in 2004 with “Sprout,” and then “The Present” in 2009. Campbell is also creative director for a small, independent record label, Galaxia, based in Santa Cruz, which has released records by contemporary artists Tommy Guerrero, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Peggy Honeywell and The Black Heart Procession.
Sachi Cunningham: Sachi Cunningham is a documentary filmmaker and Professor of Multimedia Journalism at San Francisco State University. Cunningham’s documentaries focus on international conflict, the arts, disability, and the ocean environment. On land she has turned her lens everywhere from the first presidential election in Afghanistan, to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In the water, she has swum with her camera alongside everything from 350-pound blue fin tuna to big wave surfers, to Olympian, Michael Phelps. She is currently working on a film detailing the women’s movement in big-wave surfing.
The Ohana Gala will also feature an in memoriam celebration of the pioneers that blazed the trail for all filmmakers to come. In memoriam honorees include: Bud Browne, Bruce Brown, Bob Evans, John Severson, Bill Delany and Sonny Miller.
“The role that film has played in surfing and surf culture films have played in Pop Culture is impossible to measure, the two are inextricably intertwined. For generations surf movies have inspired people around the world to go and chase the dream,” says Glenn Brumage, Executive Director at SHACC. “We are delighted to be able to honor those who are directly responsible for sharing the gift of surfing and turned so many people on to the culture and lifestyle.”
No other artistic medium has informed and influenced the sport, culture and lifestyle of surfing quite like filmmaking, and because of the work of the 2020 Ohana Gala Honorees the sport, culture and lifestyle of surfing is what it is today. This will be a truly historic gathering.
The 2020 SHACC Ohana Gala will take place at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on June 6, 2020.