The Surfersvillage Interview: Bruce & Dana Brown
Endless Summer patriarch and his son talk about the film and a new project
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 1 May, 2017 – The Endless Summer brought surfing to Kansas. It brought surfing to Canada. It brought surfing to England. With a few hundered feet of celluloid Bruce Brown, Mike Hynson and Robert August tapped into Western Culture’s collective imagination with a timeless adventure.
The two are launching a book and box DVD set to convey behind-the-scenes insights from the film in a format much more detailed and impressive than, say, Wikipedia.
Bruce Brown and Dana Brown connected with Surfersvillage to share stories about the film’s longevity, impact and following.
First off, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Bruce: Of course!
What was surfing like in the early days, pre Endless Summer? Surfers weren’t generally regarded as fine, upstanding citizens at that time.
Bruce: We were just a bunch of guys having a good time. We never thought surfing would grow into the sporting industry it has become today, back then it was just a great way to skip school and meet girls!
Dana: For me growing up, surfing was normal and always part of what we did as a family. I don’t remember learning to surf but I remember when we’d go to Nukes (the spot in front of the power plants) and it just seemed like it was the most exotic thing!
How did you plan out the logistics of the film in a pre-internet era? Did you just show up at ticket counters in airports across the globe?
Bruce: We talked to a few colleagues who were traveling at the time and found that it would actually be cheaper to travel across the globe than do to our original plan. The trip was pretty much planned out before we had left but when it came to the surf, it was all on the go because there were some days there were no waves at all!
Was there one time during the filming of the movie where you thought “Oh my god, we are not getting out of here alive?”
Bruce: There was definitely a few towns that the locals were not happy with us that we were there but you learn fast to keep your mouth shut and move on as soon as possible!
Dana: Yeah, you have to just ignore it and try not to be stupid about that kind of stuff
Conversely, where would you like to have stayed forever and never left?
Bruce: I have to say Hawaii and South Africa have to be two of my top places we visited!
Dana: [The Endless Summer 2] I haven’t thought about that in a long time! Australia is always great, Costa Rica was still kind of pristine because it was before they had really built it up to all it is today and man was it fun! They all had their own little attractions!
Did the film’s popularity surprise you?
Bruce: Totally! We just wanted to find a way to make money and be in the water. I never thought anyone would want to watch it, let alone still be talking about it 50-years later. I am so grateful to everyone who loves the film!
Dana: For me, it was just normal because I grew up in it and these guys were all my cool Hawaiian Uncles!
What influence, if any, do you feel the film has had on surf or mainstream culture?
Bruce: It was a combination of a few things and a few people. Top notch book developers connected with our managing director at Bruce Brown Films while a young far-distant student from Spain created a project for school which was the genesis of the project. His ‘hand-made’ sample blew us away with the level of detail and in depth review from all aspects of the films creation, point of view, promotion and success.
Why did you chose to do a book with the 50th anniversary release of the boxed DVD set?
Dana: I’m really honored and lucky to contribute to a book about my father and this one of a kind movie. I feel lucky to be able to say my piece and commemorate my him. When it comes to the stories being told, I also grew up around those guys so it was kind of part of what’s always been and super easy to write, proud to do it! I’ve looked up to him not only as a father but as a filmmaker and human. He’s been a great mentor to me and it was amazing getting to work with him on the sequels Endless Summer 2 and On Any Sunday. I learned so much that he really inspired me to continue making more like my own sequel coming out Dust 2 Glory currently in post production.
Do you have a favorite memory looking up to Bruce that inspired you to go into a similar career?
Dana: One of my earliest memories is watching him narrate the film live. I just remember sitting off to the side watching the crowd laugh; he had them eating in the palm of his hand, I don’t think I knew it then but it made me think ‘Hey I want to do that!’ and here I am many more under my belt today.
What part of the story does the book tell that the DVD doesn’t?
Dana: The book was made with the intent to give you all of the information, stories and behind the scenes insights from the guys to keep forever! What you are really getting is a piece of the heart behind the entire film to hold in your hands.
Can you tell us more about the launch event happening at the end of the month?
Bruce: The event is really a celebration of the landmark that the film and now book created to commemorate the anniversary have achieved. We’re gathering all of our friends and family who have been involved in this film and book from day one to celebrate!
Dana: Always good to see everyone, they’re like extended family who are always a pleasure to see, especially now that everyone is getting older the time we have with them is really precious and gets even more meaningful over the years.