December 1, 1937
California, United States
December 10, 2017
Director, Screenwriter, Actor, Producer, Director of photography, Editor, Sound recordist, House rebuilder, Surfer
Dedicated surfer and occasional filmmaker, Bruce Brown ignited an international surfing craze with his 1966 documentary classic, "Endless Summer" (1966). Designated the "Chairman of the Boards" by "Entertainment Weekly," he gained fame and fortune by doing it his way. Brown started out shooting silent footage of his friends surfing off the shore of his native southern California. An instinctual showman, he began screening his little movies at local high schools, providing on-site narration and a tape deck soundtrack. Brown went on to raise a $50,000 budget to undertake a much more ambitious project. Equipped with a sturdy windup 16mm Bolex camera, he teamed up with two teen surfers, Robert August and Mike Hynson, to film a quasi-spiritual quest around the world in search of perfect wave. Their trek led them to Malibu, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii. "Endless Summer" boasted extraordinary images and a beguiling innocence. This low-budget and initially self-distributed documentary eventually grossed $30 million.Brown explored motorcycling, another sometimes obsessive pastime, in his next documentary feature, "On Any Sunday" (1971). The charismatic presence of ultra-cool movie star Steve McQueen helped make this another solid box-office success for the part-time filmmaker. With a nest egg rumored to amount to $49 million, Brown took off the next few decades before returning behind the camera. He wrote, directed, and narrated the unexpected follow-up, "Endless Summer II" (1994), wherein he followed a new young surfing duo along much of the same route taken by his original stars. Perhaps somewhat less innocent, the $3.5 million sequel utilized a professional crew and state-of-the-art 35mm underwater cameras to display the 56 year-old Brown's undying passion for awesome scenes of surfing.
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