In the heart of La Jolla, between the million-dollar mansions and Bugatti dealerships, lies a storied surf community. It’s where Pierce Michael Kavanagh grew up watching local legends like Chris O’Rourke, Tom Ortner and Peter Lochtefeld surf Windansea and the surrounding reefs.
Some of the finest surfing of the 1970s happened in his very own backyard and he got to bear witness. Every few months, a surf movie would come through town and Kavanagh and his friends would line up in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art to watch the film and feed off the energy of the crowd as he watched his surfing heroes on the big screen.
Those days influenced Kavanagh so much that he decided to start the San Diego Surf Film Festival in 2012.
“Getting together with the people from your local beach and hooting at a surf movie was the best! I wanted to share that feeling that I loved so much as a kid,” Kavanagh said.
Over the past few years the festival has grown from a weekend event held in a local surf shop to a 10-day event held in a 500-person auditorium. To say the community has responded is an understatement.
2016 San Diego Surf Film Festival
May 18: VIP launch party
May 19: Opening night premieres
May 20-21: Duckfoot Brewing take over
May 22-24: Celebrate San Diego events (see website for details)
May 25-26: UCSD Price Center
May 27: Film festival day 1 at Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla
May 28: Film festival awards ceremony at Museum of Contemporary Art
The festival has become Kavanagh’s full-time job, and he and his wife, Petra, started discussing opening a headquarters for their projects. They hoped to find a location in La Jolla that could capture the spirit of the film festival year-round. The idea was to build a haven for local artists and traveling filmmakers, as well as a place to host special events throughout the year.
This past month, just seven blocks from the house Kavanagh grew up in, he found a funky sub-street-level office space for rent and decided to pursue the dream and open the Misfit Pictures HQ. Now with the fifth annual San Diego Surf Film Festival just a few weeks away, the HQ will serve as home base for all the events surrounding the festival.
“This year, we are doing more than we have done in years past,” Kavanagh said. “We’ve extended the festival to cover 11 days, with community events like beach cleanups, art shows, surfboard building tutorials, filmmaker workshops as well as premiering over 40 films at the festival.”
If you enjoy surfing in San Diego, the San Diego Film Festival is a must-attend event. Start getting hyped and don’t blow it.
A full schedule and locations for events can be found online at sandiegosurffilmfestival.com/schedule.
To visit Pierce and learn more about the events, stop by Misfit Pictures HQ at 565 Pearl St., Suite 100 in La Jolla.
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.