Wednesday, June 10, 2015


(Behind the SDSFF- Director’s Notes and Ramblings)
Wednesday, June 10th
San Diego, CA
Generally, film festival “wraps” are all about the numbers - growth, reach, hits, popularity, etc.  I understand all of this.  It’s very important.  As with all festival directors, our fragile egos rollercoaster on the very thought of it.  Independent film festivals receive vital funding from sponsors based on these numbers.  The very concept of success itself is always gauged on popularity and growth.  It’s a numbers game, plain and simple.  But with this drive to corral the masses, we often forget about the individual.  
SDSFF 2015 was about the individual.  Each and every last one of you.

The up close and personal experience with the filmmakers has become the backbone of the San Diego Surf Film Festival.   We work painstakingly year after year to present the most important films and director Q&As in surf cinema.  An immediate litmus test of how your festival is perceived by the international filmmaking community simply boils down to if directors and producers even bother to show up.  This year, with filmmakers descending upon San Diego from all points of the globe we knew we were in for a wild ride and truly had another “worldly” gathering of the tribe on our hands.  Josh and his beautiful wife Rhiannon (directors, Saturday 6:27AM) arrived by way of Australia, Guga (director, RICO. 60 Years of Rico de Souza and Surfing in Brazil) brought his rambunctious crew from Brazil, Chris (director, Ocean Driven) and his pack of friends sojourned from South Africa.  Not to mention, Jon and the crew from El Chino who ended up having the most adverse conditions by far and they still managed to make it out from Boston for their World Premiere.  Mix these cinema-centric folks with the colorful characters that levitate towards the SDSFF year after year and what you have is nothing short of magic.  Take Stephen for example, who drove his van down from Washington State to a sold-out festival without a ticket or any notion of possibly not getting in.  Or Venya, who has no concept of “I’m sorry, ma'am, but unfortunately we are sold out” and in the end became one of our favorites.  The organic chemistry created by the SDSFF is what we really take pride in.

Here is a first-timer’s account of his experience:
“I am not a surfer. I am not a surfer yet. Hell, I can barely swim. Going to the fourth annual San Diego Surf Film Festival I was worried I would be out-of-place, out of my element, and mostly, worried I’d be bored watching hours and hours of surf porn. Those were foolish worries. The festival spanned four days and was a celebration not just of filmmaking but art, beer, community, respect & love for the ocean and each other. Typed out that reads to me like “hippie non-sense” as my dad would say, but in the moment it was just people embracing how lucky we all are to be here. Surf films were just the catalyst for the celebration.” - Ryan
In addition to expanding to a much bigger venue to accommodate the growing crowds for this “celebration”, we also concocted our most ambitious schedule to date.  Our five-day festival included 24 international surf films, a VIP live art party to benefit H20 Trash Patrol, opening night Sonny Miller Tribute, Chris Burkard photography workshop and presentation, plein air demonstration at La Jolla Cove with Matt Beard and friends, a San Diego photo contest via, live music from The Saline Solutions, Mango Melody and Millionaire Beach Bums, art and photography lounge, H20 Trash Patrol beach clean-up with Patagonia Cardiff, SDSFF 2015 Awards ceremony and a bonus organic outdoor 5 course dinner/beer pairing added on by the Drunken Master Chef who finished the festival off in classic style.

As always, all of our presenting sponsors played a vital role in this year’s success.  Craig at Daphne’s California Greek made a promise to feed every single guest for every single film.  That was four years ago and he has since kept his promise.  Val and A/V Concepts, likewise have been with us since our inception, supplied everything necessary for an unmatched theater experience that all the filmmakers can be proud of.  Liz and Dave from Green Flash Brewing Company hosted our VIP party in addition to supplying delicious craft beer throughout the entire festival.  Heather and Jason, from XTreme Video and Xsories respectively, were both available and chatted with filmmakers and guests alike about the ins and outs of film distribution and extreme sport camera accessories.  Dan from Verb TV came down and tirelessly filmed the entire festival.  Rick and Adam showed up from GoPro with a slew of cameras and gadgets.  We literally could not do it without the support from all of these fine folks and oddly enough, they thank us every year.

For 2015, we teamed up with Patti and Lorenzo from H20 Trash Patrol to raise money for their financially-strapped nonprofit which keeps our waterways free of debris.  Honestly, they didn’t even have to lift a finger and they were still going to receive a check.  But like champs, they showed up every day, arranged a beach clean-up, helped out in any way possible and truly demonstrated an outstanding stewardship towards the sea and our local community.  So there is one number I am pleased to disclose despite what I previously stated- we are honored to announce the guests and the artists of the 2015 SDSFF raised $2,650 for H20 Trash Patrol. In addition, H20 Trash Patrol will become the SDSFF’s permanent non-profit beneficiary.

(All dark clouds have silver linings):
Every year we have a group of festival die-hards that travel great lengths for the SDSFF experience and our two pals in particular, Jim and Mike, have been coming every year from Gloucester, Mass.  Anyway, the SDSFF has been trying to put together an online festival for years and when we heard Mike would be undergoing surgery and would not be attending, we scrambled.  Enlisting the help of XTreme Video and Xsories, they spearheaded and organized an online festival contest within a matter of days so Mike wouldn’t miss a thing.  All the films ran for a 12 hour period and the one which received the most views took top spot.  Nathan Oldfield claims bragging rights for 2015 with over 1,300 votes for his incredible film Gathering.  Apparently, our prescription worked well because we heard Mike is feeling much better, too.

Spirit of the Festival - El Chino (dir. Max Esposito)
Best Feature - Peninsula (dir. Luca Merli)
Best Cinematography “The Sonny” - Behind the Seen (dir. Francesco Campello)
Audience Award- Into the Sea (dir. Marion Poizeau)
Best Short- Saturday 6:27 AM (dir. Josh Rufford)
Emerging Filmmaker - Adam Simon (Foliage: Root of the Tree Barrel)
Honorable Mention - Ocean Driven (dir. Nadia Tarlow, Adrian Charles, Sean Dewil and Chris Bertish)
Honorable Mention - Icon: Mike Coots (dir. Alex Smolowe)
Honorable Mention - Rail to Rail (dir. Joel Sharpe)
Honorable Mention - RICO. 60 Years of Rico de Souza and Surfing in Brazil (dir. Guga Sander)
Honorable Mention - Gathering - Nathan Oldfield
***Congratulations go out to all the SDSFF 2015 Officially Selected Filmmakers***


Derek Dunfee
Michael Sangiolo

And for those who can’t live without the numbers, yes, we had a breakthrough year and grew by 40%.

SDSFF 2012- 1,500
SDSFF 2013- 1,800
SDSFF 2014- 2,200
SDSFF 2015- 3,200
& Extras:
- 5,000 complimentary Daphne’s California Greek pitas served
- 15 complimentary Green Flash Brewing Company kegs emptied
- $2,650 raised for H20 Trash Patrol
- 150 VIP Nautilus Passes
- Cases of complimentary Honest Tea and illy coffee
- Dozens of dedicated and wonderful volunteers
- Thousands of SDSFF 2015- XTreme Video / XSories Online Contest viewers
- Countless Hoots and Shakas
...and 3 former World Champs in attendance.

Special acknowledgement for those who put in the lionshare of the work:
Petra Kavanagh - SDSFF Creator / Director
Skye Walker - SDSFF Art Director / Master of Ceremonies
Andrea Siedsma - SDSFF Press Director
Val Reynolds - A/V Director
Matt Beard - Saint / Saboteur

Shout outs for community support go out to Jamin and Naked Viking Surf, Volcom, Hippy Tree, Purakai, Qubewax, Gliders USA,, Patagonia Cardiff, Harry’s Coffee Shop, Modesty Attire, H20 Powerwashing, Press Fitness, Humans 4 Oceans, Graced by Grit, Littlemore Realty, El Pescador, Cedar Surfboards, Tris Tarantino and Ben Barnhart, Richard Cheski, Sonny Miller Films, Taylor Steele, Ira Opper, Tom Curren, Debbie Beacham, PT, Sector 9, Jerry Jaramillo and Rick Takahashi, Chris Prescott and the Montalban Quintet.

Thank you all and we will see you in October for our inaugural Action International Film Festival.
For more info:
Thank you all for your constant support.
Pierce Michael Kavanagh -  SDSFF Creator/ Director


“Daphne’s California Greek is proud to be a part of the SDSFF.  To be a part of something that touches so many communities and is such a part of the San Diego culture is truly special.  Hats off to Pierce and Petra for another spectacular year!”
Craig Munier - VP, Daphne’s California Greek

“The SDSFF continues to set the bar for the entire surf industry.  Filmmakers are scratching to get into this one.  Wait...was that Curren who just walked by?”

Dan Foote - Verb TV

"We are really stoked to have been involved with the San Diego Surf Film Festival this year. Pierce and Petra have organised the perfect event to celebrate talented creators!  And thank you to the audience who greatly welcomed the first edition of the digital festival on our Youtube Network. We can't wait for next year"
Edouard Moreau - Media Marketing Coordinator, XTreme Video

“The San Diego Surf Film Festival continues to carve out its legacy as one of the premiere surf film experiences in the world.  It’s an honor to work with a team that values and supports the creative vision of the scribes of our time and space. Bravo P+P”

Jason Janecek - Marketing Americas, Xsories


Monday, April 27, 2015

San Diego Surf Film Festival Brings Global Surfing to the Big Screen

 Fourth Annual Festival Announces Stellar International Line-Up

The 2015 San Diego Surf Film Festival has announced a diverse line-up of 24 international films – from big-wave surfing in South Africa to an epic adventure down the Ganges River to bridging cultural and gender divides in a remote part of Iran.

The festival, May 20-23 at Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, will feature many films this year that are San Diego, California, and world premieres.
“Our majestic blue marble is made up of 71 percent water, which lends itself to an abundance of surf-related films and stunning cinematography. We are stoked to showcase surf films from around the planet, from popular surf destinations such as Hawaii, California, France, Australia and the Maldives, to Rio de Janeiro, the south of Portugal, and even a small village of El Salvador,” said Pierce Kavanagh, the festival’s co-creator and director.  Every year we work diligently to create a festival that visiting filmmakers are proud to be a part of and that the San Diego surfing community can claim as its very own. This year we even had to move to the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla to accommodate the growing crowds. The 500-person theater overlooking the ocean is the perfect venue and the response has already been overwhelming.”

Radness at the Sherwood Theater, Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla

The SDSFF is unique in that it includes films, art and music that embody the entire culture. Besides stellar films, this year's festival will includ  a VIP party at Green Flash Brewing Co., dozens of filmmakers and producers in attendance, in-depth Q&As, filmmaker panels, live art and music, great food, epic surf sessions and raging after-parties. Special events happening during SDSFF 2015 include a tribute to late surf cinematographer Sonny Miller, and a presentation by well-known surf and nature photographer Chris Burkard (

Chris Burkard continues to amaze us with his lens skills

For tickets and more information please visit  Hoots & Shakas to all of SDSFF 2105 presenting sponsors:  Daphne’s California Greek, misfit pictures, Green Flash Brewing Co., Xsories, Xtreme, and Verb TV.

Below is a list of the SDSFF 2015 official film selections:


Short Films
Always on the Road: Algarve, Portugal
Behind the Seen
Bird's Surf Shed
El Chino
Icon: Alex Gray
June Gloom
Mike Coots
North to Noosa
Out of the Black and into the Blue
Rail to Rail
Saturday 6:27am
The Coast
What Does Freedom Mean to You?
Willow Creek