The Black Knight of Surfing

Miki Dora Stars in the Eighth Annual Digital Days Festival

by Jesse Lassen Bellinger

Late surfing legend Miki Dora had an article published (post mortem, I believe) in The Surfer’s Journal titled “The Aquatic Ape,” which inspired third-generation filmmaker Wes Brown (grandson of Gaviota’s Bruce Brown, who made a little film called Endless Summer) to craft a mini-movie called Chasing Dora. The film follows Dora’s dream of a contest devoid of judges, wetsuits, or sponsors, to be held in eight-foot Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa on handmade, natural boards.

The premise of removing the baggage of modern technology seems to come at a fitting time, as Clark Foam briefly dumbfounded the surfing industry in January 2006 when the company announced it’d no longer craft foam board blanks. But extracting oneself from technology is not an easy thing, for every emerging generation has access to the latest technology, and the early surfers would’ve used leashes, lighter boards, and wetsuits had they been available. Even the troglodytes.

The technology aspect revolves nicely around this movie, as the project was part of a Fuel TV contest (Dora was one of nine finalists) to win a million dollars to work on producing a full-fledged movie. To get Chasing Dora aired in town, Digital Days producer Richard Corwin is highlighting the film as part of the Eighth Annual Digital Days Festival.

The festival, to be held at the Arlington Theatre, is a free afternoon event for teens, friends, and families that focuses on filmmaking, content creation, and media education. Wes Brown and production partner T.J. Barrick will hand out cutting-edge software from Digital Days’ sponsors — including Avid, Apple, Adobe, Autodesk, and Macromedia — during the Eighth Annual Digital Days Teen Filmmaker Awards. The teen filmmaker winners will see clips from their movies on the Arlington’s big screen. Fuel TV will also be on board giving out swag and hyping the channel’s various amateur filmmaker contests. The lobby will be alive with gaming and technology demonstrations in association with UCSB’s media arts and technology program.

The Digital Days competition features submissions from teens 13- to 19-years-old, with 10 submissions from previous winners. The students hail from Santa Barbara Middle School, UCSB, Anacapa School, Laguna Blanca, Bishop Diego, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, and S.B. High School.

“We want the community to come out and support our talented teens who are making movies every year and winning contests nationally from work they’ve produced through media classes in our local schools,” said Corwin.

An early evening benefit dinner reception at 5:30 p.m. will include food catered by Virginia Caters and music by Soledadeez. The monies collected will be donated to S.B. High School’s Multimedia Arts and Design (MAD) Academy, youth media programs, and the S.B. chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Surf legend and Santa Barbaran Tom Curren will also play, starting at 7 p.m.

The evening closes with Chasing Dora, which documents three surfers: Robert “Wingnut” Weaver (star of Endless Summer II), surf legend Mickie “Mongoose” Munoz, and S.B. Junior High School alumnus and San Luis Obispo shaper Marc Andreini as they attempt Dora’s mad dream of an unsponsored “contest” unfettered by modern technology. The film includes footage of Kelly Slater annihilating J-Bay after the Billabong Pro. Even if it was shown alone — and not after dozens of films made by dedicated S.B. students — it would be worth the chase.

4•1•1 The Eighth Annual Digital Days Festival is Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at Arlington Theatre; the benefit dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. For tickets, go to the Arlington, call 963-4408, or see

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