Doc Paskowitz is never going to watch the movie that I spent six years
about him and his family. He says it’s shameful to aggrandize oneself in
of a documentary, and that he really only did it for his wife, Juliette. He thinks
his buddies Woody Brown and John Kelly, who are legendary surfers and “far
greater men,” deserve movies and maybe even statues. They both died just
last year without statues, but Woody did get a movie made about him.
I’m actually relieved that I don’t have to see or hear
Doc’s reaction to the
damning quotes about his extreme behavior that his nine, now-grown
gave me, and I don’t want to hear him berate me for not focusing
more on what a
great opera singer his wife Juliette was when he met her. She was and
have. But it is annoying to me that he doesn’t understand anything
movie I actually did make. He’ll never know that it’s not
an undeserved tribute
film, or a cruel assault on his life’s mission. Or is it? You
can be the judge.
With Surfwise, I’ve learned that making
movies about real people who are still
alive, and have a legacy, is a catch-22. If I pull my punches, I get
“village of the
happy people,” and nobody watches it. I mean, tribute films are
awful. If they
weren’t, I’d have built a big pedestal out of long boards
and had Doc mount it.
But on the other hand, what kind of twisted motivation would I possess
years making a film simply to devastate Doc’s legacy and bring
Maybe if he were a dictator or a spammer, but this is a doctor who’s
money from sick people, who’s taught thousands of kids how to
surf, and whose
life’s ambition is simply trying to inspire people to live healthily.
Or was he a
dictator? You tell me. I know he doesn’t spam...
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve
had enough of trying to negotiate the waters
and figure out the legacy of surfing’s best-known family. I honor
them deeply for
allowing me to tell their story and for being so outrageous, entertaining,
loving along the way, but I’ll never get Doc to embrace or respect
the movie, and
I’m done trying.
This letter I’m writing to you is essentially a hand-off. I’m
at that blissful turning
point, when a film is just beginning distribution and its entire history
of the film) is behind me, and its future (the viewing and reaction
to the film) lies
ahead. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change it,
which is wonderful.
The legacy of the Paskowitz family is now in your hands. Enjoy.