Kate Ritter

When you think of a family profession, surfing documentarian is not the first to come to mind. Yet three years after Dana Brown worked with father Bruce Brown on Endless Summer II and Endless Summer Revisited, he wrote, directed, edited and narrated Step into Liquid, which received critical acclaim. On Dana Brown’s latest documentary, Highwater, the tradition is passed down to his son Wes.

The father-son duo chronicle the Triple Crown Surfing competition in Highwater, where the world’s greatest athletes and amateur surfers alike gather on the North Shore of Oahu—tripling the local population. Local parties, drowning scares, romance and triumphs fill the competition, which takes place over the fifty-five days between Halloween and Christmas. The Browns document multiple storylines in Highwater, which opens August 27th, with equal emphasis on personal drama and the glory of the sport. We caught up with Brown to find out more about filming in Oahu and the family tradition.

1. What sparked your interest in surfing?
I have surfed since I was 3 or 4. My Dad being a surfer had me in the
water as a baby. So it is part of my heritage.

2. What challenges did you face while filming in such dangerous waters? How
did you overcome them?
The big waves and amount of people on the beach present a
real challenge and to overcome them is often a matter of being able to flow
with the situation and have the best crew working for you. The
watercameramen Larry Haynes and Mike Prickett are among the rare breed that
can actually
swim a camera out and document the surf from the water. I get out there
when it’s a little more gentelmanly.

3. Based on those shooting conditions, what camera(s) and other equipment
did you choose to work with?
We shot on super 16 film with an Arrii and in HD with Sony f-900
camera as well as a couple prosumer panasonic cameras for the fans on the
beach. And an array of super 16 and digital watercameras.

4. What¹s the best part about filming in Oahu?
The astounding beauty of the place. All
the action happens in a 7 mile stretch of coastline so you become very
familiar with it. It’s a place I have spent alot of time at and love the
It feels like a second home. So the comfort and beauty made it very special.

5. Did you take any lessons from your father? What do you hope to pass
along to your son, Wes?
From my father I learned to work hard and try to do the very
best work you can. To be humble and self confident. Not to get caught up in
the hype and try to tell the best story you possibly can. And I think those
are the lessons I’d hope to pass along to Wes.