Before he became a filmmaker, Greg Schell was a kid and a surfer. Like many young surfers, he was inspired by the plethora of great surf movies of the late ’60s and early ’70s. One of them was “Endless Summer,” the timeless surf odyssey made by renowned filmmaker Bruce Brown.
The 1966 classic is hailed by many as the best surf movie ever, and has been seen by millions.
Schell, a UC Santa Barbara alumus, will be showing his latest film, “Chasing The Lotus,” at Chumash Auditorium on Thursday at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
The Hollywood native also presented another film, “The Far Shore,” at Cal Poly in 2003. The film was a chronicle of the 1972 journey made by photographer Craig Peterson and his friend Kevin Naughton, in search of perfect waves in locations such as California, Mexico, Ireland, West Africa and the Sahara Desert.
Schell describes “Chasing The Lotus” as an “synthesis” of both of the movies that inspired him as a surfer and a filmmaker.
“Lotus” features the very rare super 8mm film footage of underground legends Greg Weaver and Spyder Wills, as they trekked to exotic surf spots around the globe.
“Most of (Wills’ and Weaver’s) footage they just showed to friends, then they threw it into a closet for five or six years, so (the discovery) is a big deal,” Schell said of the pair’s thought-to-be-lost footage.
“Lotus” is a fusion of Weaver and Wills’ footage, photo stills and interviews with others who were inspired by the films of the duo.
The cast is a veritable list of surfing and skateboarding icons including Rob Machado, Gerry Lopez, Sunny Garcia and skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta (director of “Dogtown and Z-boys,” the inspiration for “Lords of Dogtown”). The film is also narrated by actor Jeff Bridges.
Schell called the making of “Lotus” an “amazing opportunity,” adding, “it was just awesome spending time with some of these guys and showing the inside of their lives.”
The film allowed him to interact with some of his idols; at one point Schell got to do yoga with Gerry Lopez in the latter’s back yard.
“I mentioned that I was into (yoga) and (Lopez) said, ‘why don’t we relax and do some yoga,’ it was amazing,” Schell said.