Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 2:38 am | Fog/Mist 52º


Catch Film ‘Secrets of Desert Point’ to Benefit Surfrider

Opper Film’s documentary Secrets of Desert Point will premiere at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. March 15 at Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara's Paseo Nuevo. The screening is a benefit for the Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara.

The event will include a raffle for a GoPro and Firewire Surfboard. Tickets are $20 and are available at, or by calling the box office, 963-0408.

In the early 1980s, while sailing off remote Lombok Island in Indonesia, young California surfer Bill Heick and his friends, dubbed the Golden Beards, stumbled across the perfect wave, a pristine barreling left reeling endlessly and empty over a shallow, live-coral reef.

As treacherous as it was beautiful, it was later dubbed Desert Point for its dry forbidding nature.

In the years that followed, a pioneer crew of hardcore surfers set up a makeshift beach outpost and kept their treasure off the surf-media map for most of a decade.

Their mission: To surf uncrowded Desert Point at the highest level possible, no matter the cost. Life on the remote point was a constant balancing act between the surfing dream and the real possibility of injury, armed robbery and life-threatening disease.

It’s also the legacy of California counterculture adventure — one spanning three generations of filmmakers beginning in the late 1940s in San Francisco.

Rare Indonesian surf footage was shot by Heick’s father William R. Heick, a renowned ethnographic filmmaker who came out of the 1950s San Francisco bohemian arts scene.

The fragile 16mm footage, shot more than 40 years ago, has sat in obscurity until recently retrieved and restored.
“This project was a surf filmmaker's dream production," said Secrets’ director Ira Opper. “It is one of the last great dirt-bag adventures of the 20th century, with untold stories, never-seen exotic film imagery, and a perfect wave.”

The seven-time Emmy Award-winning Opper began his directing career in 1971 when he opened Santa Barbara’s first independent video production company in the El Presidio.

In 1975, Cox Cable hired Opper to launch local originated community television. He created hundreds of community and sports TV shows. He won the National Cable Television’s Ace Award for his innovative Santa Barbara cable programming.

Opper has been a card-caring member of the Surfrider Foundation since 1985 and will be attending the March 15 screenings.

— Dustin Hood for Opper Films.

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