After six years of production, our tribute to Woody Brown is complete! We are still seeking to raise $20,000 to pay completion costs that include clearing all archival footage and music rights. All donations are fully tax-deductible when payable to Film Arts Foundation, and will be gratefully accepted. We will also be raising funds to edit the 56:40 PBS version.
This is a proposal for a 56:46 television documentary profile of an
extraordinary 92-year-old free spiritthe surfing, sailing and
soaring legend named Woody Brown. Woody has not only lived a life full
of seemingly endless adventure and accomplishment including inventing
the modern catamaran and setting world gliding records but he
has also done so with a kind of selflessness, simplicity and generosity
that have made him a role model for generations
of Hawaiians, both sur
fers and non-surfers as well as everyone who has met him. Woody is like
a modern Thoreau on a surfboard, living in harmony with the world around
him, alive to the possibilities of each new day, and following his own
singular vision of how to be in the world. His unique blend of enthusiasm,
wisdom and spiritu makes him a truly inspirational figure. But Woodys
story encompasses tragedy as well as triumph, including his struggle
to come to terms with the devastating loss of his wife during childbirth,
his subsequent abandonment of their infant son, and his eventual reconciliation
with that son some 60 years later. These dramatic events offer the full
spectrum of Woodys extraordinary life experience.
OF WIND AND
WAVES explores Woodys life in his own words and from the perspectives
of his family and friends who have shared his journey. There is also
a remarkably rich archive of film and photography from every stage of
Woodys life to complement coverage of his contemporary life as
an amazingly lively elder whose days
are filled with service, friendship,
humor, compassion, spirituality, and, up to his 90th birthday, frequent
OF WIND AND
WAVES also provides a valuable cross-cultural portrait of the land,
people and culture of Hawaii over the six and a half decade span
of Woodys life there. While the explosive economic growth of the
islands has unquestionably undermined and obscured many Hawaiian traditions,
Woodys story shows that the spirit of aloha remains very much
alive. The telling of the story of a European American who has thoroughly
embraced Hawaiian ways and values will help to create a wider appreciation
for the culture and traditions of the islands. The film will also provide
a needed and inspiring addition to PBS programming about vital elders
and healthy aging.
Opening montage of Woodys contemporary life volunteer
work at the Hale Makua Adult Day Health Center on Maui; the simple apartment
where he lives with his third wife (he outlived the first two) and 1
year old son; his daily writing work; his daily surfing excursion; glimpses
of contemporary Hawaii.
| Woody in early glider
scenes establish the films rhythm and style, mixing verite scenes
and sound bites from Woody, his family and friends with archival material.
Archival footage: Roaring 20s, Wall St.; summer home in Rye;
early aviation footage
Brown was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, with his family list
in the Social Register and charter members of The 400 the roster
of Americas most prominent and powerful families. Woodys
father had his own immensely lucrative brokerage. But somehow, the life
of privilege and prestige never appealed to Woody. He preferred to wander
in the woods and on the beaches near the familys Rye retreat.
It was there that his love of nature was born and it was from there
that he ran away at the age of 16 in pursuit of his dream of learning
of Curtis Field, Lindberghs historic flight; early gliders, including
footage of Woody at the controls
Woody virtually lived at New Yorks Curtis Field where he became a protégé
of Charles Lindbergh, helping prepare the Spirit of St. Louis for Lindys
historic flight. But Woody soon discovered that his true passion was
for the unique world of gliders, soaring silently on invisible currents
of air. His goal was to acquire the finely tuned sensitivity required
to read the air and wind with nothing to hold him aloft but his own
| Woody; step-daughter, Jennifer; wife, Betty
Archival and re-creation footage of Woody and Bettys cross country
trip, glider in tow. Early southern California surfing and soaring footage.
footage of Torrey Pines Flight Park where Woody revisits a facility
he helped to create
Woody fell in love
with an English beauty name Elizabeth Sellon (known as Betty) who shared
his love of adventure and disdain for the trappings of society. In 1935,
they spent their honeymoon driving across the country to start a new
life in La Jolla, near San Diego. It was in La Jolla that Woody took
up surfing, one of only a handful of pioneers in the new sport. He was
soon designing and building his own boards, according to testimony from
Don Okay, another San Diego surf pioneer and long time friend of Woodys.
And as his love of soaring continued to grow, Woody became the driving
force behind the design and building of Torrey Pines Flight Park, still
in operation today.
re-creation footage of Woodys record breaking flight in 1939,
with press coverage.
In 1939, Woody set
world soaring records for time aloft, altitude and distance. America
was still in love with aviation and Woody became an instant national
hero. But Woody found the wildly enthusiastic crowds that attended a
parade in his honor in Wichita Falls, Texas to be frightening. Then,
as now, he had no interest in being a hero.
of archival and contemporary images evoking the plunge from euphoria
to desolation in Woodys life.
his record-setting flight, Woody hurried home to Betty in La Jolla who
was expecting their first child, an event that provided a dramatic turning
point in Woodys life. Betty died giving birth to a baby boy. Woody
was shattered. He recounts his own nearly suicidal depression that drove
him to leave his newborn son, Jeffrey, with Bettys family, turning
his back on all his worldly possessions and fleeingto the South Pacific,
hoping to reach Tahiti where he thought perhaps he could begin to build
a new life.
| Woody gliding o
ver Torrey Pines
in the 40s when Honolulu was still a small town and most of Oahu
was rural and unspoiled.
Woody recalls his
early wanderings around the undeveloped island of Oahu. First hitchhiking,
then riding an old bicycle, Woody fell in love not only with the beauty
of the island but also with the native people who took him in, sharing
their lives and homes with him, showing him the ways of the islands
with a reverence for the earth and sea that W
oody had instinctively
embraced since childhood but had never encountered before. The Hawaiians
were ecologists before the concept existed and Woody soon came to realize
that he had found his true home. The spirit of aloha had saved him.
This sequence of
Woodys early years in Hawaii also gives us an opportunity to hear
a rich sampling of traditional Hawaiian music, including some very early
and rarely heard recordings.
archival footage from the 1940s and 50s of Hawaiis first
big wave surfers such as Wally Froiseth, John Kelly and Rabbit Kekai.
Woody renewed his
interest in surfing and was soon befriended by several island residents
who were taking the sport in unprecedented directions. Men like Wally
Froiseth, John Kelly and Rabbit Kekai were among the first in the world
to brave the huge Hawaiian surf. Because of Woodys fearless enthusiasm,
these surfing giants accepted him as a mem
ber of their elite group and
took him on "surfing safaris" to Makaha and to Castles where
Woody first experienced 25-foot waves. Woody recounts both exhilarating
and terrifying surfing stories, while Wally, John and Rabbit recount
their own recollections of Woodys big wave initiation.
of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; archival footage of Polynesian
sailing craft outriggers and double hulled canoes; the building
and launch of Woodys first catamarans.
Like virtually everyone
else living in Hawaii, Woodys idyllic life changed abruptly
and dramatically on December 7th, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
But in Woodys case, his unique perspective on war separated him
from most other young men. As Woody recounts, his status as a conscientious
objector was not only unpopular, it was downright dangerous in the home
of Pearl Harbor. C.O.s were routinely harassed and often beaten
in Hawaii, so Woodys position was a matter of risk as well
For most of the
war, Woody worked for the Army as a surveyor on other islands in the South Pacific. It was on Christmas Island that Woody first saw the Polynesian
double-hulled canoes that would inspire him to revolutionize the sport of sailing.
Extrapolating on the native design, Woody built the first modern catamaran.
His boat, the Manu Kai, quickly became the fastest sailboat in the world.
Woody, Rabbit Kekai, Hobie Alter (who built and marketed the extremely
successful Hobie Cat based on Woodys design) and Woodys
son, William, recall the exhilarating early days of the first catamarans
| The launch party for the Manu Kai,
the first modern catamaran, 1947
footage of Woodys catamaran thrill rides
As more and
more tourists came to the Hawaiian islands, Woody supported himself
by giving thrill rides on his new boats off Waikiki Beach. Soon, Woody
was being commissioned to build boats, including a 100 foot model for
industrialist Henry Kaiser. Woody agreed to allow Hobie Alter to start
marketing his revolutionary design. Eventually, Alter patented the design
and earned a fortune selling Hobie Cats all over the world. Though it
was his original design, Woody never made a penny, but as he explains
with apparent conviction, he never cared about money.
| Woody; wife, Rachael; daughter, Mary Sue;
Archival footage of early Hawaiian hula including Rachel Brown, stills and home movies of Woody, Rachel and their children, contemporary
reunion footage of Woody and Rachels hula friends.
During this same
period, Woody fell in love again with a native Hawaiian hula dancer
named Rachel Brown who was the acknowledged queen of the Honolulu hula
scene. Woodys and Rachels apartment located above a tavern
called the Waikiki Surf Club, became a haven for their friends including
dancers, surfers and anyone else who needed a meal or a place to stay.
Honolulu was still a small town and the beach scene in those early years
still bore a strong imprint of true Hawaiian culture.
re-creation footage of Woodys sailing and soaring exploits
During the 50s, 60s and 70s, Woody continued his carefree
life of surfing and sailing, including a wild adventure recalled for
us by Wally Froiseth when Woody skippered the first Pacific crossing
in a catamaran and encountered 50- foot swells that nearly swamped the
boat. We see Woody sailing his catamarans in both archival and contemporary
footage. With multi-camera coverage, the film re-creates the moment
in 1971 when Woody, then 59, took a glider to a Hawaiian altitude record
of 12,675 feet. In these adventure sequences and re-creations, Woodys
voice-over explains his philosophy of living in harmony with nature
as expressed in his flying, his surfing and his sailing.
|The Manu Kai with flying hull
of the natural beauty of Hawaii; rainforest, seascapes, mountains,
pattern of heady achievement followed by tragic loss repeated itself
in Woodys life. Not long after his record setting Hawaiian glider
flight, Woody lost his beloved Rachel. And once again, in tragedy Woody
found a kind of salvation. Just as his loss of Betty had led him to
Hawaii, losing Rachel brought him to a kind of spiritual awakening.
Woody had always considered himself an agnostic, but shortly after Rachels
death, he came to believe in a greater power and to embrace the importance
of service to humanity as the cornerstones of his life. Woody Brown
dedicated the rest of his life, a life which he has always considered
to be blessed, to giving as much as he can through service to others.
His sense of spirituality mixes elements of the Christian tradition
with his lifelong love of nature and his sense of gratitude for the
gifts he feels hes been given. If you ask him if hes a Christian,
hell say no. If you ask him who he con
siders his ultimate role
model, hell say Jesus Christ. Once again, Woody marches to his
Woody with clients
at Hale MakuaAdult Day Health Center; Woody and his family at home
Perhaps the best showcase of Woodys philosophy of selfless love and service
is his volunteer job at Hale Makua Adult Day Health Center. Watching
his interactions with clients and staff, the film captures Woodys
reflections on what the Center means to him in terms of his philosophy
of life. The spirituality that has informed Woodys life s
he lost Rachel has led to considerable reflection, including self-criticism.
Woody sometimes wonders if following his bliss came at a cost to his
family, including the son, Jeffrey, he left behind when he fled to Hawaii.
| Woody; wife, Rachel (l);
daughter, Mary Sue (center)
footage, including first meeting between Woody and his grown son, Jeffrey.
years after Woodys sad exodus following Bettys death, a
dramatic and poignant reunion between Woody and his abandoned son, Jeffrey,
is captured on film. In 2002, Woody reunited with Jeffrey, Woodys
youngest son William and Mary Sue, his daughter with Rachel, along with
Jeffreys two daughters and their families.
In candid conversations,
Woody reflects on some of the life-choices he has made, admitting more
than a little regret, shame and guilt, but discovering that his judgments
of himself are harsher than those of others. Jeffrey insists that forgiveness
is not required and that he now understands how devastated his fathe
was by his mothers death.
The heart-felt conversations continue in homes, restaurants and on beach
walks, with the full family expressing a wide range of emotions, at
the first reunion of Woodys extended family. The reunion sequence
powerfully communicates an intimate experience of joy, reconciliation,
healing and forgiveness.
footage of Woody riding the waves of Maui with his family; Woodys
91st birthday party.
The final act of
OF WIND AND WAVES : The Life of Woody Brown ends with Woody talking
about his decision to quit surfing after a bad accident. He tells family
and friends at his 91th birthday party on Maui that this was a sign
from above that it was time to quit. Celebrants include many old friends
flown in from the mainland and Oahu to pay tribute to the unmatched
aloha spirit of an extraordinary grand elder, an exemplary model of
a life well-spent and o
f vibrant, healthy and successful aging. A closing
montage will feature contemporary scenes of Woody soaring, sailing and
surfing in his beloved wind and waves, with voice-over testimonials
from family and friends, and with Woodys own inimitable words.
Woody Brown is not
only a role model for seniors. As OF WIND AND WAVES reveals, he has
lived a life that has often anticipated the values and ideas that the
mainstream would embrace long after Woody did. Pacifism, the healthy
lifestyle of a vegetarian, the celebration of and concern for protecting
the natural world, the uninhibited joy of a life lived in harmony with
earth, sea and sky, and finally, the spirituality that has transformed
his later years these are the touchstones of Woody Browns
world. He has followed his own path, triumphed over personal tragedies,
learned the power of forgiveness, and quietly yet insistently lived
a life worthy of emulation. His joyful, entertaining and inspirational
story deserves to be told to the widest audience possible
Producer/ Director/ Co-Writer
David L. Brown is an award-winning San Francisco documentary
filmmaker who since 1971 -- has produced, written and directed
over 70 productions and 8 documentaries on social, nuclear, health,
environmental, peace and technology issues. His documentaries have received
over 70 international awards and have been broadcast on PBS and in 16
countries. See FILMOGRAPHY.
Director of Photography
Michael Anderson has been a top director of photography and cinematographer
since 1967, shooting over 100 award-winning documentaries filmed all
over the world. His recent credits include CROSSING THE DIVIDE (ITVS
funded), THE CENTURY (ABC), LAS MADRES (Academy Award nominee), COLOR
ADJUSTMENT (Marlon Riggs, Emmy Award), DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA (PBS),
AT THE HEART OF HEALING (TBS), MYSTERY OF THE LAST CZAR, BROKEN RAINBOW,
FROM THE ASHES..NICARAGUA TODAY, SANCTUARY, ATOMIC ARTIST, SONG
CANARY andSTATEGIC TRUST.
Jaime Kibben, in memorium, www.kibben.org
Shirley Thompson has been an editor for eighteen years and, since
1992, has specialized in Avid off-line documentary editing. Among her
recent credits are ITS ELEMENTARY: TALKING ABOUT GAY ISSUES IN
SCHOOL (National PBS broadcast, 1999), SCHOOL COLORS (Frontline, DuPont
Columbia Award), SURFING FOR LIFE, SAN FRANCISCO IN THE 20s (for
KRON, NBC affiliate in S. F.), THE MACHO MYSTIQUE (for KGO, ABC affiliate
in S.F., Emmy nominee), and GREEN MEANS, a series of environmental PSAs
aired nationally on PBS.
| David and Woody accept the Golden Maile Award for Best Documentary for "Surfing for Life" at the Hawaii International Film Festival
Cliff Robertson, the Academy Award-winning actor (for CHARLY), will
be the narrator for OF WIND AND WAVES. He knew and was inspired by Woody
Brown when they both lived in San Diego in the late 1930s. Robertsons
distinguished 50-year film career has included roles as John F. Kennedy,
Jr. in PT 109 as well as in MIDWAY, THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, DAYS OF
WINE AND ROSES, GIDGET, and THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR.
Charlie Pearson has been an award-winning documentary script writer
for 25 years and his work has appeared on PBS, TBS, HBO, Showtime, Discovery,
The Learning Channel, Disney and the major networks. His recent credits
include the DIGITAL DIVIDE (funded by ITVS), SURFING FOR LIFE, SAN FRANCISCO
IN THE 20s (for KRON, NBC affiliate), CHINATOWN (FOR KQED in S.F.,
aired on national PBS), WONDERS SACRED AND MYSTERIOUS (Readers
Digest Video, aired on Disney), and GHOST OF THE ROCKIES for ABC.
Ben Marcus was an editor at SURFER Magazine for 10 years, from 1987
to 1997. Ben met Woody Brown in 1992 while writing a SURFER profile
on him, the first in any publication. He was captivated by Woody Brown
and, ever since, has wanted to expand that 3,000 word story into a novel
or a documentary. When Ben saw the film SURFING FOR LIFE, he contacted
filmmaker David L. Brown to congratulate him, and accepted an invitation
to contribute to a full-length documentary on Woodys life. Writer
of numerous screenplays, Marcus is currently writing a television series
Funding for OF WIND AND WAVES has been received from private donors
and in-kind contributions. Completion funding will be sought from over
40 foundations which have supported media projects on Hawaiian culture,
on healthy aging or the elderly. In addition, we will arrange for numerous
fundraising screenings of the sample tape for people who know and love
Woody Brown throughout California and Hawaii. The tape with proposal
packet will be sent to additional friends of Woody Brown and select
CEOs in the surfing, sailing and gliding industries. The producers will
apply to ITVS in a LinCs grant with Hawai'i Public Television.
The production for the documentary is over 98% completed, after
production over four years. The film, with the necessary archival acquisition,
can be completed within eight months after completion funding is raised.
The completed OF WIND AND WAVES will be distributed by the producers
and will be offered to several of the top video distributors specializing
in gerontology and elderly health and fitness issues. Among them are
Edward Feil Productions and Terra Nova Films. The chosen distributor
would reach all educational and non-theatrical markets for videos on
health, the elderly and healthy aging. The video will also be distributed
by the producers to senior service agencies, to health educators and
to most of the major surfing shops throughout the U.S. which market
surf videos. To promote video sales, the producers will solicit reviews
and feature articles in many surfing, health education and gerontology
OF WIND AND WAVES
will be entered into every major film and video festival which features
entaries, including Ocean and Mountain Film Festivals. These include
the Sundance Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival,
the International Medical and Health Film Festival and the Hawaii
International Film Festival among over thirty others worldwide.
For a national television
broadcast, the documentary will be submitted to the P.O.V. and Independent
Lens series on PBS and to all cable stations, such as HBO, Cinemax,
Bravo, and Discovery Channel, which accept documentaries. Alternate
public television distribution could be handled by one of the regional
PBS networks such as American Public Television. The broadcasts will
be publicized and promoted in major cities in cooperation with the aging,
sailing, soaring and surfing communities. For international television,
CS Associates, the largest distributor of American documentaries to
foreign television markets, will handle the distribution. CS already
represents three of Brown's documentaries.
The producers will arrange premiere screenings at several key conferences
on aging such as the Conference of the American Society on Aging. They
will promote and publicize OF WIND AND WAVES in every periodical and
magazine which reviews videos on elderly health and fitness or on surfing.
This would include a major feature story in SURFER'S JOURNAL, in CATAMARAN
magazine and in other surfing, sailing and soaring magazines.
| Woody interviewed at the Hawaii
International Film Festival
The completion of the documentary is budgeted at $100,000. This includes
archival research and acquisition, all footage and music clearances,
composing a musical score and all post-production expenses. A
with budget and attachments is available upon request.
Copyright 2017, David L. Brown Productions