UCSB’s Department of Recreation and Alcohol and Drug Program brought American surfer and director Dana Brown and professional surfer Keith Malloy to Campbell Hall last night for a screening of Brown’s 2003 film “Step Into Liquid,” which was then followed by a Q&A.

“Step Into Liquid,” Brown’s first all-original film, spotlights a number of renowned surfers as well as popular surfing spots in Hawaii, Vietnam and California. The screening was part of UCSB’s Natural High Series, an eight-year-old lecture series that features different alcohol and drug-free activities of an adrenaline-pumping and thrilling nature. These activities, according to exercise and sports studies lecturer Rich Powell, can be described as those that give “natural highs,” and the series also seeks out individuals who partake in these events. The series is co-sponsored by the Alcohol and Drug Program, Office of Student Life and Exercise and Sports Studies.

Brown, the oldest son of filmmaker Bruce Brown, has created films such as surf movie “The Endless Summer” and a documentary on the famous Baja 1000 off-road race titled “
Dust to Glory.” Meanwhile, in 2000, Malloy was cast in a surf film “Thicker Than Water,” a documentary directed by his brother Chris Malloy and singer Jack Johnson. Brown said he became interested in working with Malloy after he saw the pro surfer’s appearance in Thicker Than Water.”

Malloy said the topic of surfing fits very well with the Natural High Series because of the physicality of the sport and the “rush” it gives its athletes.

“When you go out there and you get in the ocean, you get refreshed by the cold water, you’re super physical, so you use a lot of these endorphins from being out there and having the ocean kick your ass and being super physical for hours on end,” Malloy said. “The best part is that you’re having fun while you do it.”

Malloy said it was a completely new experience for him to be a part of “Step Into Liquid” since his previous exposure to filmmaking consisted of being featured in small surf films with “one guy with a crappy camera.”

“But there’s beauty in that, too,” Malloy said.

According to Brown, because “Step Into Liquid” was his first solo film, accomplishment gave him a sense of establishment as a filmmaker. On a similar note, Brown said the film focuses on people who look to improve the quality of life for themselves and those around them.

“The film is ultimately about people that are passionate about something, that do something to make their lives better and maybe ultimately make others’ lives better,” Brown said.

Malloy said a unique aspect about “Step Into Liquid” is how it was able to reach a mainstream audience in the United States and was able to expose a lot of the surfing world and create a connection with its spectators.

“A lot of people who hadn’t surfed too much before watched this movie and fell in love with surfing, I think,” Malloy said. “Even today I have more people come up to me and ask me about “Step Into Liquid” than any other surfing film I was in. I think that’s one of the really special things Dana did with the film — he made a film that everyone could relate to.”

Bryson Smith, a first-year philosophy and English double major who also attended last night’s screening, said Malloy is an athlete he has always looked up to. Smith said he felt surprised at Malloy’s passion upon hearing that Malloy surfed on Campus Point the very day of the screening.

“This is a guy who has surfed in Fiji, all over the world. He has surfed in like Iceland, pretty much anywhere you can think of, and he went out to Campus Point today,” Smith said. “Campus Point was terrible today. I didn’t even go.”

Similarly, first-year environmental studies major Emma Vogan said she felt impressed by Malloy’s optimistic attitude despite the difficulties and dips that come along with the sport of surfing.

“Getting to do a Q&A with Keith was really cool because he really has a positive outlook,” Vogan said. “Even Campus Point — he has something positive to say about it.”


This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.