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Surf Filmmaker Hal Jepsen Passes On

| posted on July 22, 2010

Filmmaker Hal Jepsen passed away on February 2, 2006 at the age of 66.

Hal was born in 1940 in Los Angeles, California and began surfing at
17. He
received a Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA in 1968, and became a
real
estate agent before producing his first surf film “Cosmic Children” in
1970. Jepsen’s best known work showcased Hawaiian surfers Jeff
Hakman and
Barry Kanaiaupuni in their prime. Jepsen followed with three more
full-length surf movies, “A Sea for Yourself” in 1973 along with “Super
Session” in 1975 and “We Got Surf” in 1981. In 1978 he branched out
into
skateboarding with the film “Skateboard Madness,” staring Stacy
Peralta. In
1997, his filmmaking accomplishments were profiled in The Surfers
Journal’s 50 Years of Surfing on Film series for the Outdoor Life
Network.

Jepson was the first surf filmmaker to really integrate and edit contemporary music to footage, setting the soundtrack template for virtually all surf films to follow. Hendrix, Cream, the Chambers Brothers, The Stones–if it was on Jepson’s 8-track, it was in the movie.

Transitioning from the MacGillivray-Freeman, Dale Davis, John Severson era, his 1970 film The Cosmic Children was the first New Wave shortboard surf movie, establishing itself as the “Momentum” of its era.

Jepson was the first (and just about the only) surf filmaker to shoot the Ranch, editing the sequence of J Riddle, George Trafton and Davey Hilton that launched a 1000 Boston Whalers. Epic Malibu and Topanga Point footage also set his films apart from

His 1973 film Super Session, with its up-to-date segments featuring Larry “Rubberman” Bertlemann, some of the very first urethane wheel skateboard action, and a remarkable Australian sequence featuring a young Rabbit Bartholomew and the incredible Michael Peterson, reinvigorated interest in high-performance small wave surfing, signaling a switch away from the “all Pipeline, all the time” format of many of the period’s films.

Hal is survived by his younger brother Robert.