Opinion: Get a Dose of the Coast with the Most

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Billy Fried

The greatest show on earth is returning to Laguna Beach just in time to lift your sagging spirits from such a depressing campaign season. Cacophonous yard signs and mailbox detritus, be gone! It’s time to turn our attention back to the good medicine of Laguna: art, music, and fun!

Next Thursday through Sunday, from Nov. 10 to Nov. 13, the mighty Coast Film Festival is back for its fourth year, bigger and badder than ever. Only this time, it’s the Coast Film & Music Festival. Yes, Laguna’s own adventure film festival has reached puberty, thanks to uber-capable and passionate founders Ben Warner and Enich Harris, and their legions of family and friends who help make this possible. It’s poised to become one of Laguna’s most iconic cultural events, as so many legends in the worlds of surf, mountain biking, skate and skimboarding are from here. And now it’s a music festival too. Because music most definitely fuels the stoke!

Like the old days of ski and surf film special screenings, this is the kind of event that gets you pumped up on the amazing array of talented athletes pushing the edge in extreme and beautiful places. You’ll be hugging so many of your friends, neighbors and legends because so many of your friends and neighbors are legends. It’s the best vibe ever and reminds us of what makes living here so special – the camaraderie and love for outdoor sports.

“I look forward to seeing the community come together again for the fourth year to celebrate film and storytelling in our beautiful Laguna Beach. Our goal with the festival each year is to celebrate nature and the beauty that surrounds us and inspire people to get outside,” says co-founder Enich.

This is certainly the most bodacious year so far, as Laguna luminary Greg MacGillivray is screening his seminal surf film, “Five Summer Stories,” on its fiftieth anniversary. Alongside “Endless Summer,” this is the film that helped birth an industry, with Greg pioneering surf filmmaking in ways never seen before and a revolutionary soundtrack by Honk that was etched into every adolescent’s brain. And here’s what makes it extra special: the band, featuring Laguna musical royalty Beth and Steve Wood – will be performing the score live. No pressure.  

Since it is near impossible to sync, “Greg is going to be showing select scenes, and we will be playing reasonable approximations of what we played for the film, and some unreasonable random wandering,” says the always humorous and self-deprecating Steve. The latter went on to score most of Greg’s award-winning IMAX films. “There will also be discussions about how the music was written and composed, and there is never a shortage of snappy repartee when Greg and the band interact,” he added. You won’t want to miss this behind-the-scenes expose of pure joy.  

This is the soundtrack of so many surfers’ youth. What a fantastic way to bring this film back to audiences after half a century. This is a chance for all surfers who ever held a grudge against someone who dropped in on them to hug it out and acknowledge that, yes, we live a charmed life and there are enough waves for all of us.

Re-live the iconic footage of the legendary big wave ripper Gerry Lopez at Pipeline. Speaking of which, the legend himself, Gerry, aka God, will be there, as well as for the screening of his biographical film, “Yin & Yang, The Gerry Lopez Story,” on Sat at 5:45 p.m. “Five Summer Stories” screens on Sunday night at 8 p.m.

Greg will also be releasing his amazing coffee table memoir, “FIVE (hundred) SUMMER STORIES, a book of amazing pictures from the field, with Greg’s folksy descriptions of his most amazing and prolific adventures as the principal maker of IMAX large format films. His nature documentaries have grossed over $1 billion. Whose had a better career, except perhaps Mick Jagger? OK, maybe Gerry Lopez.

Come on out and buy a book or two for holiday gifts. Greg may even autograph it. Word of caution: there are some pictures of a young, shirtless Greg!

The party starts with an opening reception on Thursday, Nov. 10. There’s a full schedule of inspiring filmmaking, live music, and Q&A with that encyclopedia of stoke, legendary Laguna sports announcer, Pat Parnell, who tirelessly MC’s the whole event and then soldiers on at all the afterparties (someone make sure this man gets fed, please).

They’ll also be an art exhibit, silent disco, food trucks, bars, and parties every night. Go to coastfilmfestival.com to purchase your tickets. And if you can’t be there, you can view the whole film lineup online from Nov 17 – 27.

But try and be there in person, with your hometown crowd. Feel the buzz. You’ll love Laguna all over again, and know there are thousands of others just like you.

Billy hosts Laguna Talks on Thursday nights on KXFM radio. He’s also the CEO of La Vida Laguna, an E-bike and ocean sports tour company. Email: [email protected] 

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