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‘The Endless Summer’ 50 year box set is pure surfing treasure

“The Endless Summer” needs no introduction. It completely changed the young sport of surfing and youth culture in 1966 and launched thousands of surf trips in pursuit of things we surfers can’t necessarily find at home.

2016 was the 50-year anniversary of Bruce Brown’s legendary film, but there’s reason to celebrate that milestone further this spring. The ultimate “Endless Summer” collector’s item has arrived in the form of a huge box set — and they’re having a launch party for it on Saturday in Huntington Beach, California.

Inside here is a box of surfing treasure. Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Brown Films, LLC

Essentially a collection of memorabilia directly from the source, the limited edition boxset contains a treasure trove of “Endless Summer” artifacts.

Limited to 1,966 copies, the collection includes items like a coffee table book written by Bruce’s son Dana, five frames cut from the original film, a commemorative medallion, replicas and reproductions of artifacts from the trip and a hand-signed certificate of authenticity from Bruce Brown and the cast.

5 frames cut from the original film. Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Brown Films, LLC

Simply put, this is surfing’s end-all-be all of limited-edition numbered box sets. We caught up with Dana Brown to chat about the box set, what “Endless Summer” did for surfing and more. You can check out the box set (and purchase one) here.

How did the idea for the boxset come about?

There was a young man in Spain, Manuel Serra, and for his senior project he did this book about “The Endless Summer.”

It came to the attention of a few of us, and I met him at one of my movie showings. So we took that concept and did what he did. Kind of this scrap-book-meets-coffee-table-book-meets-treasure-chest of ‘Endless Summer’ related stuff.

Where did all the memorabilia come from, does your dad have boxes and boxes of stuff?

Just a tiny snapshot of what’s in there. Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Brown Films, LLC

Yeah he does.

My mom (his wife who passed away six years ago), she’d keep all the stuff. There’d be an amazing amount of things. They were doing everything themselves before it got picked up by theaters, so they had all the programs and still photos and letters. Mom was pretty good at organization. If you go to his house, there’s still tons of stuff in the attic.

What does your dad think of the boxset?

Bruce Brown himself diving through the finished box set. Photo: Bruce Brown Films, LLC 2017

He’s real stoked on the book. The longer you’re on the planet, the more nostalgia there is. There’s a point where he gets a little bit like “Geez can we quit talking about this already.” He’s a guy that lives in the present, but he’s real proud of the job those guys did on this.

What’s your favorite part of the box set?

My personal favorite thing is a reprint of a letter dad wrote to my grandparents, his parents, from India. And it looks really real. It’s dad’s handwriting, I got a kick out of that.

It’s nice, because that movie with the posters and shower curtains and whatever else it’s been merchandised on, it’s nice you can just go get something for the collector and aficionado and it’s all real.

Do you have any memories as a kid of your dad going on that trip?

“The Endless Summer” crew at Chun’s Reef. Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Brown Films, LLC

I remember it coming out and watching it when it did. I remember dad when he did the tour and would do the narration live, I would sit on the side of the stage and the crowd was oohing and ahhing and laughing at his jokes. So many people who were a part of that movie have been like an extended family to us.

How does that film compare to surf travel today?

I was talking with Gerry Lopez and he said, “There was a bubble floating around, and your dad popped that bubble. It was that movie that started the thinking of, ‘Oh, wow we can do this anywhere.'” The whole simple idea and the mystique of it.

The travel at its heart is pretty dang similar. You meet people in places that become like your lifelong friends. Maybe that’s another reason the film holds up so well, at its core it’s still the essence of what that is: Looking out to the horizon to see what’s out there.

How have surf films changed since The Endless Summer?

Heading over the dunes at Cape St. Francis. Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Brown Films, LLC

It was a young sport and that helped consolidate it. In not only the public’s mind, but I think in surfing’s mind. Surfing is like anything, it’s a blank canvas with so many great stories and so many great athletes and characters. There’s always going to be an appetite for it if the story is good. But, I mean, you’re never going to make something like ‘Endless Summer’ that’s going to change everything — you can only do that once.

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