Easy Reader Staff

10th Annual Beach Shorts: Barry Hatchett presents his final surf film fest Saturday

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Filmmaker and Beach Shorts veteran Zack Stoller’s latest offering documents Davenport Surfboards teamriders Tyler “T-Crit” Critelli and Tyler Stover on an excursion to Central America. Frame grab courtesy Zack Stoller

By Ed Solt

Ten years ago, a humble everyday surfer, Barry Hatchett, set out to share the aloha spirit with fellow surfers of the same ilk through his Beach Shorts Film Fest.

Each subsequent year, jeering and cheering surfers filled the Hermosa Beach Playhouse to view the only film fest featuring six to ten minute shorts nearly all shot by amateur filmmakers. Hatchett will be presenting his last Beach Shorts fest this Saturday night.

Over the years, the Beach Shorts’ submission box has seen it all. Initially, Hatchett’s event consisted of half-amateur, half-professional films, including work by notable filmmakers like Steve Cleveland of SurfCraft Media Productions (“On Safari to Stay”, “Another State of Mind”), El Segundo’s Jason Baffa (“Single Fin Yellow”, “One California Day”), Jason Ogle (“Puerto Escondido Underground Series”), and surf historian Sam George.

“We were the first audiences for some of these filmmakers,” Hatchett said. “For example, seven years ago, Heather Hudson showed the trailer of her first movie, ‘Women and the Waves.’ She’ll be showing the trailer of ‘Women and the Waves 2’ this year.”  

In the decade since the inaugural event, the process of documenting  and editing video has been simplified. The ease of producing a short has thus opened up the playing field. Hatchett’s 50/50 amateur/pro premise for the fest evolved to become mostly amateur (aside a few entries from the pros, who look forward to giving back to Hatchett’s vision).

“I remember watching an El Porto local complain about the fest after pulling a Beach Shorts’ Flyer off his windshield,” said Hatchett.

The salty local criticized the ability of the Beach Shorts’ surfers, their production value, comparing each short to the big name surf stars and their professional entourages that are documenting their every move.

“When I finally introduced myself, the local was like, ‘Man, you let everybody in,’” Hatchett said. “I replied back, ‘Now you get it.’”

After deciding to make the shorts an amateur affair, Hatchett set up awards for the top submissions. This lasted one year. He decided a competition between each filmmaker didn’t reflect his “aloha” vision.

“It’s impossible to determine a winner. We would have 15-year-olds pitted against 35-year-olds, and the 15-year-olds will kill them,” he said. “I decided to give all entries a ‘stoke’ package for supporting us with their hard work.”

Instead of prizes to a few, Hatchett concentrates on gathering a raffle open to the filmmakers and the 400 person audience.  He estimates in his of ten years of raffling, $20,000 in prize money and swag from sponsors has been given away.

“In the beginning, I didn’t have much to raffle,” he said. “I’d attend other surf events buying as many raffle tickets as I could. I got lucky and cleaned up.”

Whenever Hatchett received a cash donation from a sponsor, he kept the money local.

“Many thanks Realtor Bill Ruane for his donations,” he said. “I turn around and purchase gift certificates from our surf shops, ET Surf, Spyder Surf, Surf Concepts, and RiderShack.”

For the last seven years, the grand finale of the raffle has been a brand new Surfboards by Davenport noserider shaped  and donated by Adam Davenport himself.

“Adam is is a local board builder with impeccable craftsmanship in the traditional sense,” Hatchett said. “We always look forward to what he donates. Many thanks to Adam.”

Davenport feels a deep appreciation for Hatchett’s event. When the festival launched, he was still a fresh-faced shaper still covered in the foam from his first year of shaping professionally. The winner of Davenport’s handiwork that year was a pretty gal from El Segundo. The two hit it off. The pretty gal is now Adam’s wife.

“Barry is an infinite ray of stoke and the happiest guy out in the water,” said Davenport. “If we had more people like Barry, the world would be a better place.”

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Each year, Hatchett utilizes the lobby as a place to showcase sponsors. Davenport takes over an entire corner with an eclectic display of his latest shapes. Hatchett gives the newest up-and-coming clothing companies and surf photographers a chance to sell a few t-shirts and prints. By the entrance, Hatchett dedicates a large area to a featured surf artist.  

“We have one great artist every year,” he said. “In the past, we’ve had Ron Croci, John Miller, Ron Regalato. This year, we will be featuring Ken Reiter.”

What Hatchett feels most fond about is giving the unheard amateur filmmaker the opportunity to show his or her hard work to friends and family and grow with each year’s submission.

“The South Bay is a better place because of Barry’s commitment to the Beach Shorts and his commitment to family and the random surfer,” said bonafide legendary shaper Mike Geib (credited with over 15,000 hand shapes in his career). “It’s a celebration of Aloha.”

Beach Shorts Film Fest takes place this Saturday, August 20 at the Hermosa Playhouse. Doors open at 6:30 with the show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.  For more info see beachshortsfilmfest.com. ER

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