The Film: “Griffin” is a feature-length documentary that explores the art, life and eccentric spark of one of the world’s least known and most influential 20th Century surrealists. Over the time-warped span of the 1960's, one-time teen cartoonist Rick Griffin created defining icons for three pillars of west coast counterculture: surfing, psychedelic rock and underground comix.
In each of these Ground Zero movements Griffin was considered a visionary savant who masterfully infiltrated his passions and relentless spiritual quest through commercial art…often subverting banal 50s advertising trademarks into mindbending psychedelic mandalas. Griffin cultivated a charismatic, rock-star persona and during his heyday was celebrated in Life Magazine as one of the “Big Five” of psychedelic poster art. Later, a born-again Christian, he would illustrate the Gospel Of John in the vernacular he knew and loved best…the comic-book. But by 35 he was all but forgotten. At 47 he was gone, killed while roaring his Harley down a Northern California back road. But Griffin's art lives on, his messages and cosmic signposts firmly encoded in our post-modern DNA.
CLICK ON PHOTO FOR SIMON ROUSE'S BEAUTIFUL CARTOON RENDERING OF RICK'S LIFE.
Credentials: I’m a professional journalist, filmmaker and a long-time editor for Surfer Magazine. From 1995-2010 I was the magazine’s roving editor-at-large, writing on topics as diverse as surfing astronauts and the impacts of surfing colonialism on indigenous cultures. My work has appeared worldwide in dozens of publications and numerous anthologies including “The Best of Surfer”, “Pacific Passages” and “Surfing’s Greatest Misadventures”. In 2006, I wrote the bestselling “Leroy Grannis, Birth Of A Culture” for Taschen Books. Since veering into documentary filmmaking I’ve written and co-produced several environmental and caused-based films including “Kokua”, “180 South” and the award-winning “Minds In The Water” (www.mindsinthewater.com) currently in release.
Phase One: Getting the Story (Production) From present to mid-2013. Phase One production has been ongoing since early this year to acquire legal rights, archival assets (art, footage, memorabilia), key interviews and to assemble my support group and production crew. A three-person team consisting of myself, a director of photography and a sound engineer will complete interview production within six months.
Phase Two: Crafting the story (Post-Production) Mid to late 2013. Editing, HD transfers, music acquisition, animation, sound mix, color grading and final output for theatrical and broadcast release.
Phase Three: Sharing the story (Distribution) Early 2014 The film’s premiere is planned for early 2014 followed by scheduled mix of film festivals, DVDs, video on demand and cable TV.
CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW FOR VIDEO CLIP.
The Team and Resources: This film has the full cooperation and support of Ida Griffin and the Griffin Estate. That means access to rare archival photos, footage and memorabilia as well as Ida’s invaluable memories and perspective. Beyond that I’ve enlisted an advisory board of influential Griffin aficionados from within the surfing and entertainment industries to assist me with all facets of story, production, media and marketing. These include: Greg Escalante, co-founder Juxtapoz Magazine; Steve Pezman, publisher of The Surfer's Journal, Doug Pray, award-winning filmmaker (Surfwise, Art and Copy), Drew Kampion (author and former Surfer editor) and John Clark (lead animator at Sony Studios).
CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW FOR VIDEO CLIP.
Where does your Kickstarter dollar go?: The great thing about this project is that it’s already underway. The team and equipment are in place, tested and producing broadcast-quality material. With a minimal team, good equipment and gas money we can acquire the basic elements of any good film…the first being the story from Rick’s family, friends and associates. But getting the story is just the beginning. Like a building a boat, most of a film’s cost is in the rigging, not the hull. Good editors aren’t cheap and obtaining music rights from the original artists Rick created his art for can be a huge expense for a film of this size. But I intend to get it. With your initial support and creative use of resources we can get this film to the next level to craft it at the highest level it deserves.
And one more thing…Animation!: It’s always been my dream to animate some of Rick’s amazing art, especially his classic surf cartoons. Rick drew in such a clearly cinematic style I feel this is something he would be doing had he lived. I’m collaborating with Professor Dana Lamb and team of top student animators from Cal State Fullerton to bring Griffin’s “Tales From The Tube” to life in traditional hand-drawn 2D and fully rendered computer 3D. Over the last two decades Dana has built a world-class animation department at CSUF with many graduates going on to work at major studios such as Dreamworks and Disney. Stay tuned for updates!
My film will be an adventure, picking up the trail of Griffin’s amazing journey starting nearly 70 years ago in post-war suburban Southern California, traveling through the explosion of 60s youth culture and leading to the psychedelic revolution—called “the mystic carnival of California consciousness”—that fissioned, fused and spread around the world.
For a preview of my 2003 article "Beautiful Pandemonium" highlighting Griffin's San Francisco years, click:
Risks and challenges
Filmmaking is a highly collaborative process and therefore I am depending on many others for support, cooperation, expertise and most of all, buy-in to my creative vision. Having worked on other films before I'm aware of many of the challenges and pitfalls that accompany a creative project like this. Also, the film distribution landscape has changed radically since I began working on films in 2005. However, I believe—given my experience, desire to make this film and the strength of my advisory group—that all challenges related to this film will be readily met and overcome.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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