Short Film Showcase Q&A: The Remarkable Story of Curt Harper, Surfing Mentor and Local Legend

Curt Harper is a 50-year-old competitive surfer and beloved mentor to Southern California’s “groms” (young surfers). Diagnosed with autism as a child, a doctor recommended that Harper be institutionalized; his parents refused and instead fostered their son’s love of surfing. Now a fixture in the surf scene, this short documentary from Westward Productions highlights Harper’s integral role in the community. “Everybody [who] surfs in Southern California knows Curt. He’s famous,” says protégé Dane Reynolds. I spoke with director Brendan Hearne about his piece and how he got to know Curt Harper.

Rachel Link (RL): When did you first meet Curt?

Brendan Hearne (BH): I met Curt when I was about 11 or 12. I would surf a place called Topanga Beach that he would always go to. Curt’s a really outgoing guy, so we became friends pretty quickly, and it wasn’t long before he was taking me and all my buddies surfing. We were just like the kids you see in the movie.

RL: Why did you want to tell his story?

BH: Jordan Tappis, my producing partner, has also known Curt since he was a kid, so he came up in a conversation we were having one day. It had been a while since either of us had seen Curt, and we were wondering what he was up to. Was he still competing? Still driving kids to the beach? Still listening to his scanner? We were intrigued by his story, so I caught up with Curt over a surf one morning and met with his parents afterward. That day I discovered a side of Curt I never knew as a kid. I learned about his youth, his family, and the obstacles he’s overcome, and I walked away deeply inspired. There was no looking back from there. Jordan —> Read More