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'Secrets of Desert Point' by Opper Films to air on KPBS

Movie poster
"Secrets of Desert Point" movie poster Courtesy

Solana Beach's Opper Films' “Secrets of Desert Point” makes its television debut Thursday, Aug. 23, at 9 p.m. on KPBS. The award-winning documentary follows young California surfer Bill Heick and his friends as they search for adventure sailing off the coast of Lombok Island, Indonesia in the early 1980s. Along the way they stumbled across the perfect wave… a pristine barreling left, reeling endlessly and empty over a shallow, live-coral reef.

As treacherous as it was beautiful, the wave was dubbed Desert Point for its dry forbidding nature. Once discovered the pioneering crew of hardcore surfers set up a makeshift beach outpost. Their mission was to surf uncrowded Desert Point at the highest level possible… no matter the cost. They kept their treasure off the surf-media map for most of the decade.

Life on the remote point was a constant balancing act between the surfing dream and the very real possibility of injury, or death. But the call of surfing the perfect wave held strong and has kept the pioneers returning for decades.

Since its discovery more than 40 years ago Desert Point has evolved into a hardcore surf destination with surf camp accommodations and quality warung-style food. But embedded within Bill’s story is the grassroots history of early ragtag Indonesian surf exploration of the 1970s.

More than just a surf movie, Secrets of Desert Point also explores the legacy of California counterculture adventure… one spanning three generations of filmmakers beginning in late 1940s San Francisco. The rare Indonesian surf footage was shot by Bill Heick’s father William R. Heick, a renowned ethnographic filmmaker who came out of the 1950s San Francisco bohemian arts scene. This fragile 16mm footage, captured more than 40 years ago, has sat in obscurity until recently retrieved and restored for this documentary.

“This project was a surf filmmaker's dream production” says director Ira Opper. “It is one of the last great dirtbag adventures of the 20th Century… with untold stories, never-seen exotic film imagery, and a perfect wave.

A lifelong waverider, Opper grew up in surfing California as a young teen in the mid 1960s. Realizing early-on that he would need money to support his passion for surfing adventures he attended college at landlocked Arizona State University. With no waves to distract him Opper earned a BS in Broadcast Journalism.

With one eye through the viewfinder and the other on the horizon for approaching sets, Opper quickly found his niche in the then-infant cable TV industry creating unique lifestyle sports-programming that included Surfer Magazine TV, the world’s first internationally distributed surf series.

Opper has traveled the globe documenting the best surfers riding the world’s most exotic postcard-worthy waves while creating award-winning films and TV series that include: Surfer’s Journal TV, Longboard TV, FiNS, and Kokua with Jack Johnson for cable networks: ESPN, Prime Network, Outdoor Life Network, National Geographic Adventure, and Fox Sports. His achievements in the industry have earned him seven regional Emmy Awards as well as induction into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Silver Circle from the Pacific Northwest Chapter.

In 1995 Opper founded Opper Sports Productions (OSP) Solana Beach —a 4k digital television productions and stock footage company. OSP maintains the world’s largest surfing film and video archive library. Opper is now steering his company into online video platform technology. Most recently launching the SVOD channel TheSurfNetwork.com on Amazon Prime Channels.

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