DATE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1ST 2023
LOCATION: 208 MANHATTAN BEACH BLVD. MANHATTAN BEACH CA. 90266
TIME: 6:00 PM TO 9:00 PM
Originally hired for a bit part in the film POINT BREAK, award winning surfboard shaper and professional surfer Dennis Jarvis had a hunch the production company didn’t know too much about the sport he has lived his entire life. So, Jarvis took a chance and as he was leaving the audition, turned to the casting director, Rick Pagano, and asked him, “Do you surf?” Rick responded that no, he had never surfed. Jarvis then asked the producer, Robert Levy, who was also sitting in the room, “Do you?” He also answered that no, he did not.
Dennis took a deep breath and boldly said, “You guys need me. I am a professional surfer, I have shaped for the best surfers in the world and I own a surf shop. You need me to bring authenticity to this film.” This brash move wasn’t a new idea to Jarvis. The story of actor John Ratsenberger, who played Cliff Clavin on the hit show Cheers, is that Ratzenberger finished his audition for the roll of Norm Peterson but knew he wasn’t right for the part. As he was leaving, he turned to the casting director and TV execs and asked, “This is a Bwasten bar right?” (said in a thick Boston accent). They agreed so he turned back in and explained that they had to have a bar know-it-all because everyone knows all bars in Boston have that one person that has all the facts and figures. They agreed to see him again and this time they wrote him into the show!
That idea was always in the forefront of Dennis’ mind–how ingenious it was– and now he actually has the opportunity to use the “Cliff Clavin” on this audition. After a short discussion with the producers and the other casting director, Mary Manwiller, Jarvis drove home and sure enough, on his answering machine, was a message and an offer to join the film as a tech advisor, manufacture all the surfboards for the film and work with the entire cast to teach those that didn’t surf, how to surf.
For close to nine months the actors would go to Jarvis’ house in Hermosa Beach and walk down 29th Street to learn the “art” of surfing.
“The first board I made had to be done quickly. I think Kathryn wanted to see what she could get out of me,” recalls Jarvis. That board was a UTAH special. “The board was made in 2 days and I drove it to the studio personally,” he said. “She didn’t like the flame job and said it needed blue in it,” referring to a line in the film about a blue flame special. “ I went home and added some blue flames on the hot coat. I took it back the next day and she hated it even more so she ended up letting me come up with the color scheme, which became the UTAH board. It matched the over the top feel of an FBI agent becoming a surfer to catch the bad guys.”
During the time Dennis spent with the actors, he worked on helping each one come up with a personal design for their quiver of boards. Anthony (Kiedis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers) had a metaphysical concept and Swayze wanted it to be a soulful design so Jarvis drew up the designs and passed them along to Bigelow. With slight adjustments they were approved and Dennis began the process of shaping/spraying each board.
Jarvis remembers a few members of the cast actually surfed well. “John Philbin, BoJesse Christopher, Vince Klyn and Christopher Pettiet actually ripped,” Dennis said. The fact that they knew the “vibe” of what a surfer feels helped get the groups to become what appears on film as the “gang” of good guys and bad guys.
On top of making the boards, teaching actors how to surf, Dennis also helped in finding locations as well as casting some of the smaller parts.
In my younger years I was an actor, I did TV shows, Commercials and even a few small parts in film. I got a call to read for a part in the film Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves (Patrick wasn’t cast as of yet) I went in, said my line (it was for the part of the Australian at the end something like “don’t go out there you must be crazy” or something like that. I felt pretty good about my one-line acting job and smiled at the casting director and one of the Producers who said “thank you”. As I walked out, I looked back at these two suits reviewing the abilities of “actors” trying to “act” like surfers. Then I remembered how John Ratzenberger from Cheers (he played Cliff Clavin) had one word for his audition for the sitcom “BEER” that was it, as he walked out, he turned to the Producers and said “you don’t have a bar know-it-all do you?”. The show was based in New England and John was from the area. The producers loved the idea and hired him as a regular. THAT was forefront on my mind, here is Hollywood wanting to present the culture of SURFING in a Hollywood feature film to the world and from what I saw, no one knew a single thing about this world. I turned back to the two of them and said, do either of you surf? They answered no, I asked do either of you go to the beach? They both said not really. I then pulled out my cover shots and said I do, and I am pretty sure you need me. I was a PRO surfer, built all my boards had a retail store (that was in the script) and I told them I could work with them making the actors appear to know about surfing. They laid my covers on the desk said thank you for the offer, suddenly I felt I may have over stepped my welcome. And headed out. When I got home, I had a message, my Agent gave me the news I was to start as Tec/Surf advisor right away!- Keanu showed up the next day at my home and I worked for about 9 months teaching Patrick Swayze, Keanu, Anthony Kiedis, Lori Petty, James LeGros and even the casting Director how to surf! (John Philbin @johnphilbin (turtle) and BoJesse Christopher @bojessechristopher already were rippers)—I was fortunate enough to bring surf stars Matt Archbald (was Swayze’s double) and Dino Andino into the film…BTW Peter Phelps, an Ozzie soap star and Pro surfer got my spot as the Ozzie near the end of the film. I have since been making “rider” replicas, No gloss with fin boxes. Bodhi had a 6 channel as Archie was riding 6 channels back then, the “pill board” for the UTAH design was a simple easy to learn on mini log, no bells and whistles. Masks from @alec_gillis feed.