Stars set to be born!
Santa Cruz, California, some hour-plus from San Francisco, has a surfing heritage that is second to none. The Sport of Kings was introduced to the redwood’d land in 1885 as Hawaiians David Kawananakoa, Edward Keli’iahonui and Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole came to glide the chill. Surfing took deep root in the 1950s, Jack O’Neill inventing the wetsuit etc. and soon the town and its wave riding were one and the same.
Oh there have been some ups and downs. Methamphetamine, in particular, took deep root just like surfing and infected the scene for along time, famous names like Shawn “Barney” Barron, Vince Collier, Daryl “Flea” Virostko steering their ships dangerously close to the shoal while heeding her siren song.
Flea’s story, thankfully, did not end in tragedy. He cleaned up, launched recovery program FleaHab and now a film is being made involving elements from his life but not just any film. A film by the Academy Award winning team of Joshua James Richards and Chloé Zhao.
Per Look Out West:
Shhhhh. No one is supposed to talk about a movie-in-the-making.
But could this finally be the definitive surf-culture film Santa Cruz deserves?
“You don’t want to jinx it,” said Darryl Virostko.
Better known as “Flea” in the Santa Cruz surfing world, Virostko is the main person involved in what many are hoping is the cinematic representation surfing — and Santa Cruz surf culture — have long yearned for.
Filming of the yet-unnamed movie is set to begin in the spring, though the script is still being finalized. But the involvement of Joshua James Richards and Chloé Zhao — most famous for the cinematography and direction of 2021 Best Picture-winner “Nomadland” — have locals in the cinematic know excited despite a lack of firm details.
While (Flea) believes his real-life persona will play a central part in the movie, and is working with a young surfer who figures to play a primary acting role, Virostko remains circumspect about the plot lines as the script shifts through other hands.
“It touches a lot about life’s struggles,” he said. “But these guys are legit. The filmmakers have a really good feel for what they want to do.”
But did you see Nomadland? It was a fine, if depressing, depiction of workers struggling in America. Richards and Zhao have a unique filmmaking flair in that they cast both actors and everyday folk to star.
The possibility for an Academy Award winning film about surfing, in any case, is something to get giddy about. Giddy enough, even, to chase the hideous taste of Chasing Mavericks from the palate.
Back to Flea, though. Many years ago, I interviewed famed-methamphetamine dealer/surfer Anthony Ruffo in the Virostko home. It was my first profile for Stab and I described the surroundings as a “dingy meth den” or some such.
Flea, if I recall, was not please.
I imagine that scene will be left on the cutting room floor.