Laguna Beach Magazine May 2023 | Page 40


“ Birth of The Endless Summer : Discovery of Cape St . Francis ”— a documentary that follows Dick Metz back to South Africa as he retraces the steps of his original journey that inspired “ The Endless Summer ” film — is poised to make its global release this summer so Metz ’ s story can be shared with a larger audience . It will also be shown at 3:45 p . m . May 7 at the Porthole Theater at Dana Hills High School as part of the Dana Point Film Festival , which runs May 4-7 . “ The Endless Summer ” will also be shown during the festival , at 4 p . m . May 5 at Salt Creek Beach Park , in honor of the film ’ s 60th anniversary . ( danapointfilm festival . eventive . org )
Dick Metz ( wearing hat ) and the Whitmore family , with whom he stayed while in Cape Town , South Africa
“ Birth of the Endless Summer ,” from Curtis Birch and Emmy-nominated director Richard Yelland of Laguna Beach , in association with Oscarnominated Bruce Brown Films , premiered at the 2021 Newport Beach Film Festival and has earned an Award of Excellence , Special Mention from The IndieFest Film Awards . ( instagram . com / birthoftheendlesssummer ) but were only traveling to a camp another 200 miles down the road , for example , so he had to wait there for another truck to come by . “ And so that ’ s the way it was . I slept out in Africa all the time ,” Metz says .” One time , I was out sleeping by a tree and I get up at sunup and I walk over a little knoll about 100 feet from where I was sleeping and there ’ s a pride of lions sleeping in the dirt there . They could have eaten me and I wouldn ’ t have had a clue .”
The wild animals weren ’ t the only threat . Around this time in the late 1950s , the often violent Mau Mau uprising was taking place in Kenya against the British that were colonizing their lands . But , perhaps because Metz looked and dressed differently than the typical white colonist , the rebels didn ’ t hassle him . Somewhat dark-complected ( likely from spending so much time surfing in the sun ), Metz wore a big straw hat from Tahiti , shorts and a torn shirt , and sported a big beard . “ And the most important thing [ is ] I ’ ve got … a pair of sandals made in Guatemala out of tires . And they had sandals made out of tires .
And so they didn ’ t know what I was . You had the black guy and you had the white guy in this uniform and then you had me .”
While in Africa , Metz wanted to see the wildlife of the Serengeti Plains , so he got a job working for a safari company , setting up tents for visiting groups , including National Geographic photographers — and taking a few of his own up-close animal pictures . In Tanganyika ( now Tanzania ), he went to Ngorongoro Crater : At 12 miles across , it ’ s the biggest extinct volcano in the world . “ In the bottom of this crater , there ’ s water and grass . And these animals , somehow , over the centuries , have gotten over the edge and gone down into the crater and there ’ s elephants , lions , zebras , antelope , everything down in the bottom . … You can see the whole ecosystem of Africa .”
Aside from the excitement of the wildlife and all these wonders , Metz says there was one drawback to his solitary sojourn . “ The good part of traveling by yourself is I got invited to homes all the time , but the bad part is you ’ re really lonely ,” Metz says . “ I ’ m
[ spending ] 17 days in one little African village trying to talk to Africans .”
At one point , he was tending bar in the town of Arusha in Tanganyika and wanted to go see Victoria Falls , which is twice as big as Niagara Falls in New York .
“ A guy picks me up — a Danish guy in a truck with gas and food ,” Metz recalls . “ And he says , ‘ Where do you want to go ?’ I said , ‘ I want to go to Victoria Falls .’ He said , ‘ Well , that ’ s 10 days away , but I ’ m going right through there so jump in . I want you to help me drive .’ His mom was sick in a hospital in South Africa and he was driving to see her .”
“… He would drive for two hours , then he ’ d sleep and I ’ d drive for two hours . We ’ d trade off . So in the middle of the night on like the ninth or 10th or 11th day , I ’ m sleeping , it ’ s 2 in the morning and I ’ m in the passenger seat , head against the window and he pokes me and says , ‘ We ’ re at Victoria Falls . That ’ s where you wanted to get out .’ And it ’ s 2 in the morning . If it had been in the daytime , I would have gotten out in a minute , but I looked out the window , it ’ s cold , there ’ s