Sonny Miller News

Collection of Articles

San Diego Surf Film Festival will pay tribute cinematographer Sonny Miller May 21th

 THURSDAY MAY 26th 2016 Sonny Miller will be honored at the San Diego Surf Film Festival.  To DOWNLOAD the PDF CLICK HERE This year’s festival selections and events to feature global, sustainable themes San Diego Surf Film Festival When: May 21-23 Where: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s Sherwood Auditorium, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla Tickets: $5-$20 Pre-sales, lineup and more A scene from ‘Ocean Driven,’ an inspirational thriller based on the true story of South African big-wave surfer and ocean pioneer, Chris Bertish. The film screens 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 21 during the opening night of the fourth San Diego Surf Film Festival.Courtesy The organizers at San Diego Surf Film Festival (SDSFF) must be doing something right, as its audience continues to swell, year after year. Having outgrown its founding home at Bird’s Surf Shed, organizers of the fourth annual SDSFF have secured more spacious digs in La Jolla, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s (MCASD) Sherwood Auditorium. This year’s SDSFF, to be held Thursday, May 21 through Saturday, May 23, includes a diverse lineup of feature films, documentaries and short films (many of them U.S. and world premieres), as well as art demonstrations, an auction and a tribute to the late surf photographer and cinematographer, Sonny Miller, 7 p.m. May 21. Miller, who produced some of the most renowned surf films of the ’90s, including “Searching for Tom Curren,” passed away last summer at age 54. The San Diego Surf Film Festival will include an opening night tribute to the late surf cinematographer and Encinitas native Sonny Miller, who passed away last summer at... read more

Sonny Miller’s Lesson for Us All: ‘Nature Dictates’ by Helen Hunt

Written By Helen Hunt on Huffington Post The white of Sonny Miller’s right eye was red. Fire engine red. He cocked his head to the side all the time, in fact, his shoulders leaned also to the right, I think. Maybe it was from carrying that box around. That box that made my movie. Six years ago, I called him. “I’ve written a movie, it takes place in the water. I hear you’re the guy. Can I send it to you?” He called me a few weeks later. “Yeah, I like it, I like it. It really captures what it’s like, right?” I told him I didn’t have any money, but I was working on it, and that if I ever got the money the question I have is: How do you make an indie in the ocean? “Yeah, yeah, we can do it.” He talked about formats and boogie boards and Go Pros and jet skis. “At the end of the day, though, nature dictates.” He repeated that phrase again and again last summer: “Nature dictates.” I’d say, “I know Sonny, I know, but I’ve got to get this. If I don’t get her saying the line over her right shoulder before the wave comes, I don’t have the scene.” “Yeah. Yeah. Right shoulder. It’ll be good. Let’s go.” And out we’d walk. Out there. Once a day, he’d say: “You can talk about it so much, and then you gotta just get out there.” He carried this box, this box that paid for his house, and his motorcycles and his dying mom’s care, and his food and... read more

Local 600 Cinematographer Sonny Miller’s Legacy Washes Over the Industry in Waves of Talent and Respect.

Local 600 Cinematographer Sonny Miller’s Legacy Washes Over the Industry in Waves of Talent and Respect. By David William McDonald. All photos Courtesy of David William McDonald.Anyone who loves action cinematography – in the water, on concrete, or waist deep in snowy powder – already knows the legend that was Sonny Miller. Those who do not: I sincerely hope you will take the time to check out the provided Web links. They will help sustain the legacy of a union brother and true pioneer – a cinematic pirate of the seven seas who lived a life many only dream about.We have a saying in the camera department that is often repeated when things get very stressful: “Hey, we’re still livin’ the dream!” I can say, as an admirer, student, and close friend of Sonny’s, he was one Guild cinematographer who lived that dream 24/7. Sonny radiated love, aloha, respect, and a desire to capture beautiful and thought-provoking images that would (and will) last a lifetime. I’ll start at the beginning: Born Harold Miller in San Jose, California, on July 18, 1960, Sonny was given his nickname by his father, Bud, who remembers him as “the happiest baby” he’d ever seen. “Even as an infant,” Bud says, “Sonny was always calm, happy, smiling, cheerful. Some people are just born that way.” In 1975, deep inside the “Brady Bunch” era, Sonny’s family relocated to North County, San Diego, where he grew up steps from the beach. He joined a crew of local skateboarders known as the “Down South Boys,” essentially the San Diego version of Stacy Peralta’s Dogtown crew, who were raising hell... read more

Helen Hunt’s ‘Ride’ will be dedicated to Filmmaker Sonny Miller

Screen Media Films has closed a deal for North American distribution rights to Ride, the film Helen Hunt wrote, directed and produced, and stars in alongside Brenton Thwaites, Luke Wilson, and David Zayas. Pic is Hunt’s follow-up to her helming debut Then She Found Me. In this comedy, she plays an editor from The New Yorker who follows her son (Thwaites) to LA after he drops out of college to surf and find himself, but she ends up being the one thrust into a sea change of self-discovery. She befriends a limo driver (Zayas) and soon rediscovers her sexuality with a younger surf instructor (Wilson) and begins to heal her fractured relationship with her son and herself. Sandbar Pictures, Abandon Features, Big Block Ventures and @TheMovies Entertainment financed and UltraMedia is handling foreign sales. “I made this movie for mothers, sons, fathers, daughters, surfers and people who fall apart and come back together,” Hunt said. “Screen Media is the perfect place to get Ride to its audience.” Screen Media prexy Suzanne Blech said the film will be released is second-quarter 2015. “Professionally, the opportunity to work with Helen and her producing team was something we absolutely wanted to make happen after we first started tracking the film,” she said. “Personally, I intimately identified with the mother’s journey in Ride and hope audiences will associate with Helen’s vision as much as I did.” Hunt produced with Lizzie Friedman, Karen Lauder, Greg Little, and Moon Blauner, with Louise Runge, Samantha Housman, Matthew Carnahan, Robert Beaumont, Kevin Iwashina, Roxanne Fie Anderson, Elizabeth Stillwell, Bruce Bendell, Michael Paesano and Eric Alini exec producing.... read more

Roxy In Memory: Sonny Miller with Lisa Andersen

In July 2014, ROXY lost a very dear friend: Sonny Miller. Traveling with the ROXY team for the past two decades, Sonny immortalized the key moments of our brand’s history on film. Beyond his groundbreaking camerawork from the water and from the air, Sonny acted an older brother for our surfers- motivating, protecting and cheering on the girls from the line-up.   The surf industry recently hosted a paddle out in memory of Sonny in Cardiff, California. We spoke to Lisa Andersen about her memories with Sonny, and caught a few waves in his honor. While we miss his ever-present smile, his unwavering optimism, his infectious laugh and of course his crazy costumes, we never forget to live just a little bit more ‘relaxo’ …just like Sonny always did.     Mahalo to Roxy for writing this beautiful article and putting the video together.  ... read more

In Requiem for the Surf Rider Sonny Miller by Josh Gilliland

My cousin Sonny Miller passed away after a heart attack on July 8, 2014. He died six days after his mother died from Dementia. He was one of the most dynamic individuals I have ever known. Sonny traveled the world making surfing movies. His resume included a long list of surfing classics, including Riding Giants, Searching for Tom Curren, and the James Bond movieDie Another Day. He was also the announcer at the end of Blue Crush. His Instagram photos were always of great adventures across the globe. My cousin was an amazing photographer. Sonny had worldwide success because he was one of the best photographers on the planet. Part of my love of photography was inspired heavily from him when I was a child. I would touch base with him and find out he was doing something awesome, like going to Hawaii with the Roxy Girls. That certainly made me re-think my career choices. Sonny’s company was World Wave Pictures, which made me think: What is the legal definition of a wave? According to case law, “A wave is a naturally occurring phenomenon of the ocean — not a man-made object such as the floating poles, logs, and pilings… A wave may be a dangerous condition of the ocean, but, by its very nature, cannot be an unnatural condition.” Birmingham v. Fodor’s Travel Publications, 73 Haw. 359, 379-380 (Haw. 1992). Death is like a wave. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon. That does not take away the the fact it can knock someone off their feet. Sonny was a man of adventure, talent, and great compassion. He dutifully took care of his mother for seven years in... read more


R.I.P. SONNY MILLER, 1960-2014 Sonny Miller, one of the pioneering snowboard photographers who heavily supported SNOWBOARDER in its infancy has passed away from a heart attack. Sonny’s image of a wetsuit-clad Damian Sanders was the shot that SNOWBOARDER used on the cover of our debut issue twenty-eight years ago. Our thoughts go out to Sonny Miller’s family and friends and SNOWBOARDER will forever be grateful for what he did to steer the course of our magazine and... read more

Sonny Miller Remembered by Down The Line Surf Talk Radio

It’s well established that Sonny Miller was charismatic, hardworking and, frankly, a very smart guy. Sonny was far and away our best guest on Down The Line Surf Talk Radio – always ready to sit down and just talk. No agenda, no self promotion. He’d roll in with breakfast burritos and coffee and we (Jeff Baldwin and I) would wing it, and Sonny never missed a beat. The word “classic” gets thrown around a lot, but Sonny Miller was truly a classic cat. A classic Californian. 2011 Radio Interview.    Original Article Source:  ... read more

Kelly Slater on Sonny Miller’s Legacy by The ASP

Sonny Miller, creator of the Rip Curl’s Search films, has passed away. Miller’s iconic series focused on adventure, travel, and the excitement of surprises around the corner. The films influenced countless surfers, promoting an embrace of the wonder of the sport, and the lifelong search for the best waves. It’s poetic that Miller’s most renowned film was Searching for Tom Curren, which followed the surfer to Jeffreys Bay. Much of the film was shot steps from where the World Championship Tour is currently running the J-Bay Open. Curren’s ride at Jeffreys, captured by Miller’s lens, is still considered by many to be one of the most flawless waves ever ridden at the spot. From ASP Commissioner Kieren Perrow: “Sonny was an individual that influenced so many people through his films as well as the way he lived his life. The spirit of adventure, that was so beautifully captured in his work, started with the man himself — ever positive in the face of challenge and infectiously inspiring to those he worked with. He left a forever mark on the surfing world and will be tremendously missed. The loss is certainly being felt by all of us here in Jeffreys Bay, a place that was very special to his work which, in turn, remains very special to all of us. RIP Sonny.” Original Post: read more

RIP Sonny Miller: A Tribute by Surfing Magazine

RIP Sonny Miller. The surf world lost another great last week. Sonny’s was the eye that filmed Tom Curren in The Search films and his was the smile that illuminated the world around him. After all the hard work Sonny had put into movie-making over the years, Rip Curl returned the favor by producing this heartfelt goodbye to the man. And yes, it is totally OK to cry while watching.   Post: read more

ESPN article by Jake Howard

Renowned surf cinematographer Sonny Miller died of a heart attack on Tuesday. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Miller was transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla but was unable to be resuscitated. Miller was largely considered to be one of the great filmmakers and photographers in the history of surfing. Born on July 18, 1960, he grew up riding waves along the beaches of San Diego County. His career began when he started submitting photos to Surfer magazine in the mid-1980s, but he quickly moved from still to motion photography. Resisting the temptation to shoot video, he became an artist with 16 mm film. In the mid-1990s Miller produced a series of influential surf films for Rip Curl, including “The Search,” “Tripping the Planet” and most famously, “Searching for Tom Curren,” which was named Video of the Year by Surfer magazine in 1997. In the early 2000s he transitioned into Hollywood productions, bringing his action-sports cinematography skills to the movies, “In God’s Hands,” “Riding Giants,” “Lords of Dogtown,” “Blue Crush” and the James Bond film, “Die Another Day.” Beyond Miller’s impressive professional resume, he was nicknamed “Cap’n Fun” by those who spent time traveling and working with him. “We did a mission to Tonga in ’92 together and I realized then that no matter how far from home or how bad the surf, Sonny was always happy and positive and truly epitomized the meaning of being stoked,” wrote Kelly Slater on Instagram. “Surfers will be eternally grateful to Sonny for filming Tom Curren in the legendary surf movie, ‘Searching For Tom Curren’ in the early... read more

Surf Line article by Jamie Brisick

It was a hacksaw laugh that dissolved all problems and summoned you right into the task at hand, which more often than not involved something wild, adventurous, and maybe a little absurd.    Sonny Miller — photographer, filmmaker, possessor of giant joie de vivre — died of a heart attack yesterday. He was 53 years old. As I write, his Facebook page swells with tributes and remembrances and bursting love, something Sonny had in spades.    His nickname was Cap’n Fun. When he was hitting his straps, which was often, he’d break from whatever hysterical rant, eye you with that rosy-faced glint, and in a playful boast, say, “It’s Miller time!” Sonny did water photography on Hollywood films, worked as a hired gun on countless surf films and videos, but he is best known for The Search series in the nineties, which he shot and directed. Traveling to far-flung locales with Tom Curren, Frankie Oberholzer, and friends suited his temperament. He loved the unknown, loved to wing it, was at his best with a map spread across the steering wheel of a four-wheel drive vehicle on some washboard dirt road a hundred miles from the nearest town. Hanging out with Sonny was loads of fun. His raw, no-bullshit, squeeze-every-last-drop approach was infectious. In the early nineties he showed up to the Marui Pro in Hebara Beach, Japan with a suitcase full of hideous polyester outfits from the disco seventies — canary yellow bell bottoms, vomit green shirts with giant collars, white patent-leather loafers, glitter ball necklaces, purple porkpie hats.He summoned a band of merry pros over to his hotel, outfitted us, and led us on a wild romp... read more