Desert Point Lineup, early 1980s. All photos from the Heick Family Collection

Friday, 28 April 2017

"No talk, no maps, no photos… we became really good liars." - Bill Heick, Desert Point pioneer. In the early eighties, while sailing off remote Lombok Island in Indonesia, young California surfer Bill Heick and his friends (dubbed the "Golden Beards") 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, it was later dubbed "Desert Point" for its dry forbidding nature. In the years that followed, a pioneer crew of hardcore surfers set up a makeshift beach outpost and kept their treasure off the surf-media map for almost a decade. Their mission: to surf uncrowded Desert Point at the highest level possible…no matter the cost.

But Paradise, they quickly found, came at a price. Camping rough on the beach for months at a time was far from an idyllic vacation and came with its own set of annoyances, malaise and outright danger. Life on the remote point was a constant balancing act between the surfing dream and the very real possibility of injury, armed robbery and life-threatening disease.

But the siren's call of the Perfect Wave held strong and has kept the pioneers, and the thousands who have followed, returning to "Deserts" for decades.

"We were so fortunate to have had this once-in-a-lifetime experience at Desert Point during its golden era," says Bill. "…and this documentary is for all those who have experienced Desert Point in one way or another over the years."

Since its discovery more than 40 years ago Desert Point has evolved into a hardcore surf destination with low-budget 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.

Beginning in Bali in the mid 1970s, we follow Bill's journey of halcyon days at Kuta Beach and Uluwatu followed by sailing expeditions to neighboring islands in slow, leaking local boats.

It's also the legacy of California counterculture adventure…one spanning three generations of filmmakers beginning late 1940s San Francisco. Rare Indonesian surf footage 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, shot more than 40 years ago, has sat in obscurity until recently retrieved and restored.

"This project was a surf filmmaker's dream production says Secrets' 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."

May 1, 2017 will be available digitally through HERE


The “Sri Wira Bakti
Bill Heick (third from left) and his Northern California surf crew “The Golden Beards” aboard the Moana Manu, off Lombok, Indonesia, early 1980s.
Three generations of cameramen: Andrew Heick, William R. Heick, Bill Heick.
Desert Point perfection. All photos from the Heick Family Collection


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