Industrious surf moviemaker of the 1970s and '80s, from Topanga, California; best known for his hard-driving 1974 debut Fluid Drive. Dittrich was born (1945) in Detroit, Michigan, learned to surf in Florida at age 10, and moved in 1966 to Hollywood, California. He received a B.A. in economics from UCLA in 1969, went on to take a master's in the same field from the University of Florida, then returned to California where he soon began working for Hal Jepsen, another filmmaker who'd recently scored a surf-world hit with Cosmic Children. Less than two years later, Dittrich broke off from Jepsen (they remained good friends) to begin making his own movies.
Fluid Drive didn't break any new ground, but the surfing action was first-rate, and the soundtrack, most of it bootlegged from Dittrich's excellent personal LP collection, included cuts from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, Pink Floyd and Lou Reed. A highlight of the film was the public unveiling of Scorpion Bay, a fast, hollow pointbreak in deepest Baja.
Dittrich went on to make Tales of the Seven Seas (1981), Adventures in Paradise (1982), Follow the Sun (1984), Amazing Surf Stories (1987) and Gone Surfin' (1987) His last surf movie, Rolling Thunder (1991) gamely attempted to graft a post-apocalyptic look at the future onto an otherwise typically cheerful and mindless 'round-the-world wave-romp.
Dittrich was profiled in 50 Years of Surfing on Film, a 1997 Outdoor Life Network cable television series.