Jepsen, Hal


Plucky surf moviemaker from Topanga, California; best known for Cosmic Children, his raw but energetic 1970 debut. Jepsen was born (1940) and raised in Los Angeles, and began surfing at age 17. He received a B.S. in business administration from UCLA in 1968, and was an unemployed real estate agent before he started filming Cosmic Children, which cost $18,000, was shot almost entirely in California, Hawaii, and Mexico, and showcased Hawaiian surfers Jeff Hakman and Barry Kanaiaupuni, as well as young California ace J Riddle.

Jepsen used his well-stocked personal LP collection to make an all-bootlegged soundtrack for Cosmic Children, featuring the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Dave Brubeck and more. "Jepsen's film is occasionally dark and fuzzy," Surfer magazine wrote in its review, "but the full-juice surfing is powerful." (Years later, the magazine wrote that Cosmic Children was to 1970 what Momentum was to 1992.)

Jepsen followed with three more full-length surf movies: A Sea for Yourself (1973), Super Session (1975), and We Got Surf (1981), and three short-subject films, along with Skateboard Madness (1980), a feature-length skateboarding movie featuring Stacy Peralta. Jepsen was the first surf moviemaker to give appearance fees to surfers.

Jepsen died of liver failure, in 2006, at age 66. "In his later years," Surfer's Journal wrote in an obituary, "as passing time dialed up the poignancy of [Jepsen's] footage to greater heights, Hal, rolling through a quart of Jim Beam, with Hendrix howling from the tape deck, would screen his movies and perform rollicking live narrations full of bile and wit, savvy and sadness."