The Life Story of Doc Ball

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Inspector George Gently

“The Life Story of Doc Ball” is a one hour documentary based on the life of the first dedicated surf photographer.


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 “The Life Story of Doc Ball” is a 54 minute documentary based on the life of the first dedicated surf photographer. Doc Ball had a huge influence on promoting surfing world-wide during the 1930’s and 1940’s because of his over 900 photographs and thousands of feet of 16mm film that he shot in and out of the water. Doc retells the history of surfing in California as captured through his lens including personal remembrances of Tom Blake, Duke Kahanamoku, Pete Peterson, Whitey Harrison, The Palos Verdes Surfing Club and other top surfers and innovators of that pioneering time.

 Legendary surfer, shaper and filmmaker Greg Noll explains Doc’s influence on surfing and his friendship with Doc Ball.  Jack “Woody” Ekstrom describes Doc’s skills as a photographer and the process of shooting  from the water using Doc’s water box.

​The Life Story of Doc Ball is produced and directed by Carl Ackerman who is best known for The Shaping 101 Trilogy he made with top surfboard manufacturer JC Hawaii that sold world-wide for since 1996.  

The film is written and co-produced by Malcolm Gault – Williams who has been writing books and articles independently and for surf magazines for over 25 years.

​Doc’s personal photo collection — including 16mm moving film – is showcased throughout, with music  by Daniel Ho, Herb Ohta Jr. and Taimane. 

It is our hope that through our efforts, Doc’s story will be viewed, appreciated and enjoyed by viewers interested in how surfing began in the United States; what surfing was like before and after World War II; and the story of a man who played such a large role in popularizing the sport worldwide


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