Interview: Lost & Found’s Doug Walker
Call it Serendipity.Call it luck. Call what you want. Doug Walker, was an editor in the commercial business, looking for a project that could connect him with his roots and return him to surfing. Little did he know when he made that decision, that project would find him.
There are events that take place in our lives that reset our direction and give us a new purpose. For some it might be having a child or a near death incident. For others it may be as simple as a career change or learning to surf. When Doug Walker came upon a stack of photo negatives at a flea market in Southern California, he realized at that moment, his life was going to change. He was given a new motivation and direction.
The result of this discovery is his documentary Lost & Found. It’s a film that traces back the stories from 30,000 lost film negatives of some of the 70’s best, well-known surfers. The beauty of the film is in Doug’s ability to get some of these iconic figures to open up, sharing stories and knowledge that would have gone unheard had these film negatives not been found. For Doug, the wonderful thing with this whole project is his new found life track and, for a lack of a better term, his calling.
Since the film has been premiered, Doug has embarked on a larger project in sharing these photos and stories. One senses from talking with Doug that there is something larger than this film at play. Preservation of our culture, our history, and making sure those who might have been forgotten, get their due respects and acknowledgment.
To understand his greater plan, check out www.thelostandfoundcollection.com
Tyler Breuer: What were you doing for work before you found all those photos?
Doug Walker: I grew up in LA around the film Industry. My mom was a producer and my uncles were grips, so I naturally fell into it at a young age. I was a child actor then hated it. One day when I was 18, I walked past the editing department at the studios. It was 10:30AM and the editors were kicking back reading the paper and I thought to myself “I like this!” Little did I know that editing would consume my life and hours, but I fell in love with the art of putting stories together. I’ve been an editor for a long time doing commercials.
TB: Had you been a fan of surf films before you started on “Lost & found”?
DW: I grew up skating and surfing. My friends and I skated empty pools in the valley and surfed. Surfing is something that once you experience it, it becomes you. I raised two kids, my son Merritt and daughter Lauren, with my wife. Sometimes with kids you put your passions on hold. When my son was 17 and filling out college applications, that was when I wanted to get back to surfing and wanted to find a project. Little did I know that this gift was in front of me.
TB: How long was your hiatus from surfing?
DW: It wasn’t a hiatus per se. I was snowboarding a lot during the winter and getting my surf in while doing jobs in LA. I grew up there and always found the water temps more inviting. But now I really don’t care. I Just want to surf and give back to the surfing world. If that makes any sense…
TB: I’m sure you have been asked this a bunch, but can you describe the moment when you found the photos and did you realize what you had found?
DW: It’s pretty amazing. Two days before I found them, my wife came home with a new camera. She handed it to me and said, “Go make something.” I flew to LA to do a job and went out early on a Sat morning to shoot surfing. So I filmed some surfers and took the footage back to my office and edited it together and it looked really good. I then called my producer for commercials and said, “find me a surfing project.” This is where it gets magical: The next morning was a Sunday and when I’m in LA, I try to attend the Rose Bowl Swap Meet to look for anything surfing related. They sometimes have everything from boards, posters, magazines, hula lamps… Anything that gets me stoked.
TB: And that’s when you discovered the prints?
DW: Well on that Sunday is when I came across the three boxes. I opened the top of the box and inside were large envelopes that were dated by the month and year. I opened the first envelope from 1975 and when I reached inside, I pulled out a stack of negatives in sheets. I held the sheet to the sun and had an instant flashback to the old surf mags when I was a kid. Every month I couldn’t wait for the next issue and there they were right in front of my eyes at 8 AM on this particular Sunday.