A gallery on the West Side swelled with locals, film producers, and two Miami-based celebs to screen a surfing documentary and support Grind Out Hunger.
Famous surfers, tattoo artists, filmmakers and hunger fighters got together Saturday night in Santa Cruz for what is the start of a new nationwide reality show featuring local nonprofit, Grind Out Hunger.
Grind Out Hunger and The Go Big Project raised 4,000 meals for hungry children in an event that spotlighted the screening of the acclaimed surf documentary Danger from the series Maverick Moments, by Award Winning Filmmaker Rocky Romano.
Around 200 people packed the warehouse space of the R. Blitzer Gallery, which featured huge oil and resin-painted works by local artist, Robert Hyatt.
Danny Keith, founder of Grind Out Hunger, said he co-created the event “to raise awareness about kids going hungry in Santa Cruz County, and to use surfing to bring attention to it. And hopefully get some donations and feed some kids.”
“Surfing is a lifestyle, and the people that live it care about the community and making sure kids do not go hungry, we are here tonight to proclaim a war on childhood hunger and malnutrition,” he said, introducing the film.
His objective was more than successful, and he told Patch on Sunday morning that it is just the beginning of something really good for Grind Out Hunger: An influential conglomeration of artists coming together to combat childhood hunger locally and nationally.
Special guests at the event included Chris Nuñez of Miami Ink and Ink Master, and Joey Hernandez, CEO of Empire Entertainment, who came to kick off their upcoming projects with Rocky Romano ofThe Go Big Project, as well as show their support for Grind Out Hunger.
“We’re friends with Rocky and Ken “Skindog” Collins and we’re working with them on some projects and we wanted to come down and show our support and start building on our working relationship as well,” said Hernandez, who says he hopes the new relationship brings them back to Santa Cruz often to “put the spotlight on the map, with a new wave of surfers out there, young guys, it’s time to get them showcased and build some more brands.”
The collaboration of Empire Entertainment and The Go Big Project seeks to meld the world of action sports and tattoos with a reality film and TV series. It will also have a clothing line and an action sports management company, according to Romano.
The connection between tattoos and extreme sports may not be immediately obvious, but the guys say they have a vision.
“Basically guys that’ve been getting tattoos have been pretty much extreme athletes and people associated for as long as I’ve been tattooing,” said Nuñez.
“You know, it always kind of went back to skaters, dudes that built ramps, surfers, snowboarders, it was always those kinds of kids that were just kind of thinking outside the box, that were the first kids to come home and really piss their parents off all tattooed, you know?”
It’s a certain demographic– tattooed or not tattooed – that the partnership is looking to base their art around, and Romano has a knack for tapping into Action Sports culture.
“They’re both niche markets that work well together so we just want to join forces and blow it up,” said Romano who also hinted that there is a Big Wave surfing TV series with two-time Emmy award winning Doug Stanley of The Deadliest Catch and Big Wave Surfer Ken “Skindog” Collins in the works.
But the artists said they were also thrilled to be supporting the Grind Out Hunger cause.
“We really believe in a double-edge sword business approach where we’re making money but also doing the right thing,” said Romano, who has been known to produce documentaries for free for Ride a Wave and other non profits and has been active with Grind Out Hunger since meeting Keith years ago while filming.
Nuñez, who traveled across the country from his Miami base, explained the other side of his sword, saying:
“It’s also about what Grind Out Hunger does for the community, giving back, feeding the community and really setting the action sports world as a pioneer leading into humanitarian services, it’s incredible, a great thing to be at.”
The night couldn’t have not gotten any better but it did when Volcom Stone donated hundreds of dollars in product to be given away to the crowd. Ken “Skindog” Collins and Grind Out Hunger’s newest addition to it’s Surf Division summed it up.
“I cannot believe we have 1 in 4 kids going hungry in Santa Cruz County…I have kids…that just makes me mad”
Despite the torrential downpour, the star studded attendance for the evening included Chris Nuñez of Miami Ink/Ink Master; Joey Hernandez, CEO of Empire Entertainment; Brian Laing, CEO Hive Media; Eric Oejten of Empire Entertainment; Elizabeth Gummere, President of the Santa Cruz Film Festival; Robert Blitzer of R. Blitzer Gallery; Jason “J-Willz” Williams of Ribsys Nickel; DJ Rudy B; Shawn Hatjes Photography and surf shooter Ryan “Chachi” Craig.
There were also professional big wave surfers; Shawn Dollar, Nic Lamb, Tyler Fox, Anthony Tashnick, Andres Flores and the hosts for the evening Rocky Romano CEO of The Go Big Project and Danny Keith Founder of Grind Out Hunger.
On March 31 Grind Out Hunger will be attending the first Mavericks Invitational in Half Moon Bay with skate ramps and the cast and crew listed above.
Visit http://www.mavericksinvitational.com for more information and advance ticket purchases.
Grind Out Hunger is an Action Sports Based Charity with the mission statement “Empowering the youth by utilizing the passion of skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding to recognize the importance of community and food literacy.”