As the pilot was being shot in early fall, we worked with the cast and crew on location in Imperial Beach, CA, the rundown beach-town setting of the show (based on Kem Nunn’s surfing noir novels). Imperial Beach is not only the struggling southside of upscale Coronado, it’s also the last refuge for a group of outsiders, rebels, outlaws, and immigrants. Those who don’t fit in, can’t buy in, or want to stay lost, live in Imperial Beach. It was this defining aspect of the city that drew Milch down for weeks at a time to shoot there rather than on a set in Los Angeles.
These documentaries were essentially mini-portraits of the residents of Imperial Beach. Metal garage bands, Luche Libres, environmentalists, Mexican immigrants and hot-rodders are a small sample of the subjects. David Milch’s vision of blurring the lines between fiction and reality were put into practice by taking many of the subjects we documented and placing them within the world of the show (Rosa, Jesus, Luche Libres and Kevin & Kirby). Many of the video and audio elements were also dissected and used within the yostclan.com’s “Node Videos”.
The Resentments, a local metal band formed in the nineties, practiced in Eric Dogel’s garage on 7th Avenue, a quiet street of small homes on the edge of the San Diego harbor, where much of the show was shot for exteriors while on location. The Snug Harbor was located at the beginning of this street, the Yost’s home was near the middle of it, and Eric Dogel’s house was between them.
The Tailor of Lucha Libre, a semi-retired mexican masked wrestler, once traveled around the world as a “lucha fighter”, but now lives in one of the many expanding urbanizations around Tijuana with his wife and son, an aspiring wrestler, making his living by crafting hand-made masks and uniforms for other wrestlers.
The Electric Duck, as he’s known in the local San Diego surfing subculture, is a legendary surfer from the 1970’s hey-day beach culture, who was known for his duck-like love of the water (spending six to eight hours a day surfing), his stamina at braving the difficult Tijuana Sloughs – a wave-break about 1/2 a mile out from the Imperial Beach shoreline -, and for his ability to do most of this while being “electric”, i.e. juiced on LSD.
Serge Dedina, the founder and director of Wildcoast, the local Imperial Beach non-profit dedicated to preserving and saving the San Diego and Tijuana coastline from environmental degradation, grew up surfing the local beaches. He now continues the tradition with his sons, although the beaches are closed more than half of the year for health reasons.
One day, while on a location shoot on 7th Avenue, David Milch went up to an older Mexican man who had been watching the production for a few days from inside an old truck parked in the yard of his house. The man said that God had told him to save the world, and he knew that Milch was part of the plan. His name was Jesus – Jesus Beltran.
Kevin and Kerby, two teens with attitude from Imperial Beach, could often be found hanging out with the older Resentments, skateboards in hand, ready to rock out, drink and belong.
Rosa Adams was a polio survivor and a correspondence bride, wooed through letters mailed by her husband (through an organization) to come to the United States to marry him. She now lives in Imperial Beach with her family and sells Avon products.
Mike McCoy, a legendary Imperial Beach veterinarian, now sports what could be called an Old Testament prophet aesthetics to advocate for more humane ways of living and co-exisitng with nature like cultivating one’s own garden, to protect endangered species and to to think in a more evolved way about impact on the environment.
Ray, a decorated veteran pilot, spends his days with his buddies at the local VFW, telling stories and drinking some brewskies; he spends his nights with his wife at their home bordering (he can touch the metal fence from his porch) the edge of a large Naval base where helicopter’s do daily training exercises from 9am to 6pm.
Georgie is in elementary school and has Cerebral Palsy. His family, the Alvorado’s, live in Imperial Beach and have made their family their priority. Theirs is a story of dedication and love for their children.
Clinton wears a black Stetson, a white wife beater, and a goatee. He has lived in the same house for the last 33 years, has a passion for turning old cars into hot rods, and dating younger women (although they do turn soft and fat over time).
Ben, one of Serge Dedina’s Wildcoast activists, takes us on a tour of the US-Mexico border to see the human and environmental cost of this no-man’s land.
Ye Old Plank, the atmospheric bar that anchors the short commercial stretch along the beach-side road in Imperial Beach, is a haven to local characters, allowing for factions that might never be seen in daylight together (gays and skinheads, for example) to hang out in relative peace and enjoy the drafts on tap.