There are few more passionate and prodigally involved characters in New York City’s surf community than Tyler Breuer. A writer, producer, filmmaker, event manager, and activist, Tyler has played a role in shaping local surf culture his whole life.
In spite of a local surf community that has endured over seventy years in New York and Long Island, the region was long overlooked by the surf world. Tyler recalls watching the premiers of major surf movies in absurdly lo-fi locations. “I saw Surfers The Movie at a dive bar in Long Beach and I watched Atlantic Crossings in a seafood restaurant. That sort of stuff frustrated me; being in New York you felt snubbed by the surf world.”
Among too many events to list, perhaps Tyler’s biggest contribution yet to both the international and local surf community was his attempt to devise a worthy film festival hosted in New York City. “It’s really hard to do it right,” Tyler explained. “New York screenings are really expensive and the cinemas get booked up a long time in advance. The surf industry never wants to pay for anything,” he told us. “Ever.”
In 2012, Tyler brought together surf buddies Adam Cannizzaro and Michael Machemer alongside events producer Morgan Rae Berk. Between them, they formed a committee capable of delivering the funding, complex event planning and key surf and film industry connections. Jet Blue joined as headline sponsor, providing funds to take over Tribeca Cinemas for three nights and fly in top-notch directors. “A lot of awesome people came,” Tyler told us, leafing through a photo-book commemorating the inaugural festival. “It had a real community vibe. Taylor Steele came to us to do the world premier of his movie Castles in the Sky.” For the first two years the festival was a success. The endeavour was on the verge of becoming a full time job when a rift between two of the other partners divided the founding team beyond repair. The rest is unpleasantly litigious history. Before it’s third year, the festival had collapsed, leaving the name ‘New York Surf Film Festival’ suspended in a legal limbo.
As lovers of surf movies, we cringed hearing the story of this near-miss attempt to find a permanent home for New York on the global surf map. But Tyler isn’t done yet. He is resilient, creative and generous. And he’s a natural host. Even if it’s a commercial tight-rope walk he remains determined to find ways to produce events and screenings ‘done right,’ almost in devotion to his deep love for surf culture. Whether it’s a surfboard exhibition, a gallery show or a film festival, Tyler believes in bringing the community together and offering punters the best possible value for their hard-earned cash. This is a man who absolutely believes in a free bar, and we couldn’t agree more.