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'Low-Down' and raw

H.B. visitor bureau's new film series presents the best of Surf City — outtakes and all.

October 27, 2011|By Michael Miller
  • Madison Fisher, right, shoots Kevin Keller as he stands in front of the statue of Duke Kahanamoku.
Madison Fisher, right, shoots Kevin Keller as he stands… (STEVEN GEORGES,…)

Kevin Keller found himself in a familiar spot Monday afternoon — in downtown Huntington Beach, extolling the virtues of his hometown without a script.

Keller, the tourism coordinator for the city's Marketing and Visitors Bureau, serves as host of "The Huntington Beach Low-Down," a recently launched video series that spotlights tourist spots around Surf City. Monday, he gathered with a two-woman crew in front of Huntington Surf and Sport to film the opening of an installment about surf shops.

Wearing shades and a black T-shirt with the bureau logo, Keller got the action cue and began describing the shop's merchandise and café, occasionally groping for a word but never pausing. The host, who lives downtown and works during the week in the information kiosk by the pier, doesn't need a rehearsal to talk about Huntington.

"People recognize me walking down the street and they'll ask me random questions," Keller said between takes. "It's pretty funny."

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When communications manager Madison Fisher and film commissioner Briton Saxton conceived of "Low-Down," they sought a homegrown feel. That means hand-held camera work, improvised narration — and even flubs kept in the final cut. The October installment, "Best Breakfast Places," begins with a short clip of Keller pausing before his introduction, then laughing and requesting a retake.

"We want it to seem like it's local, like you're traveling around with your buddy instead of seeing some professionally made video," Saxton said.

"Low-Down," which the bureau posts on its YouTube channel, began this summer with a short documentary on the U.S. Open of Surfing. The project debuted as a monthly series in October, and the first installment has gotten about 200 hits so far, Fisher said.

Keller — or Cool Kevin, as he introduces himself on screen — takes the viewer on tours around town and conducts interviews with a hand-held microphone. (Jamila Tahir, the bureau's office manager, contributes additional voiceovers.)

To add to the show's ramshackle feel, the producers created a hand-painted sign, featuring the show's title with drawings of the sun, birds and a sandy beach, which Keller and others wave in front of the camera throughout the videos.

The October episode features breakfast eateries around Huntington, including Ruby's and the Sugar Shack. Surf shops are on the docket for November, and the producers have already sketched out a series of upcoming episodes—including one in which Keller teaches Saxton to surf.

The staff, Fisher noted, is open to ideas for future shows.

"We'll happily take suggestions if there's a place locals want to see highlighted," she said. "Right now, it's really us deciding what to be featured, so we'd love some feedback."

View "The Huntington Beach Low-Down" at http://www.YouTube.com/HBSurfCityUSA.

michael.miller@latimes.com

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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