Facing The Waves (2010)

Director, Writer, and Co-Producer: Lee Quinby
Director of Photography, Co-Producer and Editor: Daniel Cowen


Can a former gun toting surfer with a violent past turn his life around? Now 34 years old, Bobby Vaughn has tried it before. As a teenager, he ran away from home and cruised with street gangs. Competitive surfing kept him out of trouble until the night he witnessed his best friend Mark Rivas kill another kid. Rivas fled to Mexico, Bobby to Hawaii. After several months, they both returned to California–Rivas to serve time and Bobby to start over again. Surfing gave him purpose and prosperity through sponsorships. In the 1990s, he became a partner in the rapidly growing Von Dutch clothing line that caught on with celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Paris Hilton. He became part of the LA scene. Things were looking up. But not for long. Von Dutch broke up amidst court battles and financial settlements. Far worse, the gang life he tried to leave behind returned with a vengeance when Rivas was released from prison. Like an echo from the past, one night Rivas attacked Bobby with a broken bottle. Bobby shot him dead. The court ruled it justified homicide. But the defense process ate up his money. He lost custody of his son. He moved to New York City to try to build a new life, yet again.

Description of the Short Film

“Facing the Waves” tells the story of Bobby Vaughn’s violent past in LA and his efforts to start a new life in New York City’s surfing community off the beaches of Rockaway. Through interviews with Vaughn and his former Von Dutch business partner, we hear about Bobby’s troubled life. Now, he thinks he can help the kids in the Rockaway Projects avoid the kind of mistakes he made. Footage shows him interacting with kids he has sponsored through his new fashion line, FTW, and the FTW store in Rockaway. Like Bobby, it’s a mix of tattoos and tough guy chic. The central tension in the film is whether he can court the gangster image but stay out of trouble himself, and actually help the kids who see him as a hero. At 34, Bobby Vaughn is charismatic and smart and full of hope. This may be his last chance to build a new life.