Misfit Pictures HQ film producers hope their offices become community hub for La Jolla and San Diego


Petra and Pierce Kavanagh’s story is one made out of love. Love for art, the ocean, one another and San Diego. Eight years ago, they met at a Padres game and they have been together since. “It was love at first sight,” said Petra. “It made sense that we met at a San Diego event and now we are holding San Diego events,” Pierce added.

Two months ago, the Kavanaghs opened their new headquarters of Misfit Pictures in La Jolla, at 565 Pearl St., Suite 100. Calling their company just a “film producer” would fall short. They have produced three documentaries since 2011, “Manufacturing Stoke” (2011), “ReSurf” (2014), and “What The Sea Gives Me” (2014). They also organize the San Diego Surf Film Festival whose fifth edition (May 18-28, 2016) featured more than 20 films in three different venues. But, more important than what they already are, is what they want to become.

Acting, photography and after-school art workshops for kids, book releases, monthly art expositions, and film showings are some of the activities Misfit Pictures intends to organize in their new space. “Basically, things that I would like to see myself around town but I don’t … (We want to) become a community center, I guess,” Pierce said.

The Kavanaghs have been organizing such events around San Diego for five years, but now for the first time, they have a home base. “Now that we have a venue it’s a new twist on it because we can do things on our own. In like a day-to-day basis. If one of our friends has a book to release, they can come and do it. We used to do massive events a dozen times a year, this one now it’s changed to more of a day-to-day operation,” Pierce said. “We can do the things we want to do without worrying about renting places,” Petra added.

When they visited the New York Surf Film Festival in 2011, they said they couldn’t believe San Diego didn’t have one. “We came back and started it, so it was just the two of us, so we didn’t really know what would happen … but we’ve been growing ever since,” said Pierce.

Last year, 3,500 people attended the San Diego Surf Festival. This year, besides the film screenings and question-and-answer sessions with cinematographers, they organized a full moon surf session, a brewery crawl, hosted three surf world champions, and the international artist Damian X Fulton created a mural at their headquarters. “We had many things that we wanted to show outside visitors and even our own neighborhood people, what we love about this town and what we love about San Diego,” Pierce said.

When it comes to their filmmaking, they explained that right now they are too busy with the new space and the films festival to work on a new piece. However, Pierce said he has a short film in his mind.

The pair work together as a team. He’s the creative force, the director and filmmaker. She’s the producer who makes sure everything happens.

Their documentaries have merited two international awards, Best Ocean Sports Film (“Manufacturing Stoke”) at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monterrey and Best Cinematography (“What the Sea Gives Me”) at the London Surf Film Festival.

“What the Sea Gives Me”, their last documentary, addressed the different connections between people and the ocean. “We interviewed 13 people from all walks of life, whether it be artists, oceanographers, photographers, just anything connected to the sea and we asked them about their intimate connection and just kind of wove it together,” Pierce said.

Other than being a creative hub in La Jolla, Pierce explained that he wants to inspire people. “We’re not following anyone’s path, we want to make it different, when I go into galleries is more like a museum … in here you’re going to be able to create, as opposed to just go to a gallery and view. That’s the environment we’re going for,” he said.

— Misfit Pictures is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, during special events, and Monday-Tuesday by appointment.