Harold "Sonny" Miller  July 18 1960 - July 8, 2014

Harold Miller was born in 1960 in San Jose, California, Sonny was given his nickname by his father, Bud, who remembers him as “the happiest baby” he’d ever seen. “Even as an infant,” Bud says, “Sonny was always calm, happy, smiling, cheerful. Some people are just born that way.” 

 

He began surfing at the age of 11 on the Pacific waves off San Diego and Orange counties, notably at the beach community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Encinitas, California, where he also became a familiar figure skateboarding the streets until dark and won a reputation as a "hardcore charger."

Sonny Miller was one of the most renowned cinematographers in the history of surfing, whether shooting from the beach, a jet ski, a helicopter or from among the waves themselves. Before turning to film he had been a still photographer whose close-up action photos were influential in the growth and popularity of snowboarding and skateboarding first, in the US and later around the world.

Miller got his first covershot for Surfer Magazine using a flash water housing. Turning to the mountains, his dramatic image of snowboarder Damian Sanders became the cover of the first issue of Snowboarder magazine in 1986, helping launch the new sport to a wider public.

In the early 1990s Miller produced some of the most iconic surf films of all time including Searching for Tom Curren (which was named Video of the Year by Surfer magazine in 1997) and directed the Search film series for Ripcurl which had a massive influence on the sport and turned him into almost as much of a legend as the surfers he captured.

Miller's expertise also won him mainstream work, including in Hollywood and on the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day, for which, harnessed, he hung out of a helicopter to film Bond (in reality professional big wave surfer Laird Hamilton doubling for Pierce Brosnan) surfing in the dark towards a beach in what we were led to believe was North Korea.  Miller and his team shot the scene at Peahi, nicknamed "Jaws Beach" on Maui, Hawaii.

"Keep smiling" was his motto, Cap'n Fun was his nickname and the favorite cry when Sonny arrived was "It's Miller time!"  Miller loved filming in 16mm and 35mm and he avoided video unless for lifestyle footage or his double mount camera system for dailies so the surfers could watch their rides after the sessions.  

Sonny always had a camera in his hand and a smile on his face !

"He was a much-loved guy wherever he went," said Laird Hamilton. "A bright light, positive, gung-ho, never complaining."  

 

"Sonny truly epitomised the meaning of being stoked," said Kelly Slater.

Education

San Dieguito High School

Palomar College

 

Publications

Surfer Magazine

Breakout Magazine

Snowboarder Magazine

Awards 

1997

Surfer Poll Awards

Best Film

Searching for Tom Curren

 

2007

Sports Emmy

ESPN - Down the barrel

Films Directed

Searching for Tom Curren  1996

The Search  1992

The Search II  1993

The Search Beyond the Boundaries  1994

The Search Feral Kiingdom  1995

The Search Trippin the Planet  1996

Breakin' on Thru  1992

For The Sea  1994

Aloha Bowls  1996

Waterman  2008

Films Hollywood

In Gods Hands  1998

James Bond Die another Day  2002

Blue Crush  2002

Big Bounce  2004

Riding Giants  2004

Lords of Dogtown  2005

Ride  2014

Point Break  2015

Television

Wind on Water  1998

OP Pro boat challenge  2000

Manhunt  2000

Combat Missions  2000

Surf Girls  2003

X games  2005

John from Cincinnati  2007

ESPN down the barrel  2007

48 Hours

NCIS

Law and Order LA

In front of Camera

Fiberglass and Megapixels 2010

Inside "Die another day" 2003

Billabong Odyssey 2003

Blue Crush Contest Announcer 2002

Surfer TV - Host 1997

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