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.
San Dieguito High School
Surfer Poll Awards
Searching for Tom Curren
ESPN - Down the barrel
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
In Gods Hands 1998
James Bond Die another Day 2002
Blue Crush 2002
Big Bounce 2004
Riding Giants 2004
Lords of Dogtown 2005
Point Break 2015
Wind on Water 1998
OP Pro boat challenge 2000
Combat Missions 2000
Surf Girls 2003
X games 2005
John from Cincinnati 2007
ESPN down the barrel 2007
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