Haakenson: 'Cold Thoughts' movie to make debut

Timmy Turner's long-awaited film "Cold Thoughts" debuts Thursday night at Huntington Beach High School's Academy for the Performing Arts auditorium, so don't think twice about seeing it.

Turner is Huntington Beach's own surfer-turned-filmmaker, and a survivor in every sense of the word. His story is well-chronicled — a staph infection in his brain nearly took his life a little more than six years ago and resulted in numerous surgeries, including the removal of three quarters of his skull.

His skull now is made of polymethyl methacrylate, which was connected by titanium plates and screws to what was left of his existing skull.

Turner, though, hasn't been one to sit around and dwell on his plight. He not only was a surfer, but a filmmaker who created acclaimed films, such as "Second Thoughts" in 2004 and "The Tsunami Diaries: A Voyage to the Epicenter" in 2006.

So when doctors advised against him getting into the warm tropical waters like those featured in his films in Indonesia, Turner adjusted. Put simply, there is a higher chance of contracting another infection in warmer waters, so Turner said fine, he'd go cold.

But cold to Turner wasn't 55-degree water temperatures in Huntington in the winter. It was more like 35-degree temperatures off Alaska, or British Columbia, or Iceland.

"Cold Thoughts" chronicles the adventures of Turner and his surfing buddies as they caught waves and camped out on snow-covered beaches while keeping an eye out for bears and other wildlife.

And that was the easy part.

For Turner, sleeping in a tent in Iceland wasn't as difficult as being trapped all summer in a room with videotape.

"I went through a lot of hours of tape, logging it all and registering it in my head," he said. "Logging tapes … I was overloaded with it. I shot it, I logged it, I surfed in it and then I had to go through the whole process over again with my editor to get a fresh set of eyes."

Turner admits he makes films like he surfs: don't think about it, just go hard and don't look back.

"I didn't have a script," he said. "It was just like, here's a box of tapes, we're going and we're gonna tell my story. Pretty much we just winged it like we always do in these movies.

"I didn't go to these places and say we're gonna have this shot and this shot and this shot, and have everything written down. I just went with the flow and comprised the story as we went on."

Turner is excited about his latest film, but says it's different than his others.

"I'm pumped, I think it's a great story," said Turner, 32. "After the premiere I might cut it back and make final adjustments. I just wanted to get a reaction from my people in Huntington Beach, everyone that supports me."

Doors open at 6 p.m. Thursday at Huntington Beach High and the film begins at 8. Cost is $10 per ticket if you buy them at his mom Michelle's restaurant, Sugar Shack on Main Street in Huntington, or $15 at the door.

For Turner, it's another improbable achievement, but also just the latest on an ever-growing list. He said he has "no clue" where the film will show after its premiere on Thursday, but he's not worried about it.

If anything, he's more concerned about getting back in the water. Turner said he hasn't surfed all summer because he's been stuck in the editing room and working at Sugar Shack.

He wants to make another film, but he also wants to make sure he's healthy enough to surf in it. Turner suffered broken ribs early in the filming of "Cold Thoughts" and found himself more behind the camera than in front of it.

"It's all about being healthy and being able to surf," he said. "It's like, what am I going to do after this? Stay at home, eat and work? I'd rather be healthy and swim and surf and get in shape for the next movie.

"Barrels. That's where I have fun — big barrels. I want that feeling back. I want to do it for myself. I don't want to be behind the lens all the time. … It's been a long process making this movie, and it was scary. I'd always get hurt and then I'd be behind the camera. It was a good thing in some ways, but I'm glad this movie is done."

Even though Turner has had to cut back on his surfing, his sponsorship with Rip Curl was renewed for another year, something for which Turner says he's extremely grateful. And he can't think of a better way to pay them back than to get back in the water.

"I can't sit around and wait for things," Turner said. "It comes from the heart when you actually work for it and you know you're physically ready to do what you want to do.

"And for me, that's to make another movie, surf and have fun."

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at joe@juvecreative.com.

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