There’s a long list of things Santa Cruz is known for. Its iconic surfing and skateboarding culture. The acres of lush redwood forest. The miles of scenic coastline. The celebrated Hollywood movies filmed here like “The Lost Boys,” and more recently, “Bumblebee” and “Us.” Not to mention all the unique, eclectic and interesting people that make up the roughly 70,000 population of musicians, artists, tech entrepreneurs and everyday folk.
On Wednesday, all of these elements combined to give our city yet another emblem for the world to recognize, a car commercial for the Hyundai Santa Cruz, directed by skateboarding legend and documentary filmmaker, Stacy Peralta.
“Santa Cruz is one of those extremely unique California beach towns,” he says. “It’s extremely rare because this city has everything the great cities have. It has a gigantic cultural mix in a tiny area.”
Announced in 2015, Hyundai’s Santa Cruz, a Sports Adventure Vehicle (think an SUV with a mini truck bed attached), rolls off the assembly line this summer. To declare its arrival, the company hired Peralta and crew to capture Santa Cruz’s biggest landmarks and cultural tie-ins. Shooting on location, the crew went to artist’s studios, Henry Cowell forest and Sergeant Derby Park—one of the oldest skate parks in the world—for the main scenes.
“We’re telling three different stories,” Peralta says. “One of them is about a professional surfer, one of them is about a professional artist–Jimbo Phillips–and one of them is about the Lady Lurkers skateboarders.”
But he believes these aren’t the only things that make Santa Cruz great.
“Something else that blows my mind is how much presence there is in this town for Black Lives Matter,” he says. “I’m blown away.”
Of course, no trip to Santa Cruz is complete without stops to a few other of the city’s famous landmarks. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Pleasure Point and the Pacific Coast Highway will also make an appearance as well as Streetlight Records, where the crew spent several hours filming.
“A bitchin’ record store is always the sign of a great place,” Peralta says. “Because a store like this cannot exist in a town that doesn’t understand it. These kinds of places are what gives towns color.”
Peralta, now 63, is best known as part of the legendary Z-Boys, the 1970’s Venice, California-based skateboard crew sponsored by Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions. By the age of 19, he was the highest-ranked professional skater in the country and formed his own crew, Bones Brigade—with its instantly recognizable skeleton logo—whose members revolutionized the sport forever.
In 2001 he wrote and directed the documentary, “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” about the Venice crew and the birth of modern skate culture. It was later given the Hollywood treatment in 2005 with the biopic, “Lords of Dogtown,” which Peralta also wrote.
He says the commercial will most likely be out in a couple of months, adding yet another notch in Santa Cruz’s cinematic and cultural belt.
“There’s a really deep bed of culture here,” he says. “There’s a heavy performance ethic here. If you’re a skateboarder, a surfer, a mountain biker, or a hiker, or a musician or an artist, everyone is competing with each other to be great. Which makes [Santa Cruz] great.”