In 1970, freshly home from the Vietnam War, 23-year-old Douglas Miller drifted into Laguna Beach, CA. In the 48 years since then, he has painted 15,000 canvases and taken 350,000 photographs of his adopted hometown. While local residents often considered his camera with curiosity and even suspicion, this documentary shows his enormous body of work to present a profound portrait of a Californian town and its people. Sawdust and Sand is an irreverent look at the world through an eccentric artist's eye, as the landscape of his hometown turns from free-spirited art colony to exclusive wealthy enclave.
As a filmmaker, I am driven to capture cultural and artistic phenomena on the brink of extinction, and Laguna’s art community is one of those phenomena. Growing up in Laguna, I took for granted the freedom with which people of any means could operate. With rising property values comes wealth-based exclusivity, and artists simply can’t afford to live in Laguna anymore. The very fabric of the town has changed profoundly. Not only is Doug the last of a generation of artists, but he captured that generation faithfully, every day, with his camera. The opportunity to share his art is an honor.
Jason Blalock primarily works as a cinematographer on a variety of non-fiction projects, for outlets including Al Jazeera, CNN, Discovery, HBO, Netflix, Time, and Vice News. Recent feature documentary cinematography credits include Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press, Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution, On The Sly: In Search of the Family Stone, Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing, The Mask You Live In, and XY: The Chelsea Manning Story, as well as films currently in post-production directed by award-winning directors David France, Alex Gibney, Brian Knappenberger, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and Jeff Orlowski. He is a regular contributor to the HBO series Vice News Tonight. His 2017 documentary short In the Wake of Ghost Ship premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival. He grew up in Laguna Beach, and now lives in Oakland, CA