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Hugh Shaw was a quiet, gentle giant (he stood 6’4") who loved life, his friends and family, and surfing. A tight circle of Hugh's friends and family found themselves transformed when his life was tragically cut short two weeks before college graduation. This full-length feature documentary film, entitled "What Hugh Knew," explores the universal themes of love, friendship and human connection – timely messages in an increasingly disconnected world. Viewers will discover what Hugh knew and find inspiration to live life authentically and passionately.  

Hugh created a gravity that drew others into his world, one fueled by authentic relationships and powered by the ocean. The Florida native’s commanding presence, good humor and free-spirited style, tempered by his humility, generosity, spiritual grounding and philosophical outlook, bonded him to everyone he met. 
Two years after Hugh passed away, a handful of his friends and family started a modest surf contest to honor him. More than three decades later, the Annual Hugh Shaw Memorial Longboard Classic has grown into a multi-generational beach gathering that draws hundreds of alumni, family, friends, and newcomers to a festival-like celebration. 

Set against the backdrop of St. Augustine Beach and the distinctive Flagler College campus, this compelling film will chronicle how one person can impact many others, even long after passing away, as well as encourage viewers to re-examine their technology use. The story will unfold through interviews with those who knew Hugh during the sun-soaked days at Flagler College and with those who wish they did, as well as through archival photos, film and video.

Why we’re producing this movie now:

The story of Hugh and the enduring annual surf classic, which has a special vibe unlike any other event, resonates in this digital age when the need for human touch has never been greater. Hugh’s commitment to friendship, to his greatest passion – surfing – and to living simply and authentically, as well as the story of the surf contest, offer inspirational lessons for all.

To help make this film, DONATE here.

Why we need your help:

Thanks to donations, participation through interviews, shared stories and images, and other forms of support, “What Hugh Knew” is entering the post-production phase of the film, which will include editing, music, graphics, final audio mixing and more.


Like similar capital campaigns, we’re inviting donors and investors to help us obtain finishing funds and launch “What Hugh Knew” into the world.  Our goal is to distribute “What Hugh Knew” to a broad audience with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Hugh Shaw Memorial Scholarship at Flagler College. 

From everyone involved in producing the film, we thank you in advance for your support! 

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