Longtime North End bartender Julian Garside restored a Volkswagen bus and took to the road for more than two months to trace his family heritage which dates back to the early 1600s in the New World.
Garside did three years of research and took DNA tests before he embarked on his journey which began the fall of 2017.
“I was searching for truth, good or bad,” Garside said.
The research and road trip culminated in the documentary “Closing Loops,” which debuts Thursday, March 7 at the Hermosa Beach Community Theatre in Hermosa Beach. The free event is hosted by the Hermosa Beach Historical Society.
Garside was intrigued by heirlooms, photos and documents passed down in his family. There were plenty of family stories, but he didn’t know what was fact or family lore.
He limited his research to the United States. He visited graves, battle sites, read books and did other research to uncover family stories.
He lived out of his bus, sometimes staying in truck stops and parking lots around the country. He documented the trip with A GoPro camera on his dash. He calls the documentary, part nature trip, part adventure, part American history and part finding his identity.
“Part of my goal was to show people the beauty of this country,” Garside said. “Everybody wants to travel abroad... this country is so beautiful. I was inspired a lot by Ken Burns and his documentaries.”
In the documentary he told the most interesting stories that were verifiable with documents or books. The documentary is broken down to four chapters tracing his grandparents' lineage.
“I told their stories and the history of America through their stories, kind of like Forrest Gump,” Garside said.
What he uncovered surprised him at times, from his familial link to an American President to a great grandfather with a shady past. Garside went from Montreal to Yale University to Chattanooga to San Diego.
“It's all there in the graveyards,” he said.
Garside also found out about his real last name, which is Good.
“My grandfather lied to my father and said he couldn’t find his birth certificate,” Garside said. “So my father... never knew his real last name until I went through this process.”
Garside formed South Bay Low Budget Productions and started filming the El Camino College football team games in 2012. In 2015, Garside released his first documentary, which traced the history of the El Camino College football team and his time playing two games for the Warriors in 2009 when he was 41 years old.
Through “generous tippers" at North End bar, Garside was able to take two months off to film “Closing Loops.” Working three days a week, allowed him the time to edit down hundreds of hours of footage into an hour and a half film.
“Some of my favorite footage didn't make it because it just didn't work,” Garside said.
“Closing Loops” opens Thursday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m., at the Hermosa Beach Community Theatre, located at 710 Pier Ave. A reception takes place at the Hermosa Beach Historical Society Museum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The screening is free but drink sales at the reception benefit the Historical Society.