Under the Boardwalk: A Ukulele Love Story

This heartfelt film tells the story of how a small house party in an out of the way town in California grows into the biggest ukulele club in the world.

It is also the story of how a small instrument makes a long journey from Portugal to Hawaii to the mainland, lands in people’s hearts, and creates a uniquely Hawaiian-American musical tradition that is currently experiencing a world wide revival.

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz and the ukulele instrument itself are the two main characters of the film. Their stories are intercut, as both overcome humble beginnings to meet with unlikely success. The two stories add up to a tale of love and community that develops through the joy people find making music together.

Featuring guest appearances from Grammy Winner George Kahumoku, Bill Tapia, Ian Whitcomb, Herb Ohta Jr., Patti Maxine, L’il Rev, Tony Graziano, Rick Turner and more.

Watch on Amazon >

DVD: $12.99 + tax

Film Festivals & Praise


“No other film covers the ukulele phenomenon the way Nina Koocher’s lovingly-presented “Under the Boardwalk” does. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s moving, with the people behind the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz telling the Club’s story as though they’d just dropped by your home for a chat (and a strum or two).”
— Rob Sawyer aka Ukulele Rob (Blogger)

“Santa Cruz’s Ukulele Club ready for its close-up” – Santa Cruz Sentinel | Read Article >

“Mary McCaslin: Long live the Uke” – Santa Cruz Sentinel | Read Article >

"Filmmaker documents Love of Ukulele" – Nancy Sheehan, Telegram and Gazette | Read Article >

 “My objection to this documentary is that it was hard to watch, take notes, and at the same time, horse around with my Makala Soprano. Happily, this charming, winning documentary has a place for those armed with ukes to join in.”

— Richard von Busack, SantaCruz.com

"We laughed and cried… this stands as a great reminder that we can strengthen the fabric of our communities through song, music is the great healer, it is a bridge builder like no other!”
— Li’l Rev, Musician, Wisconsin

“I’ve watched it twice and I can’t wait to show it to my friends. It’s a wonderful film, filled with empathy, good music and warm humor.”
— Lewis Shepard, Art Appraiser Boston, Massachusetts

“Bravissima! The best “feel good” movie I’ve seen in ages!”
— Sharon Brooks, Music Instructor, San Jose State College, California

“Under The Boardwalk is a delightful, humorous documentary about the little musical instrument that could.”
— Mary McCaslin, Singer-Songwriter 

Film Credits

Nina Koocher, Producer/Director

Nina Koocher, Film Producer/DirectorNina Koocher recently completed How Much to Remember: One Family’s Conversation with History which is currently in educational distribution.

Her earlier film, Keeping the Faith, won Best of Category at the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Sumner Redstone Award, and was an award winner at the Sinking Creek Film Festival. It screened at the Tyneside Film Festival, Newcastle on Tyne, England and at the Women in the Director’s Chair Festival in Chicago.

Ms. Koocher was cinematographer on Ihr Zent Frei (You Are Free), a short documentary nominated for an Academy Award. She worked as an archival researcher for Louis Massiah on the PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize.

Currently Ms. Koocher is at work on a documentary about the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz, CA.

Ms. Koocher also enjoys photographing her teenage son, Josh.

Film Credits

Lynn Swanger, Co-Producer

Lynn Swanger, Co-ProducerLynn Swanger has extensive administrative experience at the University of Minnesota and at Harvard University. She has also worked in school classrooms, libraries and for two non-profits, Planned Parenthood and Senior Outreach.

More recently, she has discovered the special pleasures of the ukulele, and has been a member of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz for nine years.

Lynn has loved film since seeing Bambi at four years old, which made her the exact right age to become a devoted fan of Truffaut, Fellini and Bergman.

Julie Hendriks

Still photography

Donna ThomasDonna Thomas

Banner Illustration