culture

Jack McCoy on Surf Films

McCoy's newest film is now available for streaming. What does that mean for surf movies on the big screen?

| posted on June 06, 2013

On May 28, Jack McCoy’s elegantly-filmed tribute to modern surfing’s roots, A Deeper Shade of Blue, was made available online for the first time. It’s the first of McCoy’s films to be released for streaming, and watching it on a computer somewhere is a far departure from the big-screen experience he originally envisioned for it. Nevertheless, McCoy’s aim with the film was to make an accessible surf movie that would appeal to the broadest possible audience; with its release on the internet, A Deeper Shade of Blue is now more widely available than any other of his other 24 titles.

It’s also the most user-friendly (read: non surfers can watch too; just try that with Green Iguana) of McCoy’s films, taking a leisurely approach to charting the evolution of surfing. Well, his and Derek Hynd’s version of surf history anyway. I spoke with McCoy about the release of his film online. Unsurprisingly, McCoy, an old-school film hand if there ever was one, seemed ambivalent about the direction digital media and surf industry’s corporate culture is taking us. Also note: never a good idea to reveal to Jack McCoy that your only copy of The Occumentary is a ripped DVD.

When I asked what prompted him to begin a project like A Deeper Shade of Blue, McCoy, with some degree of frustration, explained that he more and more felt that “the surf industry is going off the rails; they just started losing a connection with their roots—you saw that especially when Nike got involved.” When he sought to get funding for the film, no major surf companies wanted any part of it (though it should be noted, McCoy did receive some backing from surf industry high ups, but from personal accounts, not industry funds).

So McCoy and Derek Hynd devoted a year and half to boning up on surf history, then McCoy spent another handful of years—five in total—shooting and editing A Deeper Shade of Blue all without significant financial backing from the surf corporations that he hoped would get on board to help show off “what surfing was—not what it’s become.”

Even so, the film screened in more than 400 theaters in the U.S. alone. And now of course it can be streamed online. Ironically though, McCoy fears that the über-availability of surf movies on the internet will be the “nail in the coffin of big screen surf movie releases.” Maybe so. But McCoy, despite using The Last Surf Movie as the working title for A Deeper Shade of Blue, clearly isn’t done.

Though he typically avoids watching other surf filmmakers’ work while in the midst of his own projects, he shared with me a brief anecdote about meeting an up-and-coming digital surf movie auteur after the premier of the young turk’s newest film, and the testy conversation that followed when the two tried to talk shop. McCoy clearly feels like the new school has a lot to learn about proper filmmaking, and to that end, tries to make himself available so that the new breed can benefit from his years of experience.

Jack, if you’re reading this, and I think I speak for the entire surf world when I say this: you’re absolutely right. Please, please grab Occy and give it a go at one last big screen 16mm extravaganza. We’d all camp out overnight for Occumentary 2.

In the meantime, A Deeper Shade of Blue is now available for streaming at chill.com.

  • http://none Steve Briggs

    Jack McCoy is absolutely right. The digital world has killed the Surf Movie at your local movie house. How the “Surf” companies can justify spending $250,000.00 to $350,000.00 to produce a movie then screen it to 75 people on a closed off street during the week of the U.S. Open and call it a success is financial stupidity. For proof look to the HUGE story of Billabong and the sad state of that company. Long time executives, sales people, management and more have left the company and tell of an toxic environment that exists there now. Future hope and plans for Billabong to survive look bleak. For blame you would have to look to their Marketing leader and what he did to help bury the company with giveaways. Not to mention his horrible personal reputation as an asshole to employees and more. Any wonder why many cheered when he was cracked by the Mayor of the North Shore. Good riddance couldn’t come soon enough.

  • Gary Johnson

    good film

  • http://www.islandstylesurf.com Derf McTighe

    Jacks movie was incredible with great surfing and remarkable underwater shots. I am sadden to know that the surf industry would not want to get involved in one of Jacks films knowing his incredible filming background! I guess it’s only the standard our team our guys films they want to due. Jack is also right in regards to the loss of soul in the surf industry. It’s all about share price and board room BS. I am glad I had many years involved when it was a surf stoked place where we all talked about surf trips and reps weren’t treated like crap if their numbers were down. I have seen many get companys established and then thrown to the side for a newer younger version willing to accept less. Now the shops compete with the vendors there buying from on the internet and Amazon, Dog Funk and every other wanna be surf web site fights it out for the cheapest price!
    They say everything goes in cycles and hopefully surfing will get back to it’s roots. Surfing is more than board rooms and market share and the industry leaders better take a good look in the mirror cause there killing themselves in the process.
    I had the pleasure of meeting Jack when I was in Bali years ago thru a mutual friend and found out in Gerry Lopez’s book it was Jack McCoy who turned a lot of the guys on to Indo. Jack is in it for the right reasons and it’s not about the money!

  • Peter Puffer

    Nike would collaborate with pedophiles if they felt they could turn a profit somewhere.
    Everyone’s over-concern with the state of surfing reminds me of the GOP and their insistance on trying to make America like an episode of Leave It To Beaver. The industry needs to adapt and get over the 90′s or drown in the rising tide, though it may have already and needs mouth to fucking mouth. With shrinking attention spans and Youtube, who wants to spend 25 bucks on a movie that you can watch for free? It may be shitty, but so is shit. And it happens.
    “It’s just surfing”.

  • DABBADABBADOO

    Totally agree with the this article.

    His films are quirky, different and an artform. The modern filmakers should take note. We are sick of seeing air reverses on loop that seem to make up the current films.

    He is a good bloke too , he even bought me a beer once when I told him I watched the green iguana about 1000 times.

    Keep producing jack