Jack McCoy has been documenting the act of riding waves for over 30 years, releasing films that focus on all different aspects of surfing. From the far-out and never serious Bunyip Dreamin’, to the story of surfing’s divergent paths in Blue Horizon, Jack seems to have covered all the bases. With A Deeper Shade of Blue, however, he had a more specific goal in mind. “When I ask the kids around here who Gerry Lopez is they go, ‘Oh, is that Cory Lopez’s brother?’” says McCoy. “You can ask them about the Duke, and they go ‘He’s some old guy who surfed.’” Jack started to see a fundamental disconnect between the younger generation of surfers and the roots of our sport. He might be right. Surfing today is an entirely different activity than when the Duke was gliding across Hawaiian peaks on a wooden slab, and these roots may be hard to explain to groms who haven’t even been alive as long as Kelly Slater has been winning world titles.
“I hate to use the word ‘history’ because then people think that they’re going into a history lesson,” says McCoy. “But there are some things about surfing’s history that people don’t understand.” Jack has gone to great lengths to accurately portray the roots of our culture, going through over 200 surf movies that document the growth and progress of our sport. “I spent a year and a half searching for everything that I thought I needed for my story,” says McCoy. “My big objective is to break away from just a surfing film and do a film that will hopefully explain to people why we surf and what it is that’s so special to us.”
Despite the obvious focus on the historical aspect of surf culture, Jack asserts that his film builds upon those roots to help frame modern surfing as well. “The spirit of the ancient Hawaiians was that when the surf was up, they’d stop working and go surfing,” says McCoy. “And then we break away to the modern beach boy a hundred years later. Jamie O’Brien is living the classic beach boy life. Here’s a guy who lives on the beach at Pipeline, makes a million dollars a year, and gets to go surfing.” The film features surfers from all walks of life, from JOB and Jordy Smith, to the lesser known surfing heroes and historical figures. But it the end, McCoy says that everything comes full circle. “About two years into the production I had to slide Australia and California’s focus sideways and totally focus on Hawaii,” says McCoy. “It’s really Hawaii that is the birthplace of what we understand as surfing. When you go surfing, 99 percent of the people in the world never think about that or even know how surfing exists. That’s the objective of this film, to give you a greater appreciation of what we do.”