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?

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.