By Ben Marcus
Jack McCoy is one of the most prolific movie makers in the surfing world. While he is probably best known for his series of Billabong movies that include Bunyip Dreaming, The Green Iguana, the Challenge series and Blue Horizon, his credits go back to the mid 1970s and include two dozen movies, bringing to the world everything from the original Coolie Kids blazing the Queensland Points to Laird Hamilton changing the word of extreme surfing with his Millennium Wave in 2001.
On Thursday May 20, Jack McCoy got around to Southern California to show glimpses of his latest movie A Deeper Shade of Blue, at a special presentation sponsored by the Association of Surfing Lawyers at the Mollusk Surf Shop in Venice.
McCoy warmed up the crowd with some flashes from the past. He began with Tubular Swells, then showed clips from the Billabong era: sequences out of Green Iguana and the Billabong Challenge series and the Dave Rastovich sequence from Blue Horizon.
And then Jack showed the opening sequence to A Deeper Shade of Blue, his 25th film on surfing. When McCoy was asked to describe his latest surf movie, he said, "It's not a surf movie. It's a film about surfing and the evolution of the surfboard and all the people who dreamed about creating culture or riding waves in all their fascinating forms."
To make A Deeper Shade of Blue, McCoy took more than four years of his life and traveled all over the world. He worked with everyone from 5-year-old Isaac Blake—great great grandson to Tom Blake—to under-the-radar, Hawaiian legend Terry Chung and Jamie O'Brien. "I found Jamie O'Brien was not the arrogant punk that the media lead me to believe," McCoy said. "We share the real J.O.B. in A.D.S.O.B—a sensitive, respectful soul surfer with a spiritual love for the ocean."
McCoy used every trick in the modern surf movie book to create images he'd always dreamed of. He didn't want to give away all of his secrets, but he was enthusiastic about the Water Scooter.
The Water Scooter is to 21st century water cinematography what the high- speed camera was to the Free Ride era of the 1970s. "I'd always dreamed of being able to follow the action as seen from underwater and behind the wave," McCoy said.
And that dream became a reality when McCoy was turned onto an underwater PWC by a good friend. The Water Scooter weighs 150 pounds and will do 12 knots under water, but, "It aint no party, aint no disco, it aint no fooling around," McCoy sang. "I shot Manoa Drollet at Teahupoo. But that took more than two years and six trips to Tahiti to work my way up to shooting an 8- to 10-foot day."
A Deeper Shade of Blue is also all about surfboards, from ancient Hawaiian olo and alaia, to the wide array of modern surfcraft that surfers are evolving and experimenting with, from Noosa to Malibu to the Mentawai. Many who saw the movie commented on the Derek Hynd sequence showing the clever Australian ripping all around the Lucky Country on a wide range of modern bizarre boards ranging from a 3' 6" to 11-foot, free-friction, finless blades.
McCoy also previewed a sequence of Tasmanian Marty Paradisis and crew boldly going where few men have gone before on a giant day at Shipstern's Bluff, which McCoy claims was one of, if not the biggest day ever ridden there.
There are many things old, many things borrowed and many things new in A Deeper Shade of Blue, and the sections McCoy showed got the crowd buzzing to see the final product.
The next day, McCoy was on a plane back to Australia, where he reckons he has about two months of final touches left on his project. "I need to find a good narrator, someone who can appreciate the story Peter Hock, Derek Hynd, Garth Murphy, Graeme Davey, Campbell Wilson, Calli Cerami and I have been post-producing the past 10 months. Then we can do our final sound mix and start looking for a distributor. Hopefully it will see the light of day by the end of this year. It's really everything I've learned over the years, going back to me sitting in my intermediate high school auditorium at 12 years old seeing my first surf movie. It's sort of like watching my life's work. Soooo, here it comes, with aloha."