Meet the Filmmaker: Jack McCoy UK Tour

It’s way past midnight in the tight, claustrophobic streets of San Sebastian’s old quarter. A light drizzle threatened but sauntered lazily on. A cluster of souls squeeze around tables in the cool summer air, too jazzed for sleep they tuck into pintxos, sipping txakoli, talking story. The voices mix into a cocktail of accents and topics. A shaper from San Diego discusses longboards with a filmmaker from Finland, Basque surfers chatter in a staccato of Spanish to an Argentinean director; a united nations of waveriders from Australia to Italy, from Britain to Brazil. A prominent figure stands by a table, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a baseball cap, quietly focussed, deep in conversation. Jack McCoy is a tall guy; in surf culture, he’s a giant. His latest film, ‘A Deeper Shade of Blue’, has just had its European Premiere at the San Sebastian Surf Film Festival, and the crowd is amped, stoked to hang for just one more drink, to hang on the words of a true surfing legend who’s generous with his time, his stories, his stoke.


“Having grown up in Hawaii I was able to be part of an era before leg ropes and shortboards, when men were men and a waterman was what you strived to be, rather than just be a surfer,” explains Jack. “For me the objective of ‘A Deeper Shade of Blue’ was to share what I grew up with. This film is trying to get the respect back to Hawaii for giving us the greatest cultural gift that they’ve given to the world, which is surfing. A lot of people just don’t know where surfing came from or how it started, so this is, this was, a big project.” Jack has put a lot into this film, and his passion for the subject is contagious. He has taken on a massive story, one that doesn’t necessarily follow a linear narrative, but he has approached the film in such a way that Aloha courses through its veins. “I started out knowing this would be the biggest thing I’d ever done, and it certainly proved to be. It was supposed to be a three year project and it took five years. It was a bit of a mission. Ideally what I wanted to do was share what I knew about Hawaiian surf culture, the evolution of the surfboard and the spirit of Aloha.”

Jack McCoy has come a long way from the 8 year old grommet who met Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, on the beach at Waikiki. Inspired by the movies of Bruce Brown, who brought us the notion of The Endless Summer in glorious Technicolor, Jack started off ‘in the biz’ putting up posters and promoting surf flicks. In 1975, he stepped behind the lense with the movie ‘Tubular Swells’ featuring the likes of Gerry Lopez, Rabbit and Shaun Tomson. He never looked back. From Kongs Island, Bunyip Dreaming, ‘The Green Iguana’, ‘Sons of Fun’, ‘Sik Joy’ through to ‘The Occumentary’, ‘Blue Horizons’ and ‘Free as a Dog’, his work has captured the evolution of waveriding through classic scenes, groundbreaking cinematography and that “Jack McCoy” slant that always brings a smile. He’s been making movies for nearly 40 years and even into his sixties Jack is still pushing boundaries, riding an underwater sled to skim below the waves, still looking at surfing from new angles.

But what has been his most memorable moment, after all these decades creating iconic surf movies? It turns out after travelling the world many times over, it all comes back to Hawaii, the birthplace of modern surfing. “When I came up from being held down at Pipeline for two waves,” he explains, then pauses, casting his mind back to the huge pristine barrels of the North Shore, surfing’s apex predator, where waveridng has been defined and redefined countless times over the years. “I guess that was the moment I was most grateful for.”

Jack McCoy will be touring the UK introducing ‘A Deeper Shade of Blue’ starting June 24th. Tickets are strictly limited so book now. He is also running a couple of Masterclasses, and the opportunity for hearing Jack McCoy talk story is certainly not to be missed.

Sunday 24 June
Cinema de Lux, Cabot Circus

Monday 25 June 8 pm
Lighthouse Cinema
01637 878650

Tuesday 26 June 8 pm
Village Hall Deckchair Cinema
01271 815155

Wednesday 27 June 6.30 pm
Museum of British Surfing
01271 815155

Friday 29 June 9 pm
Royal Cinema
01736 796843

Saturday 30 June 9 pm
Savoy Cinema
01736 363330

Sunday 1 July 9 pm
Phoenix Cinema
01326 313072

Wednesday 4 July 9pm
Rooftop Film Club, Hoxton

Saturday 7 July 9 pm
Portobello Outdoor Cinema