Taking his latest cinematic release A Deeper Shade of Blue around Europe’s surf film festivals circuit, commencing at the finest of the them all – the Surfilm Festibal San Sebastian – Jack McCoy took a few moments to give us his take on filmmakers, the meaning of surfing, and of course, the Green Iguana…
How do we find you in Europe (in Liencres, Santander to be precise)?
I came here a year or so back when Sancho Rodriguez from the Surfilm Festibal San Sebastian invited me to show a rough cut of the new movie at the Guggenheim. That was an amazing experience, and I’ve been trying to come back ever since with the whole family. The kids are old enough to appreciate it now, and it’s been an incredible trip. The surf was pretty much as good as it gets in San Sebastian for whole week out the front, the kids have been hitting the town, coming back at 5am, we’ve all had a blast.
How do you find today’s film fest scene after all these years in the business?
I love meeting the filmmakers, the creative people. I love the reaction of the crowd, there’s nothing quite like that live reaction when you show your work. I’ve been meeting some of the coolest people around, people really so into, they remind me of me when I was young. You meet guys so passionate about it, that’ll do whatever it takes to make their project come to life, with no money, no budget, just a spark of an idea and an urge. I met this kid Julián Azula from Argentina, he showed his movie ‘Gauchos del mar’. This kid totally blew my mind, his movie is insane.
Tell us about A Deeper Shade of Blue
I’m on a mission to show three things; where surfing came from, the evolution of the surfboard and the spirit of aloha. We have this incredible thing – I call it an art, not a sport, and what we do makes us unique… we just need to come together a bit more. Our founding fathers like The Duke and George Freeth, these are people that were spreading aloha, it wasn’t just about the board or about surfing, it was the sharing the spirit. I believe that when people understand more about the origins, then all kinds of possibilities are available. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I guess here in Europe you perhaps don’t have the historical perspective so much. People know about surfing, they all have access to these plastic toys called surfboards, but maybe don’t have that handle on where they came from. But Europeans are a very culture-orientated people, and that’s what I’m hoping to tune in to.
For a lot of surfers of a certain age, your 90’s movies were defining moments in their youth. Do any particular sessions or sequences stand out to you from that time?
My favourite movie would probably Tubular Swells, because it’s the first movie I ever made. I had no idea what I was doing, but wanted to learn real, real bad. Bud Browne was my inspiration then, and I just wanted to get in the water like him and shoot amazing water sequences. Anyway, I spent three years in Hollywood in an arty scene and saw all sorts, from Jagger to Bowie, just all kinds of crazy names on the scene. I kind of took elements of that scene and made Surf Hits, and then Bunyip Dreaming. Bunyip Dreaming was about trying to show that Billabong understood what the name meant, that respected Aboriginal culture, surfers and people. I wanted to make feel good movies, 16mm movies that had a message. Then Green Iguana was the pinnacle, the one on everyone’s lips, the one I always get asked about. But yeah I can remember the sessions, I can remember the exact moments. Where I was, what music I was listening to, how the swell was, all of it. Those are priceless memories.