Surfing doco making visual waves


Filmmaker Jack McCoy with the underwater jet ski he used in the filming of A Deeper Shade of Blue.

Filmmaker Jack McCoy with the underwater jet ski he used in the filming of A Deeper Shade of Blue.


Sunset Cinema, Wollongong Botanic Garden

With his latest film, A Deeper Shade of Blue, filmmaker Jack McCoy set out to make a surfing film that non-surfers can enjoy.

Judging from the response of audiences and critics, he has achieved his aim.

"[Film reviewer] Paul Byrnes from The Sydney Morning Herald gave it four out of five stars, saying, 'I've seen surfing films like this but nothing before so beautiful'," the legendary surf film director says.

"The first two weeks in Sydney the movie played to surfers and then the other six weeks it played to little old ladies and mums and dads and people who had nothing to do with surfing because they heard that it was a beautiful film and that anybody could enjoy it.

"I wanted to make a film that you could show to people who didn't know anything about surfing and they could understand it and get it.

"This is a feature documentary - it tells a story. It's a very wonderful journey about Hawaiian surf culture and the evolution of the surf board."

As with any surf film, A Deeper Shade of Blue has stunning footage of surf pros doing amazing things on massive waves, but that is only part of the story. McCoy also pays homage both to surfing's ancient Hawaiian origins and to the modern innovators who have refined and improved surfboards and in so doing have turned surfing into a multi-billion dollar global industry.

In the world of surf films, McCoy has himself always been an innovator and some of the most spectacular scenes in A Deeper Shade of Blue come from his latest gadget, an underwater jet ski armed with a camera.

"This underwater ski for me is a dream come true," he says.

"It allows me to move around underwater. I can't keep up with the surfers but I can certainly get to places and do a few other things.

"I spent about a year and four trips to Tahiti trying to learn how to use it around the impact zone. If I make a mistake, if a wave throws me on the reef, it could be fatal.

"I've got a wide angle lens so I had to get very close to the impact zone, I had to be right there next to the breaking wave."

The film also profiles some of the surf world's more interesting characters - not professional surfers necessarily but the boardshapers and enthusiasts whose lives also revolve around riding the waves.

"I have three major contemporary surf stars in the film: world champion Stephanie Gilmore; Jordy Smith, who is one of the top professional surfers on the tour; and another one of the world's top professional surfers Jamie O'Brien," McCoy says.

"But everyone else in the film I tried to make them like normal people who surf. I wanted to show that surfing wasn't just a professional thing, that people use surfing as a lifestyle.

"They talk about their family, and growing up and how they learned to surf and where they learned, so you get a little sense of what surfers are like, not just the professionals.

"Oftentimes history gets noted as fact when somebody prints it or makes a film about it ... All I wanted to do was set the record straight, give surfing a document that it could refer to."


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