Legendary filmmaker Jack McCoy has documented various facets of the art of surfing for more than 30 years, with innovative films like "Storm Riders," "Occy," "Bunyip Dreamin'" and "Blue Horizon."
With his latest work, "Deeper Shade of Blue," McCoy focuses on the evolution of surfing and Hawaii's role as its cultural birthplace. "For me it's all about setting the record straight," says McCoy. "Ninety nine percent of the people in the world who surf don't understand where it came from and how it evolved. So I'm trying to educate people. I see surfing as an artistic dance and a way to live your life."
McCoy will be presented the 2011 Maui Film Festival Beacon Award at the Celestial Cinema during the festival's opening night Wednesday.
Jack McCoy, recipient of the Maui Film Festival’s Beacon Award, wants to set the record straight about surfing films.
"The Beacon Award honors a film artist for sharing the infinite possibilities of the commitment to live a life beyond limits, outside of fear, inside of courage and inspired by wonder and to bring the inspiration that results to millions of people around the world through their envelope-pushing extreme sports documentaries," according to a festival release.
Following the award presentation, the festival will present the United States premiere of "A Deeper Shade of Blue." The festival will also screen his music video as a prelude to Sunday's 8 p.m. Celestial Cinema screening of "Oxbow Walls of Perception."
Growing up on Oahu's windward side, McCoy rode his first wave at Waikiki Beach at the age of 8. Since then he's been consumed by a passion for surfing that led to making his first film, "Tubular Swells," in 1975.
With its focus on the sport's spiritual and cultural roots, including an emphasis on the meaning of aloha, "Deeper Shade of Blue" is not a typical, action-packed surf doc.
"I always try to do something a little different," explains the award-winning director. "Most documentaries today have talking heads sitting there telling you about things. I decided to have no talking heads. It's different because it has a full story. It's not what we call surf porn; it's not action. It's a film that has a real moral. We talk about he evolution of the surfboard. And I tried to pick real interesting characters, people who are not in normal surf movies - people like Kerry Chin who rides the foil on Kauai and Marty Paradisis who rides the big waves in Tasmania. They're not your normal surf movie stars."
From Princess Kaiulani on to Duke Kahanamoku and into contemporary times, McCoy's doc features such pioneering surfers as Rabbit Kekai, Joe Quigg, Gerry Lopez, Barry Kanaiapuni, Phil Edwards, Miki Dora, the Marshall Brothers, David Nuuhiva and Pipeline phenomenon, Jamie O'Brien.
Helping propel this inspiring work is a riveting soundtrack that includes songs by the Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Jack Johnson, and Paul McCartney in his ambient persona as part of The Fireman duo.
McCartney's "Is This Love" (which sounds like a lost track from The Beatles' Magical Mystery album) is melded to some amazing underwater footage shot from a mini sub.
Already receiving rave reviews Transworld Surf praised: "This is a big picture of a memorable story, beautifully told. It is a film about feeling good to be alive, and it will make you feel good."
McCoy was looking forward to attending the screening of his new film on Wednesday.
"This is my gift back to Hawaii," he says. "Surfing has given me everything. Coming to Maui to show my movie for the first time in Hawaii, I'm going to be crying through the whole thing."
- Jon Woodhouse