‘Storm Riders’ (1982), Hoole McCoy’s follow-up, premiered at the Sydney Opera House and screened in 10 countries. The road show re runs included the short film ‘Kong’s Island’ (1983), featuring Aussie powerhouse surfer Gary Elkerton.
Both ’Storm Riders’ and ’Kong’s Island’ have become Australian Surf Film Classics.
Following these two collaborations Dick Hoole moved into VHS / Video Distribution while McCoy continued his career in film making.
Jack’s next film was a TV special which shone a spotlight on the very first ‘Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau’ (1986) big-wave contest at Waimea, This was followed by ‘Surf Hits, Vol. 1’ (1988),now considered to be one of the underground sleeper films from McCoy. It is an “album” type video of short sequences, promoted as “All Rockin’ and No Talkin”. This film would form the template for his next phase of film making career.
In 1989 McCoy began collaboration with Gordon Merchant, the owner/founder of Billabong, one of the big three surfwear companies. This resulted in the creation of the first in a series of marketing videos that would make a huge impact on both the industry and surfers worldwide. To a large degree this alliance was a defining moment in his life’s work.
Travelling to exotic locations with Billabong team riders (including Mark Occhilupo, Shane Dorian, Ross Williams, Luke Egan, Shane Dorian, Brendan Margieson, Donovan Frankenreiter, Michael Barry, Ronnie Burns and more), doing much of his best filming from the water, McCoy turned in one beautifully crafted video after another, including ‘Bunyip Dreaming’ (1990), ‘The Green Iguana’ (1992), ‘The Sons of Fun’ (1993) and ‘Sik Joy’ (1994).
Released into the ’90s flood of surf video titles, the huge majority of which were raw, loud, and abrasive, McCoy’s work existed on a different artistic plane altogether. He shot on 16-millimetre film, rather than on video, and used rock and world music on the soundtrack, instead of punk and metal. He also had a feel for pacing, colour-matching, visual humour, and peripheral shots. Heavily driven by the music, ‘The Sons of Fun’ and ‘Sik Joy’ were the first in the series during which he carried around a new HANDICAM that allowed him to record the surfers’ off the cuff reactions. E.g.: McCoy: “So how was that session?” Ross Williams “Fun….. SUPER FUN!” thus adding a new dimension to the films.
By 1995 Merchant tired of investing money in pro surfing contests that were always scheduled and held at a city beach, at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, regardless of surf quality, so that the result could be announced on the 6pm news.
McCoy and Merchant came up with the “The Billabong Challenge” (1995 -1999). The concept was to invite eight of the world’s best surfers, take them to remote locations with a two week window, and wait for the best conditions to hold an event. ‘The Billabong Challenge’ would become the template for what is known today in Pro Surfing as “The Dream Tour”.
The four film series, ‘Mystery Left’ (1995), ‘JBay’ (1995), ‘Psychedelic Desert Groove’ (1996), and ‘9 Lives’ (1999), travelled to Western Australia, Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa and the New South Wales south coast. It featured surfers Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Sunny Garcia, Shane Dorian, Brendan Margieson, Occy, Kalani Robb and others. The series was so successful that the Billabong Jr Challenge was created for up and coming junior surfers, featuring great battles between Taj Burrow and Andy Irons, along with many others.
‘Alley Oop’ (1997) and ‘Wide Open’ (1998) give great insights into these young pro up-starts.
1998 saw the release of ‘SaboTaj’, Taj Burrows first signature film. This was closely followed by
the award winning ‘OCCY: The Occumentary’, which chronicles the resurrection of 1999 World Champion Mark Occhilupo’s career. It was the first of the surfer ‘profile films’, and was quickly copied by other film makers.
‘The Occumentary’ has scooped many International awards including the prestigious Surfer Magazine Video of The Year.
In real time, McCoy witnessed and filmed what is easily one of the three most important waves in surfing history; Laird Hamilton breaking the big wave sound barrier at Tehaupoo. ‘To’, Day of Days’ had very limited exposure, (2000), before being pulled from release. It is the behind the scenes, blow by blow story of this historic trip to Tahiti. ‘To’, Day of Days’ is now available again here on GreenRoom Surf Movies.
‘Blue Horizon’ (2004), is the multi award-winning film starring David Rastovich and Andy Irons.
It is definitely one of McCoy’s best; sharing the yin and yang story of free surfer ‘Rasta’ contrasted to the competitive life of professional surfer Andy Irons.
‘IaOrana’, featuring three great Tahitian surfers, is a short film about the Tahitian word that is in the same vein as ‘Aloha’ in Hawaiian.
‘Free as a Dog’ (2007), is a fun filled adventure with Joel Parkinson and his dog Trey. Along the way he and Trey pick up a couple of love struck groms. While the film has a loose story, it’s Parko’s surfing that sets this film on fire!
‘A Deeper Shade of Blue’, (2012), McCoy’s 25th film, chronicles Hawaiian Surf Culture. Having screened in theatres around the world, it’s the story of the evolution of the surfboard and the spirit of Aloha.
It has collected numerous awards including Best Documentary Award at the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival at Sundance. McCoy also took home a Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival.
For a taste of ADSOB, check out a separate clip below that Jack McCoy made for Paul McCartney using some of the footage he had shot for ‘A Deeper Shade of Blue’.
The Encyclopaedia of Surfing by Matt Warshaw
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