Stab Magazine | Jack McCoy, Kai Neville And Craig Anderson Walk Into An Art Museum...

Jack McCoy, Kai Neville And Craig Anderson Walk Into An Art Museum…

“I’ve always felt that the water shots is what was missing in a lot of other movies. To me it’s everything,” says Jack McCoy.  

style // May 23, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“A challenge?! I love a challenge!”

That was the war cry every time my brother and I tried to surf on the stormy, desolate Sonoma coast when we were kids. Jack McCoy had just unveiled the Challenge at Gnaraloo in his film “Psychedelic Desert Groove.” It had adventure, character, and candor. It had everything a grom could ask for in a VHS tape half a world away.

Some years later I’d be on a boat in Tahiti with Gordo the Great, one of the truest long lenses to ever shoot a CT contest, and come to learn that he was the dude that uttered those lines in the film. I still make him say, “A challenge?! I love a challenge!” every time we’re together. And because he’s that kind of guy, he dutifully obliges.

Point being, in the illustrious career of Jack McCoy, it’s the little anecdotes, the subtle humor, and the constant humanity that’s perhaps been more impactful than his acclaimed water shots.

“A lot of guys that make surf movies stand in one spot on the beach. I ask them why they don’t move around and they say they don’t want to miss a shot. There’s an old Hollywood saying that goes, ‘If I didn’t get it, it didn’t happen,’” Jack chuckled when Stab caught up with him this week. 

A rare sighting of an Occy forehand jam.

Point being, creativity and artistic vision supersede action. That’s one of the main things that’s attracted McCoy to the combined work of Kai Neville and Craig Anderson. 

“When I watch Craig’s movie, his new one, I was just reliving the ‘Bunyip’ going, man, this is Craig’s little ‘Bunyip Dreaming,’” Jack marvels. “I was tripping out on this little movie of his, I just got a real ‘Bunyip’ vibe. I had a real connection with Kai and Craig.”

This summer, Jack’s been invited to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney for a Vivid Talk (much like a TED Talk in America) with Craig and Kai. Jack likes to keep it unscripted so the conversation can go in any direction—much like our current interview. 

“One of the great things is that in those earlier surf movies was that there were water shots. That’s what really made me connect with Kai, he brought in people with high-speed cameras to get the water. I’ve always felt that the water shots is what was missing in a lot of other movies. To me it’s everything,” Jack says. 

I interject, asking Jack how much time he’s spent with the boys.

“I don’t know either of them very well at all, however, I’ve been sitting back and watching their work,” he explains. “I went to the ‘Cluster’ opening, and my good friend Wayne Deane, who’s son Noa was in the film, was there, so I had a real personal connection to it. But it was Jack Freestone’s sequence that really caught my attention, probably because I really liked the song. It was an old ‘70s song from my day.”

Musical score has always been a big one for Jack. I ask if a song can make a surf movie.

“Music is 50 percent. I pick all my music. But I have to say, Kai has inspired me to expand my musical taste,” he laughs. “I think I’ve worn out my welcome with my audience with my Foo Fighter connection. But I’m just an old rock ’n roller, and when you have access, to what I consider to be the world’s best band, and you are friends with them and can use their music, I can’t help myself.”

Sydney Psychedelic Opera.

Jack’s engagement with Craig and Kai takes place on Saturday, June 1. But it’s not the only one he’s doing. On June 14 he will be sitting with Dave Rastovich and Wayne Lynch. After that, he has a run of dates with Occy.

“We want to tell all those stories that have never been told and share that with the audience, we want to answer their questions and give them a chance to learn and have an experience in a really honest and genuine way,” Jack says.

But he’s hardly pinned down on the speaking circuit. He has a hand in a number of things, including an initiative with GoPro and The Perfect Wave to scout out Australia’s next great filmmaker, as well as a couple of film projects in production.

“I’m giving Stacy Peralta a hand with his [Gerry] Lopez film. I’m doing some producing for him, which is a real honor and privilege. The other big project I’m working on is Val Valentine. It’s classic because I grew up in Hawaii and Val was known in Hawaii, but he was pretty underground,” Jack explains. “Some friends of mine ended up with his archive and Derek Hynd and I bought them about six years ago. I’ve just been on this journey to find out who this Val Valentine guy was, and I’ll tell you what, he’s got the most classic story ever. And the images have never been seen. It’s a snapshot into that pioneering time between ’59 through the early ‘60s. It belongs in a museum and nobody’s ever seen it.”

With all that’s going on in his world at the moment, it warms the heart to know that Jack still loves a challenge. 


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