Story by Kevin Whitton
Photos by Dana Edmunds
A stack of surf movie posters under his arm, 14-year-old Jack McCoy Jr. raced out of his driveway and onto Kalaheo Avenue without even checking for cars in either direction. Kailua was a quiet seaside hamlet in 1962, not yet the busy suburb of Honolulu it is today. Jack Jr. was a poster gremmie, distributing handbills and posters for pioneering surf filmmaker Bruce Brown’s upcoming movie, Surfing Hollow Days. It was Jack’s first job, and he delivered posters to the bakery, the supermarket and a little sundry store at Kailua Beach Park.
The night of the showing at Kailua High School, while the kids in attendance hooted for their favorite surfers projected on the screen, a star-struck Jack Jr. watched Bruce Brown intently as he introduced the film, ran to the back of the cafeteria to dim the lights, loaded the reels onto the projector, narrated the film and fielded questions afterward. Jack stuck around after the event to clean up and talk story with one of his heroes.
The next day, the industrious kid was back on his bike. He collected all the posters he’d hung for the film, took them to school and sold them to his friends. It was Jack’s first entrepreneurial foray into the world of surf films. Five decades and twenty-five surf films later, 65-year-old Jack McCoy is once again “shaking hands and kissing babies” as he calls it, distributing handbills and posters across O‘ahu for the Hawai‘i premiere of his latest feature documentary, A Deeper Shade of Blue. This time he opted for a rental car over a bicycle and canvassed O‘ahu for three weeks before opening night in February. He visited his hometown of Kailua, friends in Waimanalo and surfers at Sandy Beach. He made his way to the surf shops and grocery stores of Honolulu, up to the North Shore and out to Makaha to catch up with his old friend, surfer Buffalo Keaulana. Though he now resides in Clareville, Australia, his roots have always been in Hawai‘i, and he’d come home to share a film that he regards as the culmination of his life’s work.