By Bobby Burk
The Billabong Jack McCoy Surf Film Festival rides into La Jolla on April 7. It's the second stop in its United States tour.
Emmett and Brendan Malloy's newest video "Fair Bits!" starring Australian surfing superstar Taj Burrows, and Jack McCoy's classic surf film, "Bunyip Dreaming," are the premier attractions this year and offer a slice of surfing culture on the big screen.
The art of the surf movie dates back to the 1960s when such films were created as home videos or no-budget productions and projected on the walls of high school gyms and cafeterias.
Four years ago, Jack McCoy and his film festival partner Sinclair Black realized they were missing the days of surfers hooting, hollering and pounding tables while surf movies played on the big screen. The Jack McCoy film festival was born as their response to the fading surf culture of old.
"In the true traditional form of hiring a venue, bringing the projector in, setting it up and showing your film, we felt that was sort of missing in our surf culture here in Australia." said McCoy. "What we tried to do was kick it off and get it going, and what we found in the response that we had was so amazing that we started going on the road."
The grassroots festival began in Australia in 2001 and was picked up by Billabong as the corporate sponsor two years later. It is now on its second tour of the United States, hitting 27 cities in summer 2005, including Canada and Puerto Rico.
At this year's festival the old and the new are blended as Burrows and crew face off against the McCoy classic "Bunyip Dreaming," the first movie McCoy made for Billabong in the late 1980s that features legendary surf stars like Mark "Occy" Occhilupo, Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, "Munga" Barry, Luke Egan and the late Ronnie Burns.
"In surfing, Jack's the best we've got" said Sam McIntosh, a producer of two of the shorts featured in "Fair Bits!" "He always makes the best films, puts the most time into them and gets the biggest name surfers as well, so it's always good to be working with the best people. I love what the Malloys have always done, their surf films are typically more soulful, film-it kind of gigs. ... Just seeing their thought process and some of these wild ideas that are rolling around upstairs, it's pretty classic."
McCoy said the festival will be premiering the best film he could find this year, which he was happy to endorse.
"Fair Bits!" is a collection of video shorts from well-known producers like Taylor Steele and less-known producers like Sam McIntosh. Some of the shorts are hilarious, some are weirdly funny and, in others, the surfer is the focus.
In one shot, actor Ben Stiller takes a beer bottle to the head of current World Champion surfer Andy Irons.
For every land-bound short, however, there are two or three amazing sections of creative filming and surfing featuring Burrows.