After seeing the Secret Sound Underground premiere at La Paloma in Encinitas, CA, a couple weeks back, it became clear to me that Jack Coleman has something to say to the surf industry. It might be easy to dismiss his films as drug-induced, “hipsteresque” montages of nostalgia and surf porn, but after exploring his whole body of work and recognizing his artistic progression, it’s pretty obvious that the craft runs a bit deeper than simply doing hoodrat stuff with bros on the beach.
Coleman is strictly analog, using primarily Super 8 and the occasional 16mm. What that means is, he has to be very careful about what he’s shooting. And he has to be very good at capturing the shots that he wants, because there is nothing worse than coming back from a surf trip, digitizing the footage and having none of it be useable. But Coleman recognizes that this is the artistic process. That ruthless experimentation, that willingness to ruin a roll of film in the name of doing something you haven’t been taught to do, that’s what makes great art. Even as he turns 40 this year, Coleman is still pushing to make great art, charging out to famed surf spots searching for the guys who are doing things as differently as he is.
I got him on the phone and recorded the interview to get a feel for what happens in his brain on a daily basis. We ended up talking about how he works with his equipment, his upcoming four-month trip around Australia and back out to Indo, the frustrating and amazing process of getting good at something, and the cast of characters he likes to shoot with, from whom he takes tons of creative inspiration. He also gave me some details on upcoming projects and tossed out a few potential movie names, which are, of course, phenomenal.
So set aside some time today to get to know Jack Coleman.