There are so many important and influential films, books and pieces of music out there, and so many new ones being created so frequently, that a lot of the time they will simply pass you by. But that’s the beauty of sharing – together we are stronger, we can look out for more of the good stuff.
Behind all the melodies and frame grabs are people with vision.
Sharing is so cool.
Here’s why: the simple passing of a mix CD led me to Cody…
“My name is Cody McClintock. I grew up a skater, surfer and a cowboy – an outlaw existence from the beginning, you could say. My parents split up when I was about two years old so I grew up in two separate families, shuffling back and forth between the beaches of North County, San Diego, and the mountains of East County, which are only an hour apart by car.
My father is well-known western saddlemaker and my mom was an aerobic instructor/personal trainer/microbiologist and my step-father is a general contractor/builder. I have one sister who is a touring singer/songwriter and one who is the busy mother of my niece. I have one older brother who died when I was 20 and one younger brother who is a recovered addict/smuggler and father of three.
When I think of who I am, where I am from, I find it important to mention the people who I grew up with. I think all of these things make up a large part of who I am today.”
So, Cody, what is a corazon vaquero?
Corazon vaquero literally means ‘heart of the cowboy’ or ‘cowboy heart’. It’s primarily an attitude, a life style, and a concern for the way we interact with people, the land, animals and our families.
It is also the name of my latest documentary, which has been doing film festivals around the US and Mexico over the last year. It explores where the heart of the cowboy comes from, at least as far as the Californian vaquero is concerned.
I believe it is a film that illustrates a rare form of humanity that lies buried within the isolated mountain ranges of Baja California, and within each and every one of us.
What was the inspiration for the film?
My father, Gary McClintock, was my inspiration. I think as men we have a certain desire to constantly please our fathers. We want to either make him proud or to battle him. Having the opportunity and the time to work on a project that brought together my passion for storytelling and my fathers life-long passion for saddles, mules and vaqueros was the ideal solution to satisfy and calm the impulsive desire I had for paternal approval.
My father was always supportive of my interests but we never had the chance to align ourselves and work together as equals. The respect he showed me for my filmmaking sensibilities and his belief in them enabled me to come to terms with what it is to be somebody’s son. It was nice to work on something together that we are both proud of; something that represents a collaboration between us.
This film had its own life, it wasn’t just a means to fill some nepotistic vacuum of my own design. I feel we were able to really step aside and be vehicles for a story that wanted to be told. Sometimes when a project starts gaining momentum all you can do is guide it down the track.
It’s a lot like surfing, You can’t control the wave, but you can react to it, you can anticipate it, you can be surprised by it and you can build a relationship with it that starts to push beyond the mere experience of it. It has its own life and you have to let it breathe. You can’t dominate it or manipulate it too much or it might be crushed by your demands. It’s a very intuitive, unclear balancing act that requires flexibility, preparation and an open mind in order for it to take you to places you never thought possible. As if you just screamed out of a tube you swear was gonna close out. It’s like that. I feel like we got spit out. And we got it on tape.
Chris Malloy has said this is an important film – why?
I think Chris Malloy, as a cowboy himself, is someone who understands the importance of letting this story be told. Chris grew up on the ranches of Ventura County alongside the beach, and has had experiences with these people that have left him a different person. A better person perhaps.
There is a lot of misinformation in the cowboy world. Most people get their information from the TV and film industry, and the story of the vaquero has been long overshadowed by the shoot ’em up images of the Hollywood western frontier. In that world you only see white Anglo gunslingers they didn’t even show up in California until around 1846!
The Spanish and native populations began cohabitating in Baja California in 1697, and these Spanish ranchers/sailors are the ones who first learned how to live off the land – a rocky, dry, uninviting landscape rumoured to have gold. Eventually they explored north and discovered California, which truly was paradise compared to the feral land they first settled.
The mountain people in our film still live and reflect the lifestyle of these early Californians. The isolation of the Baja peninsula preserved them more or less unchanged by modern life and that is what is so intriguing! They live a lifestyle so simple and primitive that is affords them the luxury of grace, and to witness such kindness is incredibly inspirational. Every time I am around these people they make me wanna be better… nicer, more forgiving and generous. That is the corazon vaquero.
Did shooting/editing the film keep you out of the water for a while?
Unfortunately, it did. I moved to the mountains where I could be near my father, who is one of the main narrators and driving forces behind the film. He would come over in the morning before he went off to work in his saddle shop.
I was working in 90-degree summer weather in the mountains, in an air-conditioned room out in East County, San Diego, with a chihuahua named Sara as my co-editor. It’s about 90 minutes from the coast. I was consumed by the momentum of making this film. This film wanted to be made and it pushed me to put everything else aside and focus on the task at hand. Filmmaking is like building a house by yourself, but you have to find the trees, chop the trees, mill the lumber and then design it all while taking in the advice of others who are invested in the project, but also be able to know when to trust your instinct and experience to make it right.. So my boards got hot dusty and dirty, but I managed to squeak in enough water time to keep me from drying out completely.
What’s in your quiver these days?
Right now I’m in San Francisco, and with my former home of Santa Cruz only an hour away I find myself riding my 6’3 Brian Bulkley most of the time. It loves OB when it’s working and it’s one of those magic boards that only comes around every couple years, so I keep her at the ready.
When it’s big I ride an 8’0 Sauritch gun that Greg shaped for me when I lived up in Humboldt.
I also have a 5’10 Solomon blue deck Rusty Piranha that I pirate from my sister when I’m in San Diego. It’s pretty much unstoppable and indestructible. Rusty is a master and you can feel it. Combined with the blue deck it is insane; too bad they stopped production on them. So light, sensitive and rippable – I think I’ve done some of my best surfing on it.
When I’m loggin’ with my folks I have a 9’6 Christiansen singlefin that was reconstructed from a board out of the trashcan by my stepdad Terry. It’s about eight pounds overweight, but it glides and nose rides like a champ. It loves Baja.
I also have a 5’10 Mandala quad to keep things mixed up. Soooo fast and well crafted. Manny Caro is an old friend and he has really come into his own in that past couple years. His boards are just beautiful too. They’re like the BMWs of the retro rippable modern fish. The clean combo of craft, functionality and design is obvious in what he’s doing.
When I go on a trip I hit up my old friends the Mirandons, of old-school La Jolla Surfboards fame for an experimental design to play with and keep me on the edge of the future. I seriously can’t even tell you what these guys are building – top secret trippy stuff. All I can say is they work, they stoke you out and you feel like a kid again riding something totally different. The future is now.
Are you the latest in a long line of surfers or a rogue?
My mom, my stepdad and my sister all surf daily. My dad surfed around LA back in the 60s and still manages to get out every now and then. It’s in our blood. It’s who we are; I feel very lucky to have been raised in two very rich California traditions. It’s reassuring knowing you come from a community of people who all share a passion for riding, gliding, shredding, and playing in the ocean. It’s almost a relief. It’s like I know where I will be in my old age: I’ll be surfing in Baja. And I always know where to find my friends and family. They’re at the beach!
Tell me a burning man adventure…
Oh Jesus, where to begin… I’ve been going to Burning Man for seven years now. It’s the reason I moved to SF. It’s the reason I am who I am today. The one story that leaves me with a huge smile comes from my first day at BM in August of 2003. I had just moved to Santa Cruz from a season on the North Shore and my good buddy and I knew we had to go. We heard ‘our people’ were gathering out in the desert at some huge party/art community/mad max adventure land. So we packed up supplies and went. We had no idea what we were in for.
There are so many stories, but the one that stands out in my mind forever is the time my friends were playing an ambient sunrise set in centre camp, when a super-hot rogue performance artist and her boyfriend began to mime out a domestic dispute which turned into her bent over onstage naked and ends with a shocked audience, smiling clown, some olive oil and a hammer. To this day that is the wildest thing I may ever see.
This year I’m gonna turn my old Toyota 4×4 into roving BASS assault vehicle for Burning Man. Complete with flame throwers and a banging sound system/DJ booth. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time and its filling up my mind right now. I’ve got much work and planning to do.
At the end of the month I head down to Baja California on a dream trip. All I can say is that it concerns the Malloy Brothers, vaqueros, mules, surfboards and Surfers Journal.
Any thank yous?
First off I’d like to thank you for taking an interest in sharing what I’m up to. I’d also like to thank my family and my awesome friends who have supported me in all my endeavours. I’d like to thank the late Norman Roberts, Christie Walton, Eve Ewing, my father Gary McClintock and Trudi Angell. whom without their help, this all would never have come together. And last but not least the gracious vaquero families of Baja California who trusted me with the telling of some of their story.
Thanks amigo. Over and out.