Just did a new interview with Zach Lyons on the American skateboard industry, skating for Magenta, traveling the world and a bunch of other shit.. Zach is a pretty cool guy with a unique outlook and pushing the creative / not trick focused style of skating. check it out.
All video parts understate the difficulty of skating by presenting an endless barrage of clip after clip of tricks landed bolts. Occasionally a particularly gnarly trick will have a bail thrown into the mix in order to make the successful attempt look that much more epic. But again, that’s just occasionally.
If you follow skateboarding more closely (or, you film video parts which your humble correspondent does not do) though you’ll find a different story. You’ll hear about whole days spent at a ledge in Barcelona trying to make a single trick and not getting it then coming back 2 months later and spending another week trying to roll away from the same trick (keep in mind that there’s not just the skater, there’s a filmer spending whole days trying to capture the trick on video). You read about ankles getting sprained trying to frontside flip a 16-stair set and having to take 3 weeks off to heal only to come back right back to it when the ankle is better. If you pay close attention you’ll notice someone has a different outfit on for the 2nd angle shot of a particularly difficult trick, meaning it was so hard that when they finally made it they either couldn’t make it again or didn’t have it in them to try again that day. And as you become more familiar with the spots in videos you’ll notice that a single trick in someone’s part was filmed in China.
Think about that, a trip to China to get one 4-second clip of a trick on a marble ledge.
Think about that, a trip to China to get one 4-second clip of a trick on a marble ledge. Of course more went into it than flying to China, jumping off the plan, filming a clip, and then coming back to the States. There’s the dozens of attempts to get that clip. There were all the other days spent battling for other tricks that never panned out. Maybe you just couldn’t stick the landing or maybe it seemed like you got a clip every day but when it was time to edit the part nothing stood out as note-worthy.
The final video part is a just fraction of what the skater puts into it. Its the 80/20 rule taken to an extreme, more like the 99/1 rule. 1% of all the work you put in makes it into the video. A year-and-a-half, two years, three years maybe but just 1% of that work makes into the video.
There’s two things that fascinate me about the video part because they’re universal: 1) To get the clips you have to show up, and 2) you cannot rush it.
You can’t get clips in your apartment, at the coffee shop, the bar or even at a skatepark. You have to make plans to hook up with a filmer, find a spot and skate. Not only do you have to skate but you have to try stuff. You have to burn through your go-to tricks. If its spot that’s already been seen in a bunch of videos then you have to try and do something new there or at least different.
There’s a few reasons why companies fund filming trips but the most significant is that it gets everyone to show up. When you’re in China with 8 of your teammates (and friends) to film for the new video its a lot harder to skip a couple days because you’re not “feeling it”. If not now, then when would you be “feeling it”? When you’re not surrounded by beautiful marble ledges and your best friends with nothing to do but skate?
If not now, then when would you be “feeling it”? When you’re not surrounded by beautiful marble ledges and your best friends with nothing to do but skate?
I doubt that I need to point out the obvious here but if you’re trying to get something done you have to show up and put in work. Meetings don’t get things done, brainstorming doesn’t get things done, talking doesn’t get things done. At some point, you have to show up to the place where you do your work whether its a set of stairs in Hollywood, a ledge in Barcelona or a text editor on your laptop and you have to do the actual thing that will get results. No one gets paid for being a writer—they get paid for the delivery of articles and books.
You Cannot Rush It
Marc Johnson put together a three-song part for Fully Flared. That’s 13 minutes of clips. I haven’t counted but my rough guess is that this part contains upwards of 100 tricks filmed over a period of about five years. In that time he spent hundreds of hours on a skateboard and while 13 minutes is an epic length for a video part, its ultimately a quick skate to the coffee shop. But it takes that long to film in order to get 13 minutes of footage. It takes trips to Barcelona, to France, to China and driving across the country twice. It takes time to find new spots to skate and it takes time to come up with new tricks for old spots. When Marc started filming for Fully Flared he didn’t plan to make a three-song part but the clips just build up over time. Three seconds here and eight seconds there and slowly something interesting starts to take shape.
…while 13 minutes is an epic length for a video part, its ultimately a quick skate to the coffee shop.
Its an interesting dualism—you can’t wait for inspiration but you can’t rush it either. You just set up the optimal conditions for working and you show up ready to work. One day you’ll get 3 clips or 4 pages or 2 songs or 10 ideas and the next week you get shit. It’ll all be garbage. But if you just keep showing up and keep working the results will add up.
Ultimately, the biggest lesson is this: you have to get one clip at a time and you have to start now. A trip to China is nice but not necessary.
Author: Namdev Hardisty
SK8FACE is a new documentary about the history of skateboard graphics – judging by this preview clip, the film looks legit and should be pretty epic, with interviews from Neil Blender, Natas, Gonz, Mark McGee, Rocco, Don Pendleton and many more. Personally, I can’t wait to see it. To help wrap things up, the filmmaker, Matt Bass, has started a kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds to cover music licensing, archival footage rights, animation ,etc. – as an incentive for donations, they’ve got some pretty cool limited edition products available as well so please support the cause. For more information or to make a donation, click here.
Artist/Filmmaker Thomas Campbell is a personal favorite of mine and I’m super excited to check out his latest film, Cuatro Sueños Pequeños, which is now available for pre-order and features the stylish skateboarding of Javier Mendizabal and Madars Apse. Visually, it looks amazing and pretty surreal. Peep the trailer above and pre-order the special DVD/Book here.
About the film (taken from Um Yeah Arts):
UM YEAH FILMS Presents – “Cuatro Sueños Pequeños” (four small dreams) – A skate film – Visual Audio Experiment by Thomas Campbell. This 23 minute movie was shot entirely on 16mm film in a dream scene scenario that blends reality, surreality and a skate adventure starring Javier Mendizabal and Madars Apse. This film captures Javier Brushing his teeth,slobbering on his pillow, bedding down with a beautiful brunette. Also Javi running into Madars Apse in his dream, they skate over volcano’s,thru the woods and into cities of Spain,The Canary Islands,Mallorca,The Basque country and California.This film has a completely original soundtrack by the critically acclaimed Basque super group “Chiwoks”.And besides the usual unusual camera perspectives you expect from a Thomas Campbell film. French Fred is also is on board Lending his iconic visual wizardry to this cauldron of the bizarre, beauty and gnar. read more »
Scumco & Sons just released their Rinky Dink Jr. #4 as a complete. It comes with Tracker Mid Tracks, Solitary Arts Black Eggs Wheels (50mm 87a), Bones Reds Bearings, Mob Griptape, and Robot Guts Hardware.
6″ x 24″ board. Limited to 100 setups. 6 layers of maple with various exotic hardwood 7th layer finish. Hand-screened box.
Made in Pennsylvania.