Killian Martin is out there taking Pogos and Ho-Hos to the extreme. If your favourite video as a kid was Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song, this one’s for you.
Adrift in Toronto just dropped Cephas Benson’s part from their Stuck Up Kids video.
Follow Matt Gravel, Ethan Craig, Jordan Moss, Leon Breton, and more around the City by the Bay, San Francisco. Filmed and edited by Matt Gravel. Check out the photos below from Luke Connor as well.
Thinking of attending the World Freestyle Round-Up this weekend in Cloverdale, BC? Check out their site right here for all the information you’ll need.
Empire continues to stack their team in la belle province and Charles Deschamps is the latest addition to the squad.
Shay Sandiford comes through with a handful of ledge tricks you don’t see very often in this new clip from Ultimate Distribution.
Magenta welcomes the swervy and spastic Glen Fox to the team.
The crew in London knows how to do a video premiere up right! You can buy a copy of Double Standard over here for $15.
“After spending over two years on our last film, VICtorious, we set out to film a shorter web project for YouGotThat.ca in one year. Our initial thoughts were to have a 5-10 minute video, but as the deadline loomed our timelines kept growing. When we got around to making rough edits a month ago, we realized we had a lot more work on our hands than anticipated. Seeing as we live over 50 nautical miles apart (Victoria-Vancouver), it took way too many ferry rides to complete 365; we probably bought a bottle of Don Perignon for the BC Ferries CEO to enjoy. A couple days ago we figured we should do a real world premiere for the video, so after a few phone calls and executive decisions we had a projector in our hands and a public space to play the video. If you happen to be in the Victoria area and know where Fernwood is, the video will be playing tonight when darkness falls. Hope to see you there!” – Luke Connor & Leo Graceffo
All photos courtesy of Luke Connor.
We started this feature to hear from the photographers at the front lines of skateboard action. It’s they who fill our pages and screens with the stunning visual imagery we all desire. What they’ll show us is a selection of their favourite images they’ve shot, and offer us some insight into how they got their start and what gets their heart pumping. We can all take a picture, but these are some of the people that do it best and with the most thought put into it. First you’ll see a gallery of their photos with extended captions, and below that is an interview with the photographer. –Jeff Thorburn
Name: Luke Connor
Hometown: Victoria, British Columbia
Currently lives in: Victoria, British Columbia
Social media handles: @LukeConnorVisual, @YGTskate
Pierce Mckay, Frontside Wallride. Although it’s not a crazy trick, I like how this photo turned out. I started shooting this for shits n gigs, though once the sun dipped behind the clouds, I noticed Pierce’s reflection on the window. Adjusting my angle to mirror the image as much as possible, we got to work before the sun poked through and ruined the lighting.
Isaac Walker, Alley-oop Backside Flip. At the age of 16, Isaac Walker moved down to Victoria from his home on Cortez Island. While lots of kids his age would complain about doing house chores, he made the decision to move out and support himself in order to skate every day. With maturity beyond his years, Isaac is someone who knows what he wants and will work to make it happen.
Dane Pryds, Nosegrind. Before Dane had ACL surgery, we were on a tear getting as much as possible before he had to go under the knife, no pun intended. Always so comfortable skating big rails, it was only a couple tries for this Nosegrind to go down while a couple old ladies watched by the sidelines.
Matt Gravel, Switch Crook. There’s a running joke between Matt and I that all we ever shoot is Switch Crooks; we have shot a few over the years but this one takes the cake. I think I tried shooting this with flashes at first to fill the shadows, but opted to go natural light as the midday sun was strong enough to create a silhouette and a more dynamic effect.
Dylan Timmins, Pushing. This is one of those “happy accidents”. While on a Kitsch/Instrumental tour a couple years ago, I pulled Dylan aside while at a gas station to shoot a quick photo; the painted tunnel looked rad and I thought pushing would look good. The slow shutter leaned in my favour resulting in a ghost of Dylan and one of my favourite photos from the trip.
Dylan Timmins, Beanplant. Located at the Church of Science in Victoria, it is not easy to get enough speed to clear the curb at this spot. Mostly skated as a manny pad, Dylan takes the 90 degree ollie up and Beanplants to the street with one of my favourite styles on a board. Science.
Eisei “Ace” Sugimoto, 50-50 Transfer. Eisei is a shredder from Japan who was living in Canada on a student exchange program a couple years back. He came to stay with me in Victoria for three weeks one summer, and we shot five photos in that time which got published. This 50-50 transfer was one of them, and I can’t imagine the circumstances could have been any better. Special thanks to the dude wearing yellow for walking his dog that day.
Jeremy Randall, Backside Noseblunt. If there is a will there is way, and this can’t be more true for skateboarders. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to build a DIY barrier, but building a wheel around a barrier? That could be an idea. DIY spots are fun to skate, but they don’t always last forever. Jeremy Randall Backside Noseblunts with Satan before this spot was once again demolished.
Phil Brazil, Nollie. I took my first trip down to San Fransisco in February with Cake Supply Co. and it was an unbelievable experience; so much skate nostalgia. On this particular afternoon, Phil broke the nose of his board warming up on flat, all my flashes were dead, and it was on the verge of raining. Forced to deal with the circumstances, Phil skated his board backwards and took care of business while the light quickly faded.
35mm Travels. Earlier this year I travelled to Hawaii and San Francisco, my first out of country skate trips. Being on the road with nothing on your agenda but skateboarding is one of the best feelings ever; no stress, no worries, just good times and great memories.
An interview with Luke:
What came first, skateboarding or photography? How did one meet the other? Skateboarding definitely came first. My friends and I filmed with our parents’ point and shoots in high school when we started street skating, and it didn’t take long before I was saving up for a 3chip camera. A friend of mine had an SLR that I shot a couple photos on one day, and was instantly hooked.
What was your first camera and how did you acquire it? Do you still have it? My first camera was a Pentax K-x in Grade 11 that I saved up for mowing lawns. My dad has a Pentax ME, so at the time it made sense to buy a body I could use his lenses with; he now has the K-x.
Early on, how did you figure out shooting skateboarding? I had subscriptions to Transworld and Concrete growing up, so I would spend hours analyzing composition, timing and figuring out where flashes were being placed. Matt Macleod is another photographer from Vancouver Island who was getting published when I started shooting, and he was happy to help when I had questions or needed pointers. I found the best way for me to learn was to just get out there and do it though, so I would always be out shooting and trying to progress.
Who was the person you had the earliest success shooting with? Someone you got along with on a personal level that also happened to rip. When I first moved back to Victoria in 2011, I started shooting with Leon Breton. He has one of my favourite styles on a board and knows what will look good in photos and footy. We had shot maybe 3 photos together before getting published in the 2012 SBC Photo Annual, a first for both of us. Leon is all smiles while skating, whether he’s getting tricks or slamming repeatedly.
What photos jump out at you in a skateboard magazine? Photos with well thought out composition and good lighting always catch my eye. I believe a skate photo should be interesting regardless of the trick, but what looks good can be dependent on the spot, time of the day etc. Sometimes studio lighting and fisheye looks good, other times natural light from afar is what looks good. It isn’t easy to pinpoint, but you know a good skate photo when you see one.
Tell me about a skate photographer that first caught your attention. Brian Gaberman has always inspired me. His work struck me as having an ethereal yet dramatic feel to them, with a style distinguishable as his own. His photos capture a mood and not just skateboarding, which is something I’ve always aspired to achieve. Fred Mortagne’s work never fails to get me stoked as well.
What is your approach to skateboard photography? Do you try to be right in the middle of the action, or watch from afar and document it without disturbing? There is never a cut and dry formula I stick to while shooting. I often watch what’s going on and picture how everything will look before setting up. On the other hand, I can be indecisive and will shoot something a couple different ways to see what works, running around trying to make up my mind. Every photo varies, I like to mix things up and experiment.
Outside of shooting action, are there other things you like to photograph, either related or unrelated to skateboarding? I rarely leave the house without a camera, so I shoot whatever catches my eye. Whether it’s the friends I’m with at the time, architecture, or something completely random, I’m always looking for something to photograph. I’ve also been doing more commercial, event and lifestyle photography lately, opening some doors and expanding my work into those areas.
Is photography your primary occupation? Not entirely. I quit my part-time job in January before going on some trips to open up my schedule and take a stab at freelancing full-time. As well as doing freelance videography/editing, I work as an assistant here and there for another freelancer in town. The decision to quit my job was a bit of a huck, but it’ll work out one way or another.
Are there some photos you see that make you want to go skate, and others that make you want to go photograph? What’s the difference or similarity? It isn’t something I’ve thought about much before. If I see a photo I really like, I tend to focus on the technical aspect of it and spend a lot of time analyzing the shot. If I watch a ripping video part on the other hand, I’ll want to leave my camera behind and go push as fast as I can down the street. Skateboarding and cameras go in hand for me though, and any inspiration usually compliments the other.
Name one photo that we should all go look at right now. Fred Gall wallriding a moving bus in Bangkok, shot by Matt Price. Everything about it is raw.
Check back on Friday to watch Luke’s new video, 365.
DC took Mikey Taylor’s first shoe with them and made some solid upgrades. While they were at it, Mikey got off the Street League course and into the streets to film this new part.
On the morning of the world premiere of Propeller, the first ever full-length skate video from Vans, I caught up director Greg Hunt in Los Angeles to talk about deadline nightmares, skating domestic terrain, online experimentation, and containing VX footage to TVs from 1995, among other things. Maybe you’ll find this interview long, and I guess it is, but I always want to hear more from interesting, hardworking people like Greg. When I’m reading their interviews, they never seem long enough. So hear it is, a nearly unedited, hour-long conversation with Greg Hunt.—Jeff Thorburn
Today is the day. How does it feel to have five years of work come together and be ready to shown at the premiere tonight?
It feels good man. All these guys on the team are super pumped on seeing it. So that’s good. It’s been so long that I don’t think it’s really settled in that it’s over. This is the first couple of days I’ve had in awhile that I’m not experiencing extreme stress, so that feels really good.
Does the video feel complete? Are you ready to put it out there?
Videos never feel done. When I watch it still I feel like there are things I want to change, or wish I would have done more of, but that’s just the way it is. This video, more than any, I focused on the parts, because there are so many of them. There are so many people in it, and I think it came out great, but there’s not really much else in the parts. It’s a pretty straightforward video. If I had another month, there’s a lot of stuff I would have done in between, but I just simply didn’t have time. Now that it’s done, I don’t even think that it necessarily needed more stuff though. The videos never feel done though, no matter what. You’re always rushing and making last minute decisions you feel you are going to regret. There are always a million things to do.
So the video is pretty straightforward skating?
Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of non-skating stuff in there, maybe not a lot, but some in the parts. I think that kind of helps the parts to begin and end not really on the skating. In the final few days though, I was putting so much effort into just getting the parts cut, getting everything right in the parts, that we assembled it sort of at the end. I didn’t see the whole thing really until the last few days, when we watched it together. Normally, when there are less parts to put together, you can work on the parts, put a few together, and then in the last week or so you can put them all together and then figure out some things to put in between. But this one, I really just assembled it towards the very end and that’s how it was going to be. Which is fine. It’s different for me, but I think it’s good. It’s a really straightforward skate video and I think people are going to like that.
How many people have seen the whole video through?
Other than myself, five other people. One guy that was with me for the last couple of months doing the sound and some editing things, and a couple of guys at Vans. There weren’t a lot of people involved in the creative process for this one.
Was there a lot of involvement from the marketing team at Vans?
No, none. It was really just a couple of the main guys in the skate department. There was no overall brand message or anything. I think they wanted to just let it be what it was going to be.
That’s great that it was all left to you. With a video of this magnitude, which has the potential to reach a larger audience than any other video in recent memory, do you try to do anything different so that it’s accessible to all ages?
I really don’t think it makes a difference. It’s skateboarding. Maybe it’s more for skaters. The only thing I can compare it to was The Search for Animal Chin. Looking back, that was probably a video that was more tailored towards younger skaters. Being a 12-year-old kid, I thought it was awesome. All the acting, the Animal Chin himself, and all the stupid stuff they did. We thought that was the coolest thing ever. Obviously now, as I’ve learned more about what went into that video and how the team felt about it, and also now that I’ve done videos myself and can see it from a different perspective, I think those guys were probably super embarrassed by it. That was probably a video that pro skaters then would say, “Yeah, it’s cool, but not something I would watch before I go skate,” but every kid out there did. This video is definitely not like that. It’s not tailored to anyone really. It just shows these guys how they are, just skateboarding. There are no skits or funny acting; it’s just straight skateboarding. If there’s a younger skater that sees it, he might just see the skating and the music and hopefully that’ll make that kid want to go skating.
Do you think this video will play a part in the growth of skateboarding, and will it push it in a particular direction?
That’s a really big thing. It’s just a video I made at home, so it’s hard for me to imagine that it’s going to push skating in any direction. It’s a video. I don’t mean to downplay it, but it’s a video. It’s not going to change the world or anything. But I would like to think the way these guys skate, and the way it’s presented, it’s honest. It’s honest and real skateboarding. If anything, it’ll hopefully keep things going in that direction. I don’t think it will push skateboarding in any new direction, because I don’t think skateboarding needs that. I would like to think that maybe with everything that’s happening within skateboarding and outside of skateboarding right now, that this will just keep pushing that sort of true skating that’s at the heart of everything, in the direction that it’s always been going, and hopefully not let it derail into some sort of other strange competitive thing.
How do you make a video that people are going to want to re-watch, rather than just moving on to the next batch of online clips and parts?
That’s just the skating in the video, that’s why we watch videos. I don’t think people re-watch videos because of the cinematography; they watch them because of the skating and how it’s put together. So I would like to think that it has that. We’ve spent so much time. It really is four years of these guys filming, funnelled down into three or four minutes each. It’s the very best of what all these guys had to give in a three or four year period. It’s really good in that respect. We had a lot to sift through. It’s interesting to watch, because there’s not a lot of filler in there at all. It’s all either good skating, a really cool moment, or a nice visual. We sifted through a lot to get it to where it is. That’s what makes something re-watchable. It’s such a high calibre of skating, visuals, funny moments, and you kind of pair that with good music. I think that’s a winning formula for something people will want to re-watch.
So much skating coming out right now is what people call “relatable” or “identifiable”. There’s a return to the basics. Will people identify with this video, or is it strictly the heaviest stuff of the last four years boiled down to bangers?
You look at the team and everyone is pretty identifiable. I don’t think anyone is really reinventing skating, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. You look at Trujillo, Pfanner, Van Engelen, Gilbert, Chima—I think they all skate in a relatable way, but just sort of on another level, with how hard they push themselves. It’s really good skating that is tangible. A lot of it is shot in the Midwest and around the US. We didn’t go on tons of trips to China to skate these spots that are unlike anything you’ve even seen. A lot of it is just really terrain that people skate every day. I think that’s the beauty of this video. It’s just real skateboarding. A lot of it is in LA and around the US.
Obviously we did travel a bit, but it’s not this fantastical, far out skateboarding, that only certain people can relate to. I think everyone will be able to relate to this. But it really is only the very best of what the guys in this video filmed. And that doesn’t mean it has to be the most progressive trick that no one has ever seen. Maybe it’s just done in a way that is really incredible, or something happened while the trick was happening that makes it a really memorable moment. It’s kind of how we kept it. I really do think it’s fun and awesome to watch all the way through as a skateboarder. It is something you can relate to. But it’s on another level in terms of what these guys have done.
The thing about making a video over such a long period of time that you can’t do with a shorter web video is you’re able to luckily get these moments where the guys does the trick with the security guard there, or someone lands a trick and it starts to rain right away. Those moments happen, but they don’t happen very often. When you have so much time to work on a project, you really do end up with enough of those really cool moments. You can put something together that’s good from beginning to end.
Who’s decision was it to keep so much of the skating in this video domestic?
It wasn’t really a decision, it’s just kind of the way it was. There’s a lot of Los Angeles in this video, just because that’s where everyone lives. And then we went on a couple pretty big Midwest trips, which I like. It’s just easier. It’s cheap, everyone has some of the comforts of home, even though you aren’t at home, but as far as where you eat and everything like that. Also, the terrain looks really cool. I have nothing against traveling and filming in other places, it’s great too, but there’s something about a crusty Midwestern parking lot with something to skate in it. It just looks cool. It’s a lot different of an aesthetic than some brand new marble plaza in China somewhere.
These guys are all pretty raw too, the way the skate. Van Engelen, Elijah, Pfanner; it’s just cool seeing them skate that stuff. It’s like real raw street skating. That’s what a lot of this video is. Other guys too, even like Rowley and Trujillo, they kind of have their own terrain that they skate. The terrain in the video, it’s nothing that people haven’t seen, but I think it’s pretty consistent in that it’s a lot of natural, rugged terrain, that anyone has access too, spots we have all skated a million times. I think that’s one thing that makes it really cool to watch; it doesn’t make you think, “Oh wow, I’ll never be able to skate that.” A lot of people can relate to it.
I think that’s an outlook that has been lacking for a lot of years. I’m surprised people still do such big trips to foreign lands to film, while it seems like all companies are slashing their budgets.
I mean I personally just don’t like how it looks, but I have nothing against it. And I know how hard it is to film a video part. You can go to Spain or China and have all day to film. You’re not going to a spot that has been skated and in videos for the last 15 years. You’re not going to a spot where as soon as you show up you’re going to be told to leave. You can skate and film all day. I think that’s amazing.
There was a period where people did start traveling a lot to film videos, because they kind of had to. Skating was progressing so fast in the early 2000s, they were running out of spots on the West and East coasts, so people started going to Spain and then eventually China. Personally, when I see it, there’s just something about it. Maybe I just can’t relate to it; maybe it just looks far away; or maybe I just know that you can skate there all day and it’s perfect, which is different from skating something that looks kind of maybe a little bit crusty, maybe something that doesn’t even necessarily look like a spot, and then you see someone do a trick there and it’s a lot more impressive than some perfect bump over some perfect bar with smooth metal ground. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s something about when you see someone do something amazing on a spot that doesn’t even look like a spot.
I didn’t let my personal tastes push this video in any direction though. That’s sort of how a lot of these guys just feel as well. We did a lot of trips, and we did go to Croatia and Tasmania, but I think we tried to go to spots that weren’t such typical destinations for skate videos. I think the difference shows. I would like to think that when people see the video it has a really cool look to it, as far as the spots and the locations.
I expect they will notice. Was this a much bigger production than anything you’ve done before, like Mind Field or The DC Video?
Each of the videos has been totally different. This one had a lot of people, so that was really the challenge for me. There were a lot more people to film, and not everyone’s together every day. So we had to figure out a way to make sure everyone was covered. Which means you need extra filmers. So that was a lot different. Putting it together was a lot more challenging than any video that I’ve ever done. I don’t know if I could have done this video 10 years ago. I think the only reason I was able to pull it off was experience I’ve had from doing videos in the past. I’m just looking at the dry erase board right now, and there are 17 parts to the video. Not like skate parts, there are 13 or 14 skate parts, but there’s also an intro, credits—so there’s a lot of shit to finish. In the past I would do a video and work on it all at the same time. I would finish a guys part, going onto the next part, and then come back to tweak the first part a bit. By the end, I would have most things done, and it would be pretty hectic in the last few weeks, but I would sort of finish it all, put it together, and get it out.
This one though, because there were so many people, I had to do everyone’s parts individually, as far as completing them. I knew if I tried to complete the whole video in the final week, there would be no way I could; I would probably lose my mind. So what I did is do the parts in pieces. For example, I did Chima, Gilbert, and Pfanner’s parts during a two-week period by myself. I knew I had to complete those parts. Then, when I was finished those parts, I would do colour correction with a colourist I have worked with forever. I got those parts to where I couldn’t go back and touch them again. The edits were already locked and the parts were already coloured, so they were done. So that way, I could move on to focus on Pedro, Dan Lu, and Rowan. I would sit there and focus on getting those parts done next. That went on over three months. It was pretty hectic, because every week and a half or two weeks over a three-month period, I basically had a deadline for myself to have these parts completely finished. That’s the only way I could do it, and it worked. There are a couple of parts I did at the end, and hopefully it doesn’t show, but at least I wasn’t looking down the barrel of 13 parts that needed to be completed. There’s no possible way I could have handled that. At the very end I just had the intro and a couple of parts to do. So I knew that 80 or 90% of the video was completely done.
Was there a deadline for everyone months ago, so that they couldn’t add another trick? Or did editing this way give less time to the guys whose parts you finished first?
I started first on the guys that were done, the guys that were like, “Hey, I’ve got nothing more to give.” I would tell them maybe we could still work on a last trick, that’s an easy thing to add on at the end, but some of it, like Pfanner for example, he was done early because he was ready to head off to start on another project. He lives in Germany and he was having a kid too. So once I knew he was done, I could get his part finished. Some people were still filming, or maybe we had some problems with music on parts, so I left those until closer to the end. Each person sees their part too, sees their raw footage, picks what they want, they pick a song, or together we pick a song. I’ll pick a song if someone doesn’t care one way or the other. Then I send them a rough edit, and I always want people to be involved and see how there footage looks. And then they can offer some ideas on the rough edit if they want. Then they see a final edit, and from their notes on the final edit, I finish it. But it’s a lot of people to do that with.
So everyone has seen their finished part before the premiere?
Pretty much, I think everyone did. Let me see…Rowan hasn’t, but he’s not too worried. He’s seen it pretty close to done. Elijah has never seen his part. I gave him the chance to come by but he never came over. He cares, it just didn’t happen. Pedro never saw his part, because he’s in Brazil, but everyone else saw their part.
As far as the music goes, you said it varies depending on who chooses it, but did you approach it in any different way? Were you going for sort of a similar score throughout?
I was, I definitely was. It’s hard to say exactly what it is. When I try to put it into words, what I want the soundtrack to sound and feel like, it just sounds wrong. I think the soundtrack is really good, and it’s really close to what I was hoping it would be. A lot of it just came naturally from what these guys wanted to skate to. A lot of the other music that I picked or picked along with the guys came from a certain genre of music. A lot of it was music that everyone on the team listens to anyway. I think the soundtrack is really representative of what the team actually likes, which is cool. I would like to think that most of these guys could watch this video and be stoked on the music, because it’s pretty consistent and never feels repetitive. There are some things you’ve heard and a lot of stuff you’ve never heard. The only real tailoring I did was sometimes when people would bring up a song and I just knew it wouldn’t fit in the video. The soundtrack is the hardest part. Music licensing is hard every time with a skate video. It makes it so much more challenging than it would be if you didn’t have to clear the music.
It can really start to break the budget.
It can yeah, but you can’t even really finish a part until you know you have the song cleared. For this video, there were a few situations where we thought we had a song cleared, and then found out we didn’t, and then we had it again. So I had a rough edit because people [the musicians] want to see it, which is actually a solid week of work to do. So you put together a really solid rough edit, send it off, and then you never hear back. So you figure all right, maybe they don’t like it, so we need to find a plan b. Which means finding two or three other songs as alternates, and then doing a rough edit to those songs as well, just to see if they work, and pick the best option. So that’s another week of work. And then you find out that you got the first song you submitted. So it really sucks up a lot of time trying to clear music. You sometimes don’t know until close to the end if you have the track, so you leave a lot of the edits on standby. If you were somehow able to clear your music way in advance, you could edit a video in half the time. Or if you just wanted to steal everything and not licensing anything, you could probably edit a video in six weeks.
We found out three days before I had to turn the video in that one of the songs hadn’t cleared. We thought it had, and it was just a miscommunication between my music supervisor and myself. It was Pedro’s song. The song had only been cleared through the label, but not through the songwriters. The label is always easy, but the songwriters are hard, because you don’t know where these people are now, what they do, if they get along, if there’s a legal dispute—you just don’t know. So we were looking at literally 48 hours in which we had to figure out a way to get the song to work, or find another song, probably a free song, and re-edit the part. That’s just kind of heartbreaking, when you spend a couple of weeks, at least literally a week, editing a part, cutting it, and doing the sound for it, and then finding out you need to re-edit it, probably to something that’s not going to be as good. That’s the absolute worst-case scenario when you’re making a video, because you know the video is going to suffer, it’s going to affect the impact of that person’s part, and it’s going to bum that person out. It’s just horrible.
So that’s what we were looking at with Pedro’s part. We talked to the publishing company, and they said they were willing to let us use it, but we needed to get these four songwriters to sign off on it. Which is kind of impossible. It was 48 hours, but really it was 24 hours, because we only had a day to find out if it was possible or not, because if not I would need at least 12 hours to re-edit something, which would have probably been impossible because I still had other things to finish for the overall video. I decided just to make calls. I know a guy at Warner Brothers, and through making the video we got to know one of the main people at Beats by Dre, and he used to skate. They are both people that are deep in the music industry. So I basically sent them both an SOS email saying, “I have to get a hold of these four guys, immediately, can you help me?” Both those guys basically got a team of people to help track these songwriters down. Literally it was like, one of these guys knew someone who knew a guy who knew the son of someone that was in the band, but he wasn’t even in the band when they wrote the song. It was someone who was in the band later. But I got in touch with the son, and then his dad, who told me he wasn’t in the band then, but to talk to this other guy, and eventually we got all four guys in the band on the phone within 24 hours and had them stoked to give us verbal okay to go ahead and use the song. But dude, that happens every time. The stress levels are out of control. And while that’s all happening, you have to come back to sit at the desk and finish something totally different, and just put possibly having to re-edit Pedro’s part tonight starting at 8pm out of my head so I can focus on this other thing. It’s really challenging. It takes everything out of you.
You worked with Ray Barbee on some of the music too, right?
Yeah Ray made a few songs and we used two of them. We’ll probably use another one later for something else. We had two days in the studio with Ray. One day was Ray and the Mattson 2, who he plays with a lot. Then another with Ray and John Herdon, who’s the drummer for Tortoise, and Nolan, Ray’s kid, who I think is 12, playing the bass. That song ended up in the video, which is awesome, and the other one with the Mattsons ended up in the credits.
I saw that Thomas Campbell was around as well. What was his involvement?
Yeah, Thomas, he’s like a music producer, among other things. He’s always worked with Ray and produced his stuff, and done the Mattson stuff too. He was the point person who I originally talked to about getting Ray and the Mattsons to do some of the music. Thomas set up a thing in the studio with the sound engineer, and he was there in the studio both days to sort of give his input on the music. It was cool.
Back to the skaters involved in this video—were you the main motivator a lot of the time? Were you the guy in the van honking the horn outside the door every morning to go skate?
I mean I was on trips, but I couldn’t be out there every day on this project. Cody Green filmed probably half this video. He helped me film on Mind Field too. He was at Vans actually before I started this video. He’s younger, out in the streets everyday, and super tight with the team, especially the younger guys. Cody was my right-hand man on this. I couldn’t be out there every single day, like you said, honking the horn, getting people going. That was Cody. I was still filming a lot, but he was getting everyone in the van, especially the younger guys, just driving around and skating. Cody was on most of the trips too. Like I said, it was just too big of a video for me to be there to film everyone. I spent a lot of time with Van Engelen and some of the other guys that do the sort of solo mission thing.
As far as trips, I’m always sort of that person. Not that I want to be. I hate waking people up; it’s the worst. I feel like you go on a trip for two weeks and by the end of it everyone hates you, because you’ve been waking them up everyday. It’s the only way to do it though. If you let everyone sleep until noon, then everyone eats lunch, and you get out skating by 3 and it’s dark at 6. The whole reason for going halfway around the world to skate this place is sort of compromised because you’re not really taking advantage of your time. So you have to wake people up.
A lot of people are surprisingly not that self-motivated in those situations.
I mean they are, but sometimes you’re even waking up the filmers and photographers. After a few days they just know that someone is going to let them know what’s going on the next day. There needs to be one person who’s sort of planning the day and moving forward. I definitely don’t want to forget to mention Jamie Hart. He was a huge help. He was the team manager and was on a bunch of the trips, especially the international trips. I think it was always one of us getting everyone up, figuring out breakfast, making sure everyone had coffee and made sure the tour guide was wherever they were going to meet us at the beginning of the day.
You told me earlier that you personally filmed a lot for this video, but a lower percentage of the video overall than previous projects you’ve worked on. Does that make any difference to you when it comes down to the editing, working with so much footage that’s not yours?
It’s definitely different, you know? It’s just like photography too. If it’s your own photo you have a connection to it, no matter what, because you shot it. When it’s my own footage, I do have more of a connection to the footage, and more of a connection to the edit, having been there. With that said though, I don’t always nail it. A lot of times there might be two or three cameras filming one trick, and mine might be the worst. It’s not like my footage is always great and I prefer working with it. It definitely is different though when you’re working on editing someone’s part and it’s like 70 or 80% made of up someone else’s footage. If you’re spending a week or two watching and working with that footage every day, it’s different when you don’t have that personal connection to it. You weren’t there that day. You are just looking at something that someone gave you, versus something you were there to experience for yourself.
With the outlets available now, so much going online, are you surprised that no one has really taken the opportunity to use these platforms to put out more short, well-crafted parts like dylan.?
I feel like people do, don’t they?
I think that part is on another level compared to most of the solo parts that come out these days.
I think there is a lot of cool, amazing stuff being put out. I’m surprised that there’s not more, but I think there is really amazing stuff being put out on a lot of levels. I think a lot of the one-man parts, even Thrasher parts, are insane. The level of the skating and the way the way they are put together is amazing. I also think that there are really amazing web parts that are cool on their own, like the Antihero Destination Unknown video, or the Polar Trocadero Days in Super 8, where they went to Paris. There is a lot of cool shit, but I’m just really surprised that, in skateboarding, with this “fuck it, I’m going to do it my way” mentality, that there isn’t more experimentation. It’s not easy putting anything together, but I’m just surprised there isn’t more. I think that Trocadero Days is a good example of something really awesome that you can do and put on the web. I love that video, and I think a lot of people love that video. They didn’t take it too seriously. It was just organic, like, “We’re going to go do this, and it’s going to be what it’s going to be, and we’re going to let it live however it takes form.” I feel like the Internet is the perfect vehicle for doing something like that, and I am surprised that there’s not more. As far as the dylan. part, I don’t feel like that was any more well crafted than a lot of the other one-man parts. I think it was just because that was just Dylan skating so well, and that song really worked. I filmed a lot of it, and then Russell Houghten filmed a lot of it, and his footage is amazing. I think it just came together really nice.
Check Greg’s part in Tincan Folklore from 1996 for more of his classic style. Morford photo
Are you surprised at how many people still film with mini-DV cameras, like the VX1000?
Yeah, I’m blown away.
If you were a kid right now, under 20, would you be picking up a VX?
I don’t think so, but it’s funny, because in ’94 or ’95, whenever I started to get into filming—not even filming skating, I didn’t like doing that—but when I got into filmmaking, I started shooting Super 8. At the time, Super 8 was sort of like that. It was this old technology, and it had some nostalgia I guess. But nothing like shooting Super 8 now. Back then, I think it was just a lot Hi-8 being shot, and Super 8 was this older, not so good technology. But it looked cool, and it felt cool to see it. And it was nostalgic. I think that’s sort of what a VX is now for kids, you know?
I personally have no connection to those cameras whatsoever. In my experience, in my past, through skateboarding and skate filmmaking, that was just one camera in a long line of cameras. When it came out, it was just a digital camera with a big fisheye lens on it. I actually wasn’t that crazy about it. I mean it was a clearer picture at the time, and you could get the wider fisheye, but, and people might think this sounds crazy, but when people started using that Century fisheye, it looked kind of weird, it was almost too wide. It took a lot of people a long time to adjust to just how wide that lens is. But then that camera ended up being the sort of staple for such a long time, because there really wasn’t anything better. So many videos ended up being made with this camera, that there’s a whole generation that when they see skateboarding, that’s the look that they want to see, and that’s what they relate to. I totally get it, why people like shooting with it, but I don’t personally think it looks better at all.
If you really want to see a VX look good, you hook your camera up to an old 4:3 television from 1995. Or you put it on a DVD and watch it on one of those old TVs. When you watch Photosynthesis on VHS or DVD on an old TV, or any video from that era, that’s how it’s supposed to look. But shooting on a VX, editing on Final Cut, and then putting it online to either watch on your flat screen or computer at home, it distorts and affects the look of the footage so much. I think it looks super shitty. You’re taking this—I can get more technical—but you’re taking this interlaced video footage and you’re making it progressive, because everything online is progressive. If you try to show it interlaced online, that’s when you get the lines and it looks even worse. There’s no way to really accurately present how a VX1000 is supposed to look now, unless you make people watch it on an old television off a DVD or VHS tape. That’s what I just don’t really understand, why people are so anti-HD and pro-VX1000. I think a lot of those people haven’t even seen what it’s really supposed to look like, and if they did, maybe they wouldn’t feel so good about how their VX1000 footage is looking on YouTube or Vimeo.
Do you think that HD got a bad reputation in the beginning for being seen as the tool for overproduced, dolly-cam footage?
I think so, I totally do. To be honest, I never heard anybody say that they hated the Supreme video because it was in HD, or say that it would have been better on VX. I think it’s all in how’s it shot. I would like to think the same about the Vans video. There’s definitely some sort of nicer, higher production stuff in the Vans video. I used a Red camera for a lot of it, but I think it feels pretty raw still. It’s got to the point now where the Panasonic HVX and HPX cameras that everyone uses are almost like VX. They don’t shoot 1920 x 1080; they shoot 960 x 720, so they actually have to get blown up. They almost look sort of grittier and not so perfect. So I think those older Panasonics that people use have the same sort of aesthetic as the VX1000. It’s just a different aspect ratio. People always say they think the aspect ratio is terrible and needs to be square, but I just think that’s stupid. There have been a lot of videos that come out in HD that people don’t even think twice about it being HD. I think you are totally right: seeing a lot of dolly and beautiful slo-mo shots is what killed it right off the bat. If it had been presented to skateboarding differently from the beginning, I think people would be a lot more open to it, and this stupid debate would be over, because people constantly ask me about it. It’s never about the camera. The camera shouldn’t matter.
It’s whose hands it’s in.
Do you look at magazine and worry about what kind of camera someone used, or watch anything else on television or in films and worry about the cameras? Does it matter what camera was used? It should never matter. It should be about what you are watching and how it looks and feels.
I always say to people, you’re going to like whatever Hunt or Strobeck films, no matter what tools they use. And it’s who they are filming as well.
Everyone wants to see the Gino clip no matter what it was filmed on.
Totally, I agree. And no matter what you are using, you can totally fuck it up too.
Were you shooting a lot of photos throughout this whole process?
I went through waves. I shot a lot the first two years, and then I didn’t shoot any for about a year. I shot a lot last year. And over the last year or so I haven’t shot anything. The video is going to come out with a booklet, like a DVD booklet thing. There was a lot of photography involved but I filmed a lot more on this one rather than shooting stills.
One last thing before I let you go. What do you hope the next few years will look like for you?
I’m not sure yet. I want to definitely spend some time with my kid. I still want to be involved in skating. I want to start doing a lot of different types of production work as well. But really I just want to hang out with my kid and hopefully still be involved in skating on some level, and make some cool stuff. We’ll see. Honestly, I haven’t even really thought about it. This is like the first two days I’ve even had a chance to think about my life outside of getting this video done.
Well, kick back and enjoy it.
All right Jeff, thanks.
Thanks for taking the time to talk, Greg.
Yet another video in a long stream of amazing videos, Matt Berger continues to show us how frigging amazing he is. This is his Pro debut video from Flip. Enjoy.
Dan Redmond travels through Hawaii with a few homies and filmer Ethan Craig.