Readers’ And Riders’ PollBest Video Part: Jamie Thomas, Misled Youthby Joel Patterson
Any pro skater worth his weight in salt knows that filming a good video part is infinitely more important to their career than winning a contest. It’s not that contests aren’t important¿the simple truth of the matter is (whether anyone loves it or not) great video parts make skateboarders into legends. Jamie Thomas has proven his understanding of this concept time and time again. His winning both this year’s Readers’ and Riders’ poll (the only person to win a particular category in both polls) for his video part in Zero’s Misled Youth reinforces his status as a standout among the throngs of C+ pros. But filming crazy parts has inherent dangers¿sprained joints, faceplants, and nerve-frazzling stress¿and Jamie’s had to deal with them all.
We caught up with him on tour in Toronto to find out about the dangers of filming the best video part of 1999.
You’re skating a rail in Misled Youth and I think you get KO’d? What happened?
Yeah, I got knocked out; it was a nosegrind down a fourteen-stair.
There’s a story that after you got knocked out, the people you were with just sort of took you home and left you there unconscious. Is that right?
Laughs No, the people I was with didn’t take me home, I drove. I drove to the spot that day, and filmer Lee DuPont, Atiba, and filmer Dave Schlossbach were with me. I tried to nosegrind the rail, and my board popped out to lipslide and shot out. I sat back on my ankle and sprained it.
I was under a deadline for my TransWorld interview, and I felt like I really needed to get the photo, so I tried to walk off the sprained ankle. I waited about five minutes, then I started 50-50ing the rail again¿I thought my ankle would get worse, and I wanted to start skating right away. Then I started trying nosegrinds again. About five nosegrinds later my ankle was so swollen it wasn’t flexing, but I didn’t realize it. When I bent down to ollie, I didn’t get any flex out of my ankle, so my tail didn’t ollie, and my board didn’t get off the ground. I just jumped onto the rail on my feet and then fell down to my face.
I knocked myself out and was kind of speaking gibberish, moaning, and mumbling. I had amnesia¿I didn’t know who I was for about 30 minutes, I didn’t know I was married, I didn’t know anything. Eventually, it all started coming back to me, so Lee drove me home and dropped me off, and I had a sprained ankle and a concussion.
Had you ever had a concussion before?
Yeah. In the last six years, I’ve had at least one concussion each year. Some years two or three. For a couple months after that Misled Youth concussion, I got really dizzy often. At first I thought I had anemia¿an iron deficiency¿sometimes you get dizzy from that. So I went to see the doctor, and he said that wasn’t it. Then I thought I had bad eyesight, because I would go to handrails and have double vision. I’d see two handrails. I though the bad eyesight was also giving me the chronic headaches I was getting all the time.
When I talked to people about it, they said it was probably from hitting my head so many times. I’ve heard of people getting punch drunk, or swelling on the brain, or whatever, so I went to a doctor again, but I didn’t want to go through all the extremes of a CAT scan, and I was still just trying to finish up shooting my TransWorld interview. Then one day I went to this ten-stair rail¿and at the time a ten-stair lipslide was one of my easier tricks¿but when I lipslid the rail, I slammed first try. I could barely see the rail, and I was supposed to be warming up for a bigger rail, but after I slammed I called Atiba up on my cell phone and told him I couldn’t come. I felt too out of it.
Over the next half hour after I got off the phone with Atiba, my head became clearer and clearer until I could totally focus. That was when I realized it was just stress. TThe double vision and everything was just stress, and it could have combined with the concussion, but I don’t think so. When the interview was over with, it all went away completely. I think I put too much pressure on myself to do things the way I want to do them, even though no one else expects the standard I try to put on myself. I don’t know why, I guess I just go overboard with everything.
Were you putting that kind of pressure on yourself the day we shot the cover?
Yeah, but that was round two¿I’d already been there once¿and I was in a good mood that day. But I was starting to feel the same stuff¿the dizziness. I think it’s a combination of anxiety and stress, like maybe I don’t breathe as much when I’m under stress, so eventually maybe the lack of oxygen … I don’t know. It’s weird, every time I know I’m gonna try something the next day, I think about it all night long, and I wake up feeling somewhat sick, because there’s so much pressure. It’s so much better to go to a spot and be skating, and then happen to have someone there shooting photos. That’s the best way to do stuff, but it doesn’t always work that way.
That day we were shooting the cover photo seemed like the definition of stress and pressure.
Yeah, but the thing is, that was only one photo. When you have a whole interview or video part on your shoulders, that’s when it becomes serious stress. You feel like, “Oh what’s one photo gonna do? I need ten more.” I knew that if I could pull that the cover photo off, I was in the clear and it was over with. It sucked that it was such a steep rail and all those conditions, but if I made that one trick, I could go home and not have to worry about it until the next time I had to shoot something.
I don’t think other people get as stressed about it as I do, because some people could care less if their interview ever even comes together. They’re just skating, doing their thing, and I should probably be the same way, but I can’t help myself. I just take things so serious. I make everything a project.
Did you get that kind of stress when you were filming for Misled Youth?
A little bit, but not so much. When you’re filming a video, you can go someplace, and if you don’t feel up to it that day you can just come back another time. With a video your deadline is like six months to a year, but interviews are usually only a couple months. So if you find a spot somewhere and you’re with a photographer, you just usually have to go, whether you feel good or not. With video you can kind of manipulate time¿deadlines for photos have always been gnarlier.
What’s the best way to deal with the stress?
The best way is to have people there you have fun skating with, and to act like you’re not going there to a certain spot to do the thing. You go there and play a game of SKATE, or skate some benches¿just have fun and completely forget about what you’re there to do. It’s hard, but you just have to put it out of your mind. You have to have fun before you can do it. That’s what I’ve been finding lately¿fun comes first.