Hand Over The Death Lens

Filmers have come a long way, baby.

Whether it’s Super-8, 16mm, or good old digital, the new breed of skate filmer is smart, artsy, and intelligent. They’ve got to be to stand out in their overcrowded field.

Don’t forget about image. Stacy Peralta shot the old Bones Brigade videos on expensive 16mm film while Spike Jonze did Video Days on a cheap camcorder. Which was more influential? With these two visionaries having walked the hallowed bridge to Hollywood, here’s a cross-section of today’s most influential generator-toting guerrilla Spielbergs.

Dan Magee
Résumé: W.F.T.W. (Blueprint Skateboards UK), First Broadcast (Blueprint Skateboards UK).

Is it difficult to create your own style with a video camera?

It is now that every kid has a three-chip and death lens. It is good to see more footage coming out of Britain, but at the same time, if a load of badly filmed footage comes out from over here, it won’t really represent British skaters as well as they could be. The spots and styles of the skaters I film make up a large part of the feel of my videos.

Which is more important, filming style or editing style?

I think editing style really has the final say, the way a video is edited and the music used can certainly make or break a skater. I think FTC Penal Code is still a top three video, and that’s all Hi-8.

What role has the video camera played in popularizing skateboarding?

In Britain, there are all these kids who are jumping down huge flights of stairs because Misled Youth was the first video they saw. It’s a shame they haven’t seen vids like EE3, Video Days, FTC II, because there are not that many kids coming up in Britain who have that sort of “finesse” in their skating.

What’s an interesting situation that filming has gotten you into?

It gets worrying going filming with two cameras, a generator, et cetera. I’ve had a knife held to my throat at a spot with eight skaters there and had my stuff taken, plus I have to take all my lights and generators out of my van every time I park it because it’s really easy for criminals and smackheads to sell stolen powertools in this country.

Greg Hunt
Résumé:
i.e. (TransWorld), Sight Unseen (TransWorld), currently working on the DC Shoes video.

Is it difficult to create your own style with a video camera?

Hell yeah, it’s difficult. I don’t think I’ve even gotten to the point of developing any sort of style. I’m just concerned with the footage coming out clean and the trick looking as good as possible. You have to be really comfortable to develop a true style, kind of like with riding a skateboard.

Which is more important, filming style or editing style?

I’d say filming. Great filming speaks for itself. It can be edited in the most basic, traditional way and still create impact. Even with amazing editing a project can suffer if it contains a lot of poor filming.

What role has the video camera played in popularizing skateboarding?

A huge role because it’s so inexpensive and accessible. When skating was small, some of the most impactful videos were made for almost nothing.

What’s an interesting situation that filming has gotten you into?

Digging through the garbage dumpsters behind LAX all night, desperate to find a shoe box full of stolen footage. I was there until six a.m. or something—never found it and never really recovered. That was pretty interesting.

Dan Wolfe
Résumé:
Underachievers (Eastern Exposure 3), Reel to Real (Real), Beware Of The Flare (Lakai).

Is it difficult to create your own style with a video camera?

Pretty hard I think these days because almost everyone just films fish-eye. Some of the long-lens techniques and of course 16 millimeter have set some people apart.

Which is more important, filming style or editing style?

Both are equally important because one can ruin or complement the oer.

What role has the video camera played in popularizing skateboarding?

There are too many videos these days—with the DV/computer revolution, everyone’s a producer. A good skate video is one of my favorite things, but so many bad ones come out on a regular basis.

What’s an interesting situation that filming has gotten you into?

I filmed Woody Harrelson doing a 411 station ID my first trip to Europe.

Jon Holland

Résumé: Feedback (TransWorld), Sight Unseen (TransWorld), In Bloom (TransWorld).

Is it difficult to create your own style with a video camera?

Of course you care about style in reference to quality. You have an opportunity to compose a shot every time you film. You can move with the subject or be stationary, zoom in or out, film long lens or fish-eye, create depth of field or infinitely focus, lay on the ground or climb a tree—the options are limitless.

Which is more important, filming style or editing style?

Both are equally important—you could have this edited masterpiece, but if the content isn’t worth a damn, then the overall piece isn’t going to be either. On the other hand, you may have wonderful content and it’s butchered by the editing, or the filming could be so bad that good content becomes unusable.

What role has the video camera played in popularizing skateboarding?

Skateboard videos are driving the industry. The videos give teamriders a goal to work for, and many guys are working years on their video parts. Like the magazine’s (TransWorld’s) Pro Spotlight was to the 80s, the video part had become to the 90s, and it’s still the industry standard. A lot is riding on a video part for a professional skater. It’s proof; it’s a way peers and viewers see you skate and judge your abilities in comparison to other professionals. It’s a forum that dictates who and what’s popular.

What’s an interesting situation that filming has gotten you into?

You have to be a motivator, a chauffeur, a paramedic, a team manager, a construction worker and spot fixer, a getaway driver, a coordinator, and skate-spot navigator. I recently saw my friend Travis get knocked out and fall into a seizure. On the other hand, I recently met Animal Chin when I was filming Ben Gilley attempting to grind this massive rail. It was the first time I was legitimately scared for someone’s life while filming. I’m convinced the only reason he walked away unscathed was due to Animal Chin’s presence.

Jon Miner
Résumé:
Life Of Leisure (Sheep), Dream Reality (Physics), Jump Off A Building (Toy Machine), currently working on the Emerica video.

Is it difficult to create your own style with a video camera?

I think being a skateboarder is pretty crucial to it. I can tell if the person behind the camera knows how to skate. Some of my favorite filmers are guys who are really good skaters. Mike Manzoori and Matt McGrath are some of my favorites. They know how to bomb down hills and film from in front of people.

Which is more important, filming style or editing style?

Editing style. You can be the best filmer in the world, but if you don’t know how to edit, it’s gonna look like shit. But, you could have some of the crumbiest footage and if it’s edited properly, then it looks great. Like Anti-Hero videos—they’re some of my favorites.

What role has the video camera played in popularizing skateboarding?

A pretty big role, because whenever somebody comes out with a big video part, they’re the shit for a while.

What’s an interesting situation that filming has gotten you into?

I was working on Real’s Kicked Out Of Everywhere, and we were getting kicked out of a spot. An older man was holding me down in the bushes, basically with his hand around my neck, while the secretary called the police. I didn’t even have a skateboard, I was just holding the camera.

Mike Manzoori
Résumé:
Life Of Leisure (Sheep), Menikmati (éS), Flick (ATM), Come Together (ATM), currently working on the Emerica video.

Is it difficult to create your own style with a video camera?

It’s more difficult now because there’re more people doing it. It’s hard when skaters have a fixed idea in their head when they’re doing a trick and they want to see it in the classic style. It’s been easier lately because we’ve had two or three cameras filming at the same time, which gives us a camera to experiment with without worrying about not getting it right.

Which is more important, filming style or editing style?

They’re both really important. You can film something really well, but it won’t look good unless it’s edited right. It’s hard to turn crap into something nice. The editing is really crucial. It could make or break really good footage.

What role has the video camera played in popularizing skateboarding?

It’s opened everyone’s eyes to the possibility that you don’t have to be in California to be a good skateboarder. Visually it’s (video) a lot clearer, and the ability to slow-mo stuff and just really figure out tricks has opened doors for skaters all over the world. And now some of the greatest skateboarders aren’t necessarily from California like they were fifteen years ago.

What’s an interesting situation that filming has gotten you into?

It’s always a roll of the dice when you go out. You’re dealing with obnoxious security guards, people who hate you, or more surprisingly, people who are really stoked on you, which happens more these days because people are more aware of skateboarding. You meet all kinds of fruit loops, which kind of colors your day a bit.Menikmati (éS), Flick (ATM), Come Together (ATM), currently working on the Emerica video.

Is it difficult to create your own style with a video camera?

It’s more difficult now because there’re more people doing it. It’s hard when skaters have a fixed idea in their head when they’re doing a trick and they want to see it in the classic style. It’s been easier lately because we’ve had two or three cameras filming at the same time, which gives us a camera to experiment with without worrying about not getting it right.

Which is more important, filming style or editing style?

They’re both really important. You can film something really well, but it won’t look good unless it’s edited right. It’s hard to turn crap into something nice. The editing is really crucial. It could make or break really good footage.

What role has the video camera played in popularizing skateboarding?

It’s opened everyone’s eyes to the possibility that you don’t have to be in California to be a good skateboarder. Visually it’s (video) a lot clearer, and the ability to slow-mo stuff and just really figure out tricks has opened doors for skaters all over the world. And now some of the greatest skateboarders aren’t necessarily from California like they were fifteen years ago.

What’s an interesting situation that filming has gotten you into?

It’s always a roll of the dice when you go out. You’re dealing with obnoxious security guards, people who hate you, or more surprisingly, people who are really stoked on you, which happens more these days because people are more aware of skateboarding. You meet all kinds of fruit loops, which kind of colors your day a bit.