TransWorld SKATEboarding

Volume 21 Number 9

file: Behind Yeah Right!

Behind The Video:

Girl Skateboards’ Yeah Right!

Three years in the making, Girl Skateboards’ Yeah Right! is being held up by many as the best skate video of all time, with big-time appearances from some of skateboarding’s brightest luminaries, shiniest up-and-comers, and most brilliant recluses. The register is long and strong, as witnessed in the following pages as well as on the back of the video box, but what does it really take to pull together this ensemble cast and all their years of hard work?

To answer that question and a few others, we interviewed four of the names in Yeah Rights!‘s scrolling credits—Megan Baltimore (page 000), Ty Evans (page 000), Rick Howard (page 000), and Spike Jonze (page 000). Their thoughtful comebacks have been reproduced here as a short producer/director commentary—a humble effort that hopefully enhances the millennium’s latest and greatest skate-video submission.

Yeah right.

Megan Baltimore Interview

Are you bummed that the making of Yeah Right! is over?

Maybe it would be a letdown if that was it. Spike was saying that’s kind of what happens with movies. It’s almost like you open and close a business. This is different because you can do so many more of these, you know?

I guess, especially when it comes to videos, the combo of Rick {Howard}, Spike {Jonze}, and Ty {Evans} … there’s not much that’s enough for them. They’re not easily satisfied. They’re already working on a {Yeah Right!} DVD, and they’re working on a ten-year-anniversary video. Spike and Ty and Rick are going to go on tour with the Chocolate team this summer and make a video on that.

Does the whole procedure of making Yeah Right! seem different from making past Girl or Chocolate videos?

So much happened here in the process. A lot of emotional things happened—the Keenan {Milton} thing kind of knocked the pins from under everyone. It seemed like for a while people didn’t feel right doing anything. A lot of times Rick is a real catalyst for getting things going, and he had {reconstructive knee} surgery and was out for a year. There were just a lot bumps in the road. Also, there were a lot of new people on the team—that was exciting for us. Marc {Johnson}, Kenny {Anderson}, Jereme {Rogers}, Paul {Rodriguez}, Brandon {Biebel}, Brian Anderson. {Rick} McCrank hadn’t been in a Girl video.

You can see the last few years of evolution in the video.

Yeah, that’s kind of why it looks different. It’s cool. Because of the way Girl started out, it’s always seemed like this really tight group of friends, and it’s neat to know that there’re a lot more people like that. It’s cool to see that there’s a lot more growth to be had.

What’s your favorite seat in the van?

The one they leave in the warehouse while they’re gone.

Ty Evans Interview

Did you just get back from your post-Yeah Right! vacation?

Yeah, I went and worked on my sunburn. I was people-watching in Hawai’i. It was as touristy as it gets. I just went out there and filmed people. I think I covered every kind of person. We stayed right in Waikiki.

Oh, so you were right at the core of it?

Yeah. That’s how I like it. The place I stayed at had hollowed-out pineapples.

For drinks?

They’re called Fuzzy Hawai’ians. It’s rum and peach schnapps and guava juice and pineapple and ice blended up in a hollowed-out pineapple with a cherry on top and a little umbrella.

It sounds like you’re all recharged.

Yeah, I’m ready to go. I’m gonna finish up the {Yeah Right!} DVD and then start working on the Chocolate Euro Tour video.

What extra stuff is gong to be on the DVD?

It’s got a couple things. The first thinI made for Keenan {Milton} a long time ago—the first version.

Did you know Keenan very well before you started working at Girl?

I didn’t know him very well up until the last six months of his life. Once I finally met him and got to know him, I started just drilling him {laughs}. Put him on the program. He’d never been through that whole deal, and I think it actually worked where he was skating and psyched, and it got him out, whereas before he didn’t really have anyone to motivate him to go skating.

It’s weird, though. You can tell how much impact Keenan had on this world by how much people still miss him to this day. People are never gonna forget him. He was a genuinely good person. The guy didn’t have a bad bone in him. He was such a happy person to be around. He’d always bring you out of any negative situation. Always.

I guess we should remember to appreciate our friends now.

And you gotta take every day you have and get the best out of it. Keenan did that. He lived life to the fullest. I have no idea where he got his energy, either. He was a little Tasmanian devil. Always joking around, always down to do something.

{Right after he died} it was hard to edit anything. So gnarly. He’d only been gone a couple days when I started working. That was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I had to take breaks. It was crazy. That sucked.

The extended Keenan section be on the Yeah Right! DVD—what else?

Yeah, and a photo gallery. Ad archives. We’ll try to put a lot of stuff on there. Should be good.

It’s three years later than it was when you started this project. Would you do anything differently?

Yeah, for sure. When you make a video, I swear, so much stuff happens in the last couple months. Everyone feels it, knows it, and everything comes together. I wish those three years could have had the same power as those last couple months. You’re staying up editing, you’re filming, people are just going for it trying to handle their shit, everyone’s stressing. I feel like during those three years I was always trying to make that feeling happen {laughs}.

You gotta constantly try to come up with new ideas. The generator and lights are cool at first, then everyone gets used to it. So then you’re like, “All right, what can we do now to keep that same amount of motivation there?” You gotta constantly keep upping the ante.

How much work did you do on the filming/creating/editing of the side pieces—the super-slow-mo intro, the magic board, the invisible skateboards section, the Owen Wilson thing?

A lot of that was Spike’s {Jonze}. I was scared he wasn’t gonna have time to do anything, and god knows I couldn’t pull any of that stuff off. All that stuff came together the last six months of the video, which is insane. He {Spike} came in and made everything happen—it was perfect.

Most of that stuff—the slow-mo stuff and the invisible board stuff—was filmed in two days. I assisted with some of it. I location-scouted all the spots, figured out where we wanted to do everything, and talked to the people. I gave that info to Spike’s assistant, and she got all the permits. We had to do it all legit. The other stuff was pretty much all on him. The pink-board thing, that was Johannes’ {Gamble} idea. That was super easy. We filmed that with no permits and a Bolex—just Spike and me. That was an easy skit compared to the invisible-board one where we had a full crew and effects guys working on it afterward. It was gnarly.

How’d the Owen Wilson thing happen?

That was amazing. Originally, I think we were going to have Mike Myers, and he was going to be skating. It was going to be after Eric’s last trick. We were going to go back to the same spot, dress Eric up in the same clothes, have him give his little “yeahs” to everyone, and then Mike Myers was going to go, “Yeah, what’s going on?” But he was busy, so we were like, “Owen Wilson.” And he was down to do it.

That whole thing was crazy. Spike and I sat down and figured out a script. I wrote it out, e-mailed it to him, and then he kind of rewrote it in script form. We e-mailed it to Owen, and I guess he was just like, “What the hell is this shit?” So baffled by all the skate lingo. It was just so foreign to him. So then Spike filmed me talking, not doing the actual script, but just asking me questions about skating and tricks so he could kind of see it in context.

Right when we picked him {Owen} up, the guy went straight into it. It was like, “Hey, what’s up, Owen?” “Oh, nothing, just front blunt, back blunt … ” Soooo funny. The thing’s actually edited down. The original version is twice as long. For the DVD there’s so much stuff. We’ve got hours of stuff we could use.

Who picks the music for the video?

Oh, man. Music was a nightmare. There was hate e-mails getting sent in saying, “Please, don’t let Ty Evans pick the music. He’s going to ruin the video.” All this shit. “Don’t let him use any electronic music.” It was so funny.

The one song I picked was the “Death In Vegas” song—the part where it’s sixteen-millimeter footage and shows everyone’s faces, and then it goes into the montage. That song is the strongest song in the whole video. We were going to use that for the opening, but Spike’s brother Sam made the music for it, and that ended up working out way better.

There are a couple instrumentals—did Sam do those, too?

He did the intro and the pink-board song with Fat Lip singing. Spike’s brother has a gnarly music studio. He’s doing Fat Lip’s next album. He’s a really good producer. All the slow-mo stuff was edited first, we gave it to Sam, and then he scored the music to the opening.

Did he do the closing-credit music?

No, that’s a Fatboy Slim song that’s going to be on his new album. A funny story about that song is he {Fatboy Slim} wanted Spike to direct the video for it—that’s going to be the first single off his album. We did the credits to it, and Spike was like, “Well, let’s just make the music video the credits.” {Laughs} I was like, “Yeah, sure!”

We sent a copy of it to Fatboy Slim, and he wasn’t feeling it. That would have been so sick, just the credits rolling. People would have been like, “What the … ? Why are there credits going right now?” They’d change the channel. It would have been so confusing. I guess he said he wanted to come off stronger for that song.

What’s your favorite seat in the van?

Anywhere but the driver’s seat.

Rick Howard Interview

What’s your favorite Girl/Chocolate video?

I liked them all, but this was the most challenging one. After doing so many and always wanting to outdo yourself, it took a little bit longer for everyone to do that. All in all, right now Yeah Right! is my favorite, but Mouse is a really close second.

What’s your favorite part?

There’re so many—everyone’s. There’re manuals, there’re stairs, there’s technical—it’s got every aspect, and every person brings something different to the table. As a whole, I like it all. I like watching how people do their tricks, but there’s no favorite.

The end credits are good “’cause that was the last thing we did. I’ve watched it the least amount of times, and it has the camaraderie. In the slow-mo part I like to see the pressure and the imperfections you don’t see on video—the foot positioning and the angles.

{When you produce a video} You’re in it; you’re so wrapped up in it. Maybe I’d be able to tell you a favorite part if I give it a break and look at it again later.

Yeah Right! came out a year and a half after you had full-blown reconstructive knee surgery. Do you feel like you’re a hundred percent now?

Yeah, toward the end I was starting on?” But he was busy, so we were like, “Owen Wilson.” And he was down to do it.

That whole thing was crazy. Spike and I sat down and figured out a script. I wrote it out, e-mailed it to him, and then he kind of rewrote it in script form. We e-mailed it to Owen, and I guess he was just like, “What the hell is this shit?” So baffled by all the skate lingo. It was just so foreign to him. So then Spike filmed me talking, not doing the actual script, but just asking me questions about skating and tricks so he could kind of see it in context.

Right when we picked him {Owen} up, the guy went straight into it. It was like, “Hey, what’s up, Owen?” “Oh, nothing, just front blunt, back blunt … ” Soooo funny. The thing’s actually edited down. The original version is twice as long. For the DVD there’s so much stuff. We’ve got hours of stuff we could use.

Who picks the music for the video?

Oh, man. Music was a nightmare. There was hate e-mails getting sent in saying, “Please, don’t let Ty Evans pick the music. He’s going to ruin the video.” All this shit. “Don’t let him use any electronic music.” It was so funny.

The one song I picked was the “Death In Vegas” song—the part where it’s sixteen-millimeter footage and shows everyone’s faces, and then it goes into the montage. That song is the strongest song in the whole video. We were going to use that for the opening, but Spike’s brother Sam made the music for it, and that ended up working out way better.

There are a couple instrumentals—did Sam do those, too?

He did the intro and the pink-board song with Fat Lip singing. Spike’s brother has a gnarly music studio. He’s doing Fat Lip’s next album. He’s a really good producer. All the slow-mo stuff was edited first, we gave it to Sam, and then he scored the music to the opening.

Did he do the closing-credit music?

No, that’s a Fatboy Slim song that’s going to be on his new album. A funny story about that song is he {Fatboy Slim} wanted Spike to direct the video for it—that’s going to be the first single off his album. We did the credits to it, and Spike was like, “Well, let’s just make the music video the credits.” {Laughs} I was like, “Yeah, sure!”

We sent a copy of it to Fatboy Slim, and he wasn’t feeling it. That would have been so sick, just the credits rolling. People would have been like, “What the … ? Why are there credits going right now?” They’d change the channel. It would have been so confusing. I guess he said he wanted to come off stronger for that song.

What’s your favorite seat in the van?

Anywhere but the driver’s seat.

Rick Howard Interview

What’s your favorite Girl/Chocolate video?

I liked them all, but this was the most challenging one. After doing so many and always wanting to outdo yourself, it took a little bit longer for everyone to do that. All in all, right now Yeah Right! is my favorite, but Mouse is a really close second.

What’s your favorite part?

There’re so many—everyone’s. There’re manuals, there’re stairs, there’s technical—it’s got every aspect, and every person brings something different to the table. As a whole, I like it all. I like watching how people do their tricks, but there’s no favorite.

The end credits are good “’cause that was the last thing we did. I’ve watched it the least amount of times, and it has the camaraderie. In the slow-mo part I like to see the pressure and the imperfections you don’t see on video—the foot positioning and the angles.

{When you produce a video} You’re in it; you’re so wrapped up in it. Maybe I’d be able to tell you a favorite part if I give it a break and look at it again later.

Yeah Right! came out a year and a half after you had full-blown reconstructive knee surgery. Do you feel like you’re a hundred percent now?

Yeah, toward the end I was starting to feel pretty good, but then the video was over.

Did you just feel like you were relearning stuff the whole time?

No. I learned some tricks for this video that I hadn’t done before. I know it’s not the quantity of your textbook video part, but I started feeling pretty good toward the end there, thinking up new stuff and actually doing it.

Is there a feeling of the changing of the guard with the younger guys like Biebel, Jereme, and Paul skating so strongly, or does having a range of guys from two or three eras just make the team more well-rounded?

I like that it’s well-rounded. It’s what skateboarding is, kinda. It’s not just a group of people who do one thing. I like that. But Girl has to keep a level of trying to push and progress. As long as we’re progressing, that’s fine.

Does skating in and making videos ever get to the point where it feels like work—you don’t want to do it, or you’d rather be doing something else?

No, never. I mean, there’s definitely frustrating moments—filming a trick that’s hard to land can be frustrating. But then there’s the other aspect of the video—the more conceptual stuff. It depends on what it is. The difficulty in that little Skatrix bit … the fact that McCrank had to grind a Hubba ledge in pure black. You don’t see how difficult some of that stuff is, and I don’t think that was that fun. That had to be filmed in total darkness. “All right, I can’t see the ledge. I’m ollieing onto the ledge, and now I’m blinded by the flash … ” That’s why we flew McCrank down, ’cause he can skate blindfolded.

But, no. If it did feel like work, then I wouldn’t be doing it.

Does griptape get slick when it’s painted green?

Yeah, but the green grip we got was that cheesy 80s, sandpaper stuff. Pretty gritty, so it was definitely hard to get away from.

So you had green wheels made and everything?

Yeah, and we painted our trucks. They actually make fluorescent-green griptape, but Eric was trying some harder stuff and he couldn’t deal with the grip, so he got normal griptape and painted it. He’d rather deal with painted grip than that shitty 80s griptape.

The boards sucked. They were soggy, heavy, and not your typical setup. They were our shapes, but when you cover them in multiple layers of fluorescent-green house paint it changes the feel of your board.

Brian Anderson just skates one of those boards for some of the tricks in his part.

Yeah, that was awesome. That’s Brian. The pirate. He probably just wanted to see the video footage of it, you know? That was shot between takes. “All right, reload the film,” and Brian films a couple tricks real quick. That was a good day. We got a lot done that day.

Had you skated there before?

Yeah, and Eric {Koston} and a couple of guys had been there a few times.

That’s crazy. You just blocked it off?

I know. I think some of the locals were pissed—the kids who skate there every weekend. “What’s this? A skateboard video? Come on!” Pretty funny, though, huh? They didn’t care. They just wanted to skate.

Are you sad that you’re done making the video?

No, I’m happy. F—k, it took a while. But now we can start on the next thing.

What’s your favorite seat in the van?

I guess you call it back panel—in the back toward the right. It depends on what kind of van you’re talking about. If we’re talking Club Wagon, let me tell you … there’s a spot back there where you get a lot more leg room. Pack panel to the far right. Prime leg-room location.

Are you sad that you’re done making the video?

No, I’m happy. F—k, it took a while. But now we can start on the next thing.

Spike Jonze Interview

After working in the movie industry, directing critically acclaimed feature-length pictures, and collaborating with some of the world’s finest film