Bo Mitchell ‘Gnarkatz’ Interview

Bo Mitchell is no stranger to being in front of a video camera. From his roll in the HBO series, East Bound and Down to acting in a handful of indie movies and feature films all the way to owning and operating his own indoor skatepark in his hometown of Aiken, South Carolina and documenting every second of it. Safe to say Bo is no stranger to being busy either. It’s no surprise that he has taken on a new endeavor that puts himself yet again in front of the camera, only this time around he’s also acting as more of a producer in his new, Docu-comedy, Jackass-esque style show, the Gnarkatz. Filmed primarily on location at the HIC Warehouse, which is easily the dopest indoor skatepark in South Carolina, each show gives an inside look at the hijinks that commonly take place every second of these guys lives. And as Bo mentions, “The cameras are always on.” We caught up with Bo to learn a little more about this new endeavor and to see what the Gnarkatz have in store for us. Dive on in! —Brian Blakely

For starters, tell us who you are, where you're from and give us a little background on this new show of yours called Gnarkatz.
My name is Bo Mitchell. I'm a skater, actor, producer, and entrepreneur. I’m from a small, yet popular town in South Carolina called Aiken. I own and run a skate shop/indoor park called HIC Warehouse and a non-profit called "Home for Skateborading." My new show Gnarkatz is a Docu-comedy/stunt-based series on the new streaming app, go90, which is owned by Verizon.

I was lucky enough to experience the HIC warehouse life last summer and it was a helluva time. I feel like the show does a good job representing the feeling out there, it’s like you’re really there. How long have you guys been together doing stuff like this?
Yes you have. That was a great time we had! We dragged Jaime [Owens] out to a bar and Blair discovered sound cloud rap [laughs]. Most of us have been together since our early teens. We were in the extremely small group of Aiken skaters, so we had to like each other! The hijinks came along when ever I would get a camera out. Normal young skate rat stuff, but over the years it’s morphed into this show [laughs].

There are definitely reminiscent Jackass style moments going on throughout the show, but beyond that where else is inspiration drawn from?
We're influenced by skate videos. It’s something that has become a part of our lives. Growing up in a small town, you get bored and play pranks! You can’t say you didn’t do similar things with your friends growing up skating. I myself love Jackass and CKY. We wouldn’t be here producing this show without the doors they opened. I also love what Bam did with CKY, all the skating and stupid pranks he filmed post-session. He filmed and edited a lot of it himself, too! I relate to his position in CKY a lot. However, I never intended to emulate that aesthetic. Yet, we can’t help but resemble them because their content paved the way for stunt-based shows on television. We are in the same discipline, similar to two pros doing a kickflip down a set—same trick, but different styles, different obstacles, different settings, etc. We want to be as original as possible and if we copy a stunt, we want to put our own HIC spin on it!

How often are you guys filming for the show and where can people watch the episodes?
Gnarkatz is produced in seasons and with this being the first season, things are kind of stop and go. We filmed eight episodes and now we're waiting for them all to release. Meanwhile, me and the guys are brooding new ideas! Watching Gnarkatz is so easy. You download the go90 app or find the website and just watch for free. If you want to kill it, then make a free account and hit the heart button on our episodes. The interface is simple. It's like Netflix meets YouTube and it’s data usage is free for Verizon carriers!

How long have you been planning this show before actually launching it? I feel like last year when I was out there you were mentioning stuff about a pilot episode but kept it sort of under wraps at the time.
Man, we have been working on an idea for years. I’ve wanted to have a show based around my park since I opened it at 17 years old. So that’s five years. I connected with BGM, a heavy hitting Production Company and we started producing sizzles (4-6 minute long trailer) and trying to shop an idea around. Rated Red was a great home for the Gnarkatz! I’m stoked.

Who came up with the actual concept of the show?
The concept and name really didn't come together until last minute. We were very flexible and just knew we wanted to make a show about what was normally going on at the park. Believe it or not, half of the stuff we did in Gnarkatz was recreating old gags we did before just for fun. The park is full of these weird toys and has so many possibilities. You personally probably remember seeing some of the gear we have here. So when we finally had the structure set by Rated Red and a production team, we just plugged our skits in! The name came after a week or two of shooting. It was just about narrowing down what name sounded kooky yet hadn’t been used yet. I wouldn’t say one person came up with the idea. It was more that I wanted to have a crew filming the hesh occurrences that I filmed everyday at the park.

Describe the process of filming and finishing an episode. When do you officially say, "Okay, we're done."
Process is simple. We have a huge pit of ideas/skits and we find three that are related and put them into an episode. Filming it has gotten hectic, though! We film reality footage while we build the skit, then the skit will take place and we'll just go with whatever was happening. It’s a lot of improvisation comedy. It kind of felt like we were on Who's Line Is It Anyway? We rarely ever filmed a re-take. If the crew missed a punch line or something crazy going on, then they missed it. It was a constant activity with all the props and stunts and just creativity. The best part is the power of a production crew! That means a dumb joke or a riff will become reality. For instance, on episode 6 we went to peep this hill and made a joke about DJ DollaMenu (my friend and co-star) going down it in a kayak. We return to the park and the crew surprised us with a kayak. OUT OF THIN AIR! Then we pushed him down the roll-in right then and there and he focused his face on the ground. We’re never done until the end of the day. Like I said, it’s basically reality TV so cameras are on 100% of the time.

In your eyes, who is the craziest person in the crew? Who will do whatever, whenever?
Man. Craziest Gnarkat is super hard. I’d say Casey aka Punk Billy. He just commits fully. Then again DJ DollaMenu can drink/eat anything. That’s hard to choose.

What's the best part about filming each episode? It definitely looks like you guys are having some fun.
Dude it is the funniest time. The best part is being able to do this with my friends everyday and get to have the ability to take our dumb ideas to the next level. As corny as that sounds it’s true. Wait… scratch all that. Free Lunch every day is sick.

What are your expectations with the show? What would you say the end result that you want to accomplish with this show is?
I sincerely hope I can give skateboarders a TV show to call their own. Something skaters can relate to. I grew up loving Fantasy Factory just because they have a ten second skate clip randomly. I want to offer that feeling but create a show that earns it. I try every day to cram as much skating into this show as I can. It’s a constant battle with producers and network heads to open their eyes and for them to understand the importance of skating in the episodes. The first half of the season, every day I had to teach the editors how to cut skate clips. All the Do's and Dont’s, yet so many fumbles slipped by because I wasn’t able to be in the editing room. I was stoked to have all the creative control I had though! I know we can do better next season. I also filmed or directed every skate clip in the show. So I'm just hoping everyone will like it and can appreciate the skating I was able to slide in. So just laugh at all the bloopers of misspelled tricks, lands that were cut short or even the occasional “same trick on two different ramps” clip [laughs].

Also, we are dropping a bonus edit of the season finale that is pure skating. And it’s good for people to know that the park we film at is a non-profit that I’m trying to turn into the first free indoor skatepark ever! Check out homeforskateboarding.org for more info on that.

Is the plan to keep every episode on location at the HIC warehouse or will you guys take the hijinks elsewhere one day?
Yeah. HIC Warehouse is the home base for Gnarkatz so we will be here a lot. But going out to explore the world is something we’ll always be doing, too! I don’t want to ever go too far into public interaction though.

Any shout outs or anyone you want to thank?
Shout outs: Follow @thegnarkatz on the gram! Much love to you and Blair [Alley]. All the guys at TWS. Love y'all! Shout out to Jaime [Owens] holding it down for South Carolina. Special thanks to skateboarding, I wouldn’t have my friends and I wouldn’t have these memories with out it.

WATCH all episodes of Gnarkatz right here.

Gnarkatz Bonus Edit (full-version):