Reel Talk: Adam Robo

Having filmed a full part himself, Adam has experienced being both the skater and the lensman, which is a rare occurrence as far as most filmers go. I’ve never seen someone work harder behind a camera. This kid does everything. He’ll sit in a 100-degree ditch in the baking sun for hours on end, drive the long 12 hour distance through the night, or even climb up a 50 foot bridge. Anywhere, anytime. That’s how he rolls. I remember living with Adam. He was juggling college, managing a job, and filming for this full-length (Faded). There would be some days he would wake up early, get out of school, go to work, get off work and immediately grab his camera bag and hit the streets. Didn’t even change out of his work uniform. When he sets out to accomplish something, he’s going to succeed. That’s just how he is. A hard working, friendly guy who everyone knows and loves. He’s easily developing one of the more respected reputations in Portland. Robo God is the man. Cheers, mate, and congratulations.—Mikey Carpenter

Photo / Stephen Sturgis

Man on a wire. Photo / Stephen Sturges

Why do you prefer the VX?
Basically it comes down to an aesthetic choice. Similar to why you would listen to vinyl versus digital recordings or shoot on a film camera instead of a DSLR. It's about how you want it to look or feel as a finished product. Yeah, I know that HD has a higher resolution, it’s the industry standard, can shoot at insane frame rates, etc. To me, the VX is timeless. It is skateboarding. It's not perfect, it’s not the best quality, but it gets the job done. As long as you can see the trick that is being done I could care less how many pixels are on the screen. The frame size alone could be the biggest advantage in my eyes. With a 4:3 frame size you can make better use of a fisheye. You can fill the frame and make things look as dynamic as possible while still keeping the entire person in frame. Call me an old man but I love looking through all the tapes, and having them be there forever. I’ve spent so many hours and too many shoeboxes full to count them all. When you can just click and delete it takes the fun out of it. With that being said I think the end product is more important than what you film with. I've seen a lot of good videos made with the VX, I've seen just as many made HD. There's a ton of not so good ones as well. I could go for days about it but it just comes down to a choice I make because of the look it provides.

How did you arrive at the cast and crew that's featured in Faded?
It all just came naturally. Goomba Slayers has sort of stuck as a name for our group of friends over the past few years. For the most part all the dudes in the video are a part of that or I just hang out with them and go skate on a regular basis. The sickest part to me is that not only am I filming my friends, I'm filming some of my favorite dudes in skateboarding. Being surrounded by such raw talent in all these dudes is seriously so inspiring and as I see them progress it makes me want to do the same.

The Goomba Slayers. Photos / ROBO

The Goomba Slayers. Photos / ROBO

Do you have a day job? Or are you filming full time?
For the first year of Faded I was going full time to PSU and also working as a manager of a Dollar Tree downtown. That was such a joke and I was making shit money so I quit as soon as I got my degree. Went on a few trips, came back and started making double the money running food. I'd love to film full time but I don't think anybody is really hiring people to film VX these days.

How did you fund this indy project?
For the majority of the video I just funded it out of my own pocket. But towards the end I got a couple companies on board. Daniel Evans at Bacon skateboards has been probably the biggest help through the process though. Since he's got a few riders in the video he's thrown down on trips and gas and got me like 60 tapes or something. Shouts out to him, that shit was so helpful. This video would seriously not be possible without him.

What's the decision behind selling DVDs and putting out a free online video?
I'm the kind of person who likes to have a hard copy. Something about a digital download isn't quite as gratifying to me. The majority of the parts will be up on the site but to get all of them entirely you might have to dust off that ol’ DVD player. That being said I'll still probably only make a small quantity of them, since it'll mainly just be online.

Johnny Helgren Smith grinding while Adam gets BGPs. Photo / STURGES

Johnny Helgren Smith grinding while Adam gets BGPs. Photo / STURGES

What's next? Are you filming anyone else for future projects? Are the big companies hitting you up for a staff filmer position?
Right now, I'm just ready to dive into whatever comes next. I know a ton of the dudes I film right now have other priorities and I plan on helping them out how I can. Usually we just go out and skate, have fun and whatever happens happens. I don't like forcing things. Unfortunately no staff positions have been offered to me but I'll get little care packages here and there. If you want to give a good word though…

How important is music in your videos? How'd you come up with the song choices for Faded?
Music is the backbone of a video in my opinion. If the song choice is garbage, I'm less likely to even finish the video. It can be the one thing that stands out and makes parts more fun to watch or not. But for this project, I took equal parts the suggestions of each skater and what I thought would work well with their skating. It all worked out in the end and I'm actually really satisfied with how it came out keeping the older sort of feel in check.

How long did you film for for Faded?
I've been filming for Faded since the day after my first video premiered about two years ago. Living with both Mikey and Anakin at the time it just was naturally what we liked to do everyday. Since then it's just slowly molded into the final product we have now.

Johnny Helgren, backside tailslide. Photo / ROBO

Johnny Helgren, backside tailslide. Photo / ROBO

What filmers influence you?
Probably the biggest influences in my book would be the O'shea brothers. A Happy Medium was the first independent skateboard film I ever watched as a kid and then from there I was just hooked. Other than them I get stoked on a bunch of different dudes. Zach Chamberlin for the way he's mashing down hills still getting closer than most people filming normally. Chris Gregson for his follow lines in tranny as well as Grant Yansura, Mike Manzoori, Jon Minor, Beagle, Jackson Casey, and fellow Portlandians Tommy B and Andrew Gray. It's insane living in a city with so much skateboarding going on in it for how small it actually is, and that gets me more hyped than anything.

Your favorite clip in the video we should look out for:
Damn, that one is really hard. I could only narrow it down to a clip per dude.

Anakin: His first line where he recreated his Dad's line for Emerica, This Is Skateboarding (00:16). On the way out to Lincoln City he brought it up kind of nervously like I wouldn't think it was cool. But I was stoked on it. Once we got there he got out of the car and did it first try before I even got my camera out. Then did it again right after for the footage. It was crazy to see how similar it was compared to the old footage.

Johnny: The ollie into that ditch in Palm Springs was dope (5:48). He was pretty much our tour guide while we were out there so he would just roll up to a spot and be like yeah this is what I want to do. He tried it once but caught his board before the water at the bottom. But then the next try it got away from him and I went to save the board. I successfully stopped it from getting drenched but in the process I ended up falling and sliding through some what I can only hope was ditch water. Shit had me laughing so hard but he walked up and did it next try. So worth it.

Mikey Carpenter, frontside bluntslide. Photo / STURGES

Mikey Carpenter, frontside bluntslide. Photo / STURGES

Jake: The line where he slappy crook and then noseslide fakies real quick was probably my favorite just because it was really quick and spontaneous and he did it really well. (00:50)

Hans: I think I'd say that no comply off the parking block was sick because it was just super easy for him and the way he did it just gets me stoked every time. (2:08)

Derm: First things first, Derm is the fucking man. Almost everything we've ever filmed has been such a blast but the one thing that stands out is that line on the rocks. He did that wallie back lip so many times and then he was like, “Yo, I want to do it in a line with a blunt to fakie because I've never done one.” It was such a creative way to skate that spot and I was really taken aback that it only took him a handful of times to do it.

Nick: If you've ever skated with Nick you know it’s either fully a go or it’s not gonna happen. But when it’s on it’s fucking on. The line at West Linn with the Andrect really stood out to me (4:38). Specifically that Andrect. The way he was doing them that day he would pretty much air out and only make contact with the coping to push off of it on the way down.

Mike: Filming with mike you know its going to be something you've probably never seen before. The switch frontside bigspin pivot fakie was definitely one of those. He did it a few times but he kept saying it wasn't fast enough. The one we ended up using though was seriously so quick I didn’t even know it was the one.

Frank: Frank’s push carve was one of the most intense battles I've ever filmed. Multiple days, on multiple hour sessions. It seems like, “Oh I just gotta take my foot off and push like I normally do.” But it’s different on a completely vertical wall. Especially with uphill landing. After a few almost makes and hand drags, a broken board or two, he rolled away and I lost my shit.

Mikey: There's almost too much to choose from in this part. One that really stood out to me was the wooden Hubba he five-0’d. It was raining, there was a big ol’ drop on the other side, carpet run up, short-ass landing, and during one of the tries he broke through one of the boards he was landing on. So much shit I'd have just said I'd pass on it for. But he knocked it out like a champ. I've honestly never seen more determination to get a trick than when I see that kid skate.

Check out all the parts from Faded that we’ve posted and stay tuned for more tomorrow! Pick up the DVD.

Follow Adam on Instagram: @goombaslayer