From Eastern Exposure to the golden era of LOVE park to filming a young Fred Gall, Jamie Thomas’ opening line in Welcome to Hell at Brookyln Banks (you know the one), Real to Reel, Anti Hero’s Destination Unknown and SO much more… Dan Wolfe is a master behind the lens—in both video and photography. His Chrome Ball interview is full of classic stories, Read a sample below then click the link at bottom for full interview.
I've always been fascinated by Love Park politics. How explicit were those party lines? And did you play that game at all?
I never got involved, even though I was definitely with the Daggers more. That's what Stevie used to call Ricky and Matt's crew, "The Daggers"... which is still amazing to me. Stevie's crew was DGK... they talked some shit about each other but I think there was still a mutual respect.
I didn't care. I just wanted to film good skating. But as a videographer, I went out with the Daggers more because they'd actually leave Love. As I filmer, I prefer more variety in spots. If you're just sitting at Love all day, all the footage is going to get repetitive.
Was it intentional to separate those crews in Eastern Exposure 2 with DGK skating to hip-hop and the Daggers skating to jazz?
(laughs) No, it just kinda worked out that way. The guys in those crews all had similarities in how they skated so it only made sense to group them together like that. But the songs were all picked by the guys. I think the Daggers were hyped on Gonz skating to jazz in the Blind Video.
Actually, when I first edited that video, the entire Philly section was edited to Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town." I remember after the video premiere at Sub Zero, literally everyone came up to me afterwards like, "Dan, you gotta change that song. That song sucks." (laughs)
What about Ricky beating up that crackhead? That had to be hard to film.
Yeah, that always felt weird because it did kinda demonize Ricky to an extent, but in that situation, he was totally in the right. Here's this sketchy dude being a prick and scaring the younger kids, Ricky had warned him several times to get out of Love, but the guy wouldn't leave so Ricky flipped it on him. That's why that went down.
I will say that towards the end, though, it was pretty obvious that the dude was defeated and Ricky's still kicking him in the head... but the whole thing started for noble reasons. Ricky was the guardian of Love, he couldn't just let that happen.
So how do you go about filming a Gonz part for Real to Reel?
The hardest part about filming Gonz is actually getting him out skating. He has his hand in so many things, he gets distracted easily. But once you get him out there, he switches on and it's like magic. He's actually easy to film once he's out there because he's happy to be doing his thing. He just has to want to do it.
I did film with him a lot but I can't really say that I know him very well... I don't think too many people actually know him like that, you know? But I think his approach to skating is just like his approach to life, very spontaneous. It's all about what interests him at that moment. I'm sure there have been things that he thought about doing and set out to do them... like the Kilty McBagpipe hippie jump stuff. But I think that most things he does are just thought of on the spot.
I remember him telling me about how he wanted to do a "Ghost Grind".
"What's that, Mark?"
"I want to roll up to a ledge like I'm gonna grind it. I'll ollie like a frontside 50-50 but kick the board away so it's actually grinding while I'm still in the air. Then I'll land on it back on the ground."
He wanted to ghost grind the whip! (laughs)
I feel like that's the kinda stuff he thinks about.
What about that insane 12" wide brick gap ollie?
Yeah, that was on a Real trip with Cairo, Dennis, Mickey and Gabe. I knew some D.C. spots pretty well but I'd never seen that one. It was actually across the street or around the corner from where we were skating, Mark just happened to see it.
Next thing I know, he's over there rolling around on this sketchy ledge. We couldn't believe it. And the way he pushed at it, too. He didn't just go straight at that gap, he wanted to drop in and carve around the corner!
He only tried it a few times and once he made it, that was it. I do remember one pretty bad slam but for whatever reason, he just bounces off things. Slams never seem to hurt him.