Jack O’Grady, backside 50-50. Photo: Sam Coady *click to enlarge

We had heard about a Nike SB AU video coming out, but nothing could have prepared us for what those boys from Down Under dropped on us last Monday. 27 minutes of hell-raising bangers from Australia’s gnarliest young rippers. We’ve had our eyes on a few of these dudes for a minute now, and they didn’t disappoint, and the ones we’d never heard of kicked us in the head with their footage. It’s easily one of the best videos of 2018, and I don’t see many coming out that will be on par with it. To give it a little more shine, we caught up with the main filmers and TMs behind the video (Chris Middlebrook, Brendan Gardoll, Geoff Campbell) and got down to some Reel Talk.--Blair Alley

CHRIS MIDDLEBROOK

The title Medley is pretty self explanatory, but fill us in on how you all came up with that as the title for this project?
This video started initially as a project with five of the young SB guys back around September 2016. They were Jason Rainbird, Nicholas Andrewes, Jarrad Carlin, Dean Johnston and Sam Atkins. Over time the video morphed and grew into a squad of sixteen--it was 20 at one stage, but some people didn't make it in there in the end.

I'd been trying to think of a title, but you cant force titles. You just let something come into your head. I'd started on some musical concepts with Lawrence (Greenwood) around February this year and there was already a lot of footage and I was playing with some tracks and rough timelines and looking at all the different people, their different styles and different ages and approaches to skating, and I thought, "This is such a mixed bag of dudes." I thought 'mixed bag'--that's not really a name, so I punched it into the Thesaurus and MEDLEY was the fifth word that came up in the search.

That title fit perfectly with the musical concepts, but also the fact that everyone in the video really compliments each other. I also wanted the video to have a pace and a vibe that flows from part to part with no black screens. I wanted it to be continuous so that they appear like a team and not just some kids doing some tricks.

How did you settle on using Geoff Campbell and Brendan Gardoll, the main filmers for this project?
Geoff had ridden for Nike since 2012/2013 and had helped me film Two Up with Alex Campbell and Nick Boserio. He basically saved the day on Two Up after I had a serious neck injury halfway through that took me out from skating and filming lines. I could still film but I became the long lens guy and he would be fisheye guy. It always worked and still does today.

After Two Up, Geoff worked on Josh's Pass~Port video with James James and following that I hired him to film and edit the 344 video. After the completion of 344, my role at Nike had already shifted more into brand work and the production/direction of the content and so I hired Geoff as the new TM. It made sense for him to be the TM and filmer.

This was September 2016. At this point we had two projects on the go. The Young Guys video was just starting and we were also starting work on a Sydney montage. I'd really wanted to shine a light on the Sydney-based team, for a long time there was a lack of filmers there. It’s not like that now, but whilst making Josh's pro part, Geoff or James would regularly fly up for a few days to film with Josh to get it done as no one really filmed that much.

A young filmer, Brendan Gardoll, starting sending through footage around this time of the younger SB Sydney guys. They were getting busy and there were a couple of other filmers who had recently moved to Sydney so that video became a real possibility and grew to become Cumberland County.

Brendan was one of the most motivated filmers who would do anything to get a clip which reminded me of myself a little when I was young. 100-percent commitment to filming. Brendan really came through on Cumberland County as did his squad on young Sydney rippers-Charles Robertson, Jack O'Grady, Noah Nayef, Corey Young and Rob Pace. At the end of it I was so impressed that I decided to add that whole group to the Young Guys video and also give Brendan a job filming with them for the video for the next year. So we were covered with Geoff and myself to film in Melbourne and Brendan in Sydney. The skaters could travel between cities and always have a crew to work with.

L to R: Noah Nayef, Charles Robertson, Jack O'Grady. Photo: Sam Coady

Team Evolutions

As I said the video squad grew and changed over time. The addition of Hayley Wilson in December 2016 presented the opportunity to include her and also presented a challenge of how do you build this incredibly talented girl into a video full of gnarly guys and have her belong. My belief is that she is as much a part of the team as anyone else and should be in there. As it turned out it wasn't even a challenge.

Geoff, Brendan and I led her through her first filming experiences, taking her to spots and showing her the ropes. She knows how to bondo now, she'll stand in the middle of the road and stop traffic for someone landing in the street, she'll sweep the landing for you too if you want and she'll happily take your money when you bet her $50 on her next shot. The girl smashed her front tooth out on her first ever attempt at a lipslide on a nine-stair handrail, went to the ER, got it fixed and was back in the van the next day.

Rowan Davis was a late addition. He had been on flow for a couple of years was added to the video in November 2017, went all out and delivered a part in five months which opened the video. Sam Sutton only got on flow in November 2017 and like Rowan, saw the opportunity and went to work and got it done.

“if I was a kid and had $50 to buy Video Days in 1991, I would've copied the video and used the $50 to buy shoes or a board.”

What cameras and format did you use for this video and how did you decide on that?
There was goal to try to keep the footage consistent. The jump from 720p to 1080p 4k is brutal and a video in all 720p is great or all 1080p is great but chopping them up gets a bit unwatchable. During Cumberland County we had so many different filmers, cameras and formats that we decided to align all our gear between the three of us to make sure things looked good. We settled on Panasonic GH4/GH5 and also the Panasonic HCX1000. We also encouraged the guys to try and film with us or at least on those settings with someone else. Its 95-percent 1080p, there are some older undeniable 720 clips in there, but you can't deny a good trick regardless of format.

How long has this video been in the works?
Started in September 2016, but in reality it kinda kicked off when Cumberland County ended, so June 2017. 75-percent of the footage happened in less than twelve months.

Noah Nayef, boardslide yank out. Photo: Sam Coady *click to enlarge

What's your take on videos in 2018, are they to be sold or put out online for free?
Good question. As a kid someone would rent Video Days from the skate shop and everyone would copy it. I don't even know if there was a copy to purchase, probably just the one shop copy, but my point is that if I was a kid and had $50 to buy Video Days in 1991, I would've copied the video and used the $50 to buy shoes or a board.

I don't think that mentality has ever changed. I have a huge VHS collection of skate videos because prior to Youtube, you either copied it or bought it. As a filmmaker, I always bought the videos I liked because I understood that someone had worked there arse off to make it and I wanted to support that company/skater/filmer and hopefully get to do it for a living one day.

The different media platforms offer so much content, good or bad, and for free so there's no real reason that a kid would purchase a video with his own cash. It’s so simple for kids to create their own media now too, so with heavy saturation the need to purchase dwindles. I don't think that all videos should be free, I'm just saying that's the way it is now and the skating has set itself up to be the way it is. That it’s free media. It's tough on independent skate filmmakers as the market is conditioned to have videos served up to them for free. They do sell their videos and should get paid, however once it’s on Youtube, sure the world sees it, that's great, but that filmer probably never gets a return.

Some larger brands give them away as promotional tools which everyone watches and they do the rounds because they are free. Everyone's happy--the brand/product/skater/filmer all get exposure and the community gets a free video. Some brands sell them and I'll purchase some on iTunes and do the right thing, but when they land on Youtube a month later, a kid sees that pattern and they will wait for it to come out for free or simply watch another video. Because god knows there's no shortage of them!

After a huge project like this, what is the conversation like as far as what Nike SB AU is going to do next?
I’m not too sure right now. I think it’s gonna be hard to top this one so maybe take a break for a minute.

How important is music in your videos? How'd you come up with the song choices for Medley?
It’s really important. Music licensing and budgets were always a challenge on the Nike SB AU videos. I always used local musicians and artists, often unsigned, to support our projects just because it felt like the right thing to do and made things more personal. I have been friends with Lawrence Greenwood for a while, he went by the name Whitely in the past, and I used one of his songs for Shane O'Neill's pro debut Berrics part back in 2010. We had worked more closely the last twelve months as I had done a couple of music videos for his latest album. This led to him doing the track For Lewis for the Lewis Forever memorial video that came out in January to celebrate the five-year anniversary for his passing and the launch of the Lewis Dunk. The song was amazing and worked incredibly well and got me thinking about the possibility of a score for Medley.

I'd been toying with how to work music into the video with a limited budget and with no real idea of how long parts would be or how many parts there would be. I was determined to have a flow and also give people their shine with some form of part and not roll all these people into a series of montages with songs that don't connect. Photosynthesis is my favourite video and undeniably one of my biggest influences. The Habitat section always stood out to me because it had its own soundtrack by Mr Dibbs. It was also a series of smaller parts, most of them short and punchy with each guy having their own song with individual feel that also felt similar to the other tracks.

Once I'd decided this approach would work I started to hone in on who would have parts and how long they might be. Then I tried to figure who needed to compliment each other in the montages. Lawrence would send me short tracks, usually 45 seconds to a minute, and I would listen and go back and forth with him trying to assign them to people’s skating, but also to where I thought their parts may sit in the video. The whole piece had to ebb and flow. I'd set myself up to be able to amend, curate, and extend songs with Lawrence as needed. This was a totally new task in itself and one that worked out for the best and ensured the songs and parts were tight and punchy. The longest section is 2.20, the shortest is one minute--the rest sit in the middle somewhere but still feel like parts and the video moves quickly. The pacing was important too--the video had to feel fast, not just in a skating sense but in the length of the film.

Charles Robinson, 50-50. Photo: Sam Coady *click to enlarge

What filmers influence you?
The same one's who always did. Jacob Rosenberg, Dan Wolfe, Ty Evans, Greg Hunt, Jason Hernandez, French Fred, Bill Strobeck, Joe Castrucci, and Spike Jonze.

Your favorite clip in the video we should look out for:
Damn, tough question. I don't wanna play favourites, I’m gonna have to list a few.
Rob Pace, feeble into the alleyway.
Raph Langslow, backside 360.
Hayley Wilson, Lippy around the corner.
Ben Lawrie, frontside crook.
Jack O'Grady, 360 flip.
Jason Rainbird, backside heelflip.
Noah Nayef, backside nosegrind revert into bank.
Noah Nayef, backside biggy up, switch frontside 180 down.

BRENDAN GARDOLL

What's your take on videos in 2018, are they to be sold or put out online for free?
Of course nothing compares to having a hard copy on DVD, but kids’ attention spans are so short that it feels like almost a waste of time putting it out on DVD or even selling it. We are all accustomed to just waiting for a vid to go up online for free now. Straight to the web is where its at in my opinion, get that footage out as soon as possible before someone else goes and does your trick!

After a huge project like this, what is the conversation like as far as what Nike SB AU is going to do next?
Yeah Geoff, whats up!?

Brendan Gardoll filming Rob Pace. Photo: Cameron Markin *click to enlarge

What filmers influence you?
Filmers not afraid to take risks and make something of their own, or anyone who still has the patience to film VX. My favorites are Zach Chamberlin, Colin Read, Jason Hernandez, and Jacob Nunez.

Your favorite clip in the video we should look out for:
Tough to say, everyone smashed it. Rowbag’s tailslide gap out in Canberra is the best!

GEOFF CAMPBELL

How long has this video been in the works?
Filming varied for different people. Some guys have a few tricks that span back two or three years, but originally the full video idea started around 20 months ago and was to be five guys from Melbourne. We did the first filming trip to Canberra with those five guys and then a month later a trip to Taiwan.
The Sydney guys finished Cumberland County this time last year and they were all on such a roll we thought, "Why not keep the momentum going and include them too?" Within that twelve months, a couple more people got involved and it grew into the final product. Rowan Davis only got involved about six months ago. He was just so hungry to be in it and filmed a sick part in a short amount of time. That was really impressive to witness.

What's your take on videos in 2018, are they to be sold or put out online for free?
I'm up for either. I still have a full length video I did with my friends as a solo project which I plan on dropping in a box set with my last three releases. I hope I can sell some. I still think there's a place for selling videos in the hard copy form, especially from independent filmmakers.
Both forms have their purpose. The independent filmmaker may sell theirs, make a little money back for their effort, get their name out there a bit then perhaps put it online eventually. For companies (big ones especially), I think it’s more important for the video to just be out there right away. Everyone watches it, ideally loves it and therefore supports the brand.

Middsy, Geoff Campbell, and Jack O’Grady. Photo: Bryce Golder

After a huge project like this, what is the conversation like as far as what Nike SB AU is going to do next?
More smaller projects. Now that some of the guys have been profiled within a large group they can go ahead and film their own solo parts. I think a lot of the guys are really motivated off the back of the video and keen to one up themselves. Some of these might be for Nike or parts for their other sponsors. Also I would love to do an overseas trip. Head somewhere new for the guys and put out a tour clip/article.

Your favorite clip in the video we should look out for:
That's a hard one--I have favourites of everyone throughout the video, but one that springs to mind is Rainbird’s backside heel down Black 11. Drops his board, straight into position then just unleashes it. Literally couldn't have been done any better. I love the light flicker from the revolving door too. That might be a bit bias, I filmed that one but he just does it so good, you can't touch it. Also Rob's Smith on the bank to rail with the pop into the rock bank and Noah’s backside nosegrind revert on the numbers back into the bank. Both of those tricks were such amazing use of unique spots and when those clips came in from Brendan and Midds I was super hyped on them.

Jack O’Grady, slappy nosegrind. Photo: Sam Coady *click to enlarge

Jarrad Carlin. Photo: Sam Coady

L to R: Jason Rainbird, Nicholas Andrewes, Hayley Wilson, Corey Young, Charles Roberson, Noah Nayef, Sam Atkins, Jarrad Carlin, Jack O'Grady Photo: Sam Coady

Jack O’Grady. Photo: Bryce Golder

Jason Rainbird, gap to backside lipslide. Photo: Bryce Golder *click to enlarge

Give Medley another watch: