(Photo above: Gap to 50-50, Santa Monica, CA.)
Words | Brian Blakely
Photos | Seu Trinh
Basing an entire video part around only skating flatbars might sound like a shot in the dark. How many flatbar spots do you even know of? Surprisingly, there are a lot more of them out there in the wild than we could've imagined—in all shapes and sizes—and lucky for us, our boy Torey Pudwill took it upon himself to hunt them down. From coast-to-coast and country-to-country, welcome to Torey Pudwill’s Flatbar Frenzy. This ain't your average front yard flatbar sesh!
Let's just dive right into it. What was the motivation behind this Flatbar Frenzy project?
The motivation behind this was really just trying to innovate filming a new video part. I always had the idea to do a part only on flatbars but never really got around to it. Then coming off that five-year filming program for the Plan B video [TRUE], I just couldn't imagine myself doing that again. I felt like I didn't have anything left or couldn't figure out what to do next. That video part really just rinsed everything out of me, so when Red Bull reached out to me and said, "Hey, we want you to film a video part," my heart just jumped. I basically said, "No way, what do you mean? I can't film [laughs]." But with Red Bull being so creative and innovative, I just felt like it was perfect for me to pitch my flatbar part idea. I laid it all out and gave this presentation of what I wanted it to be and they were into it, which was amazing because in order to do this part, I couldn't just film around at home. I wanted it to be travel based around the world, kind of like a "seek and destroy" video part.
Besides being hurt and having to cancel a few of the filming missions, what were some of the main difficulties you found while doing this project?
Really, flatbars aren't that easy to skate. They're dangerous. Out of nowhere you can get into some sudden death experience [laughs]. You're not sure what could go right or wrong. A lot of slams, a lot of getting hurt. You have to watch your balls [laughs]. Also, everything in Asia, or all the flatbars out there are aluminum. Skating aluminum rails is terrible. It's so hard, so annoying. So all the different types of materials that the flatbars were made of made it surprisingly difficult. Not every one of them is as perfect as they look on film or in a photo.
Were there some tricks that you really wanted that got away from you?
I tried so many tricks for this part that I just kind of toyed with to see what's possible, what I could make happen, what I couldn't make happen. The failure is there. Sometimes the failure ends in a bad slam where you literally can't walk away from the spot. I've taken some of those slams. You just slide out on a flatbar trying something easy, hit your ribs on the rail and you're out for a couple months. I've just taken every kind of slam on these flatbars. It's just like filming any other video part though, you'll have those tricks that get away from you and you might find yourself back there trying again. I went to Hong Kong and tried this line for four hours and gave it everything I had until I was completely rinsed and couldn't even walk away from the spot. I was just so hurt physically and mentally. But I flew back to Hong Kong to get that same trick two months later because I wasn't going to finish this part—or even move on—without making sure I had that in the bag. If it's a trick where I have to fly halfway across the world multiple times and be in some country where I'm uncomfortable and I don't understand anybody… I'm going to think about that trick every single day until I land it.
How long would you say you've spent filming this part?
I started filming this part in August of 2015 and had a couple months solid until January of 2016, that's when I tore my meniscus and had to get knee surgery, which put me out for six months last year. It took a couple months to recover after that and then I hurt my shoulder, which put me out a couple months. I already had all this stuff planned out—trips lined up, spots ready to go, my crew was there—and I just had to cancel everything. I took more time off and dedicated it to getting back on my feet so I could skate again and then I rolled my ankle. After I rolled my ankle, having another trip already planned, I couldn't really back out of it because that was my trip to handle business. Once you have a trip booked and already paid for it, you don't want to cancel it—especially for a third time. So I went on the trip with a rolled ankle trying to power through it. I really feel like I've only gotten a solid six to seven months to actually film for this part so far.
That sequence of injuries is pretty heavy. I guess when it rains it pours.
Yeah it's cool though because I've been wasting no time and picking right back up where I left off, making sure I stack that next clip for the part and I'm just stoked on the way that we've made it happen. Just it being such a unique, different video part, there's really no standard to say things like, "You need to get this many clips and it needs to be this long." My goal was mainly to visit a certain amount of territory across the world and make sure that I was hunting down the flatbars that I felt were unique; the ones that nobody has ever skated before or that nobody has ever gotten to think outside the box on and skate differently than somebody else would. But there is a lot of pressure and anxiety because you're not just waking up every day, going skating with the homies and going with the flow on a skate mission. These were cutthroat, solo skate missions. Just me out there alone, finding these spots, trying to create a video part, or my vision. I wanted to make this a video part where you watch it and don't just say, "Oh that's the flatbar part," you know? This is just my new video part. It just so happens to be that we skated only flatbars. It doesn't mean these are just some rinky-dink flatbar spots either—we haven't skated one normal flatbar. Everything is like: a rainbow rail or an "S" rail or a neck-high rail or a rail across a bridge. Everything we're skating is just so different, they aren't just flatbars. They're actual, natural skate spots. Spots where we got to go there and go there once. So when we go, it's time to shine.
What's your dream flatbar trick or combination?
Like something impossible? I don't want to throw something unreal out there but I think one trick I'd like to do—or would even be cool to see someone else do one—is a frontside half-Cab flip to frontside feeble. I've just been thinking about that one lately and I think it'd look so dope. Other than that, I want to parachute out of a helicopter—and I would never do this unless it was for this stunt—but I want to parachute out of a helicopter and skate a flatbar that was also parachuting out of a helicopter in mid-air. This is just the introduction to Flatbar Frenzy. We'll have many more episodes to come with many other skaters involved. This is just the beginning.
More from Torey Pudwill:
Torey Pudwill Flatbar Frenzy Video