When I hit up Ty for his quick three questions in the TWS Director's Club page, it immediately became apparent his musings could/should be part of an entirely new interview. While the TWS video catalogue begins with Uno in '96, it truly didn't reach peak potential until Ty and Jon Holland teamed up for Feedback in ’99. Here was the story of said peak and the resulting plateau of epicness. Support the TWS videomakers and their legacy by buying Duets today.
Who hit you up to come to Transworld? Did Ted (Newsome) hit you up?
I had just finished the Rhythm video (Genesis, 1997). They wanted to do another Planet Earth video, which I had just done before that, and I didn't want to do another one. I wanted to work with different people and Transworld just made the most sense at that time. Ted was juggling a lot of duties at TWS, He was the Art Director but also making the videos. He was shooting photos and doing a million other things. So the timing was right for me to come in and start heading up the video department.
The Rhythm video was already a departure from the normal skate video format, to put it lightly. What video did you first work on coming in?
When I came in they had just started on the first Cinematographer ('97). It was a perfect transition because I had a little segment in there but I also got to work with the other people who had segments.
Then by Interface ('97) did you sort of take charge of the program?
Yeah, after Cinematographer I got to do my first full-length video for TWS and that was Interface.
I'll jump to my main question; you said Feedback was the turning point for you?
Yeah. Just looking at the bigger picture. I felt like Feedback, when it came out was the most different, and there were a lot of factors that went into that. For anything you need to have a negative to create a positive. That negative was the video that came before—Transmission 7—it was the epitome of the standard skateboarding video to me and was everything that I hated about skate videos. So I really just wanted to make something different. And that was kind of how Feedback was created. It was a combination of not just filming the tricks but maybe the other things that went around capturing the tricks. Also getting a generator and lights and filming at night. Along with the getting the new Century Optics fisheye (aka The Deathlens) it was also the first time I went down and did the analog slow motions on a Beta-to-Beta tape system. It was all of those things coming together and then on top of that, also getting some of the best and most amazing skateboarders at the time. Chad Muska was huge at that moment. That video part was giant.
Everything came together.
Yeah. Also at that point I had just moved up to Los Angeles so it was a change of scenery where I had been in San Diego for the videos prior to that.
One thing that I noticed watching Feedback and The Reason back then was how powerful the opening credits were. I think Feedback had the rider voiceovers with Trans Am and then The Reason had Moby. Was there a conscious effort to make those more developed?
Like I said, I think Feedback set the stage for all the videos after that. You could see the level of the video making get upped a notch. And you could also see the level of the skaters in them getting upped a notch. That was cool too because after Feedback these guys knew that we were going to make something good and special and they wanted to give it their all. So that laid the blueprint for things to come afterwards. I had gotten into Trans Am through Atiba, and Jon (Holland) was super into them as well.
That's right; Atiba was still in there too. He was also giving his two cents on everything?
Yeah. I had actually used Trans Am for my Cinematographer section prior to that intro. After Feedback, moving forward to The Reason, that was just an even more polished version of what he had done with Feedback. I think for that intro we tried to dive in a little bit more and put even more thought and emotion into it. Almost like if Feedback was the sentence—The Reason was the exclamation point.
Was After Effects sort of coming too? Just more control over timing the titles to music and all that?
Jon actually built most of the titles for The Reason in Photoshop. Then we would bring them in as stills and kind of faded them in and out. It was fun making that video.
Favorite part overall?
Chad Muska, Feedback without a doubt. A lot of that part I went out filming with just Chad and I. No photographers, no other filmers. It was really cool. I hung out with Chad recently—a couple of months ago—and we were talking about how amazing those times were. We were just kids really with a skateboard and a video camera. Pushing the boundaries of what was possible. It's pretty cool to look back on now.
You kind of made you mark with the TWS videos and then stayed on that trajectory since. You've certainly kept on expanding the things you're interested in, but in that same direction it seems. Is that fair to say?
I've always had these moments where I'm at a movie theater and it gives me a certain feeling, or I'm at a concert and that gives you a certain feeling. I've always tried to replicate that feeling within the skateboarding films that we make. Whether it be good, bad, crazy, happy, or sad—you want to replicate that emotion and show it to other people through this medium of the skateboard video. It's crazy when you're out there with a camera filming it because a lot of the time you can picture the feelings you're feeling there in the moment. And you're like, "Okay, how can I capture this now with this camera to translate that?" And then you gotta sit down again in front of a computer and how do you translate it then even more so now in the editing process? I think that's why I have such a love/hate relationship with the editing process, because that's the end game. If you can't pull it off there, then it's not happening. And you have this thought in your head, and the experience that you experienced and you hope to god that you can convey that in the film. I remember sitting at the premiere for The Reason at the La Jolla Scripps Theater and when Neil Mims takes that slam, and then the shot of him holding his hand up to his head and removing it and you can just see inside of his skull—and the whole place going nuts—and you're like, "Okay, they're feeling what I was feeling when I was sitting there filming that."
It makes sense because I did feel like it was feeling and emotion that you inserted into those videos. I was talking to Ewan Bowman about it earlier and he was talking about watching that intro in The Reason and how it was the emotion from it that made the difference.
It also goes back to the first time I saw a video at an actual premiere. That was the Virtual Reality (1993) premiere. When the three screens came on for the intro I remember how insane that felt. That feeling really left an impression on me. It was so powerful. I think from then on, that was always something that I tried to inject into every film or video I made.
Do you have a favorite amongst the other TWS directors?
I love taking people under my wing and showing them the basics of filmmaking. Then after the fact, after showing them the basics, the most rewarding part is seeing what they go on to do on their own. For me to leave Transworld and just really see Jon (Holland) prosper and take the TWS videos to a level that I never even took them to was really rewarding for me. That's something a lot bigger than making these films. Seeing something that I've helped establish continue to grow within Jon, then watching him help nurture that and pass it on to the next guys that he took under his wing. When I met Jon he wasn't filming at all. He was brought in to learn graphics and editing. It wasn't until maybe The Sixth Sense that he got his own camera and started going out filming. At first it was more me going out filming and Jon was just editing. But there have been so many guys like that through the years; Jon Holland to Chris Ray, up to the guys that I'm working with now, it's something that is very rewarding to me. So many people have helped me over the years that it's the least that I could do to pay it forward.
Jon actually has the most TWS videos to his credit. He starts with The Reason ('99) and is there through Perpetual Motion ('12). I wish he was still there to be honest.
I had a pretty cool moment, I had taken Jon under my wing, taught him the basics, then from there he went off and took it way further. Then years later, when I was doing We Are Blood ('15), that was one of the biggest endeavors I had ever taken on. I had a room full of editors and some of the editors couldn't even crack the code of being able to put some of this stuff together. It dawned on me that I needed someone who was on the same page as me. My first pick was Jon Holland. I called him and he was like, "Let's do it." Next thing you know I'm sitting in the room for three months along with Jon and a bunch of other guys and it was just like old times. Seeing something like that come full circle is really cool.
I was stoked when I heard Jon was working on that with you.
It's funny I saw Joeface the other day and he was telling me how he's making a TWS video and I was like, "You know we used to make these every six months right?" He's like, "Yeah, you're fucking crazy though. You don't count. You're different." I told him like, I used to be filming (Danny) Montoya for The Reason while I was still filming Feedback.
I think Transmission 7, Feedback, and The Reason are all in 1999. So three full Transworld videos with full parts from like six dudes in a single year.
It's crazy right? I had a good portion of Montoya's part filmed when we were editing Feedback. I think we were just on a roll that year. These kids today don't play that way (laughs). I think you can make a good video in six months.
Huge thanks to Ty Evans for everything he has brought to skateboarding over the years. Support the TWS videomakers and their legacy by buying Duets today.
The Intro to Feedback (1999) with Trans Am and the voiceovers.
Muska’s legendary curtains in Feedback.
The Reason’s (1999) “emotional roller-coaster ride of epicness” intro to Moby.