As the desire for untouched spots remains to increase, international travel continues to become a bigger and bigger part of filming for videos. While this serves the purpose of bringing unseen imagery to the screen, it can make it difficult to control what you want the final product to come out as. For this reason, and a grip of others, Zered Bassett is filming his Outliers part primarily on the East Coast. Of course those winters will push you South and West occasionally during that season, but as it has heated up in the Northeast, that's where Zered has remained. Years of spot searching in the ever–changing New York area, and a trick list with items over ten years old, will give us a glimpse into exactly what Zered wants us to see: What he does on the day–to–day. —Luke Callahan
How was Go Skateboarding Day? What'd you get up to?
I was in Boston to meet up with the dudes from Orchard [skate shop]. We went and skated the Chinatown basketball court. They had some jump ramps, they had a little Cali picnic table. From there we just skated around Boston.
The actual skateboarding can sometimes become secondary to the skate parade on that day. What's your take on the mob sessions?
If you really skate, if you're really a skateboarder, you're out skating pretty much every day. I feel like it's more about celebrating the skate community, just bringing everyone together. But yeah, there's dudes going for broke in the middle of everything. I'm not one of those dudes. I'll skate around and have fun and chill with the kids. The kids are hyped on it. It's cool.
Normal day, what's the ideal number of skaters for a session? At what point are you rolling too deep?
It all depends on what you're trying to get done that day, what spot you're skating, and what people you're with. Sometimes you just have to go solo and handle something if there's crazy security. Some days you'll meet up with a bunch of people and they'll be going to a fun spot that everybody can skate. If I'm psyched to go out and get something done that day, people might hit me up to go skate, but I'll just be on my own shit and try to handle some stuff before I meet up with other people.
Who've you been skating with while filming for Outliers?
I've been skating with my boy [Lurker] Lou that I grew up with in Cape Cod a lot. He's been skating hard lately, so he's been motivating to be around. Just whoever is motivated to go out. A lot of pros come to New York in the summer. Bobby Worrest just moved here, so I've been skating with him a lot. It switches up depending on who's in the city.
“When you're trying to shoot a photo, you can only think about that. It's a mental switch from skating all the time.”
How has skating in New York changed over the years? As security and gentrification increase in neighborhoods, are you traveling further around the city to film for this video?
Not really. I've kind of had things in mind that I've wanted to do for years. So I'll go and try that sometimes. Other times you'll learn a couple new tricks and then the spot is not really old anymore. Exploring is always great. You find something and no one has skated it, it's just fun. It's not like, "Oh, I have to do this trick because these trick have been done." You can kind of just see what happens.
How long have you had some of these spots/tricks in mind for? What's the oldest on the list?
As old as some of the first couple times I've been to the city—13, 14 years—I've seen spots that I've seen and thought, "Wow, it would be cool to do this there."
You've crossed some of these tricks off the list this year?
Yeah, for sure. There's an old spot that's been there since way back, I feel like maybe the '70s or earlier. The Con-Edison Banks in Queens that are just super rough brick pyramids. I have so many tricks I want to do there, but it's hard to get people to go there because it's a shitty, rough spot.
Do you still do much spot searching via bicycle?
Riding a bike kind of messed my knee up a little bit, so I've been off of the bike.
Messed your knee up? Fixed gear, no brake?
I had a fixed gear for a little bit, and that made me realize that it wasn't good for the knee, so I stopped riding that and would just ride a normal bike. But it did something to my knee, it took me a bit to realize what it was from. I was kind of drinking a lot at the time and I wanted to go as fast as possible and skid all the time. I just went a little too hard I think. If I'm going to be on that type of bike, I want to go fast. I'm going to hurt myself. I phased that out.
Spot maintenance—you down to fix up a spot?
Sometimes, for sure. I'm not afraid to pull out some Bondo and cover a crack. I'm not like, "Oh whatever, man, skate through it." I'll skate through it. I've been skating through it for years, but sometimes it's like, "Do I want to struggle on this stupid crack for a couple hours or do I want to roll over the thing?" If it's a cool-looking spot, I'll put a bunch of work into it. It makes you want to get the trick more because you have more invested into the spot. I like to be hands-on with that. It's part of the creative process of filming and have different stuff that people haven't really skated before.
You had mentioned the stigma fixing spots versus skating through it. It's changed over the years—that stigma is almost gone, would you agree?
Definitely. Just with all the footage of skateparks now and plazas, and how that's all accepted. Kids just want to see their favorite skaters skating. When I film at spots I want it to be a cool-looking spot. I want to be into the spot. If you're filming a video part, it's better to put the work into it and skate the spots how they are, but if you're filming some Internet shit, kids just want to see you skate, so it's just whatever. I mean, don't go to some spot that's legendary because it's hard to skate for a certain reason and then fix it up and then kind of ruin the spot [laughs]. There are certain spots you don't want to fuck with, and they're hard to skate for a reason and you want to leave them like that.
“Don't go to some spot that's legendary because it's hard to skate for a certain reason and then fix it up.”
Look at Wallenberg pre roll-in versus after roll-in. It would have been a no-go to bring a roll-in at one point, but after the contests, that became the only way you hit it.
Yeah, it's pretty crazy. It's just a different era now. The people that hit it without the roll-in, they're on another level. It's more mainstream now, so there's a way broader audience watching.
Similarly to B.C. and A.D. eras. There's now B.R.I. and A.R.I.
So if you're going to throw a contest, before there would be way less people, but the people there were more core skaters and they knew what was going on and they appreciated how hard it was to get that trick. Now you have so many people involved in skating that don't know what's going on they're going to be watching the person struggle to even get to the spot and flail for a couple hours and be like, "This is boring." Nobody is going to want to watch it. So you get the roll-in to keep things exciting so that people that don't really have that knowledge of what really goes into skating don't get bored [laughs].
True. But with all the spot modification that's become acceptable, the plywood landing is still a huge bummer to see. That's the line.
Yeah, I've never really been down for the plywood. Yeah, that's… whatever [laughs].
How long have you been shooting photos for?
I've been shooting since I'd started skating. When I first started skating I'd bought a video camera and would film everything, film all my friends, edit the videos. It was easier back then. I got a film camera a couple years later and we'd try to shoot. I'd always want the fish-eye. I wanted it to look like the videos and magazines. I've been shooting for a while, it's something I've always been into.
“That's where I want to spend my time—New York, Boston.”
What are you shooting on? You shooting on film?
I've got a bunch of different shit. I've got a Leica M6. I've got a Hasselblad. I had a 5D Mark II for a while, which I just traded in for the III and got some flashes. I've finally figured out how to use flashes. That's something I wanted to do forever. I've been shooting on the Mark III now—trying to shoot skate photos and just everything photos.
Where can people check your stuff?
I used to have a little blog [shitsandgiggs.blogspot.com], but I'm just stacking stuff now. I'm not trying to put out too much. I'm just doing it. It's just a fun hobby. It's good to get your mind off of skating. It's hard to get your mind off of skating. When you're doing something like that, there's so much to it. When you're trying to shoot a photo, you can only think about that. It's a mental switch from skating all the time.
The switch hurricane cover back in December, was that your first session filming with [Chris] Thiessen for Outliers?
Yeah, I believe it was.
Not a bad start to the project.
The first couple days were rough. I was kind of nervous, I was like, "Fuck, I hope I have at least one solid clip before they leave." That one kind of happened at the end, so it was good [laughs].
You haven't been drinking for the past few years. Has that affected skating and filming?
Before I stopped drinking, my body felt like shit. There were times when I didn't think I was going to be able to do tricks that I'd be happy with. It got to a point where I was like, "I've gotten pretty much everything in my life right now from skateboarding, that's like my passion, and if I lose this, it's too much." And there where other things too, you know? I'm going to do this, and if I'm going to continue to do this, I'm going to take it a little more serious. But it's kind of hard to take skating seriously because it's skateboarding. So I always kind of had that, like, "Oh, it's just skating, I'm going to drink all day and skate." But then you realize you're getting older and you're like, "I don't want to waste these years when I have all these great opportunities and be feeling like shit all the time." It was time to re-evaluate the life. I'm not a little kid anymore. You've got to realize you've got to take on responsibilities and all that shit [laughs].
“The longer you're in skating the more you realize what you want.”
Has this made Outliers different than any other video you've worked on?
Definitely a little more focused. Health-wise I feel better, so it's not as frustrating and skating is a lot more fun. Instead of going to a spot and trying to warm up and feeling like shit, I feel good when I get there and it's just way more fun to be skating.
You doing a trick lists, or are you keeping it spontaneous?
I probably have five things that I really want to do. If I'm feeling up to it when I'm about to go skate, I'll take a stab at it. If not, I'll just go about my day and just whatever comes, comes. It all just goes back to the vibe of the day.
What are some of the more memorable edits that have come out in the past year? What stuck out for you?
I really liked the Bobby Worrest Pulaski part. That was one of the funnest things to watch. It made you want to go out and skate. I'd say that's up there at the top, both of the parts he's just put out.
There's been a lot of traveling to skate overseas destinations in this video and in many videos that are being produced today. You've done that in past parts like State Of Mind ['09], but you've kept it mainly East Coast for Outliers. Intentional?
Yeah, I would say it's intentional. I still live on the East Coast full-time. I'll go on a couple trips during the winter, but I wait all season for the good weather in New York and that's where I want to spend my time—New York, Boston. I just want to stay on the East Coast. I just like the people, the vibes. I've been coming to Boston a lot. There's a good vibe here right now and I've been digging it.
It can be tricky balancing all that, too. Opening up the part with some crusty East Coast spots and then cutting to a pristine ledge in China. It can take you out of it.
Yeah, it's tough. The longer you're in skating the more you realize what you want. When I was younger I didn't really get that, I just wanted to jump down whatever was in front of me and just skate. I'm still down to just skate, but I know what I want the finished product to look like, or somewhat look like. It's kind of cool to show people what you want them to see and what you do on the day-to-day.