PIER 7 GREATEST HITS (CIRCA '98-'03)
Interview with Victor Neyra
INCLUDING BRAND NEW EDIT OF VIC'S CLASSIC CLIPS
After the Embarcadero—aka Justin Herman Plaza's—signature red bricks, fountain, blocks, and stairs fell to city security and remodeling over the course of '96-’98—the remnants of Embarko's Most Blunted or the EMB crew chose SF's Pier 7 (along with New Spot/3rd and Army and Union Square before it too was remodeled) as their new stomping grounds.
In the right place at the right time, and already friends with the crew—Victor Neyra picked up a video camera right in time to become one of the era and spot's most connected filmers—documenting the next generation of EMB as it blossomed at the Pier. Going on to more or less single-handedly secure Henry Sanchez' comeback part in Sight Unseen (nearly all of which Vic filmed himself) along with Marcus McBride's incredible footage in that same part (and even filming some of Cardiel's tricks in his part)—Neyra continued his involvement in the skateboarding world through '09, when he worked on the second DGK video.
Today working as a registrar at the David Zwirner Gallery in NYC, Vic recently reached out to me via Instagram with the goal of showcasing all of his classic Pier 7 footage in an edit for the TWS site. Scroll down for just that, then read Vic's full interview below for his whole story. Thanks for documenting all the radness Victor!
PIER 7 GREATEST HITS (1998-2003) by Vic Neyra
In order of appearance (just their first appearance):
- Henry Sanchez • Karl Watson • Marcus McBride • Rob Welsh • Mike York • JB Gillet • Lavar McBride • Jason Wussler • Pat Washington • Andy Honen • John Igei • Jack Curtin • Shamil Randle • Alex Klein • Adrian Williams • Brad Johnson • Stevie Williams • Spencer Fujimoto
Deadhippie: How did you first get into filming skating?
Vic: It kinda started when I was in high school, my friend Jimmie had a camera and he was pretty sick, he and some other friends had a local shop sponsor and on the weekends we’d go skate all around San Diego hitting all the spots we saw in the videos. I was never that good (laughs) and some of my friends Tim, Justin, and Jimmie were pretty rad so I would just film them. I was already carrying my 35mm camera to school everyday so I liked being behind the lens. I was really influenced by Aaron Meza, Socrates, Tobin Yelland, Sturt, etc. Also my Friend Alex Moorhead who was a little older than us had a huge influence on me, he always had new video and camera gear and he would school me and even let me borrow his cameras.
You had a huge Pier 7 presence in the '00s, can you breakdown your journey from starting filming to contributing to Sight Unseen ('01)?
My Friend Jimmie and I moved to SF in ’96 to go art school. We would still film around with a Hi-8 camera with my friend Scott from school and go to Union Square and Pier 7. That’s where we met Lavar McBride, Marcus McBride, Henry Sanchez, Brad Johnson, Maurice Key, Shamil Randle, Stevie Williams, Shelby Woods, Nick Lockman, JB Gillet, etc. All those guys used to come over to my house after Pier 7 for blunt sessions (laughs), play video games, drink, etc. One night I was hanging out with Lavar and he said, “Aren’t you going to film school? Why don’t you get a camera and film us?" I was like, "Damn why haven’t I done that (laughs)?” so I started saving money and bought a camera. I think. I was hyped that Lavar asked me, I didn’t wanna be asking pros to film, also Pier 7 was way more about locals back then so some people got fucked with and cameras got stolen. But since I was with Lavar and knew most of the guys, it was chill and everyone had my back. At this point Brad Johnson was skating more than filming and cameras had switched from Hi-8 to DV, so I started coming down to Pier 7 and Union Square to film. Everyday someone new would ask me to film, I don’t remember anyone really being there trying to film that much, but Brad definitely showed me the ropes, how to make invoices, getting paid, etc.
This was before the FTC III video came out (major shout out to Kent from FTC, he always took care of me and I had an awesome relationship with him, he definitely looked out and gave me a lot of opportunities), so a lot of my first footage was in that or I would send it to World for trade show promos and commercials since they weren’t working on any videos. From there I started filming a lot with Marcus and Henry, they were just killing it and I was lucky to be there to capture it. Then one day Mike Carroll came up to SF and Henry showed Mike the footage he had and if I’m not mistaken Mike told Greg Hunt that Henry had a bunch of rad footage and suggested to give him a part in the next TWS video. Soon after that Henry told me that Greg hit him up about doing a part, so it was on and Greg came up to SF and we went to Sacramento to meet up with Cardiel and officially started filming for Sight Unseen. Working with Greg was so rad, he sent me an extra camera from TWS and said that he was just going to let me do what I had been doing and to just send him footage. During that time when Greg was in SF with us I was showing him and transferring footage and he saw Marcus’ footage and asked if he could use it in Henry’s part. Everyone was down so Marcus started getting clips too. Greg ended up recording Marcus’ voiceover intro for Henry’s part in my apartment.
What video titles would people know that you also filmed stuff for? Most famous clips or ones that you are most proud of?
FTC III, both Deca videos, Sight Unseen, Chomp On This, Western Edition, Aesthetics, Cliche, Yeah Right, Got Gold and DGK. I contributed footage to other videos but the majority of my footage was with my homies. In the beginning I’d rarely film with random pros, I wasn’t against it, it was just more natural hanging out with my friends and getting footage.
How did your equipment evolve? Did you start on like Hi-8 then go to VX? Did you take the next step to HD? When did you stop filming skating on the daily?
After the Hi-8 I bought a Canon GL-1, I got it for super cheap and the VX-1000 was still super expensive. I didn’t really like it and so I ended up selling it and got a VX-2000 right when they came out, which was kind of a mistake because they hadn’t made the death lens (Century) for it yet which I should’ve done research on, but it was too late. Since Greg had sent me the TWS VX-1000 (which he let me use for a while after the video) I was using the VX-2000 to film long lens second angles, and right after Sight Unseen, I bought a VX-1000 off my friend Jason (who edited the first Western Edition video) and would use both cameras. I think I stopped filming on the regular around late 2003 and would just do it every so often for fun. In 2009 I organized a trip with the DGK dudes to go out to Barcelona to work on the second DGK video and meet up with the homie JB. That was the last skate trip I was on. I never bought an HD camera.
What is your career today?
I work as a registrar at an art gallery called David Zwirner in New York. It’s a great gallery and we represent a lot of amazing artists like Raymond Pettibon, William Eggleston, Yayoi Kusama, Wolfgang Tillmans, etc. It’s pretty rad getting to work with artists that you studied and who influenced you growing up, I feel pretty lucky. I feel like a lot of the older skaters work in art galleries in NY, like Leo Fitzpatrick works up the street at Marlborough Gallery and I used to work at a gallery where Chris Johansson shows his work, and it was super cool working with him while I was there.
Can you break down the day of lending Henry your board to film his last trick from Sight Unseen (fakie heel fakie manny up the block) in some chill shoes (Jordans)?
Damn I totally remember that day. Marcus, Henry, Lavar and me drove down to the pier like any other day, Henry had broken his board at Union Square the night before so he wasn’t really skating because he was waiting on a box and that was the reason he was wearing Jordans. I was filming at Pier 7 and Henry comes up to me and asks me for my car keys to grab the extra setup I kept in the trunk. I think he was bored just sitting around and he started fucking around on the manual pad. I was already filming Marcus trying inward heelflips over the pad and Lavar was trying nollie heel frontside noseslides, so I started filming Henry too. After a few tries, he starts getting into the fakie manual, people were trippin’! Next thing you know, it he gets into one and sticks it. It was so sick man it didn’t take him that long, you can see Marcus jump up when he lands it, everyone was so psyched! It was definitely one of the sickest things ever done.
You mentioned there were also a few clips of Lavar riding that same Aesthetics board (given to you by Welsh). Was that the stock loaner?
Yeah Welsh hit me up once from the airport asking if I could pick him up, I think his ride flaked and he had just got back from a long flight from Australia (it was the Lakai trip with Keenan), he called me and said he’d give me a new board and wheels and some Aesthetics gear. So I picked him up and went back to his house (where Henry, Brad, and Jason Wussler lived too). When we got there he was like, “You can have the board I’m riding too,” which was almost new. So I set it up as my non-filming board which would live in the trunk of my car. So a few times Lavar would come down to the pier without a setup and would borrow mine and we ended up getting footage at Pier 7 and 3rd and Army. Looking back it’s pretty crazy what was done on that board, at the time I didn’t even think about it—Rob, Henry and Lavar riding it is pretty sick.
Gabe Morford told me that the yellow hat Henry was wearing in the clip gave him an allergic reaction and he broke out in hives. That's why his TWS intro was filmed from far away. Did you hear anything about that?
I saw that comment from Gabe, I actually don’t remember that but I think he’s right because I was supposed to meet up with those guys that day, but Henry told me he wasn’t skating and that he was just going to shoot 16mm b-roll with Greg, so I think me and Marcus went filming. I remember the deadline for the video was coming up and we were trying to get stuff everyday.
What else did you film in the Henry part? All of it?
I filmed all of Henry’s part including Marcus except maybe two clips that Trevor Prescott (RIP) and Greg filmed. I filmed one of Cardiel’s tricks and a bunch of stuff in the credits including that kid dropping in off the rooftop (laughs).
Craziest things you witnessed at the Pier? Life wise or skate wise?
I saw a few fights and people getting fucked with, but mostly the tricks and lines that went down. Everyday someone would do something sick. One of the best things was the day Henry kicked out this dude Smurf from the pier. He used to fuck with a lot of kids and steal cameras and shit and he never came back (laughs). Oh and when that kid with the Niners jersey did a backflip off the bathroom, it was in Sight Unseen, it was so gnarly!
When you look back on it now, what do you take away from those years?
Looking back I’m just super grateful I had the opportunity to film with some of my favorite skaters and document a part of skateboard history. I’m originally from Mexico so it was crazy hanging out with these dudes I had watched in videos growing up and getting to be friends with and travel around the world. Going to Barcelona in the early '00s was so sick, and traveling around Europe with JB and Marcus and living with Jack in Barcelona. Also getting to film and become friends with a new generation of amazing skaters like Jack Curtin and Lucas Puig and seeing how good they would become. Without sounding cheesy, it was definitely a dream come true and I wouldn’t change anything. Skateboarding wasn’t as big back then so it felt way more special. I’d like to thank everyone I filmed with and helped me out along the way, Pier 7/EMB crew, Kent at FTC, Socrates, Eli Soto, JB, Brett Margaritis and the OG Cliché guys.