Thursday, July 5, 2012

Video: "Skate On Film" The History Of Skateboard Videos

I’ve always loved skate films, I’ve been watching them since the mid 80’s from their birth with the Powell Perlata Bones Brigade films to Plan B’s Questionable and on. From those early days of film to the eventual rise of the VHS camera to present day digital recording devices, skate films have always impressed me in their artistry, filming techniques, and spirit.

ESPN and 900 Films have put together Skate on Film, a twenty-minute documentary on the history of Skate films. Likening the skate video to a skateboarder as is an album to a musician is the foundation of what the video bit has done for the skateboard industry and it’s stars.  Before videos started to make an appearance your only outlet to becoming a pro rider was through competitions, furthermore unless you were traveling across the world there was no real way to see what other skaters were doing. With the entrance of Powell Peralta’s skate videos everything changed, soon people began to realize how useful the medium was to showcase their talents and get a pro deal, it also solved the problem of getting some absolutely incredible skaters their just due outside the world of official events. Kids everywhere where introduced to people like Lance Mountain as a direct result of the skate video, the Powell video series not only showed off Lance’s talents but also his personality and humor. Powell where a rare breed in the skate industry at the time though as film was not something most kids had access to, that changed the moment VHS arrived on the scene.

Enter H-Street and their two seminal video’s Shackle Me Not and Hokus Pokus. H-Street, a small upstart skateboard company had a dream of being able to produce their own video, most of the people involved in the company grew up watching the Powell Peralta videos but could never dream of making their own until the VHS tape came along. The guys at H-Street knew they couldn’t just replicate their heroes, they had to put their own twist on things and so they did, launching a much rawer campaign showcasing their talented team with nothing but a handheld cam and a the will to get it done.  Soon skaters like Matt Hensley, who had never placed in any major event was outselling the top ranked riders in the world, all because of the energy and style captured in his video bit

By the 2000’s skate videos where showcasing the most incredible tricks imaginable, Plan B released Questionable and it became the pinnacle of tricks both technical and big and brought us the talents of Pat Duffy.  Skaters like Jamie Thomas had an almost mathematical approach to filming with his Zero Videos. Welcome To Hell saw Jamie creating checklists of tricks and locations that he would pass along to the team with months of preparation and research being put into the thought process. Progression had hit it’s peak as had the industry and with innovators like Heath Kirchart retiring after he felt he couldn’t one up his last video, the industry started their new era of focus.

With things like image and personal style being what could set you apart from the others, a new batch of video stars like Geoff Rowley and his Sorry video part had the goods in both tricks and attitude. Spike Jonze and his Girl videos launched the directors career and before the masses where enjoying Jason lee’s acting chops kids everywhere loved him for his bit’s in films like Video Days.

Skate On Film decides to end off with Nyjah Huston’s story, a truly incredible contest skater who until he filmed a video didn’t get the respect of his peers that his skills and style deserved. The skate video has become an essential part of the skaters career, with the internet, footage is filmed and distributed to the masses faster than ever, and if your footage isn’t at the level of what’s already out there you need to keep practicing.

Featuring interviews and footage from the likes of pros, photographers, directors and more including Tony Hawk, Ty Evans, Pat Duffy, Matt Hensley, Lance Mountain, Kirk Dianda, Tony Magnusson, Jake Rosenberg, Danny Way, Andrew Reynolds, Heath Kirchart, Atiba Jefferson, Ed Templeton, Geoof Rowley, Torey Pudwill, Erik Ellington, Jon Miner and Nyiah Huston this film is a must for anyone interested in skateboarding. 

Check out the Jared Prindle directed film HERE.

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