Skateboarder Magazine Dec/Jan 2012/13 – Countdown to Sweetness
Originally published in our Dec/Jan 2012-13 Issue.
Words: Jaime Owens
Photos: Ben Colen
The pressure is always there. For every skater filming a video part, veteran or rookie, it doesn’t matter if you’re working on your first part or tenth part, the stress is the same but how each guy handles it is always different. And being a part of such highly-anticipated and groundbreaking videos like the Girl family has always produced over the years just ups the ante that much. It’s been almost 10 years since their last team video Yeah Right came out. That’s a long time between videos and although a lot of the guys had parts in Fully Flared, this will mark the first time a lot of the team will have a chance to be part of a Girl/Chocolate team video or even have an official video part at all like Vincent Alvarez and Cory Kennedy who both went pro before having an official part. Even for a veteran like Guy Mariano, this will only be his second full Girl part since he joined the team in 1993 and only his fourth video part ever (insane, right?). So to say there’s pressure on all of these guys to come through with their best possible parts is an understatement. With the stress mounting and the countdown clock ticking down towards the premiere, I hit up a few members of the team to see how they were approaching their parts and how they were coping with the madness of expectations for a five-year long filming process. All in all, the Girl family never disappoints when they release a finished product and I’m sure that this one will be right there in the mix of all-time great videos.
Your first video part came out more than 20 years ago and you’ve put out only two other parts since. Did you ever think you’d still be working so hard on a video part in your mid-30s?
I always knew and hoped I’d be skating at this age but I didn’t think I’d still be working on video parts. Hopefully it will inspire people to have longer skateboarding careers.
How does it feel getting to the finish line with another part?
It’s bittersweet. A part of me is happy because it’s been such a long process and it will be nice not to stress over it anymore. It’s also kind of sad because it’s become such a big part of everyone’s lives and now it’s all coming to an end.
Does the countdown clock help you to get focused and pull it together?
The countdown clock helps pull it all together for sure; it definitely makes it real. I saw a lot of people step up their program when the date went live.
Have you taken any breaks in filming since Fully Flared?
I had an ankle surgery after Fully Flared, and took about a year to fully recover. That was a pretty significant break. Come to think of it, all my breaks from skating have been usually due to injuries.
Do you feel the pressure to outdo your Fully Flared part?
I would hope I outdo my Fully Flared part. But the emotional quality that came with that part can’t compare.
You skate a lot with Marc. Do you guys feed off of each other?
Yes. Marc is one of my favorite people to skate with. He has done so much on his skateboard and still continues to come up with new tricks. He has a good way of taking an idea and making it happen.
What’s your biggest motivator to get shit done?
My biggest motivator is Girl. It’s such a rad company with so many amazing people. I think we all want to do a great job to help support everything that Girl represents. There’s so much great history behind our videos that we just want to continue building on that tradition.
I heard you’ve really stepped up to be a real motivator for the rest of the team, and you find spots for other dudes.
It’s a good feeling when you see a spot and you know it would work out perfect for someone, and then you get them there and he gets the clip. I think everyone’s pulling together to make this the best video possible.
Whose part are you excited to see?
Stevie Perez. I think his part will stand out. Out of all the new kids, coverage-wise, we’ve probably seen him the least. I think people will be impressed on how gnar he is with such a mellow style.
How do you feel about team videos versus solo parts?
There’s a special bond filming a video with a team. Everyone supports and pushes one another, which can take a video from good to great. Solo parts seem like they can be fun simply because there are less people involved and you have more control of what you want to do. I believe in them both for the ways in which they are different.
How closely do you work with Ty [Evans] on editing your part?
Ty does an amazing job. He’s done a lot of great video parts to a lot of great songs, so I try to stay out of his way and stick to what I know best.
Where do you see the five-year video project after this one?
I don’t think big video productions are done. They may fade out with the rise of smaller videos, but like every other classic they’ll make their way back again.
What’s next for you after this video?
I plan to do more Fourstar trips, tours and videos. We have such an amazing team, and it just feels like it’s the right time to invest some new energy over there.
Were you able to film a full part for the video?
Probably not. I never really had the drive. I don’t know what you would call it. I think it’s just skating in L.A. and having other stuff to do and just being burnt from that last video. I just go skate Biebel’s park and our park and skate around and it just sucks when you want to film something and you have to hurry up and go do it before getting kicked out and not be able to just session. There’s not really any spots where you can go skate all day long and actually session. The idea of trying to go somewhere and “perform” a trick is not fun. It started to feel like that to me and it just didn’t feel right. I’m just more psyched to see the younger dudes, and all the dudes that have been on the team for a while have awesome parts.
Did you go into it wanting to film a part?
I just never really thought about it. I was going out skating and going out on sessions and then I was, like, “Ehh.” Like, every time we’d go out, we’d get kicked out or sit around forever and I just wanted to go skate. Really, I just want to skate. I don’t want to be sitting at a spot or trying to figure out where to go to get something. So, I just wound up staying at Biebel’s park or our park so I could actually skate. So, yeah, I don’t think I ever went into it trying to film a part. I think I got to a point where I thought about trying to get serious about filming, but then I got sick for a few months and couldn’t skate from the end of September to February. But then it didn’t really work after that. It only worked when I was in China where I got a few things.
So skating in China got you sparked to film?
Yeah, I was so far away from so many distractions and was able to skate because there were so many unique and open-area skate spots. I don’t know if I ever really get caught up in the old, “Oh, this has been done here and this has been done here,” mentality but every time you go somewhere in L.A. someone is saying that to you. And you can’t just skate. I try not to care about that stuff, and China was a nice break from it. I got to just do simple tricks and have fun.
So do you think you’ll film another full part?
I’ve actually asked myself that question too lately but with the way skating is now, I think I just don’t want to waste anybody’s time trying to film a part. I’m going to still skate, of course, and I’m going to always do exactly what I’ve done. It’s just fun to go skate instead of dealing with the whole ordeal of trying to film a trick. But, I wouldn’t say no.
Do you guys feel pressure to keep producing such highly-anticipated video projects that have to outdo the previous ones?
Me personally, I like to take pride in what we’re putting out. As far as saying it will be bigger or better than previous ones isn’t up to me or us; that’s up to everyone else to decide. You just try to do something that you and everybody involved are psyched on. We take pride in what we’re doing and make sure that we look at it from a viewer’s standpoint as well and want to make it good. It’s pretty weird too because I’ve been so disconnected from this project and only recently got more involved now that we’re editing. It’s pretty crazy to see how much has been done because I wasn’t on all the trips or a lot of sessions so I never saw a lot of what went down. We’ve been doing little get-togethers to watch footage and see what we think. But it’s always exciting and scary at the same time when we’re putting something out like this.
Where do you see the five-year video project for you guys after this one?
I mean, coming from someone that didn’t put much effort into this one, I’m talking out of my ass a bit here, but I think these videos can be done a lot quicker than five years. People just get to a certain point where they get burnt out. That’s what happened after the last video. I mean, we did Questionable and all those videos back then from year to year to year. But when you have a lot of dudes like we do, some guys are going to be vibing and ripping at different times so it just takes longer these days. It’s hard to tell right now what’s in store for the next video but five years is a long time.
Who are you looking forward to seeing parts from?
I’m really stoked to see a lot of guys that have never really had a Girl/Chocolate video part before. We were talking about it the other day. Mike Mo was in the Lakai video but has never had a Girl part. Same story with Malto. He’s been on for so long but never had a part for us. It’s going to be really cool to see all these guys together in one video. Even Vincent—we put out a little web part of him when he first got on, but this will be his first real part. And I can’t wait to see it because I wasn’t around to watch a lot of it go down. I’ve only seen little sprinkles here and there, so I’m excited.
What’s next for you and the company after this video?
Company-wise we’re going to be focusing a lot on Lakai since we finally got full ownership and control of it now. And doing some stuff with Fourstar for sure. For me, I’ll just be there existing, floating around. I’ll be around like I always am. I’ll still be out back skating the park. If there’s room for me on any trips, I’ll be doing that for sure and skating with the boys. Yeah, I’m not done by any means. Like I said, I just don’t want to waste anybody’s time with my skating. Video-part-wise, I’m not going to bore you with fucking three to five minutes of footage. You’ve seen the back Smith and feeble already, so whatever. Like, three years ago I just learned back Smiths on tranny. I could never do it all these years and I finally learned it. I’m stoked for myself with learning a new trick but I’m not going to bore anyone else with it.
How’s the pressure going from making homie videos to your first major video part being in such a highly-anticipated video project?
It’s kind of gnarly thinking about it. Sometimes it gets stuck in my head and it’s kind of hard to comprehend. Sometimes I freak out a bit and I’m, like, “Fuck, I need to go skate and get something better.” So, I try not to think about it too much.
Do you feel like you have a lot to prove since it’s also your first pro part?
Yeah, exactly. It’s just crazy thinking about that part of it too. I just gotta try my best and hope it comes out good, and I know I have the support of my friends and they’re saying my footage looks good, so you just hope for the best.
What’s it like to work on a part for years and years?
It’s definitely not what I was used to. I’ll jokingly think to myself, “Alright, let’s put it out. This footage is getting old. I gotta film some more shit because this shit fucking sucks now because it’s two or three years old.” But it’s cool; it will come out good.
Does the deadline help push you to get your best stuff?
It kind of has but not really. At first, I was, like, “Fuck. It’s coming up.” And then I went and watched footage at Ty’s and it hit me, like, “Okay, fuck, I need to go skate everyday until the deadline.
How do you feel about putting out team videos versus solo parts?
I’m so psyched to be in a team video with dudes like Carroll, Howard, BA, McCrankers and Koston. It’s insane. It’s so sick to be in a video with those guys. It’s definitely nerve-racking being in the same video with those dudes. And team videos are sick because it’s like the old days when I used to put in skate VHS tapes and watch them to get hyped. It’s just way sicker than watching one part of someone, I think.
Whose part are you looking forward to seeing?
Vincent for sure. He’s going to be awesome. Guy always rips. Pretty much everyone.
What are your plans after this video and next year?
I’m gonna keep skating and going on trips with my friends and having fun. Skate hard some days but take it easy some too before I have to start working on the Nike video.
How’s it feel to be close to the finish line?
It feels great, man. We’ve been working on this for a long time, so it feels good to almost be finished with it.
Are you going down to the wire trying to get last-minute tricks before the deadline?
Yeah, there’s some things I’d like to film, but it’s kind of hard now because so many of the guys are trying to get last-minute footage.
Have you been stressed out filming your first major video part since it’s in such a highly-anticipated video project?
Nah, not really. It’s just been fun. Ever since they told me they’re going to make a video, I’ve been skating and going out whenever I could. Good thing I’ve been healthy this whole time.
You’re such a mellow dude. Do you ever get stressed when you’re out filming?
No, not really. Well, maybe, sometimes if I’m on a trip and there’s a sick spot I won’t be able get back to. It’s kind of a bummer, but I don’t stress too much. I can see how some people would stress. Maybe if I was older. I kind of just want to stay happy.
How do you like filming with all the crazy camera equipment they used on this project?
I don’t really stress on it, but sometimes I feel bad for the filmers, man. Like, “Do you need a break?” I can keep going, but I feel like I need to give them a break. But to see all the skating that’s filmed on those cameras looks super sick. Sometimes, though, you have to do tricks multiple times, but it comes out so sick it doesn’t even matter.
You guys traveled pretty heavy this last year to film. How was that?
Those trips were so much fun and kind of crazy. It was sick because we had the same crew most of the time. We had our little clique where we said we’re gonna stay on the trip the whole time with each other, no one randomly leaving. It was crazy to be on the road for so long.
I heard Guy’s been a big motivator and helping find spots for other dudes.
Yeah, he knows what kind of tricks you do and the spots you skate and he’ll find them for you to skate. It’s pretty sick.
How closely do you work with Ty on editing your part?
I let him work with it. He’s done a part of me before, and people were feeling it so I know he can do what’s best for my footage. I gave him a couple of songs to use and he said he’d work with them. He told me to come by and check out my clips anytime.
Are you going to wait until the premiere to watch other dudes’ footage?
Yeah, I’m going to wait. I want to scream. I want to be surprised and yell real loud. It’s going to be sick.
Is it hard to stand out in such a large roster of dudes? Ever think about putting out a solo part?
Nah, I like that we’re making a video with a whole bunch of dudes. I feel like it gives it a bit more longevity. I feel like that’s what skate videos should be with the whole team instead of a single person. Solo video parts are cool too, but it’s sick to have the whole team vibe with everybody.
How special does it feel to be a part of such a legendary crew?
I appreciate it, man. I’m willing to skate and do demos, whatever it takes. I don’t want to complain about anything because there’s nothing to complain about. It’s just so sick to be able to be skating for a living. It’s amazing.
You think you appreciate it more after having to work a real job?
Yeah, most definitely. It made me appreciate it more and not take it for granted. I just want to skate. All my friends have to work and have jobs, and I’m just so thankful to be in the position I’m in.
Do you think the really big videos with countdowns are done after this?
Oh shit, I don’t know. I heard some people sarcastically say, “Oh, this is last one, for sure.” I think they’re still gonna make big videos.
Whose part are you looking forward to seeing?
I’m looking forward to Carroll if he has a part. Any footage of him is awesome. I want to see Guy’s part and Jesus. Always Jesus. All of his tricks are always, like, “What the hell?!” He’s so crazy, and his stuff motivates me to skate.
What are you going to do after this video?
Keep filming and skating. We’re actually going to make a little Trunk Boyz video after Pretty Sweet. Trunk Boyz is just our little crew of friends that like to have fun and not bail-out on the crew. Well, maybe for a girl, but someone who is down for the trip and even down to squeeze into the trunk if you have to. Just down for the cause. Rick McCrank came up with the name for us. Feds is down to help us out with filming it. It’s going to be sick. I just want to keep skating a whole bunch and not stop for as long as I can.
Did you go into this project expecting to film a full part?
Yeah, I mean, it started so long ago I think I was in a completely different mindset for sure. In my head I wanted to, but I don’t think I was actually putting in the work back then. I don’t even know if I am now. Having a new shoe sponsor and being excited about that, I’m realizing that a video part is important. I think I just matured a lot over the past few years and I realize that I need to do this. It doesn’t make any sense to not work on a full part; I think it reflects badly if you don’t, but I’m not going to have some gnarly Dylan part or anything like that.
You and Koston aren’t sharing a part?
Ha, no, not at all.
How have you changed since Fully Flared?
I think I approach things differently now. Feeling a little more mature, having a little more wisdom under your belt with age. Not saying I’m a wise person but, fuck. From the 19-year-old to the 26-year-old I am now, I try to react with less emotion.
How stressful is it working on these big videos, especially seeing those countdown clocks pop up?
When I started seeing those ads saying coming soon, I thought to myself, “Oh, okay, I’ve really got to start filming.” So, I really didn’t start filming until those Pretty Sweet ads started coming out, which is fucking retarded on my part. How I was introduced to filming video parts was not a fun process, so maybe I was dreading it and trying to dodge it as much as I could. But in the end, there’s no way to dodge it and you want to put something out that’s good.
What do you think about the younger guys on the team coming into that type of gnarly filming process?
I’m not naturally gifted like those dudes, and they’re so consistent that it doesn’t seem like they struggle or stress like I did. Most of those guys land everything they try and don’t have to go back and back to a spot to get the trick, compared to my dumb ass on my eleventh time going back to a spot to get a trick.
Do you feel like you need to top your Fully Flared part?
I used to think that’s how people would look at your part, like if it’s better than the last one. But I think people just like to see quantity of footage from guys. Not me in particular, but just in general. So, I’m definitely not trying to outdo myself. Just trying to get enough footage.
You just gotta go fast and people will be hyped.
Exactly. Go fast and that makes up for a lot. You can just do a fast kickflip and that makes up for a lot of shit. But, no, I don’t think I’m out to outdo my Fully Flared part.
Is it hard to stand out in such a large roster of dudes? You ever think about putting out a solo part?
No, I’ve never really tripped off of being part of a large video project. I don’t think I’d ever want to be a solo video part guy, though. But I don’t know since I’ve never done it, so I can’t say. So far, no. Who knows, tomorrow I could say, “Solo parts are better!”
Whose parts are you looking forward to?
Guy’s part for sure because I know he’s one of the hardest-working skaters out there, and just mainly all the older dudes.
Does Guy’s video work ethic rub off on you any?
It’s definitely motivating, and I think it’s rubbed off on a lot of the team. It’s pretty insane how focused and committed he is.
After it comes out, do you feel like all the stress was worth it or not really?
Well, yeah and no. It’s four years out of your life that you’re focused on a project, so you miss a few things here and there. But, yeah, in the grand scheme of things, it’s worth it.
What do you think of major videos like this in the future?
I think this might be the last really big video project. The four-year video could be a thing of the past after this. I think it’s too much to sit on footage for four years and then have it come out and kids have already caught up to that progression. I think it will have to be shorter, year- or year-and-a-half, video projects. So much money goes into them, and you’re not making any money off them. I think the next big video will be the Vans video. Then after that, I don’t know.
What’s next for you after this?
Bill Strobeck has a project that I’m involved in next. Then after that, it will be the Nike video. And after that, it’s a wheelchair.
How’s it feel to be close to the finish line with another part?
It feels weird. I can tell you that it doesn’t feel good. I know a lot of the other guys are feeling the pressure and for me, I’m kind of looking around right now and thinking, “What happened to the last five years?” It flew by. Basically, the past four years didn’t feel like we were filming a video. There was no video vibe. We might go skate a school on Saturday or something, but it wasn’t like we were filming for a video. Fully Flared had a lot of momentum but it was harder for different reasons. We were on that grind for four years straight, traveling constantly. It was insane. They told us we were going to start working on this one after Fully Flared came out. We had a team meeting and stuff, and then everyone just went home and didn’t really pay attention to it. Then years and years passed. What I saw was that we were just kicking it [laughs]. Time has flown by so fast and I can tell you right now that I am not remotely comfortable with the amount of footage I have or the quality. I’m just not jazzed up. With Fully Flared, I didn’t have any pressure. I was, like, “I got a ton of footage. I’m chilling.” But this one, it’s just been, like, “Fuck! I’ve been going skating and nothing’s working.” Basically, as we’re nearing the footage deadline, I’m just sort of confused of where all the time went. I know I was out skating. I just can’t remember doing much.
Does the Countdown clock and deadline help you to pull it together?
No, it’s not that. The entire five years I was skating, I was focused on getting stuff for the video. We just didn’t have that momentum. That energy wasn’t in the air. Four years ago when I was trying a trick for this video, I was stressing out. Filming is stressful, especially when you get as many video parts under your belt as some of us have. It’s like this in your head: “I gotta one-up myself and I can’t do anything someone else has done. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I gotta avoid this trick at this spot and I can’t do this because this guy did it. I can’t even do this trick anywhere because I would be biting this dude over here.” It gets insane when you get to that point where you’re just, like, “What the fuck can I do now?” I feel pressure every time I’m in the front of the camera. I don’t need a deadline. I was stressing out a year ago. Fuck a deadline, you know [laughs]. As of this interview, I’ve gone out 55 of the last 60 days with lights, generators, night and day sessions, sometimes both. It’s 130 degrees out here, just sitting at a spot trying a trick and not really walking away with much, and it’s such a really bizarre head state to be in. You can’t do stuff you’ve already done. You have to do something different. You have to do something super hard, something better than your last trick, and it’s gotta be something no one else has done. It’s really hard, man. Just pressure across the board in general.
You skate with Guy a lot. Do you guys feed off of each other?
I’ve definitely been skating a lot with Guy in particular. It’s good because he’s so dedicated and has so much heart. You need to be around people like that. I know I need to be. I know how I look at things and I need to be with someone that looks at things and gives as much to skating as Guy gives. I can’t function with going out with people who complain or don’t even touch their board to skate, because when I’m working and trying a trick, I’m gonna skate until I drop, literally, and can barely make it back to the car. Skating with Guy definitely motivates you because he’s the same way. The dude won’t give up. I’ve been in sessions with him when we’re skating for six hours straight in 100-degree weather and he’s puking over behind the bench and still getting the trick. Sometimes during projects, you get into weird states of mind where you think, “Why am I doing this to myself?” The torment and the torture you do to yourself and you think, “Who cares? No one is gonna give a shit.” And all this negative shit in your head, and it’s good to have someone there that when they’re going through that, you can help talk them through it. He’s the most dedicated skateboarder I’ve ever met. It’s definitely inspiring just being around his skateboarding and his drive to get the job done. Its unparalleled and unmatched.
It didn’t seem like you went on many filming trips for this video.
I would have loved to go on those trips. I missed out on so many trips because I was in the process of buying a house and it took seven months to seal the deal and that just happened recently. It was insane. Sitting there with my thumb up my ass for seven months. The only reason I bought a house in L.A. was so that I could film for this video part. And by me buying a house for this video, it screwed me for filming for this video. I couldn’t leave town! But I do know that I’m not leaving the premiere and going back to some hotel—I’m coming back to this house.
How closely do you work with Ty on editing your part?
I actually haven’t done any of that yet. I need to go look at my footage. I’m not looking forward to how I’m going to feel after seeing my footage. From what I understand, we can go in there and he makes a few different rough cuts for us to choose from. And as far as music, I don’t even know what footage I’ve got, so I don’t have an idea for a song. I just don’t know. I might just leave that up to Rick, Meza, Ty and Mike.
Is that how it’s worked in the past?
In the past, I’ve had nothing to do with the editing. For my 7 Steps to Heaven video part, I hands-on edited that part with the editor. I picked the music. Picked the tricks, the order of the tricks, the timing and everything, and then every one of my parts since then I’ve had nothing to do with them.
Do you see everybody’s footage before the premiere or do you get to be surprised by some stuff?
I haven’t seen anything. It’s so sick because when I go to the premiere, I will not have seen any part of the video besides my footage. So, it will be new and exciting to me. The only things I know of will be tricks that have gone down while I was at the session. I’m not trying to go over to Ty’s and say, “Let me see everybody’s footage.” I just want to see that video like normal.
Will you take a break after this one?
I’d like to go into another project. A five-year video project is like shifting gears in a car. You start off in first gear going slow, and each year after you shift the gears up and now we’re definitely in fifth gear. For me to go from fifth gear to just slamming the brakes doesn’t make sense to me. If you got this momentum and you’re going and going, you know, keep going. I can’t be, like, “Here’s my footage. Now, I’m not going to skate for two years.” It just doesn’t work that way for me.
After all the mental torture and stress through the years, your love of skating hasn’t diminished an ounce, has it?
Not for me. Nope. I’m still a skate rat. I’m still out there bondo-ing spots at night by myself. I’m always on the prowl. I’m a lurker. I love it.