Me And Braydon Szafranski And The Yithians Down By The Schoolyard

If you’ve read the new and excellent Emerica Thrasher you may already be familiar with the idea thrown around therein, that “Stay Gold” could be the Last Video in this bold age eaten up with web content, narrowing promotional budgets and wildly fluctuating gasoil prices. The point might be worth debating had it not already been obliterated some eight decades ago via the short historical work “The Shadow Out Of Time” which informs of an ancient race of body-borrowers who plied their trade across the respective ages of dinosaurs, men and certain beetleoids, among others. Which is to say that when the last of our fragile, flesh-toned number pass beyond this earthly realm, enough copies of 411 will survive in various vaults and fortresses to inevitably inspire the next rulers of this planet to at least try and learn to ollie and later maybe film it.

Leo Romero, my SOTY choice again this year, sure skates like he rules the planet, but no moustache is long enough nor any hat-brim wide enough to fend off the forces of technology that are even now consuming the profitability of any and all media. Initiatives to pack DVDs with bonus features are met with chapter-specific “PM plz”es as all the world either lives in some backwater where mailorder costs $60 or their mom’s a hardcase who won’t drive them to the shop, and criminy, it hasn’t even shipped from the warehouse yet.

“Stay Gold” is probably nowhere near the last video, if only because Habitat and Krooked and Real and Toy Machine are all slated to put out productions of their own in the months ahead, and even as overwrought as it was, I doubt Ty Evans will stop with Lakai’s slow-motion fireball for TWS. But maybe it is fair to openly wonder, as others have done before Burnett and Szafranksi this month, how long the five-year film/video/coast hype cycle can sustain itself, or any sort of going enterprise. Even scaling back production to a credit crunch-friendly U.S./Mexico/Canada touring circuit, there are hotel rooms to be rented (/repaired), gasoil to be pumped into rental vans, Funyons and extra rental van insurance to be purchased, cameras and lights and bolt cutters and other Inspector Gadget shit to facilitate a four-second clip that may or may not make the b-roll footage on a poorly selling DVD because it got too stale or a bro got a different hair cut.

But despite a world awash in drop-outs, drunkards and leering pirates, it’s hard to imagine the whole process hinging upon even the old move of selling first the normal vid and then the “deluxe edition” with the bonus materials. If that was the case you could maybe buy the idea that the full-length video concept is not long for a world where the conversation moves on before the physical product makes it inside the shop’s glass countertop. The big video release generally aims to ramp up stoke levels, re-situate the company and get the products moving but that’s just the payoff — in the run-up to a proper video premiere/release there are several hype cycles involving ad campaigns, some sloganeering, magazine articles, throw-away clips (formerly the realm of the 411s), at least a couple soul-crushing deadline pushbacks, random team shuffling that ups the drama, etc etc.

All of which builds character for everybody involved but more importantly (maybe) gives direction to these companies, and maybe more weight to whatever skating’s gone on. You wonder like if Danny Way’s mega-ramp debut would’ve issued the same shockwaves had it been pushed onto DC’s tiresomely advanced website as a 10-minute promo thing, or if he would’ve even tried some of those stunts if there wasn’t a fearsome deadline looming. There’s the long-play format too that you have to imagine will continue to lure in would-be auteurs with “Memory Screen” ambitions, money-losing format be durned.

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21 Responses to “Me And Braydon Szafranski And The Yithians Down By The Schoolyard”

  1. Watson Says:

    HP Lovecraft Reference!

    I like the thought of some future race of earth inhabitants wandering out into the desert, finding a passage into an underground library city where it instinctually knows the way to a giant vault of old skate videos.

  2. burm Says:

    Very good post. The first 2 paragraphs especially.

    Oh, and since “Rob Dyrdek and the Skate League are killing skateboarding” (according to internet), if skatevideos don’t die, they’d be turning into snuff flicks… or, by the same logic, is that what the Berrics is?

  3. K.bra Says:

    Well played Pilot, great post. Thank you!

  4. clug Says:

    welcome back and well written.

  5. mirlo Says:

    great post, to me, the era on which people used to pay for the physical DVD is almost dead, everything will end up on iTunes, and shortly after that, all companies will be distributing their videos for free, as it is almost imposible to fight internet pirates posting free downloads…

    i personally will not spend any cash on a dvd no matter company, how great it is, as most times you can get the full video, in good quality for free just 2 or 3 days afters it has being realesed.

  6. mdspb Says:

    We’ve made more money off of their video than their shoes this month. Food for thought.

  7. color my friends in Says:

    Pilot LIght: Can you delete that last post please? It’s publishing an email address that I’d rather not have out there as my website. I’ll repost it w/o the website. Thanks!

  8. theProgram Says:

    great writing as always and i think i speak for all of us when i say “welcome back.”

  9. K.bra Says:

    What the hell is extreme sports anyway? I´ve seen everything from shopping carts to frisbees. Seems like as long as the physical act takes place in the streets it´s “extreme” all of a sudden…

    PS Sorry for the rant

  10. Skately Says:

    The shelf life of today’s skate video is a joke compared to the effort and money put into creating one. In exchange for manufacturing and advertising and years of filming, you get a few months of brand hype, a temporary boost in sales, and maybe a “Best Team” TWS award. The benefits vary depending on epicness and what the distribution deal looks like, but the longevity is not what it used to be in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I don’t see the format dying completely, but I think it’s going to be more of a niche market.

    Some people blame piracy for the demise of big releases, but I think it’s just as likely that kids get their fix elsewhere. There are so many sources for free, quality skateboarding footage outside of the traditional release that didn’t exist during the video heyday. Skaters don’t need to hold their breath waiting for the next 411 or Baker or Girl video to see something new when there is an endless stream of self-made parts on YouTube, small brand promo clips, Dew Tour footage on ESPN, or random shows on FuelTV. The shortening attention span, quicker news cycle, and blurred line between professional and indie production has pushed the industry toward a bite-size, 10 minute, free video to stay relevant.

  11. Tully Says:

    Krooked’s Naughty demonstrated that a combination of new (Point and shoot digital cameras) and old (sketchy ass bro filming and editing) technologies/techniques could work successfully. If less time/money is put into videos then there is less need for them to succeed commercially. I believe this is the direction videos (from legit companies) will head. There will be a reaction (the high quality of online nostalgia blogs is an example of this) against the super demanding style of skating in competitions such as the street league which, in turn, will lead to a shift in the mentality of the skate dvd buying population (legit skaters) away from epicness, back to style and soul ( a.k.a fun). The recent popularity of the etnies skate and create is an early example of this. I predict that the real video will be one of the last in the current era of epic skate video releases. Newly appointed pro Vincent Alvares is one of the skaters who will set the tone for the new wave of more relaxed videos. Also, we should acknowledge that skateboarding contains such a vast pool of creative talent (for real, more than any other past time or sport) that rather than mourn the death of one format I feel safe in believing that we can await the creation of another.

    P.S I just watched Mind Field on DVD for the first time in ages. Computer screens have a long way to go before they can replace the T.V.

  12. color my friends in Says:

    There’s something fascinating about the fact that skateboarding–the original and ultimate anti-corporate, rebel, independent, DIY sport–has always had such a weird, rich blend of advertising and “content.”

    Thinking about it now reminds me a bit of MTV, where the format that I loved as a kid in the 80s (with record companies producing videos that MTV played for free) disappearing from the schedule to be replaced by cartoons and reality series and game shows and whatnot, because kids wouldn’t change the channel and miss the ads (this was before you could get all the music videos you wanted on Youtube).

    Where else but in skateboarding (or a few other xtreme sports or lifestyle sports or whatever you want to call them) can a manufacturer make an advertisement for his products, sometimes even label it a promo, and then sell it at a profit? In the last 30 years or so some of these things have started to leak into mainstream television and film (with more blatant product placements) and other media, but I think skating still leads the way.

    Will they have to give their ads away for free, or package them as contests like the street league or Skate and Create or KOTR?

  13. Ratt Says:

    Oh shiiit. the boil is back!

  14. measels Says:

    im not sure if you have noticed but people want actual copies, things you can look through or add to the collection. i think we are going through a hump, videos didnt make cash same with cds but alot of people want more than just a file it seems like.

    also videos dont make your shitty product better.
    the lakai video was good but the shoes suck ass.

    people also complain about blanks, well shit look at the boards you put out. chocolate has horrible graphics. plan b is just a logo. zero turned hippy. almost make functioning boards that arent cheap and look gay just like flip. enjoi is still enjoi. deathwish seems like they are doing great, they make good product with graphics still and they back their shit.

  15. jboy Says:

    Personally, I’m glad that companies are starting to put their videos on iTunes. The skateshops in my area don’t carry videos, or they get them so far after release that they’re no longer relevant. I don’t mind paying for stuff and I prefer the convenience of iTunes over the hastle of torrents. I don’t really care about having a box with a shiny plastic disc in it. It would be interesting to see the numbers on how many DVDs emerica has sold versus the number of download from iTunes.

  16. mdspb Says:

    When they aren’t riding Antheros, that is.

  17. Footages Says:

    also videos dont make your shitty product better.
    the lakai video was good but the shoes suck ass.

  18. fuckoff Says:

    good post, boil. bytheway lakai shoes do suck, and started to right around when fully flared came out. and chocolate graphics are not horrible. measles, youre an idiot. especially if you think deathwish graphic are good

  19. Rudy Says:

    Some of you fellas are weird- Chocolate graphics bad? Lakai shoes suck? I love Evan Hecox’s graphics and Manchester Selects are much more comfortable and durable than all the new Vans. (not the oldies, but the ones with that new, bunk sole)

    The Krookeds, Antiheroes, and indies will be fine- but Ty Evans big money productions will be done once they finish this Chocolate vid. I thought “Stay Gold” was pretty boring and predictable, let’s hope the Real, Choco last hurrahs come through.

  20. EE3 Says:

    I watched Eastern Exposure 3, and then E.E. Zero right after, before a skate the other morning, and it still got my synovial juices flowing.
    I bought them both on VHS, after watching (circa 96) in my ‘local’ skate shop, then i bought it/them off Mr Wolfe’s site (circa 2005) when he dropped it on one no frills DVD i would probably have bought it on betamax or laser disk if he’d of made it a few years earlier, and I’d have owned any of the players to play it on.
    I’d even consider buying it/them on itunes too, if it was on there.
    Classics will endure, or at least remain to exist, as long as there are skateboarders out there willing, and able, to spunk a few quid to support decent film makers.
    The argument for us supporting our own changes a little when you involve companies that make a lot of money off skateboarding, asking you to further support them by buying their 1hr show reel. Without the initial existence of this kind of film our ‘sport’ would be an entirely different one, imagine skateboarding without any of the earlier classics. I guess now their (company videos) continued existence depends solely on how much you like the vids they’re vending, and if you are minted.
    Maybe it’s less about how long it takes to make, how much money is spent on it, or even how groundbreaking it is, and more about how much ‘soul’ it has and whether or not it hits the right note within the skateboarding community of its time.

    Good tunes always helps too.

    I know I’ll hold on to my copy (DVD) of In Search Of The Miraculous, EE3 & Z, H’min Bam, and a few select others until my DVD player dies and the format is replaced by the next, imminently obsolete, box of lasers they’re peddling.

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