Posts Tagged ‘Films’

Bathe in the Glory and Horror of Post-Everything Skating

January 29, 2018

Last week was notable in the sense that Miles Silvas ended lines for all professional skateboarders forevermore. For a meandering five minutes, he pushes, flips and slides his way through several Los Angelean blocks, swerving past security, adjusting his chain and switch heelflipping an artfully knocked-over trash bin on the way to a truly gnarly ender and a history-book entry for probably the craziest run ever. But has Miles Silvas’ ‘One Stop’ line pushed things not only forward, but over some maddening brink?

We now enter a realm where seemingly everything been done, in which all eras exist simultaneously, where nothing and everything is cool and wack all at once everywhere. Observe, on any given day. Switch tailslide something-out champ Luan Oliveira nonchalantly rips wearing a visor. A Florida flow kid lands on Thrasher’s cover, just a few months after a similarly situated young buck frontside crooked grinded the fearsome El Toro first try. Not long before that, Gabriel Summers nosegrinds a larger 21-stair handrail first try whilst wearing a dogs-playing-poker shirt. All over, the established ways dissolve before your eyes: Varial flips are commonplace, people are sponsored by weed mobile phone apps, neon camouflage is freely worn, and CCS proudly advertises its mail-order catalogues in the pages of Thrasher while marketing jeans with macaroni and cheese print interiors.

It’s easier to exhale and surrender to feeling permanently unmoored, eyes glazing over as irony and confusion blunt shock’s few remaining edges, and one brow-furrowing surprise after another leaves you punch drunk. For Youtube browsers in this state, caution is the watchword as skate videos, once content to function as a compendium of individual skaters’ tricks set against a driving tune of their own choosing, now throw loose whatever bonds of convention remain, seemingly pursuing their own brand of ‘What, Me Worry?’ lawlessness.

Drone buff Ty Evans has long shouldered criticisms that his brand of Filmmaking prizes high-end camera rigs and general spectacle over actual tricks, and more than two decades into his skate Film career, no stripes-changing can be detected in ‘The Flat Earth.’ The Film’s heavy incorporation of 360-degree video, digitally rolled onto two dimensions for consumption on high-resolution flattened TV screens, suggests a project that perhaps once aspired to some virtual reality gambit — but settled for a version of Ty Evans’ prior outing, ‘We Are Blood,’ with the storyline switched out for intense bouts of psychedelia, where mountain peaks and highways contort and spasm to dubstep blurts for minutes on end with no identifiable skateboards in sight.

There’s of course blistering footage, in particular from the unsinkable Carlos Iqui and aforementioned one-time Floridian flow rider Jamie Foy. But whereas the Brain Farm budget permitted Ty Evans to indulge in peak Ty Evansness (see: slow-motioned puddle splashing, skating the world’s tallest building, fire) the comparatively bootstrapped ‘Flat Earth’ production may be the first time in 15 or so years where his level of resources significantly declined for a new full-length skate Film, and the result suggests something like Ty Evans’ version of ‘Memory Screen.’

As Ty Evans casts about for purchase in this sloppy, undulating stew that is skating in 2018, simmering a few sub-basements below Bronze and Beez, nearby to Ssquirted, thrives the Instagram video clips of @dogceo. Here is a euphoric and jarring dimension in which park and street footage are hurled with abandon into some video toaster, sauced liberally with vintage video games from other countries and blurred text offering repeated and nonsensical exhortations — where it’s not enough for a grab-bag of logos to bleed through background (or foreground) of a clip, they must flash, and ripple. Skating is happening here, to an extent, at times, but the giddy, disorienting thrill is squeezed from not really knowing whether the steadily immolating visual salad bar is a vehicle for the tricks, or the other way around.

In a time of pink swishy pants and backside smith grind body varials, where’s the lane for a comparatively level-headed dude such as Walker Ryan? Is the steady erosion of conventional wisdoms and tribal law behind the continued appeal of high-handed authorities such as Jake Phelps and @FeedbackTS? If everything officially is over what happens next?

Was Jamie Foy’s Yellow-Shirted SOTY Surprise an Implicit Rebuke Of Overt Trophy Hunting or Gasoline for More?

December 11, 2017

In an age where fortunes are made and dashed again with the fateful tapping of a touchscreen or a practiced turn before the correct lens, does anything remain inevitable? The SOTY campaign, one of Thrasher’s sturdiest tentpoles in a domination of new media forms that other, older publications could learn from, is proving increasingly tough to pin down as potentate pros’ lust for the Rusty statue tilts video releases toward a year-end glut and dudes go all in with bones and ligaments as autumn shrivels the leaves to warmful tones.

Throughout much of 2017, a heavy whiff of inevitability trailed yung Louie Lopez, once derided among Flip 3.0’s crop of hard-to-watch tween pickups, now a fully formed ATV testing the limits of his considerable powers in all the correct venues. Even before his Spitfire part hit, rumblings could be sensed that this was Louie Lopez’s year (or major sponsors believed so), a concept that seemed more and more certain as he ripped the SPoT to pieces en route to first place, joined Jake Phelps and co. in a cobranded Thrasher and Spitfire trip, and bounded up and across massive walls and onto the mag’s cover*. Hash tags endorsing his candidacy piled up and in recent weeks, following his searing ‘West End’ part, he was positioned as an Arto Saari heir apparent, while an interviewer wondered about a post-SOTY life for Louie Lopez.

What happened? With a meaty thud, much is swept aside by a buzzer-beating trip down a double-digit sized stair set, same as the multi-kink hulk that Kyle Walker conquered to gazump Evan Smith last year. Fate opened a lane for Fred Gall-shaped Floridian Jamie Foy this year, dispening tickets to Thrasher’s KOTR and Am Scramble trips, and Jamie Foy pushed the pedal all the way down. It is difficult to remember or indeed, imagine a faster rise — getting on a board company at the start of the year, a pro board a few months later, and then Ty Evans’ ‘Flat Earth’ film, providing a ham-going fourth-quarter opportunity that Jamie Foy took once again, carving two notches into the famed El Toro set. If Skater of the Year campaigns are evolving into meticulously planned, months-long efforts to strategically release footage, get your guy onto the right trips and pump up the IG volume, is there a certain allure in getting behind the bowling ball barreling toward all the carefully set pins?

Is the speed of Jamie Foy’s ascent, from amateur to pro and SOTY the same year, a reflection of or reason behind the breakneck pace driving skate media these days? Will a starring turn on Thrasher’s Viceland series become a prime propulsion toward future SOTY titles, as Vice veers frighteningly close to MTV territory in terms of thirstily mining skating for TV fodder? Could the nod to Jamie Foy also serve as a quiet acknowledgement that it shoulda been Fred Gall one of those years? Do we, the slack-jawed viewer, remain the ultimate winners even as Skater of the Year campaigns grow more overt and assertive? Do all the stair counts and smoothly executed pop shove-it reverts fall by the wayside when considering the way another perennial contender, Tiago Lemos, forces the world to reimagine what is even possible?

*With The Skateboard Mag gone away, does Thrasher revert to the shorthand “the mag” again?

Ty Evans Enlists Middle Eastern Royalty, Robot Helicopters for Movie About Skateboarders Being In a Gang Called the Bloods

August 19, 2015

dronies

Drones are in the news again, as fire chief gripe about miniature robotic helicopteros obstructing blaze battle plans, radio frequency weaponizers develop defense systems and the kite-eating tree occasionally graduates to more expensive and, one is forced to assume, tastier and electronified fare. While persnickety oldsters would pass laws and hang out ‘No Droning’ signs, the young and vibrant drone subculture simply wants to drone in peace, twirling their little propellers in disused parking lots and parks. Sound familiar?

Ty Evans, captain of TWS and Girl videos that were, finds himself astride the bucking international drone hoopla as he promotes his newest Film, ‘We Are Blood,’ a citrus soda-financed, high-tech frolic through megacities and undercharted backwaters aimed at pushing the production-value envelope and explaining what makes skaters tick. After a decade in the Crail camp, Ty Evans is unshackled from the rote part-part-part skate video format, trading in Girl’s unexpectedly long-lived ‘SHT SOUND’ for a Dolby hi-fi replacement and free to indulge in as many bro-hugs, high-fives and wildly undulating overhead-hoisted boards as his cameras’ memory chips can manage.

Cribbing the template from Brain Farm’s big snowboard movies such as ‘Art of Flight,’ Ty Evans points his lenses and drones and microphones at Paul Rodriguez, whose impeccable technicality, worldly vet status and passable script-reading capability provide a cipher for framing this road trip exploration of a bond between skaters worldwide. Paul Rodriguez sets it off appropriately enough in Los Angeles’ hallowed schoolyards, jumping to Dane Vaughn at J-Kwon and some euphoric and very welcome ditch-bombing by Omar Salazar before Ty Evans pulls back the lens to fit the rest of the US and well-traveled overseas jurisdictions like Spain, China and Brazil.

Paul Rodriguez dispenses with his own brand of razory execution — the k-grind front foot flip out is taken up a notch — before turning over a good portion of the RV miles to lesser-knowns like Jordan Maxham and infrequently-heralded journeymen like Moose, who rips most of the spots he’s recreationally vehicled to. Tiagos Lemos easily comes over as Ty Evans’ breakout star though, manufacturing at least one incredible clip per location-specific segment and his own mini-part when ‘Blood’ winds its way into Brazil’s particular deep-city grime. His ratio of monologue to tricks like the b/s 180 switch f/s crooked grind fakie flip out, switch b/s tailslide switch flip out, of the switch bigspin b/s tailslide is favorable.

Elsewhere Jamie Thomas boards Ty Evans’ RV to address some Deep South spots that include his old high school, inviting the viewer to marvel at his enduring grit and award style points for the right hand on the kink 50-50. At some juncture Brandon Biebel does a nollie b/s heelflip over a table that could repeat for 10 minutes, or perhaps through the end of the Film, with ultimate justification.

‘Blood’ reverts Ty Evans in some ways to Transworld mode, enabling him to pick and choose seasoned pros and comer-uppers motivated enough to revel in motorhome squalor for seven weeks, book extended stays overseas and spend lengthy stints at the spot biding time until the half-fozen camera rigs are properly aligned. It’s a testament to Ty Evans’ famed work ethic and the spry joints of his subjects that they cultivated a 90-minute Film from just over a year of Filming, versus spending years to construct an hourlong vid from a 30-deep roster of geographically diverse dudes that include a fair number of entrepreneurs.

(Probably Ty Evans and Girl should have broken up before ‘Pretty Sweet.’ Manning a Film that is his alone ups the stakes for Ty Evans the auteur personally but drags no weighty and beloved 20-year video legacy behind it, nor are there destination concerns for precious video-footage minutes turned in by aging favorites and the potential for substantial portions relegated to b-roll extras.)

Untethering himself from the skate vid format seems also to have resparked some of Ty Evans’ creativity that in the last few years seemed to have piled out, like in 2011’s leafy HD rehash of Rick Howard’s forest cruise in ‘Mouse.’ ‘Blood’ breaks from the schralping for an educational and droney cruise through a granite mine that sets up a slab’s brief journey from quarry to waxy ledge, there’s cool time-lapse footage of a wall scarred up by wallrides, a small-world-after-all moment in the unearthing of an ancient Spanish bowl, and frantic gamesmanship between the ‘Blood’ gang and an irate Chinese official wielding a garden hose. Staged puddle sprays aside, the RV segments bear honest whiffs of open-road adventuring and Paul Rodriguez’s ‘blank canvas’ remark about Dubai’s sumptuous plazas is on point, though Tim O’Connor’s quip on traversing the globe’s far corners to end up behind some K-Mart isn’t far off when Theotis Beasley, Sean Malto and others helicopter their way to a high-altitude landing pad where they session a basic bench.

‘Blood’s’ Cleveland-channeling theme of togetherness gets repetitive after 90 minutes, particularly when these annointed blood brothers are nailing ferocious tricks in pristine tropical spots with the blessing of local extreme power brokers, but some of ‘Blood’s’ best detours arise from dudes with only tenuous industry ties. Ty Evans of all people manages to put outer borough nomad Anthony Pappalardo in the most thoughtful and succinct context he’s had recently, same with DC’s Darren Harper. The Film’s message gets over in a surprise Skatopia visit and a well-spoken stop by a small-town DIY.

Whereas ‘Blood’ trades on the concept of a bond between skateboarders, the Film also raises the question of its elasticity. Many* believe in evangelizing skateboarding — Ty Evans in the ‘Blood’ Transworld issue says that “I’ve always been under the idea that I would love to share skateboarding with the world, and especially those that don’t skate. If a kid that doesn’t skate happens to see one of the films I’ve made, and that gets him hooked on skating, then I think that it’s working.”

Are the spirits of the kid kickflipping in front of his stoop in Oakland and the kid who swings through the YMCA park after swim team in the suburbs as closely kindred as those few dozen who may have traveled over an hour to glimpse underpaid pros skate a rickety hockey-rink demo in 1995? It is a question recently pondered by Ty Evans’ former Lakai coworker Kelly Bird, now a Nike employee:

“You can’t check a kid’s gear and automatically draw the conclusion that you’re the only two kids in school that know what Thrasher is anymore. You and the quarterback show up to school in the same outfit and neither one of you think it’s weird. He actually invites you to his party now instead of trying to flush your head down the toilet. You go to his party and have an awesome time. He lets you borrow his copy of Thrasher the next day, then Lil Wayne calls you to go skate.”

It makes little sense to attempt judging Ty Evans’ ‘We Are Blood’ on typical skate vid merits, but the effort to harness a heady concept, glossy production that stands at odds with the broader skate sphere’s persistent VX fetishization, and a lengthy runtime leaves the question as to who the Film is for. For those increasingly accustomed to digesting Guy Mariano’s latest facemelter in 14-second increments, an hour and a half seems a big ask. Volcom’s recent ‘True to This’ was partly perceived as looped fodder for retail outlets, though the number and capacity of whispered Mountain Dew speakeasies remains unclear.

Ty Evans previously has touted the high sales of ‘Fully Flared’ and ‘Pretty Sweet’ as signs of their resonance with Joe Kickflip; does ‘Blood’s’ loftier aim require a bigger yardstick? Will collapsing oil prices constrain Dubai’s ability to deploy economic incentives that could help the emirate compete against Spain and China for pro roadtrips and magazine articles detailing esoteric and wily local cuisines? Will this be the Ty Evans production that finally tops Richard Angelides’ Rhythm part in the slow-working minds of certain backward-thinking internet reactionaries?

*Particularly those whose livelihoods are tied to selling skateboard goods