Posts Tagged ‘hunting and gathering’

Revenge Of The Credits Section

April 11, 2021

Long before the Snapchat-aping IG story, long before the raw files and rough cuts, even further back before the DVD ‘bonus’ menu selection, there was the after-credits section. In those analog days of yore, meat was hunted on the hoof, and pioneers of the range raised sumptuous crops from sheer rock surfaces. At the time, what little skating could be filmed between chores and fighting for survival was mostly siloed: intro, parts, demo section, friends section, slam section, credits. The chaotic and pulsating smorgasbord that often followed — alternate angles, lenses getting smoked, assorted ‘hinjinx’ — were, beyond print mag interviews, among the few unscripted windows into the wild and wooly world inhabited by top-ranked pros and ams of the time, manna to the chattering class then reliant on telegraph beeps and bloops to rumour-monger and psychoanalyze industry players.

But the credits section’s eulogy was written years ago. Any self-respecting death-clock keeper had already been marking time, one eye on the sunset for physical media in this streamy phone dimension, another observing visual media consumers’ shriveling attention spans, and a third on the growing thrum of daily content churn. And by the mid-2010s the credits section sat overripe, and ready to burst.

Like any self-respecting skate trend, it had taken root, been heavily adopted and lustily beaten into the ground for years afterward. H-Street and Plan B impresario Mike Ternasky, a prime architect of the modern video format, set the trajectory three decades ago, placing a generous 8-minute credits/et cetera section at the end of the the 58-minute ‘Questionable’, expanding to a 14-minute, four-song runtime for the credits and everything after in the 52-minute ‘Virtual Reality’ a year later. The comparatively slimmer ‘Second Hand Smoke’ still exhibited a 9-minute credit section, taking up more than a quarter of the total runtime.

Hence it became known: Big videos merited big credits. The Transworld videos under Ty Evans’ steerage knew it, dedicating 10 minutes of the 48-minute ‘Feedback’ to road trip detritus and assorted potpourri. ‘The Reason’ went further with an 18-minute credit section padding out a 65-minute tape, and even as TWS’ video rosters narrowed to a half-dozen dudes or so, the footage spooled out as the credits rolled: 11 minutes in the 36-minute ‘Sight Unseen’, 13 minutes in the 46-minute ‘Free Yr Mind’, most tellingly 15 minutes in the 44-minute legacy burnisher ‘Anthology’. Other era setpieces ‘Menikmati’ and ‘Sorry’ both boasted credits sections running 10 minutes or longer. Ty Evans would ply his generosity to other Crailtap productions, including 14 minutes’ worth in the hour-and-a-halfer ‘Fully Flared’, a generous 10 minutes for Super Champion Fun Zone (plus 32 minutes of DVD bonus material), and in perhaps the most ultimate credit-section flex of all, 10 minutes’ worth in the 26-minute Harsh Euro Barge. Another peak came in 2001, when 19 minutes of credits and mumbo-jumbo followed the 17-minute PJ Ladd’s Wonderful, Horrible Life’, though part of that was another video part’s worth of PJ Ladd footage.

In an era in which filmers but not skaters are namechecked in 10-minute web edits and lineups are relegated to Youtube descriptions, the credits section seems not only buried, but buried beneath the foundation of a building that collapses and afterwards is covered over by an avalanche or lava flow, depending on the biome and/or time of year. Now comes Quasi, the most consistent scroungers of Rust Belt decay this side of the ‘Grains’ franchise, eyes-dilated dredgers of analog-era counterculture, this week uploading to the people the 10K ‘Grand Prairie.’ Oriented around Dane Barker’s distortion-pedal flick and Justin Henry’s professional-grade grace and thundering form — witness the nollie nosegrind — the vid stews post-‘Alright’ Gilbert Crockett manuals and too-rare Jake Johnson tricks with Bobby De Keyzer’s skyscraper block circuits and a solid slug of Dick Rizzo channelling Puleo and Gall among Jersey’s least obtuse brick angles.

Over and done with in 20 minutes, the credits briefly roll and immediately spill into a half-hour drift through alternate angles, pulsating autograph sessions, an ongoing cat-and-mouse game involving Tum Yetoans on tour, a slice of Taco Bell drive-thru life, casting stones at glass bottles, several interludes involving pickup truck beds, slams, lurkers, gas stations, fire, rural pathos, frisbee sessions, blunt passing, doodling and various others. Years now removed from regular and heavy doses of post-credits antics and outtakes, the effect upon the viewer is one of shock and disorientation. Is this the real video? What is a video? Must Quasi, deploying its 30-minute credit section, be recognized as the medium’s new and perhaps final master?

Is the credit section ‘back’ or is this the last, massive nail of tribute to seal its casket forevermore? Did those dudes go with the lesser of the two angles for some of these tricks on purpose, like how putting Guy Mariano’s switch frontside shove-it k-grind in the ‘Mouse’ credits helped seal the ‘official’ part’s classic status? How come Alien never made a video with alternate-colored magnetic tape? Could Quasi, probably better right now than any other production house as far as surfacing unrinsed music supervisory choices, run a respectable consulting business for video makers cursed with basic song instincts?

Trading Places

August 22, 2012

What’s your occupation?
Independent contractor.

OK. Meaning…
Spot locator. Hired gun. Hunter-gatherer.

Some people aren’t familiar with your trade, is all.
My trade is a result of supply and demand.

Well, alright, how long have you been at this?
Full-time, I guess, four years? But really I started about ten years ago.

Explain how you got into this line of work then.
Like the other guys, basically filming. As often as not you’re expected to come with places to go if you get kicked out of the spot you’re at, or you trek out to the boonies and find out the spot’s not skatable for whatever reason, people are there, the cops. You can go someplace nearby, still be productive, wind up getting paid.

But you don’t film nowadays.
I do, a little bit. Here and there. But yeah, I spend more time on the road now. In the field.

Like in your car?
Yeah. For a vehicle you need, number one, gas mileage, and preferably something inconspicuous. It’s a lot of slow creeping around industrial parks, construction sites, all that. I keep maps and a phone with a dead battery and a couple handwritten addresses for when I need to answer questions.

You tote a camera too, and a laptop. There’s a story to explain those?
I’m a film student. Just spaced out and lost. I got a college student ID off a kid a while back, I haven’t had to whip it out yet though.

When did you figure out this could be a full-time job?
First off, I’m glad you call it a job, because it is work, a lot of work sometimes. It clicked for me when I was at the bar one night, showing two pros a photo I’d taken of a really long, mellow hubba ledge. It was in Van Nuys, it’s gone now, it was skated a lot though. These dudes were on the same team actually, board team. Basically they wanted me to take them to the spot the next day, I was down, I’d film or whatever. But then one of the dudes, the younger one as it happens, he went to take a piss and the dude who stayed whipped out $200 and asked if I’d take him and ditch the other guy. I took it, but then felt bad and when I was leaving to pick the older dude up the next day I actually called the other guy just to give him the heads up we were going, but he was still passed out from the night before anyway so it was a wash. Basically the older pro got his trick and sort of said he’d pay up if I clued him in on good spots I found after that, and it was on.

How much does a good spot go for now? Say a 12-stair rail, round.
The market decides.

Come on. Give people an idea.
No way. And give all these young bucks a way to undercut me? Anyway it all fluctuates.

Who’s your main clientele?
Pros. Older pros. The young kids, the ams, they don’t need my services as much, and they don’t got that much money anyway. It’s a whole equation that makes this business, kind of a food chain. At the top of the food chain, say, you got pros who have been in the game for ten or maybe fifteen years, and they have the shoe money, the energy drink, big sponsors, or a TV or contest deal. And a lot of times they’re running companies themselves. Obviously they don’t have the time to go out cruising for spots themselves, but that’s just part of it. About ten years back when “Pretty Sweet” and the Vans vid and Flip’s video came out, there was this generation of pros who, their skills were sort of starting to fade, their names were still big and people still wanted to see them and sponsors had a lot of money behind them… but if you’re going to film a backside smith grind on a bank-to-ledge you can’t do it on one where some random kid got a backside smith grind backside flip out a week before for his internet part. You need fresh spots, you do your more basic tricks on a new spot and people aren’t focused all on what other tricks have been done there. So as a spot it has more value.

And the guys who need those spots the most are the ones that have money to spend.
Right, yeah. For the kids coming up, ripping and trying to make their bones or whatever, it’s kind of beside the point. It almost works the other way for them, like for a long time you’ve seen kids who headed to these name-brand spots like El Toro or Hubba Hideout or Med Choice or Baldy or Rincon. For them it’s like you want to be measured against what’s been done before, to sort of prove yourself.

Can you sell a spot more than once?
You can. Some places, you make the call, it’s open season–for such and such figure I’ll tell you where the spot is. But what you’re getting at, keeping a spot quiet but getting good mileage out of it, that takes more work. And obviously the spot has to be worth it. But there’s ways.

You blindfold people?
Nah. I’ve thought about it. As far as I go, it’s just everybody turns off their phones and I hold on to them, you build in a few detours into your route, but like I said that’s pretty rare instances. If dudes wind up remembering their way to some spot because they’re familiar with the area it’s not likely to stay secret that long anyway, you know?

But you do sell exclusive rights sometimes.
I don’t know how “exclusive” any of these places are, they’re all publicly accessible. Mostly. But if someone’s willing to pay a premium for me to text them GPS coordinates and then erase them from my list, we can talk about it. I’ve done that. There’s no guarantees though. There’s more dudes out there trying to do this nowadays.

Do you do stuff like lock handrails, or sabotage spots to keep them under wraps?
I don’t, but I get why some people do. It’s their livelihood, I guess. It seems a little bit over the top to me. And well-equipped filmers will figure out a way to deal with it anyway.

What do you look for when you’re doing research? In the field?
Just the usual stuff, how long, tall, far, I take photos and video sometimes to give the sense of what a clip or a line would look like, depending what it is. Materials, in case stuff needs to be fixed. Sometimes you go back at night to see what it would look like lit up, or if there’s security around during the day. And if you’re smart you crop out any kind of shit in the background that would tip people off to where it is, so you can shop the photos around. Some people like more gritty looking spots, some people don’t care, so you figure out what this dude or that dude likes and you can cater to that.

How long do you think you’ll do this? Like is this a career to you?
Good question. I don’t know. It’s better than filming, for sure. Money up front and all-cash transactions. I guess it depends what you like, sometimes you feel like a big rig driver, or a courier, long days on the road. You wind up being a behind-the-scenes operator, see some billboard or TV commercial and it’s a trick at a spot that you hooked up. That’s cool the first few times, then it’s mainly the money.