Posts Tagged ‘VX1000’

At the February Meeting of the International Brotherhood of Skate Video Character Actors

February 20, 2016


Bill: Alright, let the record show this is Bill, representing the FDR managers and chair. I’d like to call this meeting to order. Can those present identify themselves for the minutes?

Len: Len here…

Ghostrider: This is your Ghostrider, present.

Murgatroyd Simmons: Murgatroyd. Here. On the phone from Milan.

Bill: Very good, we have a quorum. Let’s get to the new business then?

Ghostrider: We need to address Philly, one of our largest chapters.

Bill: No doubt. Does anyone have a motion on it?

Len: I’ve been traveling and not able to look at this closely yet… They shut the park this week, I saw… but… then Kyle Nicholson was still gunning for the switch 360 flip? Did I see that right..?

Bill: He’s switch 360 flipping on borrowed time, I’m afraid. The fences are up and the machinery moved in.

Murgatroyd: That’s a real bummer. Complete bummer.

Ghostrider: It’s a real blow to our brothers and sisters at the local chapter and to all of us. I assume I don’t need to recite for all of you the stats, between videos’ migration to Instagram and Vine and whatnot, all the private TFs, and the swelling rosters that pack the remaining full-lengths… I mean, it is really, really tough out there for any character actor, regardless of tenure or talent, to get meaningful screen time in skate videos these days. Any chapter, period.

Murgatroyd: Thank God for Fat Bill.

Len: Well, thank God for the Sabotage dudes… I mean… they provided roles for more members than nearly all other videos put together over the last few years. CJ the Picture Man, Joe McPeak… the tank-top gobbler… Philly Jesus, Snitch…

Murgatroyd: Well hey, we should talk about a strike. Right?

Bill: It’s worth discussing.

Ghostrider: It may put the issue on people’s radar, but we need to get input from the local chapters on a move like that. There’s still good work to be got from the shop and independent videos and folks may not put that aside lightly with times like they are right now. There’s no more “…and you’re watching 411.” Transworld’s move back to the VX and weirdly abrasive paper for the new issue’s cover suggests a grittier direction, I’ll grant. But they’re a long way from ‘Free Your Mind’. It might just be some novelty thing.

Len: And, if these dudes in Philadelphia really will have to make their way without Love Park… you know, they may need our support there… It’s a two-way street.

Murgatroyd: True, well, good point.

Bill: There’s some mail on this, actually.

Murgatroyd: From the Philly chapter?

Bill: From some blog website. I guess people still do blogs. There’s a lot of run-on sentences and some made up words.

Len: What does it say?

Bill: It’s like a condolence card. Offering sympathy and solidarity in tough times for everyone who helped revive one of the world’s great spots, with minimal help from any company sponsors or corporate interests, producing some of the best skating and videos of the past decade. Thanks the Sabotage group and the rest for building a scene as raw and vital as any of the earlier Love Park heydays. Says it was both rousing and really sad, all the footage and photos this past week. The penmanship’s poor, it really rambles. Anyway then. I’d like to motion for canvassing the local chapters on a possible strike to call attention to the plight of our colleagues in Philadelphia related to Love Park’s closure.

Murgatroyd: Seconded.

Bill: Very good. Let’s keep an eye on this one and keep Philadelphia in our thoughts.

Murgatroyd: If there’s no other old business I’d move to adjourn, fellas. I’m meeting, you know, a gentleman caller.

Bill: Only other thing was a moment of silence for the Brown sisters. I suggest we adjourn with that.

All: Seconded.

What’s Really Good With ‘What’s Really Good,’ The Doc On Skate Docs?

July 7, 2013

“We were just some kids with a couple beat-up cameras…”

The flashes pop in rapid succession and the stringy-haired kid narrows his eyes, looks ahead, looks down. He’s steadily moving toward something, from somewhere we hear urethane on cement, Swiss with the shields popped off.

The shot cuts to a pair of Half-Cabs, one shoelace torn and mended with a dirty knot. Underneath, though, no griptape but instead a plush red carpet. Tuxedo slacks, cumberbund. We hear the crack of an ollie as the kid disappears into a darkened theater, still trailed by cameras.

“You have to realize that nobody set out to make a ‘documentary film.’ We barely knew the word. What, PBS? ‘Roger & Me?’ It’s raining out. The camera battery’s charged, now what? Sit over there and talk about your town. Your scene, whatever. Grammar? What’s that? One take, you’re done, forget it.”

The brainchild of Dean “Slim” Newten, “What’s Really Good” tells the story behind the rise of the skateboard documentary as an art form. From its parodic beginnings in Bones Brigade video-part bumpers to 411VM’s early stabs at profiles and forays into long-form pieces by “ON Video,” Newten sifted hours of cutting-room floor footage and assembled filmmakers behind “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” “Dragonslayer,” “Fruit of the Vine,” “Stoked,” “Epicly Later’d,” Rising Son,” “The Man Who Souled the World, “Waiting for Lightning,” “Bones Brigade” and others to tell this no-holds-barred story through the people who were there.

“These guys were literally making it up as they went along — something from nothing,” says “Slim” Newten. “It’s an inspiring story because they were writing history and they didn’t even know it, with no rules, no film school professors, no budget. They just grabbed a camera and a tripod and a stool and went for it.”

But when the red carpets began rolling out, they sometimes led to darker places than Hollywood premieres. As the promotional tours and receptions grew more lavish, some filmmakers succumbed to the debauchery for which the documentary film scene has become notorious — writhing among glaciers of crystal meth, drifts of cocaine and endless nights soaked with heroin and frequently anonymous sexual relations.

“We always lived on the edge. But all of a sudden we looked down, and there was nothing under our feet anymore.”

Gilded mansions and white tigers on leashes soon replaced skate houses and unpaid amateurs as filmmakers’ indulgences took them in garish new directions. Directors began employing actors to perform soft-focus reenactments, harnessed cameras to miniature helicopters and experimented with “reality” television.

“In the end, for some of them, it was their original love for documentary filmmaking that brought them back from the precipice of oblivion,” says “Slim” Newten. “There are a few people — and I count myself among them, for better or worse — who can honestly say that making documentaries about skateboarding saved their lives.”

As raves pile up for “What’s Really Good,” “Slim” Newten already is looking ahead to his next project — executive producing “It Is What It Is,” a documentary by independent filmmaker Franciolious Paul Julian-Buzzles, chronicling the painstaking process of poring through Hi-8 tapes and archival VHS tapes to make “What’s Really Good.” It’s a journey that “Slim” Newten says nearly cost him everything — his friends, his credit rating and, most riskily, the love of an honest woman.

“I set out to simply tell the story behind the story about the stories of the stories of a generation that’s all too often overlooked,” says Julian-Buzzles. “What I didn’t count on was stumbling across a tale that could’ve been my own life.”

Julian-Buzzles, originally trained as an organic taxidermist specializing in Eastern European waterfowl, is currently consulting with prospective ghostwriters for his own autobiography. It is tentatively called “Franciolious Paul Julian-Buzzles: The Raw Deal.”