Cannabis and skateboarding are like peanut-butter and jelly; they’re both great on their own, but even better together. In our new column The Ganja Grind, we’ll take you into the fold of what to look out for in the world of skateboarding. From interviews with our favorite pros and compilations of social media hijinks, to video reviews and sneaker releases, this series will get your week rolling.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when skateboard videos were only available to the truly obsessed. Sold exclusively in the handful of skate shops operating across the globe, and advertised in monthly editions of Thrasher and Transworld Magazine, the mere concept of a new video inspired schoolyard predictions and feverish anticipation among dedicated skaters.
Traditionally, videos are put out by board, shoe, clothing, and other skate industry companies as a dual advertising tool and piece of art. Usually split up into separate sections for each skater, an individual’s video part is the culmination of months, if not years, of work condensed into three minutes of rapid fire tricks, falls, freak-outs, and hijinks. As skaters, videos are where we find our idols and inspiration.
But like most other forms of media, skate videos have long since departed niche exclusivity, and now live almost entirely within the algorithms of Youtube, Instagram, and Thrasher’s proprietary video player. And as our collective attention span has continued to shorten over the last couple decades, so too have skate videos. Full-length, years-long projects have become increasingly rare as board and shoe companies release individual skaters’ video parts as one-offs — not unlike record labels foregoing an album budget to focus on the latest streaming single.
This month, though, a slew of feature releases from some of the skate industry’s longest-running brands — on top of previews for videos from a number of local, smaller skate crews — have served up a heaping portion of nostalgia, and reminded us how far the culture has come. With new projects from Element, Foundation, and Girl Skateboards all dropping in October, as well as a couple highly-anticipated independent videos coming from crews on both coasts, these are the skate videos worth watching, skipping, and obsessing over as autumn’s breeze turns into winter chills.
Element Skateboards - “Peace”
Fresh off of a cross-country victory on VICELAND and Thrasher Magazine’s jointly televised King of the Road challenge, the Element Skateboards team continued its 2018 hot streak with “Peace,” the company’s newest full-length video. Available for purchase on iTunes, the hour-long feature is reminiscent of the big budget skate videos released throughout the aughts, complete with excessive slo-mo, a soundtrack full of classic hardcore from the likes of Operation Ivy and Bad Brains, and a couple parts begging for the fast forward button.
But with a powerful two-song first part from skateboarding’s favorite cranberry farmer, Brandon Westgate, more rail slaying from rookie pro and Thrasher Skater of the Year candidate Tyson Peterson, mushroom-induced wizardry from Evan Smith, and a heart-pounding finale from Mason Silva, “Peace” is well worth the price of admission, even if it means updating your credit card info in iTunes for the first time in 10 years.
Foundation Skateboards - “Souvenir”
Another group of skaters with newfound mainstream celebrity thanks to King of the Road, Foundation Skateboards released their latest project, “Souvenir,” earlier this month on the Thrasher web page. Eschewing the iTunes paywall and hour-long runtime of Element’s “Peace,” “Souvenir” presents the Southern California team in a succinct 16-minute run time, with stand-out parts from Cotie Robinson and Corey Glick, both of whom delightfully update the brand’s big rail imagery with wallies, bonks, technical ledge lines, and more. Glick’s insane final trick puts a neat bow on the entire operation, and will make you rethink Foundation’s place in the constantly-shifting skate industry hierarchy.
Girl Skateboards - “Doll”
When the subject of skateboarding cinema comes up (and especially when it’s called cinema), Girl is often the first company mentioned. Originally, a launching pad for the Hollywood dreams of Oscar-winner Spike Jonze and fancy camera obsessive Ty Evans, Girl took the skate skit format popularized in ‘80s vert videos and evolved the between-action vignettes into theatrical brilliance. The crew did so by employing full wardrobe and make-up teams, pyrotechnics, and the occasional cameo from real-life Tinsel Town bigwigs. Of course, it never hurt that Girl’s team has featured a who’s who of the world’s best skateboarders since its inception 25 years ago.
For their latest video, “Doll,” the guys at Girl are ditching the company’s usual fanfare for a more tight-knit affair, with young buck director Rye Beres taking over the camera, and amateurs Niels Bennett and Griffin Gass making their first major video appearances. As longtime Girl pros like Mike Carroll and Rick McCrank focus more on the executive board room, and other team members deal with injuries and legal woes, “Doll” looks to be a turning of the page for the legacy brand, for better or worse. Skipping an online release altogether, “Doll” is currently being premiered at skate shops around the globe, with details for wide release not yet available.
GX1000 - “Roll Up”
No matter how much skate videos change, be it big budget drone shots in Dubai, or three-minute, multi-camera clips focused on one single trick, there will always be something magical about just watching a group of friends have fun on their boards. Known for their work on the hills of San Francisco, not to mention their collection of stamped passport pages, the GX1000 crew is not bound by any one sponsor, but rather a shared love for near death experiences.
Named after the Sony VX1000, the skate industry’s camera of choice before HD became ubiquitous, Al Davis, Jake Johnson, Brian Delatorre, and the rest of the GX squad don’t need nostalgia to harken back to days of skateboarding’s past. Their work typically comprises footage focused on speed and the city, and their music selection always has viewers googling lyrics for track titles. The latest GX1000 video, “Roll Up” will premier October 29th in San Francisco, and hopefully hit the internet shortly after.
Pete Spooner - “Skateboarding Is Easy”
Continuing further down the rabbit hole of small-budget skate videos featuring best buds and backyard brews, Pete Spooner — the director behind cult-classic Minnesota skate videos “Flow Trash,” “Debris,” “Insano,” and more — returns with his latest project, “Skateboarding Is Easy.”
“Skateboarding Is Easy” will feature fewer names found on your local skate shop board wall than the videos mentioned above, but with clips filmed across the Midwest and East Coast, a Prince track anchoring the promo, and an opening shot featuring a pelvic thrust accompanied by a smiley face balloon, the preview for Spooner’s new video reminds us that skateboarding is, in fact, not easy, and that making a great skate video takes some special creative, too.
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a skate video, but it’s close enough. Mid90s, the skate-soaked directorial debut from Jonah Hill, brings skate videos to the silver screen. Focused on a pre-teen finding his place in a group of SoCal skaters, the film has already sparked intense debate in the skate community, bringing up questions about culture vultures, skateboarding’s place in cinema, and the community’s ability for self-reflection and growth.
But if there’s one thing that Hill definitely got right, it was casting kids who truly know what they’re doing. Mid90s two most visible stars, Sunny Suljic and Na-Kel Smith, have both been filming tricks long before Hollywood came knocking. So if you already cancelled MoviePass or (understandably) don’t want to pay $15 to hear teenagers repeatedly shout homophobic slurs, at least pull up these skate parts from Nak, Sunny, and the rest of the film’s wunderkind.
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