We are pleased to be introducing Auteurs, a series of interviews by Ben Powell celebrating some of the best film-makers in skateboarding. This introduction to the series by Ben Powell explains how important these individuals are to the proliferation of our culture…
We’ve reached a point in skateboard culture where there is a 24/7 drip feed of documentation that goes beyond the point of over-saturation.
Long gone are the days of high-budget company videos controlling the narrative and shaping the next stage of progression for skateboarding as a whole. That’s not to say that the full-length video is dead as such, just that its power as a tool to market a brand and/or particular skater, or to direct skateboarding as a whole has diminished, as the ease with which anyone can film and share skate footage globally, for free, has increased.
The reasons for this are obviously very complex and by no means necessarily negative. It’s all too easy for people who grew up in the pre-Internet/pre-Social Media era to lament the current situation, but looked at from a wider perspective, it’s merely another knock-on effect of the Internet enabling and democratising the notion of publishing in all areas of culture, (whether that be video footage, photography or opinion).
These days, anybody with a Smartphone can create ‘content’ and then, via platforms like Instagram/YouTube etc, etc, have instant access to a global audience that most brands, mags, etc would kill for.
The plus sides of this are that locally-focused and independent scenes, brands and individuals have equal opportunity (at least potentially) to reach the widest audience. Similarly, the death grip of magazines to decide who or what is worthy of attention has loosened due to today’s situation, and now talent from anywhere can be seen, recognised and then be absorbed in the wider culture in a way that wasn’t possible even a decade ago. Another upside is the erosion of the confines of traditional formats (particularly in the case of skate videos), meaning that we get a much more varied output of content that is no longer chained to the expectations of the 3-minute part focused on tricks, or to the skate company team video that necessitates years of collation and huge expense to put together.
Whilst the days of big box productions like ‘Sorry’, ‘Mouse’, ‘Modus Operandi’ ‘Photosynthesis’ etc, etc do seem to be numbered, (with obvious exceptions like ‘Cherry’ and ‘Blessed’ duly noted), we have instead a wealth of smaller-scale video releases that have broken outside of the conventions of what came before, and as a result have created some of the most inspirational and novel perspectives on the act of skateboarding seen in a long, long time.
I’m wary of falling into the trap of repeating the boring old complaints of ‘skateboarding was in better in [/insert time frame]’ as that is far from my intention. This intro is really just a way to frame the first of a series celebrating the video output of some of the filmers and editors who have embraced the current context and, rather than wishing for a VX1000 powered Tardis to take us back in time to a point where you can still sell 10,000 copies of a video, have instead adopted the distribution options offered by the Internet to create content just as inspiring and magical as the VHS and DVD productions that preceded them.
With that said, who better to start things off with than Colin Read?
Long live the eccentrics!