(Featured: Sidewalk Magazine, 4th December 2015.)
The thought of heading out into the great unknown on missions with some of the skateboarding’s modern greats would be a daunting prospect for any filmer new to the experience. Add to that the multiple responsibilities of being the person with all the spots, getting the talent to said spots and then being in charge of encouraging said talent to perform, whilst simultaneously dealing with the actual filming side of things, and the life of a modern skate filmer suddenly starts to sound pretty daunting.
However, when the crew you are with consists of Kyle Walker, Dennis Busenitz, Ishod Wair, Justin Brock, Jake Donnelly, Robbie Brockel and JT Aultz to name a few, then I’d imagine that a lack of productivity immediately ceases to be a concern and if you caught Real’s Through and Through, you will know it wasn’t. Delivered at a fast and exciting pace, the almost twenty minute long video showed that despite whatever may be popular with skateboarding in a wider sense; Real Skateboards just continues to be Real Skateboards and the team goes flat out from start to finish.
Stepping into the shoes left by Dan Wolfe after the last Real production, Since Day One in 2011, Jeremy McNamara did a great job with the latest video, providing another entry to Real’s back catalogue that stands up against any and all their past releases.
Read on to find out how Jeremy became involved with Real and what the process behind working on this video was like from the point of view of the guy dealing with the multiple tasks of the modern day skateboard media producer.
Additionally we also caught up with two of the guys who had oodles of banging footage filmed by Mr McNamara and his cohorts to get their take on the process involved in putting together one of the best releases of 2015. Big up all involved: Esse quam videri.
Right at the start of Through and Through, Ishod smashes into that security guard, what’s the story there? Did they give you a ticket and threaten to confiscate the camera or anything because you’d got it on film?
Justin and Ishod were having a session on the gap to rail in Kansas City. Ishod was super close to that fakie backlip – right as Ishod was just about to do it, security came and told us to leave, which led into your average, “just one more and we will leave” conversation. Security wasn’t having it and that guy decided to sit on the rail. I’m not sure if Ishod just didn’t see him or if he thought that he would move out of the way but he tried it anyway and boom! After that we just left knowing we would come back on another day of the trip. Luckily it didn’t escalate into anything crazy.
How long after ‘Since Day One’ did you start working with Real and how did you actually become involved with the company?
I have been working at DLX for the past three years. I had made a video with some friends during the last two years of high school and somehow Dan Wolfe happened to see it and contacted me about possibly doing work for DLX. I remember tripping out on the fact that he hit me up out of the blue. I definitely got lucky.
How did you get interested in cinematography in the first the place? Were you just the guy that always had a camera and it turned into something more or was there a particular skate video that inspired you start filming?
I started filming how most kids do. My friends and I would skate together and eventually we wanted to start filming the tricks we were doing. We would all film each other. Slowly I started to find myself wanting to be behind the camera more and more. I became interested in the filmmaking process and wanted to create my own videos with my friends. The first camera I ever used was a point and shoot that my mom had. I remember I would always take it when she wasn’t looking and bring it skating. There are a lot of filmmakers that have inspired me including: Jason Hernandez, Ty Evans, Greg Hunt, Mike Manzoori, Russell Houghton, and Dan Wolfe. I get really inspired by films outside of skateboarding as well. A lot of the stuff the production companies Brainfarm, Sherpas Cinema, and Camp 4 Collective do is amazing.
What other video projects had you worked on in the past? Was this the first one that was mainly all on you?
I have made a few videos on my own outside of DLX. During the past years at DLX I have made a bunch of short web content pieces. This was the first feature video I have made for a company as big as REAL yes, but the video wasn’t all on me alone. Tim Fulton filmed half of the video and there was a ton of stuff contributed by other filmers as well. I worked closely with Jim and Damon when editing the video.
How did Through And Through first come to together, had you just stockpiled footage from a few trips and sessions and decided to keep going? It seems like it’s been more of an organic process than deciding, “right, we’re making a video.”
Before I started working at DLX the team had a good amount of footage stacked up. During the past few years we went on a bunch of REAL trips without having a specific goal for the footage we were filming. I remember Jim and I had a meeting about what REAL should make video wise. Jim wanted to do something with the footage we had but didn’t know exactly what. The only thing he said is that he wanted a “team vibe” video and asked me to go through all the footage and see what we could turn it into. I went through everything we had and edited a super rough cut to show him and Damon. I would say it was an organic process for sure.
It’s rare that a video like this comes out with basically no pre-hype like this. It was the same with Destination Unknown too and I’d say that reflects Deluxe’s approach with all their brands: no bullshit, just good skateboarding. What’s your take on that?
DLX is rad. I think it starts with the fact that everybody who works there skates and knows what skateboarders want to see. I like the fact that the video wasn’t hyped up. It makes it more of a surprise to everybody and gets people talking. Also I think if there was hype for the video it would have misled people because each rider didn’t have their own part. I don’t think it would have been what people were expecting.
How is it having Real/Deluxe as an employer? I imagine Jim and Tommy are great people to call your boss.
It’s rad to work with those guys! Jim is insane. He works everyday to make DLX and skateboarding the best it can be. It’s great to be able to work with people who always give it 100%.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the video is showcasing tricks at the same spot together as it gives a better idea of the session that went down. I think that complements a montage-based video well too. Why did you choose to present the footage as a montage rather than dividing it up into parts?
There were a few reasons. With a company who has as many riders as REAL it would have taken a long time to try and film another full length video with full parts from everybody. In today’s times you need to constantly be putting out new content to stay relevant. So part of the reason was to make something everybody could be a part of that came out sooner than later. Also it was important to showcase the fact that these guys are all friends and skate together. I think it’s cool get the vibe of a session. It makes it feel fun and maybe a bit more enjoyable to watch. That is something every skateboarder can relate to.
How is it working in that style opposed to a part-by-part format? Is there anything that’s easier or harder with piecing it together?
I don’t think one would be harder than the other: just different. For example trying to find a song to fit a section rather than a song to fit an individual skater. Jack and Robbie’s songs were picked to fit them though.
Who is your favourite guy to film with and can you give us a good story about them from filming Through and Through?
I enjoy filming all the guys on the team! It’s hard to narrow it down to a few but if I had to pick I would say I was really stoked to film the vert stuff that Max had. I always have been a fan of his skating. Everybody is so gnarly. I feel like a dick picking just one person! Justin is an animal. He always gives it everything he’s got. Robbie and Jack really shined in this video. Both of those guys are super talented skateboarders. Everybody on the team kills it. Ishod is unreal. He gets so much footage and does his tricks super quick.
What’s filming with Justin and Dennis like? Those dude skate so fast so I imagine it’s pretty hectic…
They both definitely go faster than most. I just go as fast as I can and try to keep up! Usually it works out. Just gotta stay on your toes! It’s exciting to film those guys.
How about Ishod? There always seems to be a bit of unpredictability to him, especially some of the lines he does.
Ishod is definitely a spontaneous skater. Whenever we film lines he lets me know what he is going to try. I always try to keep an eye out for him at spots. Gotta be super quick to setup. He gets in the zone and the last thing you wanna tell him to do is wait for you to set up!
I’ve lost count of how many times that manual trick Dennis did on the China Banks has popped up on Instagram. Although this isn’t a full video per se, there’s still a lot more dedication put into it than a four-minute web clip. What’s your view on the way skate videos and skateboard media has changed since the last Real video came out in 2011?
There is so much good content coming out everyday. After a while it can all start to blend into one. It’s harder to make something that will stick these days. A lot of stuff that comes out gets repetitive really quick. It’s almost like people are becoming immune to watching insane tricks. You can see the most mind blowing skateboarding everyday just on Instagram alone. I think nowadays there needs to be something more in a video than just insane skating. You could watch the best tricks in the world and it might not make you wanna skate. It’s rad to see guys skating together that feed off one another’s energy. It’s also cool to catch glimpses of people’s personalities. It makes it more fun and it’s something every skater can relate to.
Where do see it going from here? Do you think longer, montage based videos, such as Through and Through might take off to the extent the solo web part has?
I’m really not sure. There’s a place for every type of skate video on the Internet. I think we will continue to see a mix of all sorts of skate video content. It all depends on what fits the project best. Maybe this type of format will work for other teams as well. Right now there are no specific plans for the next REAL project.
Finally, do you think that physical copies of skate videos will always have a place?
I don’t think they will always have a place no. Computers don’t even necessarily even come with DVD players nowadays and DVD technology is already outdated. As long as people can watch the video in its intended quality that’s all that really matters. Videos can be downloaded off the Internet and saved. You can watch them anytime you want just like a DVD. I think people like having a something they can hold but what’s the difference when you pop it into a player? It’s still being played on a screen. Plus DVDs are Standard Definition. Most people don’t have Blu Ray players so it will look better online anyway. It’s the way things are going. There’s no stopping it from happening either. The reason they chose to do DVD’s for this video is because most skateshops still have a DVD player and would play it in the shop. Also there are still people who would like a hard copy as well. I think we will start to see less and less DVDs being made every year until they are completely gone.
Images courtesy of Real Skateboards.