(Featured: Speedway Mag, 25th September 2016.)
On September 21st, the crowds gathered outside London’s Prince Charles Cinema for the premiere of MADE Chapter Two; the fifth Emerica video and fourth to be directed by Jon Miner. It’s easy to forget 1997’s Yellow came before the classic This Is Skateboarding in 2003. Probably as the iconic image of Emerica we know, that of greens and golds, is Miner’s Emerica. MADE Chapter Two has been around three years in the making and in hindsight makes its predecessor, 2013’s MADE Chapter One, feel like a prequel to this lengthier feature. The video of boasts footage of the whole team, a new rider, a full part from comeback kid Kevin ‘Spanky’ Long and a ‘retired’ legend whose one trick got the loudest cheer of the video. Anyway… Green hue, names, action.
Miner spares little time for an opening sequence as the insignia of each Emerica rider appears before introducing Jon Dickson as the newest member of the team. Fresh off the back of the Fallen wagon, Dickson opens the video by committing mutton-chopped murder on various spots and although Emerica isn’t a brand to linger in the past, Dickson’s welcome gives a traditional feel to the video. The frequent slam sections and trademark Emerica colours, which saturate the introduction titles and occasional b-roll clips, emphasise this and also give MADE Chapter Two a rawer character.
When considering Andrew Reynolds, Spanky and Jerry Hsu you could argue that the style of skating differs from previous Emerica videos. Speaking about the necessity to break away from past approaches to filming a video part, Jerry recently stated; “I think that’s the biggest challenge, really: dealing with having a shittier body. But my mind is still the same; I still have a sixteen-year-old mind when it comes to skating, but I’m in a fuckin’ mid-thirties body… But, at the same time, that is a good thing! Because that means as a skater that I can evolve and I can adapt and I have to think of new things to do. And that’s good! The challenges of all that shit I just mentioned is a fuckin’ good thing because my skating’s gonna change. You know how when you watch someone skating over the years and they never do anything different? It’s boring! It’s just like, “We wanna see you do something else! We want to see you do all the shit we want to see you do, but we also want to see something new!” That’s been the biggest challenge but there’s also a silver lining, you know?”*
Jerry, The Boss & Spanky. Photo – Atiba.
As a team that have collectively jumped down every notable gap and stair set imaginable, the departure from sheer hammers towards more lower impact skateboarding from the over-thirties crowd is the most enjoyable aspect of MADE. This shift never seems to ignore Emerica’s usual territory of stairs and handrails in an effort to homogenise with the more popular facets of current skateboarding. There is a complete lack of no-complies and one body varial throughout the whole video making MADE Chapter Two feel like an antithesis to the rapid fire delivery of quirky tricks for Instagram attention spans. This absence of trend orientated footage was refreshing without making the video feel outdated; ledge lines, steep banks, schoolyards, picnic tables, a mix of familiar and lesser seen LA landscapes are a welcome change of pace that never feels contrived. The ‘lower impact’ skateboarding taking place on these spots truly appears to be a concentration of what your body will still allow when you have spent the majority of your career punishing it.
Not to say that MADE Chapter Two completely shies away from the stair and handrail onslaughts which have defined Emerica. Jon Dickson, Justin Figueroa and the previous instalment’s four man wrecking crew of Colin Provost, Leo Romero, Brandon Westgate and Jeremy Leabres provide parts in a manner more associated with the company. Though the frequency of stair hammers is toned down, Reynolds still delivers frontside flips and full cabs, Jerry continues his switch/nollie mastery from Stay Gold  and Spanky hucks a signature switch frontside big spin early on. Considering how much time has passed since Stay Goldthere is an element of shock witnessing the level these people can still skate at. However, the more rounded approach calls for a bigger appreciation in those moments where The Boss jumps like his twenty year old self and seamlessly transitions from a kickflip nose slide in a backyard pool to tackling back to back eight stairs. All of this is before Figgy rounds things off smashing through skate-stopped handrails and inflicting four wheeled torture on himself to a tenacious degree. Limping away from this project with broken ribs, a punctured lung, multiple ankle surgeries and a broken thumb amongst other injuries…
As the final credits state: “THIS IS SKATEBOARDING. THIS IS Emerica.” MADE Chapter Two presents the general stoke and awe that skateboarding videos made me feel when I first stepped on a board – the same thrill of witnessing Heath Kirchart jump onto that fateful frontside 5050 in This Is Skateboarding. MADE Chapter Two is a reminder that having ‘relatable’ skateboarders to the nth degree is not entirely necessary to get excited about skateboarding. The whole video is portrait of a proper skateboarding footwear brand and what they represent; skateboarding born from nothing other than skateboarding itself.
*[The Skateboard Mag Issue 152, from Jerry’s interview with Atiba Jefferson.]