Contributions to the Quartersnacks Readers Poll, the de-facto annual ranking system for skateboarding videos. Illustrations by Cosme.
The Best Skate Videos & Parts of 2021 — QS Readers Poll
Joey O’Brien – ‘[untitled] 005’
Now, enter Joey O’Brien and “Untitled 005” — equipped with the ability, vision and a filmmaker capable of pulling off another ten-minute-long case study in ferocious footwork.
There is an efficiency to O’Brien’s approach: lines with tricks in short succession also often rotating in the same direction, a bespoke precision in his tech, and his speed is indicative of a guy squeezing every second out of the time he gets to spend on a board. (Likely the case, as this part was knocked out while working a full-time carpentry job.)
Chris Mulhern is no stranger to Alien Workshop, having previously worked on an O’Brien part for them. With a visual sensibility also informed by the Workshop, with “Untitled 005,” Mulhern has produced a video part that sits adjacent to the Sect yet also functions as tasteful continuation of its narrative. In a knowing nod to a Photosynthesis trailer, the part’s second act is set to Phillip Glass’ “Floe,” weaving a sense of awe as O’Brien levels up at the spot from his Sabotage 4 ender, and puts a Kirchart-esque grace towards his favorite Philadelphia handrails.
Although Suciu and Knox’s “one-man full-lengths” arrived with a sense of culmination for that point in their careers, “Untitled 005” only scratches the surface of whatever mythos awaits Joey O’Brien.
Scoreboard & Authors
10. Cyrus Bennett in John’s Vid (Johnny Wilson) by Adam Abada
9. Nick Michel in Nice To See You (Vans) by Andrew Murrell
8. Trung Nguyen in RESPECTFULLY (Chase Walker) by Christian N. Kerr
7. Chima Ferguson in Nice To See You (Vans) by José Vadi
6. Max Palmer in HIT Video (Pauly Coots) by Zach Baker
5. Tom Knox in ‘Saint Tom Knox’ (Atlantic Drift/Jacob Harris) by Mike Munzenrider
4. Jack O’Grady for Pass~Port (Orion Stefandis) by Pete Glover
3. Mark Suciu for Spitfire (Mack Scharff & Matt Schleyer) by Claire Alleaume
2. Kyle Wilson in Beyond The Third Wave (Palace Skateboards) by Boil The Ocean
1. Joey O’Brien in ‘[untitled] 005’ (Chris Mulhern) by Farran Golding
The Best Skate Videos & Parts of 2020 — QS Readers Poll
Anthony Van Engelen – Dancing On Thin Ice
When a skateboarder follows up their golden era with a conclusive video part, anything thereafter feels like an unexpected epilogue.
It’s why there’s so much warmth to Josh Kalis’ post-trick grin as he takes plaza-honed hits to a D.I.Y. spot. It’s why there’s a sense of relief seeing Andrew Reynolds retire blockbuster jumping in favor of ledge lines in a shop video. Whereas for Anthony Van Engelen, it’s inspiring, shocking and – really – only makes sense that he’s flooring it into his forties with a recognizably visceral arsenal of tricks.
The notion of AVE’s trick selection as “traceable” yet “steadily refined” is enforced from from the start. An opening barrage of wallrides conjure cover-mounted moments from Propeller; backside 5050s, sidewalks and curb-cuts bring back underrated lines from Mind Field; the ruggedly precise corner grinds from Photosynthesis and The DC Video make an appearance, bringing the part to a close, and leave us wondering, “Where’s that curved bench been stashed for the past twenty years?”
In American Utopia, David Byrne takes to the stage in a something of a successor to The Talking Heads’ revered concert film, Stop Making Sense. The dichotomy between Byrne’s age and youthful vigour makes even the most familiar songs feel newly exciting. The same can be said of AVE: the earliest example of, say, a switch crook that comes to memory is made better by the knowledge he half-cab flipped out of the latest one. The consistency mythologizes the past and makes the present-day output hit harder.
Scoreboard & Authors
10. Pedro Delfino in Uncrossed (Deathwish Skateboards/Rye Beres) by Adam Abada
9. Anthony Van Engelen in Dancing On Thin Ice (Fucking Awesome/Benny Maglinao) by Farran Golding
8. Bobby De Keyzer in ‘BOB’ (Quasi Skateboards/Tomas Morrison) by Andrew Murrell
7. Frankie Villani in ‘One Big Mess’ by Mike Munzenrider
6. Elijah Berle in Alright, OK. (Vans/Greg Hunt) by Fraser Doughty
Tom Knox – ‘Atlantic Drift’
Tom Knox’s “Atlantic Drift” part continued to raise questions regarding the British spelling of “skate spot.” In the U.K., Tom’s presence had been instilled by Jacob Harris’ Eleventh Hour a couple of years prior. And although it wasn’t their first part together, the maturity and success of that video – and cohesion with what would follow – positions it at the start of their shared story.
There’s a reverse chronological aspect to Tom’s standalone “Drift”: it opens with him gazing into the neon circles he’s set against for the introductions of each episode and ends at the same spot where his last trick in Eleventh Hour took place. Throughout the part, references to Tom’s back catalog also underwrite a retrospective of his friendship with Jake and his filmography preceding, alongside and separate to Isle. There’s a climatic sense to it and, as Tom and Jake’s successes are so intrinsic, the fleeting reveries of their combined efforts are at home here.
Escaping the ironically singular nature of most online video parts, under the “Atlantic Drift” masthead, Tom’s episode belongs to a larger body of work and, perhaps, that’s why it manages to carry the weight of an “ender.” Rolling away from a bigspin flip, the music lets up for a split-second and Tom a breathes a sigh of relief, leaving us grinning into the next clip. Fight Bite’s “Charlotte Pluie” lends a ghostly atmosphere as its sister track did for the first episode of “Atlantic Drift.” However, the more frantic energy suits Tom’s pathfinding across London’s landmarks and estates; locations constantly juxtaposed between their “natural” setting and Tom’s use of them.
While “quick feet” is one of Tom’s defining traits, it’d be remiss to pigeonhole him. His swiftness has always been balanced. We see this in the second half as Tom’s wheels buckle at tight corners, en route to duck under a bar for a nine-stair frontside shove – or there’s that post-stair set heelflip over a bike lane, the run up for which is grim, even by our standards.
“I’ve been trying hard. Hopefully people like it,” said Tom at the end of a conversation we had a while back. A self-effacing statement, if there ever was one.
Scoreboard & Authors (cont.)
5. Mason Silva in ‘Mason’ (Nike SB/Ryan Lee/Aaron Meza) by José Vadi
4. Alexis Sablone in Seize The Seconds (Converse/Ben Chadourne) by Pete Glover
3. Mason Silva for Spitfire (Ryan Lee/Mack Sharff) by Claire Alleaume
2. Louie Lopez in Seize The Seconds by Boil The Ocean
1. Tom Knox in ‘Atlantic Drift – Episode 11’ (Jacob Harris) by Farran Golding
The Best Skate Video Parts of the 2010s — QS Reader Survey
‘dylan’ – a short film by Gravis Footwear’
The shift towards standalone parts as the predominant medium for skate videos is one of our most significant developments over the past decade. Inarguably before its time, ‘Kalis In Mono’ offered the first taste of what was to come, arriving with Habitat’s Regal Road as a DVD feature back in 2006. The internet wasn’t the main home of skateboarding media just yet. Hard copies reigned, print mags thrived and iPhones didn’t exist. Mind Field, Greg Hunt’s magnum opus for Alien Workshop, was the decade’s curtain call. Then, like Heath Kirchart, full-length videos reached their finest hour and entered early retirement after Stay Gold. In retrospect, would we ever have it better than we did in those final years of the 2000s? Maybe it was time for the format of skate videos to evolve and a handsome man in black to take centre stage.
Often mistaken as the result of Dylan being unsatisfied with his Mind Field part, “Dylan – A Short Film by Gravis Footwear” actually began after an Analog video was cancelled. Regardless, Dylan and Greg Hunt continued filming together. They lived two blocks apart, saw each other daily and their friendship and mutual respect echoes throughout the video. From here on, “less is more” was Dylan’s underlying principle.
Refining his trick selection, Dylan took inspiration from his idols and older brothers at Alien Workshop in subtle yet profound ways. As Graham Nash’s “Better Days” eases in, Dylan rips out a page from the A.V.E. book of ledge etiquette and nonchalantly holds slides at length. On the same spot, he launches an impressively high kickflip out of tailslide which gags any “fashion over function” criticisms about those signature loafers. The impossible, “once kept on life support by Ed Templeton,” was singlehandedly welcomed back into trick lexicon by Dylan. After wrapping one perfectly vertically over the Seaport bench, who would argue that it is anyone’s trick but his?
Dylan’s Gravis part speaks volumes for myriad reasons. It set a new precedent for skate videos and simultaneously raised the bar so high that it has taken another decade for a standalone part to come close to it. Since Dylan passed away in 2016, it has become a memorial in its own right. Yet, were he still with is us, it wouldn’t be any less revered and his influence would be equally resounding – if not more. Regrettably, we’ll never see the full extent of a legacy he was so clearly primed for. Although, in “Dylan,” we’re blessed with a timestamp of when one of skateboarding’s most unique and talented individuals truly came into his own
Scoreboard & Authors
10. Anthony Van Englen in Propeller (Vans, 2015) by Boil The Ocean
9. Bobby Worrest in “Hometown Turf Killer” (Krooked, 2014) by Adam Abada
8. Tom Knox in Vase (Isle Skateboards, 2015) by Adam Abada
7. Dylan Rieder & Alex Olson in “cherry” (Supreme, 2014) by Mike Munzenrider
6. Max Palmer in Call Me 917 (2017) by Zach Baker
5. Mark Suciu in ‘Cross Continental’ (Atlas, 2011) by Frozen In Carbonite
4. Andrew Reynolds in Stay Gold (Emerica, 2010) by Kyle Beachy
3. Mark Suciu in “Verso” (2019) by Willy Staley
2. Tyshawn Jones in “BLESSED” (Supreme, 2018) by Quartersnacks
1. Dylan Rieder in dylan. (Gravis Footwear, 2010) by Farran Golding
The Best Skateboard Videos of the 2010s — QS Reader Survey
Blueprint Skateboards gave their last hurrah with Make Friends With The Color Blue in 2010. Sidewalk‘s epochal full-length, In Progress, arrived the following year. Then things went a little quiet for full-length productions in the U.K. When Vase came along in 2015, it had been a while since we received a full-length from an entity held unanimously in high regard.
Although they have little in common aesthetically, Isle became recognized as a sort of successor to Blueprint in its early days, largely due to Nick Jensen and Paul Shier’s involvement. The company launched in 2013, the same year that Jacob Harris premiered Eleventh Hour, which was great publicity for Isle, as its riders occupied the majority of the video’s screen time. When it became known that the company’s debut video was in Jake’s hands, anticipation united the scene.
Vase draws us along by hypnotic shapes, reflections, and glimpses of the team with silver balloons spelling their initials. Roy Orbinson’s “Running Scared” reaches an abrupt climax, and we drift into the video’s dreamworld of greys and blues. Tom Knox takes the opener, constantly switching between imaginative footwork and being outright fucking gnarly. A lap around St Paul’s Cathedral here, a switch ollie down a back alley stair-set in the double digits there; the amount of tricks in his lines might seem superfluous if anyone else could perform them. Nick Jensen skates with the energy of a man with something left to prove although though he certainly doesn’t. We’re flown for a tour of downtown L.A. courtesy of Paul Shier and Jon Nguyen. We’re reunited with London at Southbank’s undercroft, which gets a battering from Casper Brooker in his coming-of-age part. Then, Chris Jones and Neil Young make this dream upbeat again. “The Bank Manager” lives up to his nickname and also tackles stairs, gaps, flips in and out of tunnel vision and ends the video with highly concentrated style in highly cropped trousers.
Roy Orbison’s familiar voice is back, singing about dreams as the ethereal world we’re awaking from starts to sink into memory. There’s a little déjà vu, but overtly comparing Vase to what has gone before it is a disservice to Harris and Jensen’s accomplished vision. For a British skateboarder, Vase doesn’t so much romanticize the everyday as it does mythologize it
Scoreboard & Authors
10. Vase (Jacob Harris & Isle Skateboards, 2010) by Farran Golding
9. The GX1000 Video (2016) by Adam Abada
8. We Blew It At Some Point (Polar Skate Co., 2018) by Mike Munzenrider
7. Spirit Quest (Colin Read, 2016) by The Palomino Club/Nick Sharratt
6. Roll Up (GX1000, 2018) by Zach Bake
5. I like it here inside my mind, don’t wake me this time. (Polar, 2016) by Adam Abada
4. Call Me 917 (Logan Lara, 2017) by Quartersnacks
3. “BLESSED” (William Strobeck/Supreme, 2018) by Frozen In Carbonite
2. Stay Gold (Emerica, 2010) by Fraser Doughty
1. BLESSED” (William Strobeck/Supreme, 2014) by Boil The Ocean