I’ve been filming and working on a full length skate video entitled “The Mob Rules” for almost three years now. In that time, I’ve fielded a question that pops up frequently: “Are you going to post the video online?” My answer to that was always, and remains a staunch “No, at least not for a year or so.”
The problem with posting the skate video online—the one that myself and the skaters featured in have broken bones or required extensive surgeries for, lost pints of blood for, spent hundreds of hours driving to spots and trying tricks for, spent thousands of dollars on record-high gasoline for, and have put all of our heart and soul into—is that it will be meaningless and forgotten when posted online among the endless stream of skateboarding content. There are new parts featuring skateboarders from every corner of the world posted every day to media giants like Thrasher, Ride Channel, Transworld, or the Berrics. Everyone can get their couple minutes of fame, or, 15 seconds of fame if they’re lucky enough to be posted to a prominent Instagram account.
Just about every time I go out and skate, someone is asking if we’ve watched so-and-so’s part on Thrasher. Or the new Mag Minute on The Skateboard Mag. Or that clip that someone posted on Instagram. Or those stupid things where they skate for money on Ride Channel. Or the whatever-the-hell-they’re-up-to things on the Berrics. My answer is often no, and it’s usually a coin toss with everyone else. These parts are generally some of the best skateboarding by top pros, hungry ams, risk-it-all flows, and little kids jumping down everything. But they are depressing, making even the best of skaters feel like they’re not good enough anymore. It’s like being 12 at the skatepark again watching all of the older dudes go at it and thinking, “God damn, I’ll never be that good.” Then you’d go home and contemplate focusing your board or quitting skateboarding.
Worse than just being depressing, however, the online parts and videos are simply forgotten about. Full length videos aren’t even watched in their entirety due to short attention spans required for web parts. That’s where the bulk of my reason is as to why I don’t want to post the skate video so quickly. I and many other filmers I know don’t make montages like we used to as a result of the inattention given to our work—what was once awesome is now a waste of time to us. No one has time nor the attention span to sit down and watch them when two professional full length skate videos, A Happy Medium 3 and Enjoi’s Oververt, are being posted piece by piece each day, Wes Kramer’s putting out a part in a few days, Alex Perelson posted a part last night, Expedition One, Nike, and Redbull uploaded tour videos, five contest videos were posted today, there’s that Spitfire am-for-a-year contest with four videos, and the Berrics, Hellaclips, and Ride Channel never stop. Yes, this is actually today’s postings that you’d find. Nothing over 6 minutes long. This is what people are watching.
To emphasize the forgetful nature of this torrent of content, I’ll use Chris Cole as an example. A large amount of people saw him as one of their favorite skaters at one point or another, likely from his landmark Dying to Live, New Blood, or Ride the Sky parts that weren’t posted online among thousands of videos a month. Surely most skaters I know can rifle off a pretty long list of his footage in these parts and remember the songs he skated to. Now, in case you’ve forgotten (I definitely did), he released a web-part not long ago. You probably watched it a few times on your phone. Can you recall even a couple of the tricks he did or even the song he used? Even now, I can’t.
But it wasn’t always like that. When skateboarding was watched before this time, it was on TV with a physical media like a DVD. And it wasn’t usually a lonely activity. You’d watch it with friends before or after a session and there would be an excitement like a mini-premiere. Then everyone would want to go skate and put out their best effort, not really caring that their footage wouldn’t stack up to the pro parts. These skate videos brought people together to share the love of skateboarding. They were watched over and over again, borrowed and burned copies of. I often find myself wishing that Thrasher would put out King of the Road DVDs alongside their dozens of webclips, and videos like the Enjoi one would be put on DVD like they deserve.
Companies and skaters can continue putting out their hard work for a day on the front page of some website, but I believe that skate videos should be put on DVDs and enjoyed communally like they have for so long. I want my own skate video to be enjoyed and experienced by viewers in a way that cannot be translated to web clips on phones and computers. If I can get even a few people, like the next generation of skaters, excited to go skate by watching the skate video together on the big screen, then I’ve done my job and I’m happy with all that I’ve done over the years. I do not believe that I can accomplish that with a web video.