It’s no grind: Homegrown Skateboards’ new promo film Knock on Wood
celebrates the team and their skills. Alison Lang avoids the concrete.
For the uninitiated, the average skateboarding video makes the whole thing look pretty easy. That is, until a hapless rider hits the lip of a curb the wrong way and hits the ground, sliding face first into a concrete block as his buddies wince around him.
That’s what happens at the end of the trailer for the latest skateboarding video produced by Homegrown Skateboards, Knock on Wood
. The company, based in LaHave, has been producing locally made boards and videos for 10 years. Videos like Knock serve as an important promotional tool and a DIY love letter to the company’s skateboarding team and their friends. Jesse Watson started Homegrown when he was 17 (he’s now 31) and produced the video. He says---with the world-weariness of a man who has eaten concrete a few times---that it’s important that scenes showing “bails” (skateboard talk for nasty falls) stay in the film.
“When we show a bail, it means we’ll follow up with landed tricks,” he says. “Bailing is half of skateboarding for sure, so we don’t want to dress it up too clean. And when he lands that trick smoothly, that makes it all the sweeter.”
Director Scott McLellan knows all about the considerations that go into making a skateboard video. Since the film was actually “directed” by most members of the Homegrown team---a group of skateboarders scattered across the Maritimes, Toronto and Vancouver----it was McLellan’s job to sort through hours of footage, find the scenes that work best and cut them into segments highlighting each team member. It’s not easy to cut a 35-minute film when most of its shots last an average of three seconds.
“Post-production is always so heavy,” he says. “I literally spent every waking hour this month working on the footage. Some of the stuff looked like it was shot on Super 8 film with the cameraman riding a pogo stick. And then some stuff is well composed and really cool. We save that footage for the pivotal points in the film.”
These points include the “bangers” (more skateboard talk for “good tricks”) and “enders” (standout tricks that conclude the film). When McLellan and other team members shot tricks, they were focused on originality and location, which explains the inclusion of some venerable skateboarding stunt sites in Brooklyn, Vancouver and Toronto. Although McLellan doesn’t share which tricks were bangers, he does speak highly of the team’s newest addition, Adam Wade, whose segments were filmed at a famous skateboarding spot in front of the CN Tower. Wade makes his first appearance in the film along with other notable skateboarders from St. John’s. Although Newfoundland isn’t a skateboarding hotspot, McLellan says Wade will raise the area’s profile.
“He’s from this town in Goose Bay that has, like, two skateboarders,” he says. “They have to skate on helo pads. Then he comes to Toronto and films his entire portion of the video in a week-and-a-half. It would take most guys two years.”
Watson agrees. “The guys in St. John’s have really raised the bar for themselves. They’re used to shitty, nasty spots with cracks everywhere and scraping ice off the street. By being in the film, they got to have access to spots they hadn’t seen before.”
Although the film shows off the team’s skills, it’s also meant to fulfill its purpose as an advertising tool. Watson points out that videos are an integral part of marketing in the skateboarding world. He says Knock
is unique in the way it emphasizes the “roots” aspect of the company’s credo.
“This video is a little less of a ‘bro-video,’” he says. “There’s a shot in it of me and another team rider making decks by hand. Most companies don’t want to expose that aspect of things. Instead they ship their wood from one place to the other with plenty of middle men in between. That’s what’s destroying this culture.”
As the man in charge of the final cut, McLellan says it can be tough balancing artistic purpose against the necessity of promotion. But as a skateboarder himself, he says the hours of toil are worth it. “It’s not the most lucrative thing you can do,” he says. “But it’s about coming up with a final product that is the result of a communal experience. If people like the video, it’s a compliment to the guys who broke their backs out there to do these tricks.”
Knock on Wood premieres Friday, December 19 at the Oxford Theatre, 6408 Quinpool, midnight.