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Filmmaker Ty Evans On Girl’s Latest Video Release, Unbeleafable

June 17, 2011

Filmmaker Ty Evans On Girl’s Latest Video Release, Unbeleafable (Photos - Mikey Tnasuttimonkol)

Levi’s Film Workshop And MOCA’s Art In The Streets Celebrate The Cultural Contributions Of The Skate Video

Girl Skateboards videographer Ty Evans recently teamed up with Levi’s Workshop to produce a short 3D film entitled, Unbeleafable. As a programming component of MOCA’s Art In The Streets exhibit, the film, along with a montage of other noteworthy shorts from Girl’s extensive video catalog not only showcased skateboarding’s parallels with the street art movement, but truly demonstrated the impact and influence its creative directors have had on the visuals of popular culture at large.

With Unbeleafable, Evans, along with the generous support of camera sponsors Panavision and Abelcine aimed to push the envelope of skate videography by creating a never-before-seen three dimensional experience using a combination of two RED One M-X cameras along with the brand new Phantom 65-Z3D camera. The result is a completely unique visual experience for viewers and is a testament to the ever-evolving creativity made possible by the use of emerging technology embraced by progressive skate video directors like Evans. sat down with Evans for a short interview after the premiere to get his thoughts on the progress and ripple effect skate videos have had on the culture at large and what the future holds for the genre.

Why was skateboarding and skate videos in particular selected to be a part of the programming for Levi's Film Workshop? Where do see skate videos fitting in to the street art movement?

The whole exhibition of Art In The Streets is about the underground subculture of graffiti and art and skateboarding lies right in there with all that stuff. Skate films show a whole other side of skateboarding. There’s the sport side and an art side. Skate videos show the art side and it goes hand in hand with Art In The Streets. The whole exhibit is about people expressing themselves and doing really cool things within the subculture. Skate videos are a huge part of that.

What makes skateboard videography so unique? What makes it different from other film genres?

I think the thing that makes skate films so unique is that there’s no rules. You can go out, grab your friends and do whatever you want to do. The fact that there’s no rules means you can write the rules. It’s a blessing. You can grab a bunch of guys and explode a bunch of spots or grab dudes and have them skate in leaves and film it in 3D.


To what degree has Girl set this stage for the skate video genre? What kinds of visuals have made its films standout?

When I was as a kid there were all these videos that showed just skating. Then there were other videos like the early Powell videos that had other things and cool parts aside from the skateboarding. For people that don’t skateboard, there needs to be something there they can identify with on an emotional level. I think that’s something that all the Girl films over the years have had—they give more than just the skating. Obviously there’s the skating—Girl has some of the most amazing skating, the most progressive skating and the best skaters, but it also has other cool stuff that has nothing to do with skateboarding that you can watch and identify with. That’s something that makes Girl films what they are and I think that’s why people and skaters like them. Spike and Rick open it up to that kind of stuff. That stuff is fun and it’s intriguing. I love shooting stuff like that. Girl has a good balance of skating and other fun elements. It’s a good melding of the two. That’s what makes Girl unique.

Do you think the relationship between skate videographers and the skaters has an impact on the final product? Do certain filmers bring out the best in certain skaters? What’s that dynamic like?

It’s super important. You want to make sure you’re on the same page as them. They need to know they have that support. Whether it’s filming a trick for a big project or just shooting. That’s one of the cool things about making all these videos. It’s providing the opportunities for these guys to achieve some of their goals. It takes everything they’ve got and you’re there to help them make that happen whether that’s putting Bondo on something or fixing a rail. Sometimes they think they can do it and you know they can do it, but sometimes you have to help them make it work.

To what degree would you say Girl’s films and skate videos in general have impacted the greater culture? To what extent are some of the creative ideas showcased in skate movies borrowed by mainstream marketers?

One of the key things about making skate films is you want to make something that the skaters can look at, be proud of, identify with and be psyched on. At the same time you want to make something that someone who doesn’t know about skateboarding can look at and identify with on an emotional level—something deep rooted. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. It’s something you want to put out to the masses like cheese on a mousetrap to where you can watch it and be intrigued by it. I think big corporations go after that. All it’s doing is bringing it to the masses. That kid in the middle of the country who lives in a town with a population of 300 might never get to see some of the stuff that I or some of my friends would make, but now that some big corporation gets behind it and wants to use the same concept to help promote their product, maybe that kid will get to see it. Just like how thousands of kids got introduced to skateboarding through Police Academy 4 with the Bones Brigade back when I was a kid.


Is imitation the greatest form of flattery for you or is it annoying when concepts used in skate videos show up elsewhere?

No. I think everyone borrows ideas from everyone else. Who’s to say we didn’t watch Zabriskie Point before we did Fully Flared? Everyone borrows different ideas and expands on them. I think it’s fine when people borrow from other things. I borrow all the time from other people. People borrow things I’ve done. It’s all one big organism when you look at it.

How important is it for you as a director to move with technology?

It’s a natural thing. There’s technology out there and you want to learn it and adapt to it. Everything started with film cameras—Super 8 and 16 millimeter, then we got the 8 Camera, then we got High 8, then we got the digital VX3 chip, then high definition cameras and now 3D cameras. We’re just moving with technology. Times are changing and we’re changing with the times. I love learning all the new stuff and growing with it. I’m trying to sponge up as much as a I can and learn as I go.

As the Internet constantly changes the way people interact with media, what do you perceive as the future of skate videos? Is it about quality or is it about frequency?

Imagine if we put out Fully Flared over the course of four years. It would lose it’s impact. It’s like night and day. If you are going to put stuff on the Internet you still want to put out quality that people are going to remember. Quality is what pushes everything.  I think it’s good to not see a guy for a long time and then for that guy to finally come out and put out his best stuff. That’s way more mind blowing than if that stuff was put out over the course of four years. It’s the same with Fully Flared. We put it out as one big video and it had a longer lasting impact compared to spreading it out over several years on the Internet. You’ve got to be careful. It’s better to put out bigger projects that leave a longer and lasting impression.

Is there a happy medium?

It depends. I’ve been working on a project now for the last three years. Then I put out the Lakairomaina thing and some other small projects. The little things I’ve put out still last and will still be remembered more than just someone doing the latest trick at a skatepark that’s going to be forgotten the next day. So yea, there is a happy medium. You just have to figure out what works best.

What do you think of the daily web edits happening on some of the mainstream skate media sites these days?

I hate it. I can’t stand it. It’s ruining skateboarding. It’s the same thing that 411 did to skateboarding. With 411 there as an overload of skating. It just takes away from the quality projects and waters everything down. Why would I want to see every new trick filmed inside of a skatepark?

So given that kids today are seemingly addicted to Internet content at an extremely high frequency, you still think there’s an appreciation for quality?

Yea, of course. I mean, Stay Gold just came out and that wasn’t watered down. They kept all their footage and made it one big thing and kids are going ape shit for it. So yea, there’s always going to be a demand for a big project like that. The big projects keep the machine oiled up and keep the machine going. The little things do nothing. The big projects are what pushes skateboarding. That’s what brings on the new era and brings out what skating is all about. It progresses skateboarding.