The Colleagues Section

Team bloat is a real thing. Even once small, independent brands, should they be fortunate enough to taste real success and grow into global legitimacy, quickly face rosters that can expand unruly in size. Positive trends towards diverse teams that appeal to diverse demographics, not to mention international riders, can swell professional and paid amateur head counts to impractical levels.

This is to say: Teams be getting big.

As I unscientifically research this in Spring of 2021, I see that FA/Hockey has about 22 combined professionals. The Creature team, counting Ams and Legends as they are listed, is holding 27 people. Those are some wheel team numbers!

What is the ideal number for a board team to seem cohesive?
Eight? ($lave)
Nine? (Frog)
Twelve? (Zero)
Fourteen? (Girl)
Fifteen? (Santa Cruz)

The roll-call of ‘corporate’ shoe teams gets even more insane.
Adidas has a team of at least 37 skaters. Nike is sitting on about 50 pros. Same with Vans. This isn’t even including the ever fluctuating Euro teams, Aussie teams, and assorted flow riders.

So what’s a mega-brand to do when it comes to video production choices?
And how does our current preference for free quick-shot video content play into this?

We’re basically looking at a couple of possible scenarios.
First is the Going Big option: A fully funded, trips-to-China, multi year full-length production where nearly all the big riders who are healthy enough will have parts, or at least shared parts, and up-and-comers and brand legends get a trick or cameo in there as well. Think Vans’ Propeller video or maybe Element’s Peace.

These videos can hit run times of nearly an hour and need to recoup some costs so are typically released with a price tag via iTunes. There might even be a DVD. They are the types of videos we have been claiming are on their death bed for nearly a decade but they seem to keep coming.
While not quite as sprawling, we’ll lump in basically any team video, presented as a whole, that attempts to get parts from all their professionals into this category. Sure some riders were hurt or phoned it in or had to give the footy to their shoe sponsor, but basically the whole gang is there. Deathwish’s recent Uncrossed video is a good example.

Next we have the Serialized option: Basically just slice the squad up and drop a new full-length-but-not-full-team video every couple of years featuring whomever is presently delivering the goods. These videos typically have a “Chapter” or “Volume” number in the title, such as the Nike Chronicles or the Emerica Made series. Santa Cruz recently released the 5th volume in under 3 years of their Til The End series and is kinda back at the top of the line-up with Maurio McCoy having a full part again.

Side note: Ryde or Die Vol. 1 is an exception and we love Aesthetics for it. Was it even meant to have a Vol. 2?

We won’t delve into the idea of taking a full-length and exclusively releasing it in sections on the internet for free over a week or two, like Zero’s No Cash Value video from 2014, but that is happening as well.

I suppose we should also mention the Etnies High Five concept, where about 25 people each get about 30 seconds to do their thing in what is pretty much a 15 minute montage. I’m actual surprised we don’t get more of this type of video from the larger-rostered companies. Of course, modern music clearance realities ensure this type of project would likely lack those good old DJ mixtape vibes.

Finally, we have what call (and I encourage you to add to your skate lexicon as well) the Colleagues Section. Quite simply, it is the an extended montage of clips from non-featured team members that usually precedes a single riders online part, or gets sandwiched between a pair of full rider parts. A friends section for the rest of the team.
And thus, a little extra something gets added to the mix and perhaps the video isn’t forgotten before the sun sets that same day. We get a reminder of who else is in the brand clan and an extensive inventory of riders is perhaps made a bit more cohesive under one banner. God forbid they put the names in there during the skating.

The single part is still the main course, but the meal is that much better when a little sampling of all the side dishes. Case in point: Tanner Van Vark’s T.V.V. part for Real from February of 2021.

According to their web page right now, the Real team consists of 28 dudes (14 pros, 8 ams, and 6 ‘forevers’) with about 17 of them making an appearance in T.V.V.. The four minute ‘opening’ segment is the aforementioned Colleague Section, with about 27 tricks from the team in addition to Tanner’s 8 or 9. Then the main part drops for another 4 minutes, and then we have a couple of minutes of closing credits and such.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, his how an online 4 minute Professional debut part becomes a 10 minutes medium length video worthy of a (socially distanced) premiere party.
And I’m all for it. Especially if Ishod is one of the colleagues.

And, I would feel remiss to not speak at least a few words about Van Vark’s skating here. He proves his fast-track towards Pro-ness was well deserved, made all the more impressive that Real is already so stacked. Lots of wallies and wallrides into ledge tricks (including the rarefied wallie-barley), along with spins in unexpected directions. His hair is kinda silly, especially when he wears a baseball cap, which is often. It makes his whole air deceptively carefree.

Bonus Section:
I swear it is a coincidence; Boil the Ocean posted another mini-masterpiece of skateboarding journalism just a few hours after this post. It’s about the rise of fall and revenge of the Credits Section.

“I guess it worked out” – Marisa Dal Santo

There really isn’t much more to be said about Marisa Dal Santo‘s part in Zero‘s 2009 video, Strange World. Not that I’m discouraged from writing about it, or posting clips of it, or making data visualization charts of it. But, really, there are only so many ways to express “All Time Greatest Part by a Woman”.
And while gender is significant to the discussion, it isn’t really a necessary qualifier to watch this part again and again. It is just a damn fun collection of grind-grabs, big drops, dope thrift store outfits, and our favorite no comply flip trick ever. Whether one wants to enjoy it as just a great skate edit, or as the greatest skate edit from a woman is a matter of context. It holds up either way.

Continue reading “I guess it worked out” – Marisa Dal Santo

Riding It Out On The Heatwave – Chris ‘Cookie’ Colbourn and Cobra Man

Despite the fact that all skate videos are, in a way, specialized music videos, it is still a risky proposition to attempt to make an actual skate music video. The most obvious precedent that comes to mind is Peter Smolik‘s ill-advised music video part featuring The Fedaralz in Shorty’s Guilty video. While not exactly career ending, it certainly is an embarrassing marker for the upcoming rugged descent that continues to scrape the real life pillage of rock bottom. The lesson is clear: Skate to the music, edit to the music, but don’t put the band in your part.

Not that all skateboarding-music crossovers have been quite so susceptible to ridicule. They range from all time classics (Danzig’s Thrasher cover, CKY, this photo of Eazy E) to reasonable (Suicidal Tendencies, most of the board collabs), to forgettable (Geoff Rowley hanging out with Lemmy, all the shoe collabs), to downright atrocities that tarnish several legacies simultaneously (Mike V in Black Flag, Morrisey x Supreme). And we’ll save the whole skaters-scoring-their-own-parts thing for another article.

Continue reading Riding It Out On The Heatwave – Chris ‘Cookie’ Colbourn and Cobra Man
Lee Yankou Dime 2017

Most Likely To Yank Out: Lee Yankou in Business As Usual

My opinions about post-Drehobl Think Skateboards have been discussed here on the Warm Up Zone before. I believe I called them a ‘minor league team’ where future talent got some swings in before moving on to The Show and others toiled for years in obscurity. By the time the second decade of the present century came around, Think was pretty far from the mind of most skate deck consumers. Their final contribution to their skate video legacy didn’t hit with a lot of impact.

Good Times and Bad Photoshop – Think 2011.

For 2012’s Business As Usual, the team is a veritable who’s who of “I didn’t know they rode for Think”. Josh Matthew’s opened it solid enough, perpetually overlooked Adrian Williams delivered what could be considered an SF classic part, and pre-toothpicked Cody Mac and Russ Milligan and Bachinsky were all there. And then, of course, Danny Fuenzalida, who had been pro for Think for at least 13 years by this point if you can believe that. Unfortunately, young Joey Guevara and Kevin Coakley had yet to join the team. And Brian De La Torre had departed for greener pastures a few months prior.
Interesting footnote, though not relevant to this video, Manny Santiago was also on Think as late as 2011.

But if you only see one part from Business As Usual, make sure it’s that of Canadian closer Lee Yankou.

Continue reading Most Likely To Yank Out: Lee Yankou in Business As Usual

Alternate Premiere Edits – Habitat in Photosynthesis

Many young skaters learning the craft in the early 1990s, like myself, had a ‘crew’ consisting of every skater in every high school in not only my town but all the neighboring towns.
For me and the baggy-pantsed brethren this meant there were maybe 8 or so of us, not including the random dabblers and sit-boys. We would take turns purchasing the latest skate video on VHS and then, connecting two VCRs, record personal copies (usually in EP mode so you could fit a whole bunch onto one blank tape).

Some of the crew would make friends with some kids from New Haven or Hartford or New York and the extended network of spot access and skate gossip would steadily grow. As luck would have it, eventually the network included someone who was getting pretty ensconced in the national skate scene as a filmer, thus gaining for himself entry to insider events like video premieres and even invitations to California. From this connection we procured, sometime in the summer of 1996, a bootleg copy of Welcome to Hell.

Continue reading Alternate Premiere Edits – Habitat in Photosynthesis
Cole Wilson winner

Take some impact – Cole Wilson in Oddity

The Foundation Super Company skateboarding brand, with over 25 years and 12 videos under their belts, once again found itself in serious rebuilding mode in the second half of the 2010s. Several years removed from the WTF! video, half the team had bounced or been dropped, and apparently Tod Swank didn’t really seem interested in utilizing tenured rider Corey ‘Duffman’ Duffel as the cornerstone of the latest iteration of the team. Could the big F, under the tutelage of TM Mike Sinclair, rise from the ashes yet another time?

Continue reading Take some impact – Cole Wilson in Oddity

Then all is well : Tom Knox – Atlantic Drift 11

It happens sadly not enough, but every so often, that you will encounter something that, even as it is happening, is glorious and memorable. It might not be a life altering there-was-before-and-there-was-after thing (then again it might), but it is a piece of something that will be with you forever and you understand this even while it is unfolding right before you.

It can be an incredible meal or a day of river swimming or an art exhibition or a film or a skate session or even just a song. But you get just a quarter of the way through and it just know that this could be IT. But will it sustain? Will it deliver on the promise it has set up thus far? The longer it continues the higher the potential for things to go awry but the greater the joy when it doesn’t crack. Each step further can transport us even deeper; Or will the next step be a misstep?
But it doesn’t collapse into something merely impressive. The magic preserves and when it is over you know you just participated in, if merely through witnessing, something sublime.

Continue reading Then all is well : Tom Knox – Atlantic Drift 11

Mike Daher in A Visual Sound

While 1990 may have been the year that street style skateboarding eclipsed vert in progression and relevance, and 1992 may have seen boards gets symmetrical while tricks got big and dangerous, but, by my analysis, 1994 was the year it all came together. Raw East Coast skating started to get is proper documentation with Dan Wolfe’s Eastern Exposure 2 and Sub Zero videos. Over in Southern California, heavy skate parts like Kris Markovich in Prime’s Fight Fire With Fire and new-to-Plan B Jeremy Wray in Second Hand Smoke added significant nails to the slow-rolling-prayer-flip-to-curb-grind-combo coffin. But arguably the video that made the biggest impact in skateboarding during that significant year was Stereo’s A Visual Sound.

Continue reading Mike Daher in A Visual Sound

Transworld’s Sight Unseen Montage

As discussed previously and will surely be brought up again, Transworld Skateboarding was on quite tear there in the years surrounding the turn of the century. Releasing at least a video every year, often two, sometimes even three, and all of purchase-worthy quality. John Holland, Ty Evans, Greg Hunt, and Ewan Bowman were locked in pretty tight through this time and a lot of future legends had a chance to build their legacies in the new digitally recorded video format. While these videos may have started as simply the video documentation of the tricks being photographed for interviews and contents pages, their importance in the preservation of skate heritage has, in most cases, surpassed the (now scanned) printed page.

These videos aren’t perfect. The mumbling intros are lucky to be forgotten. The insistence on using Atiba’s puttering attempts at electronic music for the closing credits is a continually wasted opportunity. The overenthusiastic editing and slow-motion can be a bit dated.
But there is so much right about these videos it is easy to not concern oneself with these trifles. And take a look the VHS releases the competition was trying to sell around this time: Do you remember who skated in the Thrasher’s Go For Broke video? Neither do I.

Continue reading Transworld’s Sight Unseen Montage

Lucas Rabelo and the heavy inheritance of Flip

A celebrated legacy can be a real weight for a skateboarding board brand. Sure, it may sell a bunch of logo boards and provide a lot of material to dig into for possible reissues. But it can be a real anchor around the neck of your current riders. Or perhaps more of an invisibility cloak.

Just ask Alien Workshop’s Frankie Spears or Stereo’s John Lupfer or new H-Street pro Isiah Hilt or Powell’s Brad McClain (or anybody on Powell since, like, 1990) or Black Label’s Jake Reuter or Zero’s Tony Cervantes, who has been that team since 2008 but hasn’t made a fraction of the impact Wade Burkett did when he was on Zero for about a year in the beginning.

No matter how good you skate and how much charisma you exude, people’s memories of the brand are locked into some golden years and golden teams of the rose colored past. You’re likely to be judged that much harder for having the audacity to think your name belongs among the hallowed firmament.

Continue reading Lucas Rabelo and the heavy inheritance of Flip