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.
Now, I’m talking about a straight-up film-the-screen-at-a-premiere-with-a-Hi-8-camera bootleg complete with people shouting and cheering. It differed from the final release by just some footage in the tour section, and Donny Barley skated to a Led Zeppelin song. Chad Muska’s part had already been cut by that point. It was pretty cool and helped lock in Welcome to Hell as the most important video of my life.
This whole winding anecdotal intro is just to illustrate that skate videos often premiere with a slightly different cut than the final product. Song rights fall through, ender-enders happen between now and then, edits won’t render fast enough, or team members get drunk and belligerent enough to get cut from the project entirely.
And such is the case with the legendary Alien Workshop Photosynthesis video. One or two copies of the ‘premiere edit‘ are still floating around, featuring a couple of different tricks, less slow-motion, and an entirely different song in Josh Kalis’ part.
One of the largest differences in this Photosynthesis premiere copy is the Habitat section. Rather than the 12-minute section with mini-parts from each rider, all scored to a mixed selection of Mr. Dibbs beats, it was a 4-minute montage. Each skater is still represented, but all crammed into one track with no slow-motion or graphics.
While scraping along the skateboarding internet the other day, I happened to come across this Habitat-Photosynthesis-Premiere edit buried deep in a long-forgotten Thrasher Classics post. Let’s take a look: