The skateboard video market has gone through an incredible bout of turbulence in recent years with the advent of filesharing sites, YouTube and other online media outlets. Skateshops have shelves stacked with plastic cases gathering dust and filmers have to moonlight regular jobs in a bid to pay the bills. This year will the first year companies have managed to take the reigns again and use the internet to their advantage. Pay-per-view releases, iTunes downloads and other exclusivities seem to be the format of choice for todays videographers and industry moguls. I like to review products because I believe the reader/consumer needs an independent perspective of whatever they are being spoon fed. Back in the heyday of DVD releases, I could review anywhere from 5 to 15 hardcopies a month. Today the internet streams more than 50 webclips a day (for free!) so reviews have become redundant and points of view jaded. So, when Element Skateboards released their latest video Future Nature on iTunes and I figured anything sold for a fee deserves criticism or acclaim so I wrote a review for my friends over at Crossfire.
As workers around the world celebrated Labour Day (May 1st) with a well-deserved day-off or a good old riot in the streets depending on your current national economy and austerity plan, Element Skateboards paid homage to their hardworking team of amateur skaters by releasing for a 24hr period only Future Nature. Staying true to their environmental roots, Element decided to build this video around the idea of a David Attenborough wildlife show. They replaced Sir David with Blueprint Skateboards’ chief Paul Shier and invented an entire plethora of pig-latin names for their riders e.g. Accelerus Impossibilus or Gracefullius Awkardus, the tone is set for 37 minutes of top-knotch skateboarding.
With Cole Matthews, Mark Stewart and Ricky Bedenbaugh behind the cameras and Kirk Dianda directing, the Element amateurs give it their best in a bid to become tomorrow’s professionals. Julian Davidson opens the show and demonstrates his love of long rails. Despite the majority of the tricks involving flat metal bars, Julian does find time to kickflip up a hefty set of stairs too. I’ll skip straight to the last skater Nick Garcia here because I honestly thought I was watching Julian again. Rails aside, Nick takes his transition skills and applies them to banks and walls. Nick’s switch noseblunts are a treat and his ollie manual down a bank is worthy of Mosher status.
Back to the order of things, Boo Johnson and Madars Apse have the next couple of parts and each of them is dope. Boo has a very easy-on-the-eyes style that leaves you wishing the editors had put more lines in his section. The handicap ramp ollie to frontside 360 line is an example of Boo’s smooth operation. Madars on the other hand is the round peg in a square hole. He fits the happy blond-haired wholesome image that Element pushes, but he skates like someone brought up on Mark Gonzales and Eastern Exposure tapes. Trading big pop and sun bleached school yards for powerslides and wallie jams, Madars is obviously a Euro in a land of Yanks.
Speaking of Euros, the European Element team get some shine sharing a flow section with their American counterparts. Trent McClung and Nassim Guammaz serve as bookends to a solid section where the highlights include Chase Webb stepping on Nyjah Huston’s coat tails and Tom Schaar getting dizzy with the world’s first 1080°. Not bad for a montage section.
The last amateur to feature in this video is Evan Smith. I leave him till last because I doubt he’s going to stay amateur for very long and will soon join the professional ranks for Element or dare I say it, Habitat? Long droopy hair? Check. Travelling man? Check. Guitar strings? Check. Handsome skating? Check. Evan has been producing some stellar skating recently (c.f. Transworld Cinematographer) and this new section is full of unseen top rate footage that means he’s been putting in the work. Highlights include Evan’s fakie 5-0 variations in various Californian ditches and his Iberian wallie combos.
Some people might find the nature documentary theme of this video annoying but I believe Element wanted to stay true to their game and have a bit of fun at the same time. My personal preference would have seen Skateboard wrangler Bob Sanderson hired to lurk behind bushes and pounce on a few of the riders as they rolled away from afterblack hammers. The 24hr window posting might be a scheme to limit pirate copies hitting the net, but nothing stays offline for long nowadays. Look out for Future Nature on iTunes soon.