Not many of the great skate flicks are mainstream, plot-driven movies. While some popular films use skateboarding as a theme tied to an overarching drama/comedy (say, 1986’s Thrashin’ with Josh Brolin) or are focused affairs that follow a customary documentary format (2001’s Dogtown and Z Boys), other skateboarding culture pieces operate a bit differently.
Today, we’re diving deep with a list of five genre classics that prove you don’t need an established plot or a strictly defined structure in order to make an impact...
We’ll kick off with a piece that’s widely considered one of the most influential of all time. The first video ever directed by the uber-talented Spike Jonze ( Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and, more recently, Her), Video Daysfocuses on a series of scenes of pros performing tricks, tied together by a fantastic soundtrack (Jonze would go on to direct a barrage of 90s music videos for Sonic Youth, The Beastie Boys, Daft Punk, etc.) and, in this case, the recurring appearance of a Blue Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency.
Video Days features the likes of Guy Mariano, Jordan Richter, Mark Gonzales, and then-pro-skateboarder, Jason Lee ( Mallrats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, My Name is Earl) .In fact, it would be this cult classic that’d eventually catch the attention of director Kevin Smith, leading to Lee’s placement in Mallrats.
A product of Costa Mesa, California’s Plan B Skateboards (founded 1991), Virtual Reality premiered at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Arts on June 11, 1993 and followed the largely disconnected but inspired format of Video Days. At the time, the Plan B team was comprised of Danny Way, Rick Howard, Rodney Mullen, Colin McKay, Matt Hensley, Ryan Fabry, Pat Duffy, Mike Carroll, Sean Sheffey, Sal Barbier, Aaron Artis, and Tony Ferguson, although Carroll did not make an appearance in Virtual Reality.
Director Spike Jonze returned in ’96 to leave his indelible imprint on Girl Skateboard’s Mouse. Yet again, the soundtrack was a revelation to many— if you were, say, only listening to punk rock at the time, your mind got cracked open and filled with fresh wonder. However, it was the assembled talent that makes this one so enduring in skating culture: Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Gino Iannuchi, Guy Mariano, Tim Gavin, Mike York, Chico Brenes, Daniel Castillo, Rudy Johnson, Eric Koston, and many more.
Speaking of Koston, feel free to peep our career retrospective!
Shorty’s would grow into one of the more prominent brands of the 1990s… but not before things hit critical mass with the drop of Fulfill the Dream in ’98. While this brand popularity would tail away near the start of the new millennium, Fulfill the Dreamstands strong to this day thanks to the contributions of the likes of Chad Muska, Peter Smolik, Steve Olson, Toan Nguyen, Aaron Snyder, Jesse Silvey, Brandon Turner, and Sammy Baptista.
P.S., here are some Shorty’s throwback photos from that era.
Alien Workshop, the independent skate company formed by Mike Hill, Chris Carter, and Neil Blender in 1990, felt a little extra ambitious around the turn of the millennium. In 2000, they teamed with Joe Castrucci to birth Photosynthesis, a skate flick in the vein of the aforementioned on this list—we’re talking a raw, real and gritty style with a scintillating soundtrack that helped shape the taste of music for many turn-of-the-century viewers.
Photosynthesisfeatures the considerable talents of Anthony Van Engelen, Anthony Pappalardo, Pat Corcoran, Jason Dill, Rob Dyrdek, Josh Kalis, Kerrry Getz, Mark Appleyard, Fred Gall, Danny Garcia, Tim O’Connor, Danny Way, and more. Fun fact: Dill claimed in 2014 that during his stint filming Photosynthesis, he consumed “a lot” of crack cocaine. Alrighty, then!