“HEAD CLEANER” exclusive trailer for MINUIT by Alex Rose
“TennSkate contributor and effervescent filmer Alex Rose, of “Threads” fame, goes in depth about his new project “Headcleaner”, to be released this summer, on which he has been working on this year along with Matt Creasy, Chris Thiessen and Bryan Reynolds, which will feature footage of James Coleman, Taylor Nawrocki, Jimmy Lannon, Glen Fox, Tyson Peterson, Jim Arnold, Jason Spivey, Fletcher Renegar, Brad Cromer, David Clark and many more.”
An interview by Aymeric Nocus & orchestrated by Yoan Taillandier
Photo credits as captioned
Chapter #0 : “Introduction”
First off, how long have you been making videos for ? The TennSkate website features many links to edits and full-length videos you have made in the past. Also, what is TennSkate ?
I’ve been creating some form of skateboarding videos, shorts and full-lengths since I was 15 years old, so 8 years now !
TennSkate is a website created to showcase skateboarding from Tennessee, a state located in the southeastern United States. TennSkate was born in 2004 and content was originally provided by Ramon Hess and Mark Stewart.
Ramon is from Knoxville, Tennessee and Mark is from Chattanooga, Tennessee. They realized the potentials of both cities and the skateboarders in them, so they released a string of online edits in the very early days of skateboard clips being uploaded to the internet.
Local skateboard sites were very progressive at that moment in time and many provided their own hosting for videos which created an interesting medium to interact with. It seems all-too-common now, but in that time they were local heroes to me and were technically inclined !
Without going to deep in detail : Ramon, Mark and the skate crew in Tennessee inspired me to explore my vision of skateboarding and create what I consider my first real skate video “Videophile”, with Josh Shupe. Meanwhile Ramon was exploring photography and filming skateboarding in North Carolina, and Mark followed his dream to California and worked his way up to becoming the head filmmaker at Element Skateboards. Both are extremely dedicated to their visions of skateboarding but were no longer in Tennessee, so they proposed that Josh and I begin providing TennSkate content !
We designed an all-new website with our friend Nick Turner. The goal was to provide progressive, new content but to also preserve what Mark and Ramon initially created.
What is your goal as a filmer and what do you want to represent ?
I feel like I’m only discovering more and more about myself as a filmer with added experience.
My main goal is to always accentuate the approach of a skateboarder and stimulate the senses of the viewer. Capturing skateboarding using any medium should complement the sensual nature of a focused approach. I feel like I represent a point of awareness that is the sum of all I have experienced thus far.
Growing from an area known for closed-minded, regressive attitudes towards anything experimental has allowed me to further appreciate the alternative. I owe a lot to the filmers and skateboarders who’ve opened my mind to sustenance and style.
Chapter #1 : “Threading the Needle”
Your latest video ‘Threads’ gained a worldwide following and carried out strong aesthetics. It is obvious a lot of work went into its making, including the use of different cameras and a lot of post production / editing work in a genuine fashion. You also seem to work a lot with titles and layouts that can sometimes remind us of early 1990′s skate magazine ads. What is your inspiration and what exactly is your message, what are you trying to convey ?
Yes ! We’re very grateful that skateboarders from all over the world took the time to watch and digest our work !
Each camera we chose to use has a dynamic purpose in the video, and contributed an energy to the overall video layer. Matt Creasy has a special way of considering the smallest segment of a clip, shot or sound to be an important piece. These subtle considerations are what inspired the text, graphics and messages thoughout the video.
An exclusive edit for MINUIT Alex was kind enough to put together,
representative of his experience working on “Threads”
Certainly the Threads aesthetic was born from his strong senses and experience with skateboarding and other outside influences such as music and literature.
I’d like to introduce Matt Creasy into the interview to further explain :
[Matt Creasy’s words] : “Personally, starting skating in the mid 90s, those memories of skateboarding are so vivid and bold because of how unique and exciting skateboarding was in comparison to everything I had experienced up to that point. I lived within a fantasy world of skate mags and videos.
Looking back, it took a long time to really understand what was special to me about the videos, and as you mention the ads and overall aesthetic approach to skateboarding media at that time, it comes across to me as more honest and perhaps even vulnerable.
Connecting to “Threads”, that actually was the underlying message, authenticity and honesty. I really wanted to make a video that was about a group of people’s connection within a period of time.
It helps that everyone in the video is more or less a regular person, we all had full-time jobs and commitments, met up together at any/every chance, texted each other all day at work about ideas for the video.
I think the fact that everyone in the video was doing it for themselves, and that the biggest source of motivation was to create a unified piece, it shows up in the video.
Additionally, I wanted to chip away at the negative stigma that filming and making videos is for sponsored people only, that making videos should not be fun. A video is a really strong medium to show skateboarding, and one of the last ties linking skateboarding to an art form as opposed to a sport.
I wanted to show people that you do not have to be a professional skateboarder or hooked up in someway to make videos, there is value in making videos for anybody who takes a unique approach or puts their heart into it in some way.”
Did you expect ‘Threads’ to get such an international following ?
I did expect a cultured viewer to appreciate our video. To the extent that it is received is a blessing !
The global skateboarding scene as a whole has been an inspiration to myself and my friends for as long as I can remember. I was raised to appreciate skateboarding in Europe, Australia and more recently the Japanese.
International skateboarding for the most part seems to have a genuine focus that I can relate to. There’s a stigma that skateboarding in the United States became a bit formulaic in the mainstream, but a recent shift seems to celebrate smaller niche communities that realize untapped potentials, so I have a lot of hope for the future of skateboarding in the United States.
Chapter #2 : “Independent Today”
Do you think now is a good era for independent filmmakers and videos ?
The problem and solution lies within the value of the skate video.
As we know, a single skate video can invite an entire movement or style into our culture. So I believe yes ; now and always, it is a good time to be making skate videos.
Independent videos promote new ideas, without a marketing goal or less-than-sincere motivations with plenty of room for expression.
Is it easier to make and sell DVD’s, or get your work and name out there in this internet-based era ?
I believe timing and placement is everything. It must take a combination nowadays, if your goal is recognition.
I admire the physical video box package much more than web clips, but it’s a different beast entirely. Web clips inherently have a disposable feel, but I value the ones that carry out a concept or follow through with a series.
I personally don’t have a vision for a web-series or YouTube clips. I’ve tried to create some, and almost always end up never releasing them. I struggle to develop a concept with such a small window and find myself imagining in terms of full-length approaches.
What are the pros / cons of the internet era ?
Pro : A limitless source of information from all of humanity at your disposal ; also a platform for anyone who has stand-out qualities to make an impact.
Con : A sort of dissociative social connection that seems to distract from experiencing a natural interaction with life, depending on the degree of it that you ingest.
As for skateboarding, I think it can stunt the attention span of the consumer.
Do you think people expect more videos to come out for free ? More downloadable content ?
I absolutely think people expect more videos to come out for free.
It seems that more recently, it’s the mainstream brands that are producing the free videos, chasing relevancy in a time where many more creative videos are being released independently.
What do you think about everyone trying to use it as a platform to promote their work, do you consider it healthy ?
To me it’s unsustainable to maintain a maximum level of exposure, because a lot of genuine interest is generated through less frequent, yet more focused projects.
Do you think anything is different (as far as making independent skate videos) compared to – let’s say – 10 to 15 years ago, ie. back in the Static I / II era ?
I believe the motivation to release independent projects is much the same as then.
Those videos really inspired a growing population of skateboarders who have ideas to express, regardless of status or recognition.
Older independent videos set the precedent, and the current influx of new independent videos is the response to their impact.
Chapter #3 : “Onto Acquaintances”
Who are some of your favorite skaters to film with and why ?
If I’m naming names, my favorite skateboarder to film with is my long-time friend, Jim Arnold. It’s always a 50/50 input between us to accomplish an idea. He has functional strengths, so when we set out to skate, we usually find something to skate that we like aesthetically, then decide what trick the spot functions highest at.
I also really like filming with James Coleman, because his vision is so refined. We’ve never lived in the same city, but meet up across the map frequently. He always has a fresh outlook to share and I’ve progressed from high pressure situations, and unfamiliar territory the most with him.
My close friends from Tennessee ; Wil Harcrow, Nick Guertin, Randy Rhodes, Hartman Austin and even more are also really fun to film with. We’ve grown up skating in the South together so it’s exciting to progress with them.
Who are the ones who get along with your vision the best ?
It’s an ever-changing list, as I have been meeting and skating with so many new people that each experience can slightly alter your own vision. Each day you may consider something differently than the day before, so evolution is always occurring.
Does everyone you are trying to work with get what you are trying to do ?
Not everyone, but it takes two to film a trick and even more to complete a video. I’ve had skateboarders tell me that I am filming too close for them to comfortably try a trick, so there’s sometimes a compromise. I don’t mind. Sometimes people want to use tricks that don’t work with an edit and you have to hope they can understand.
There’s a lot of skaters in the South who are technically skilled, but lack vision and approach. It’s rewarding to meditate on a better approach, then execute. Never had anyone complain about taking time to consider more options.
Do you prefer to film locals or are you down to film with anyone ?
I love skating with everyone ! The city I’m from, Chattanooga, is very small, but has great spots in the downtown area. A major problem, like many small cities, are the laws against skating. So, when I’m home, I keep my guard up and film with skateboarders that have been skating long enough to know when and where the right time to strike is. I’m firm with that, because this is where I live and you only get so many chances with a small number of police, and they’re crooked and sketchy.
When I’m skating major cities and the feeling of skateboarding is free, I’m down for a big crew and to get super productive. It’s great skating with new people in new places because growth and progression comes quickly.
Chapter #4 : “Cleaning Heads”
What is the concept behind your next video project ‘Headcleaner’ ? What are you trying to achieve ? Who are you working with ?
The concept formed between four minds : Matt Creasy, Chris Thiessen, Bryan Reynolds and myself. We all have different strengths, skaters and areas to contribute to the project.
When Matt and I finished “Threads”, we knew we had more ideas and had hit a personal stride. Matt then moved to California shortly thereafter and found it difficult to adjust his vision from the aesthetic of a major metropolitan city, Atlanta, to his new home, Huntington Beach, California.
Chris Thiessen is a filmer from Atlanta as well, but had moved to Long Beach, California to film for TransWorld Skateboarding several years ago. When Matt and Chris began to meet up and skate, they realized that Long Beach has more to offer than what was being utilized by most locals.
Los Angeles is close by, so many of the skateboarders who are motivated, or obligated, to film end up in L.A. So, it’s another case of applying past experience in a new environment to create something unique. They go on to film with another southern transplant, Fletcher Renegar exclusively in Long Beach, CA.
Meanwhile back in the South, James Coleman is filming with Bryan Reynolds in Atlanta, and then coming to film with me in Chattanooga.
All of us filmers begin communicating how excited we are seeing each other’s progress, when the idea occurs to make this a big video, covering major areas of the United States, and incorporating each of our styles into a seamless experience.
We want to show that there are skaters and filmers in the U.S. developing with an open mind, and to “clean the palette” of what is known to be a traditional skate video experience.
Attraction to the idea brought several more skateboarders that we all knew as unique into the picture.
For those who haven’t watched the recent James Coleman video interview, what does the title mean ?
It’s a multi-dimensional title. Personally, I think it provides a focus for all involved to be progressing the project. It puts the mind at peace to have such a powerful personal goal. So perhaps “Headcleaner” can refer to this process of creation.
We also believe a new way of presenting skating and stimulating senses is being achieved, to clean your head of expectations, and to be surprised around each corner of the video.
The headcleaner tape also refers to the lifespan and maintenance of the VX1000, the weapon of choice for the video.
It’s all up for interpretation, and you may get completely different answers from Bryan, Chris or Matt !
Any estimation of a release date ? What can we look forward up to ?
I believe we are releasing it very early in the summer ! With so many people working towards this common goal, it’s hard to believe we are wrapping this up in just under a year ! You can look forward to footage of James Coleman, Taylor Nawrocki, Jimmy Lannon, Glen Fox, Tyson Peterson, Jim Arnold, Jason Spivey, Fletcher Renegar, Brad Cromer, David Clark, and a ton of appearances throughout !