The Skateboard Mag features Ty Evans & Brain Farm Skate
In this months issue of The Skateboard Mag, Ty Evans gives an interview on the Brain Farm Skate production. Read the article to see which skaters are involved, the new tech and a couple of the international locations. The Skateboard Mag March, 2014
We interviewed Ty Evans at length for issue #121, but due to space constraints, we couldn’t fit the entire interview in The Mag. With that said, we’d like to present you with the full-length transcript of the interview — along with a full-screen gallery and a few extra photos — for your reading and viewing pleasure.
You’re in a crazy place. [The Skateboard Mag]
Yup, I’m in Kabul, Afghanistan, right now. [Ty Evans]
How crazy is it?
Definitely gnarly, for sure. Feels really raw. Life’s pretty hard here, but I think people are trying to make it better.
Are you visiting there through Skatistan?
Yeah. I want to involve a skateboarder from Afghanistan in my film, so I came out here to hang with the Skatistan guys and try to figure out what’s even possible.
Are they your guides? Are they helping you navigate and get around and telling you what to do and what not to do?
Yeah. These dudes have been helping me a ton. I contacted [Skatistan founder] Oliver [Percovich]. He’s not here right now, but Brandon Gomez is here and in charge and he’s been amazing with helping orchestrate everything. It’s been amazing, man. It’s been a life-changing experience. I never thought I’d be coming to a place like this for skateboarding.
Let’s talk about the film you’re working on. Almost right after you finished Pretty Sweet you jumped into this Brain Farm project. After filming and editing for five years, why not take a break?
I did take a short break like right after Pretty Sweet, but then we did this Red Bull commercial with Sheckler and basically a bunch of the [Brain Farm] gear was out here in LA, so I had a chance to grab it all and go out with a bunch of the guys for like a week. I went out with like P-Rod, Torey [Pudwill], [Sean] Malto, Nyjah [Huston], and just kinda shot a bunch of stuff. It was pretty hard ’cause it was raining every day and it was a lot to take in to learn all this stuff. But those dudes were super patient and stoked to come out and be a part of this new project.
What’s the working title?
The working title has some issues. But the idea of the film is the connections within skateboarding and showing how all these different skateboarders around the world are the same. I would love to have the title reflect that.
You mentioned the gear. And in talking to you in the past, that was a big factor for you wanting to start this project—access to all this stuff. When you talk about the gear, what’s different in shooting this project with Brain Farm, gearwise, than Pretty Sweet and Fully Flared?
With those videos, we just used the standard stuff you use to film skateboarding. And what’s great about this project, now that I’ve signed on with Brain Farm, is that I have access to really amazing tools, whether it be remote control helicopters with cameras on them to full-size helicopters that you get inside and fly around in with a camera system—all the latest and greatest stuff that’s out there to use. What Brain Farm wants to accomplish is pushing the boundaries of filmmaking and that’s what I want to accomplish as well. Doing something new and bringing something new to the table. I think that’s what this whole past year has been—access to all this amazing gear. And it’s definitely hard because you need to be on the same level as the skater and understand what’s going on in their head, and if you’re using all this new equipment you need to know how to film it correctly and do it fast and proficiently. You could have the most insane, expensive piece of equipment, but if you’re stopping every five minutes to figure something out or fix something, it defeats the purpose. Some of those things with gear problems … a five-minute wait can turn into like an hour. If you do that you’re dead in the water. All this stuff I’ve tried to strip down and make as simple as possible, as fast as possible, and proficient as possible.
It seems like when skaters start working with new things, they change it. They figure out a way to make what’s out there work for them. I know you’re working with these giant Red cameras and maybe a Phantom and some stuff I don’t even know about—custom equipment. Is there stuff you’ve had to do and fabricate and build to make this gear work better for you and for skateboarding?
Yeah. It’s not just skateboarding or me. Everyone kind of tailors their equipment to what fits them best and to what they’re filming. One of the main things I’ve been filming with is called the Cineflex Camera System. It’s a camera that’s in a ball that has a bunch of gyros stabilizing it. That’s what you usually see underneath a helicopter. We had my buddy make a mount so it can attach to the front or back of my truck. And I’ve been driving around shooting with that. It looks insane. There are all these tools that open up new doors. I went to SF, hooked up with a bunch of skaters up there, and shot guys bombing hills, doing tricks in the hills. I’ve never been able to film like that before—having a stabilized long-lens camera and then going as fast as you want, wherever you want. Down a hill or not down a hill. It’s a different dynamic using some of these tools to film stuff in a different way. It’s pretty cool, man.
In that instance, is there someone driving and someone operating the camera?
Someone’s driving and I’ll be op-ing the camera while sitting shotgun. It’s super fun, man. It feels like a video game or something.
Who are the main heads that are involved, skatingwise?
P-Rod has been the main skater involved in it. It’s been great. He’s been going out with me a ton. The film isn’t a Paul Rodriguez film, but it’s definitely skateboarding through Paul’s eyes. There are plenty of other people who are in the film as well. I’ve been going out with a bunch of different guys: Sean Malto, Shane O’Neill, Torey Pudwill … I want to have every type of skateboarder in the film. It’s almost like back in the day when I used to do theTransWorld videos, and we’d have a select group of guys who we’d pick for these films who would usually never skate together. It was pretty cool grabbing guys who normally don’t skate together and pulling them out on sessions.
You said Paul was the main focus, but it’s not a Paul movie. Will we see the traditional three-minute parts from people, or will this follow some other format?
Definitely no three-minute parts. It’s more about these individuals in skateboarding and the stories that go along with them and the locations that go along with them. But there will definitely be sections of the film that have a ton of skateboarding in them.
Other than equipment and budget, what has working through Brain Farm allowed you to do that you couldn’t have done on your own?
Well, I know you said just equipment and budget, but that is really, really important—what they are bringing to the table with that.
Some people believe that this equipment just materializes somehow and everyone has access to everything they want, but that’s not the case, is it?
No. Let’s be realistic, 99.9 percent of skateboarding films have always been shot with the same cameras over the years. Back in the 90s it was the Canon A-1. Then after that—toward the late 90s and early 2000s—it was the VX 1000. And the last five or so years it’s been the HVX 200. HD cameras, you know? All those cameras were a couple thousand dollars, and people could purchase those themselves. Now we’re stepping into this world with these really high-end cameras that are insane, ludicrous amounts of money. In order to have access to those kinds of cameras, you need a lot of money or some kind of backing. With Pretty Sweet, I was able to use some of those [high-end] cameras, but a lot of that was just through friends who happened to have the cameras and were kind enough to let me borrow them. As a favor, you know? Going into this film, I have access to all these tools that I’ve always wanted to use. Any of the newest camera equipment, we have access to. Brain Farm and I have relationships with a lot of people who are pushing these new technologies, and they want to get it out there and into our hands, which is awesome. I know you asked what else do they bring to the table besides the gear, but just to be able to have that is insane. And that’s one part of the equation. The second part, with skateboarding films, is that you can only get them seen by so many people. You make a film for a company and it’s most likely gonna be sold through skateshops and sold online through iTunes, and that’s it. But I’ve always been in the mindset where I would love for skate films to be seen by as many people as possible and thus grow skateboarding. I think Brain Farm has that same idea. They want as many people as possible to see the film that we make. The reach of this film will be a lot broader than any of the films I’ve done in the past. That’s another one of the great things that Brain Farm brings to the table.
Is there something Brain Farm has done that might be a good example of what to expect?
They’ve done other films and commercial work in the past. But their big main film was Art Of Flight, which is a snowboarding film that I’m a huge fan of. I’m an avid snowboarder and I love watching that film. But I think this film is going to be totally different than Art Of Flight. I know there are a million people out there who say they’re making the Art Of Flight of skateboarding, but this film is not the Art Of Flight of skateboarding.
I like the idea of delivering this work to a wider audience. Are there things you’ve run into through that direction where you’ve thought, “That would be the wrong way to go. That would be too mainstream and we have to keep this thing more skate.” Or are you just relying on the storytelling to do that for you?
I think it’s a slippery slope. It’s a give and take. How much do you want to give in order to reach that ultimate goal? You go with the flow, and you choose your battles. This whole last year has been me learning how to use all these cameras and getting the ball rolling. And now the film is really starting to happen. As of now, everything’s working out great.