"It's crazy, man, just a whole lot of feelings," says Paul Rodriguez, speaking from the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, yesterday just after unveiling the official trailer for his much-anticipated skateboard documentary, "We Are Blood." "It's exciting. A little bit nerve-wracking. Scary. Thrilling. All the feelings. This has been such a huge project, and such a personal project, that for us to finally be at the stage where it's almost ready to be delivered to the public feels incredible."
Rodriguez partnered with acclaimed director Ty Evans, Mountain Dew Green Label Films, and Brain Farm for the two-year project, and has been filming for it extensively over the last 11 months. The full film is due out in August of this year and will also feature Jordan Maxham, Chris Colbourn, Tiago Lemos, Chase Webb, Clint Walker, Clive Dixon, Louis De Los Reyes (aka “Moose”), Sean Malto, and Theotis Beasley, among others. The trailer also teases scenes with throngs of hundreds if not thousands of skaters flanking Rodriguez on Go Skateboarding Day in Los Angeles.
“I realize it’s a bit of a cliché to say you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into something, but with skateboarding that’s literally what we do, and we put everything on the line for it,” Rodriguez says. “It’s been doubly true for this project.”
Rodriguez, 31, is one of the best-known names and faces in skateboarding. He’s a regular on the Street League Skateboarding and Dew Tour podiums, has four X Games gold medals in his collection, has released eight signature skate shoes with Nike, and left a long partnership with Plan B Skateboards to found his own company, Primitive Skateboards, in 2014. He has also filmed more than a dozen groundbreaking skateboard video parts in his career and says “We Are Blood” presented an opportunity he’d been looking for to try something entirely different.
“What was I going to do, film another video part?” he asks. “I just got to a point where I had to break through this plateau of what had already been done in order to stay excited and stay motivated.”
Evans, best known for his films "Pretty Sweet" and "Fully Flared" (the top-selling skate videos of all time), has been in the game for three decades as both director and cinematographer. He echoed P-Rod's sentiment.
“When I made 'Pretty Sweet,' we shot it over a period of about five years, because that’s how skateboarding is: These guys will take hours, days, months, years, and even decades to knock some of the biggest tricks off of their lists,” Evans says. “Shooting this documentary in 11 months has been chaotic, to say the least. But it was precisely what I needed to shake myself up.”
Both say they were looking to grow creatively, and their film’s trailer officially serves notice: “We Are Blood” is next level.
Evans and his crew shot the film entirely with Ultra HD 4K camera systems, employing helicopters, drones, gyro-stabilized camera mounts, and immersive 3D 360-degree virtual reality camera systems to upend skate film conventions.
“I’ve had this film in my head for a really long time, and the technology made some things possible that have never been possible before,” says Evans, who looked to Brain Farm’s Curt Morgan as a mentor on the project. Morgan’s snowboarding films with Travis Rice—"That’s It, That’s All" and "The Art of Flight"—served as inspiration points for "We Are Blood," and Morgan helped put state-of-the-art camera systems from Shotover F1, Phantom Flex 4K, and RED Dragon in Evans’ hands.
Evans says he spent most of the first year of the project learning how to work all those new toys and thinking about how they could best be deployed to capture skateboarding in a new way.
“Every film I’ve tried to make bigger and better than the previous ones, and I’ve really tried to expand the audience for these films beyond the core skateboarders,” he says. “I really wanted this one to be a film that everyone can watch, identify with, and be a part of. And in an era when any kid can get an HD camera and shoot a skateboarding video, this one needed to be hugely cinematic in a way that had never been done before.”
Evans and Rodriguez both say they also set out to tell a bigger story about the common bonds skateboarders around the world share, and wanted the film to be more than a hit list of big new tricks (though it’s definitely that, too).
“The film is called 'We Are Blood,' and it’s about that connection. Regardless of who you are or where you are, you don’t need a common language if you already have skateboarding,” Evans says.
“Traveling all over the world and seeing all these people everywhere with the same love and passion for skateboarding as me makes me realize that we’re a brotherhood,” Rodriguez adds. “We’re a family. But skateboarding is also so big, so global, and so mainstream now that skaters have lost control of some of the telling of that story. We wanted to take that back.”
Beyond that, Rodriguez is hesitant to say more about the film or its title.
“I could go on and on about what I’d like for people to take away from it, but ultimately what I’m most proud of is that this project will speak for itself,” he says. “That little kid in me has been falling back in love with skateboarding throughout this whole process and becoming so rejuvenated. Hopefully, whether you’ve been skateboarding all your life or you actually are that little kid just finding skateboarding for the first time, this film will spark that same fire in you.”
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