Making a good skate video isn’t an easy venture, especially at a time when the market is flooded with literally hundreds of virals a week via the web. But while the quantity climbs, the quality suffers.
The truth is, as skateboarding progresses to new levels of mind-blowing insanity trick-wise, a video featuring great skateboarding alone is no longer enough to make the cut. Over the years, countless vids have come and gone without making an impact. That is, except for a select group of filmmakers who continue to create exceptional material that far surpasses the herd. Ty Evans is not only one of these few, he’s the best.
What separates Ty from the pack isn’t simple to describe but it is undeniable. Even if you’ve never stepped on a skateboard in your life, to watch a Ty Evans video is to be not just entertained but transported, whether you can differentiate a kickflip from a heelflip or not.
Working for Girl and Chocolate since 2002, Ty has been responsible for some of the most innovative, genre-bending skate videos ever, most notably Yeah Right! and Fully Flared, both co-directed by Girl/Chocolate co-owner Spike Jonze.
Now thirty-five, Ty got his start simply filming friends as they were out skating. He’d make small videos, editing the footage from one VCR to the next. In time his interest grew and he began to pay closer attention to filming and cutting techniques. A local at the now legendary Powell Skate Park, Ty used his connection to the pros who would drop by to kick-start his filming conquests.
“Todd Hastings from Powell let me borrow a video camera, a Canon A-1, and that was the first time I actually used a professional camera,” he explains. “I think that was, like, ’93 or ’94. And I just remember filming a lot of guys in Santa Barbara along with a lot of Super 8 and stuff.”
Ty moved to San Diego and set about reinventing himself as a skate video auteur. He was responsible for Planet Earth’s Silver and Rhythm’s Genesis before going on to work for Transworld’s video division. During his early years, he admits to following the usual formula before taking an aesthetic change of direction.
“Kind of halfway through my stint at Transworld I started thinking about showing different stuff, showing the emotional aspect of skating,” remembers Ty. Wanting to reveal more on screen than just the tricks, he began experimenting with new approaches to how a skate video should look.
“I wanted to show the trials and tribulations that we go through,” he says, referring to his 1999 classic Transworld video Feedback. “Showing the anger, the happiness and the sadness. It was like, ‘Maybe we should show more than the trick, but also still have that really strong skating there to back all that other stuff.’ I think that was where I figured out that people need to look at this as more than just skating.”
From there he produced unforgettable Transworld videos including The Reason and Modus Operandi, developing his new creative sensibility.
“There’s one shot in Modus that I love,” he explains. “I was just filming these kids’ faces as they were watching someone skate. Someone did a trick and the one kid looks at the other kid so psyched. That’s one of my favourite things I ever filmed just because it captures that feeling I felt when I saw someone skating for the first time.”
Ty’s career at Transworld came to an end when he was hired to work at Girl and Chocolate. “When I started working for them, those guys wanted to show the funny, joke-around side of skating, so that was a big learning experience,” he says. “There’s all this other fun stuff that you can do. When you start skating that’s what you start skating for, for the fun. I started seeing all the funny stuff that [Girl owners] Rick [Howard], Mike [Carroll] and Spike were doing and it opened me up to that whole world.”
Ty’s collaborations with Spike Jonze for a list of Girl, Chocolate and Lakai videos resulted in some of the most entertaining and progressive skate videos of all time, both in the eyes of veteran skaters and the general public. Aside from stellar skating, they featured conceptual skits, CGI, motion graphics, HD cameras, dollies, jib arms, steadicam and even pyrotechnics. All these components took the productions to ever more sophisticated and dynamic levels.
“A lot of that stuff is all Spike: his mind is insane,” Ty says about some of the amazing ideas that were born during their productions – skits like the ‘Pink Board’, ‘Invisible Boards’ and the now legendary exploding opening sequence of Fully Flared.
“It’s fun to watch Spike grow from a skate photographer forPowerEdge, to making Video Days, to everything he’s doing now. It’s so inspiring, everything he’s done, and I feel privileged to work with him,” Ty enthuses.
As for Ty, what the future holds is anyone’s guess. But what is certain is this: whatever direction Ty decides to take, his work will just keep getting better. “I think progression is the most fun aspect of what I do,” he says. “I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and keep progressing.”