VIDEO, PHOTOS & WORDS Ali Mehraban
When it comes to translating the skateboarding experience to another medium, the clearest form is video. Photos can still convey the grandeur of it all, but only a video can show the consecutive moments exactly as it happened. My videos have come a long way from filming with a Flip camera, but all that’s really changed is the gear I use. At the core, I’ve always documented the same things: skaters I truly admire, b-roll for context, and a dose of organic humor to soften it up. It’s not a recipe that I keep in my back pocket; these are merely the scenes which capture my attention enough to hit “Record”.
I really do love making videos. I love the product that lies between what I see and how I process it. I love the freedom to manipulate the restraints of reality. You can do away with the linear path of time, distort proportions, and construct a perspective beyond the utilitarian usage of sight. Making a video is a way of bringing novelty to the world around you. Just like skateboarding allows you to view your environment in the most thrilling, interactive sense—videos allow you to collaborate with the space and happenings that you are involved in. With skateboard videos, I film the maneuvering of chaos being unraveled, and by giving it an edited form, I create order out of disorder. The concurrence of the two gives way to a harmony found in all forms of art. Both video and skateboarding are two sides of the same fulfilling coin I really like to flip in the air.
With that said, I could very easily complain about videos until your eyes shrivel up. I dislike the tediousness and preparation that comes along with creating a really proper flick. I dislike how unnatural filming can become, especially when the skating is only happening for a camera. I went on a PDX Sk8Bus trip to Mount. St. Helens that consisted of well-known skaters mashing through beautiful forest runs. My purpose on the trip was to create a video, but I was constantly put-off by the implications of filming. Pointing a big camera in anyone’s face is a sure way of interfering with the natural unfolding of events. I didn’t feel comfortable turning a recreational skate trip into a “film trip”. I was dealing with the observer’s paradox: when the occurrence being observed is influenced by the presence of observation.
It is because of these reasons that I have temporarily returned to the primitive, handheld video technique. While it remains basically impossible to deliberately film a video that is Whole Food levels of organic, the run-and-gun shooting style can get me a bit closer. This video is true to the decree of lurking. We had the bare minimum of gear, practically no plan, and a full day to go wherever we felt like it. “Well Rounded” is a creation of the same impulse fueling the purest skateboarding. It is skating down the sidewalk and carving a new path instantaneously and intuitively. It is concentrating only on the endless “now” and letting the past zoom by. However, this video will never be skateboarding, in the same way that a sketch is only a representation of the subject. To truly relate to the images portrayed in this video, there is only one thing to do: go skateboard! The righteousness of skateboarding will never be fully realized by a photo or a video, but only by the act itself.