Real – Through and Through

We talk to Jeremy McNamara, JT Aultz and Robbie Brockel about the latest Real feature

The thought of heading out into the great unknown on missions with some of the skateboarding’s modern greats would be a daunting prospect for any filmer new to the experience. Add to that the multiple responsibilities of being the person with all the spots, getting the talent to said spots and then being in charge of encouraging said talent to perform, whilst simultaneously dealing with the actual filming side of things, and the life of a modern skate filmer suddenly starts to sound pretty daunting.

However, when the crew you are with consists of Kyle Walker, Dennis Busenitz, Ishod Wair, Justin Brock, Jake Donnelly, Robbie Brockel and JT Aultz to name a few, then I’d imagine that a lack of productivity immediately ceases to be a concern and if you caught Real’s Through and Through, you will know it wasn’t. Delivered at a fast and exciting pace, the almost twenty minute long video showed that despite whatever may be popular with skateboarding in a wider sense; Real Skateboards just continues to be Real Skateboards and the team goes flat out from start to finish.

Stepping into the shoes left by Dan Wolfe after the last Real production, Since Day One in 2011, Jeremy McNamara did a great job with the latest video, providing another entry to Real’s back catalogue that stands up against any and all their past releases.

Read on to find out how Jeremy became involved with Real and what the process behind working on this video was like from the point of view of the guy dealing with the multiple tasks of the modern day skateboard media producer.

Additionally we also caught up with two of the guys who had oodles of banging footage filmed by Mr McNamara and his cohorts to get their take on the process involved in putting together one of the best releases of 2015. Big up all involved: Esse quam videri

Right at the start of Through and Through, Ishod smashes into that security guard, what’s the story there? Did they give you a ticket and threaten to confiscate the camera or anything because you’d got it on film?

Justin and Ishod were having a session on the gap to rail in Kansas City. Ishod was super close to that fakie backlip – right as Ishod was just about to do it, security came and told us to leave, which led into your average, “just one more and we will leave” conversation. Security wasn’t having it and that guy decided to sit on the rail. I’m not sure if Ishod just didn’t see him or if he thought that he would move out of the way but he tried it anyway and boom! After that we just left knowing we would come back on another day of the trip. Luckily it didn’t escalate into anything crazy.

How long after ‘Since Day One’ did you start working with Real and how did you actually become involved with the company?

I have been working at DLX for the past three years. I had made a video with some friends during the last two years of high school and somehow Dan Wolfe happened to see it and contacted me about possibly doing work for DLX. I remember tripping out on the fact that he hit me up out of the blue. I definitely got lucky.

How did you get interested in cinematography in the first the place? Were you just the guy that always had a camera and it turned into something more or was there a particular skate video that inspired you start filming?

I started filming how most kids do. My friends and I would skate together and eventually we wanted to start filming the tricks we were doing. We would all film each other. Slowly I started to find myself wanting to be behind the camera more and more. I became interested in the filmmaking process and wanted to create my own videos with my friends. The first camera I ever used was a point and shoot that my mom had. I remember I would always take it when she wasn’t looking and bring it skating. There are a lot of filmmakers that have inspired me including: Jason Hernandez, Ty Evans, Greg Hunt, Mike Manzoori, Russell Houghton, and Dan Wolfe. I get really inspired by films outside of skateboarding as well. A lot of the stuff the production companies Brainfarm, Sherpas Cinema, and Camp 4 Collective do is amazing.

What other video projects had you worked on in the past? Was this the first one that was mainly all on you?

I have made a few videos on my own outside of DLX. During the past years at DLX I have made a bunch of short web content pieces. This was the first feature video I have made for a company as big as REAL yes, but the video wasn’t all on me alone. Tim Fulton filmed half of the video and there was a ton of stuff contributed by other filmers as well. I worked closely with Jim and Damon when editing the video.

How did Through And Through first come to together, had you just stockpiled footage from a few trips and sessions and decided to keep going? It seems like it’s been more of an organic process than deciding, “right, we’re making a video.”

Before I started working at DLX the team had a good amount of footage stacked up. During the past few years we went on a bunch of REAL trips without having a specific goal for the footage we were filming. I remember Jim and I had a meeting about what REAL should make video wise. Jim wanted to do something with the footage we had but didn’t know exactly what. The only thing he said is that he wanted a “team vibe” video and asked me to go through all the footage and see what we could turn it into. I went through everything we had and edited a super rough cut to show him and Damon. I would say it was an organic process for sure.

It’s rare that a video like this comes out with basically no pre-hype like this. It was the same with Destination Unknown too and I’d say that reflects Deluxe’s approach with all their brands: no bullshit, just good skateboarding. What’s your take on that?

DLX is rad. I think it starts with the fact that everybody who works there skates and knows what skateboarders want to see. I like the fact that the video wasn’t hyped up. It makes it more of a surprise to everybody and gets people talking. Also I think if there was hype for the video it would have misled people because each rider didn’t have their own part. I don’t think it would have been what people were expecting.

How is it having Real/Deluxe as an employer? I imagine Jim and Tommy are great people to call your boss.

It’s rad to work with those guys! Jim is insane. He works everyday to make DLX and skateboarding the best it can be. It’s great to be able to work with people who always give it 100%.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the video is showcasing tricks at the same spot together as it gives a better idea of the session that went down. I think that complements a montage-based video well too. Why did you choose to present the footage as a montage rather than dividing it up into parts?

There were a few reasons. With a company who has as many riders as REAL it would have taken a long time to try and film another full length video with full parts from everybody. In today’s times you need to constantly be putting out new content to stay relevant. So part of the reason was to make something everybody could be a part of that came out sooner than later. Also it was important to showcase the fact that these guys are all friends and skate together. I think it’s cool get the vibe of a session. It makes it feel fun and maybe a bit more enjoyable to watch. That is something every skateboarder can relate to.

How is it working in that style opposed to a part-by-part format? Is there anything that’s easier or harder with piecing it together?

I don’t think one would be harder than the other: just different. For example trying to find a song to fit a section rather than a song to fit an individual skater. Jack and Robbie’s songs were picked to fit them though.

Who is your favourite guy to film with and can you give us a good story about them from filming Through and Through?

I enjoy filming all the guys on the team! It’s hard to narrow it down to a few but if I had to pick I would say I was really stoked to film the vert stuff that Max had. I always have been a fan of his skating. Everybody is so gnarly. I feel like a dick picking just one person! Justin is an animal. He always gives it everything he’s got. Robbie and Jack really shined in this video. Both of those guys are super talented skateboarders. Everybody on the team kills it. Ishod is unreal. He gets so much footage and does his tricks super quick.

What’s filming with Justin and Dennis like? Those dude skate so fast so I imagine it’s pretty hectic…

They both definitely go faster than most. I just go as fast as I can and try to keep up! Usually it works out. Just gotta stay on your toes! It’s exciting to film those guys.

How about Ishod? There always seems to be a bit of unpredictability to him, especially some of the lines he does.

Ishod is definitely a spontaneous skater. Whenever we film lines he lets me know what he is going to try. I always try to keep an eye out for him at spots. Gotta be super quick to setup. He gets in the zone and the last thing you wanna tell him to do is wait for you to set up!

I’ve lost count of how many times that manual trick Dennis did on the China Banks has popped up on Instagram. Although this isn’t a full video per se, there’s still a lot more dedication put into it than a four-minute web clip. What’s your view on the way skate videos and skateboard media has changed since the last Real video came out in 2011?

There is so much good content coming out everyday. After a while it can all start to blend into one. It’s harder to make something that will stick these days. A lot of stuff that comes out gets repetitive really quick. It’s almost like people are becoming immune to watching insane tricks. You can see the most mind blowing skateboarding everyday just on Instagram alone. I think nowadays there needs to be something more in a video than just insane skating. You could watch the best tricks in the world and it might not make you wanna skate. It’s rad to see guys skating together that feed off one another’s energy. It’s also cool to catch glimpses of people’s personalities. It makes it more fun and it’s something every skater can relate to.

Where do see it going from here? Do you think longer, montage based videos, such as Through and Through might take off to the extent the solo web part has?

I’m really not sure. There’s a place for every type of skate video on the Internet. I think we will continue to see a mix of all sorts of skate video content. It all depends on what fits the project best. Maybe this type of format will work for other teams as well. Right now there are no specific plans for the next REAL project.

Finally, do you think that physical copies of skate videos will always have a place?

I don’t think they will always have a place no. Computers don’t even necessarily even come with DVD players nowadays and DVD technology is already outdated. As long as people can watch the video in its intended quality that’s all that really matters. Videos can be downloaded off the Internet and saved. You can watch them anytime you want just like a DVD. I think people like having a something they can hold but what’s the difference when you pop it into a player? It’s still being played on a screen. Plus DVDs are Standard Definition. Most people don’t have Blu Ray players so it will look better online anyway. It’s the way things are going. There’s no stopping it from happening either. The reason they chose to do DVD’s for this video is because most skateshops still have a DVD player and would play it in the shop. Also there are still people who would like a hard copy as well. I think we will start to see less and less DVDs being made every year until they are completely gone.

Between the release of Since Day One and finishing Never Gets Old you took a horrible slam and suffered a serious head injury. For the sake of those who might not be already aware, can you talk us through what happened please?

I was on a trip in Las Vegas trying to front board this kink rail. It was pretty wobbly and I just remember sticking and flying backwards. I flew backward to my head and knocked myself out. I ended up getting airlifted to a hospital. There was lots of bleeding inside my head and my brain began to swell so they induced me into a coma to bring down swelling. Luckily that worked and I lived.

Was any of your footage in the Osiris video filmed after that particular slam, or was filming for you wrapped up until you were fully recovered again? Also, how long did the recovery take?

Most of it was filmed after the injury. I hit my head pretty early on during the filming for Osiris and shortly after Since Day One so I didn’t have that much footage. Recovery took about 6 months and luckily I had enough time after recovery to film a part.

How much did simply getting back on your board help with your overall rehab? I imagine it would put you in a way more positive frame of mind each time you went out for a roll around and found you could do something new…

Yeah for sure! Just being able to stand on a board after being told you will never skate again is a great feeling.

The following summer you went on tour with Real again and had the ‘Pushing San Diego’ part out too – how long did it take for you to feel like you could skate as well as you previously could?

It didn’t take as long as it probably should have. I remember feeling like people were talking to me like I would never be the same again and I wanted to prove that I wasn’t shook. I think the first thing I filmed was this noseslide on this 16 rail into a bank/hill. That might have been the moment when my confidence was fully back. Looking back that was all bullshit though, I shouldn’t have thought like that and forced anything but at the same time that did help me recover.

JT gaps out to backside 5.0 grind in a fairly tight situation... in the middle of the night. Photo courtesy of Gabe Morford

Through And Through kind of takes a slightly different approach to the traditional skate video whilst retaining the team vibe in that it features the whole team and presumably more collective effort and time put into it than the one-off video parts that are released so frequently these days.

I like how everyone is in there at different places, as we do skate together a lot and I think it really shows that. One-off videos are cool too but you lose a lot of the company/team family feel that was so cool about the older VHS videos. It’s a lot harder to make full-length videos like that now so I feel this was a cool approach.

Had you filmed with Jeremy much before starting working on Through And Through?

To be honest, I haven’t really filmed with Jeremy that much. Living in southern California I film more with Tim Fulton up in LA and some friends down here in San Diego mostly. The trips I have been on with Jeremy and filming with him up in the city have been cool though.

What were the other major differences between the last video and Through And Through? I’m guessing the filming of Since Day One was a lot longer process for a start.

Not filming for an individual part was the main difference. We knew Brockel, Jack, and Ishod were gonna have most of the stuff in there and not dealing with a song or individual time lines was the biggest different from most projects.

What one trick or piece of footage out of Through And Through are you personally the most pleased with, and why?

Robby’s crazy flip trick down the big 4, Jack’s feeble, Ishod’s 5-0, Max’s clips and that weird back lip Dennis did all come to mind.

Tapping into California's wax reserves JT noseslides a tall fella. Photo courtesy of Gabe Morford

Like Anti Hero’s Destination Unknown, Through And Through seemed to just appear out of nowhere and blow people away. What’s your opinion on that style of release compared to videos being hyped up before release?

I think the negative might be that you don’t get weeks or even months to build anticipation with park edits or teasers that can help bring more people to watch the finished thing. At the same time I feel like there’s too much hype for everything that comes out these days. A 45 second park edit will have a 15 second teaser video sometimes which is pretty unnecessary in my opinion so it’s cool to have a surprise like with Through and through.

Real has stayed solid over the years, and even with the emergence and popularity of smaller brands, it’s still as popular as it ever was. What do you think are the main reasons that Real has managed to remain so popular for such a long period of time?

Real has a really solid crew behind them, from Jim and Tommy to everyone else that’s a part of DLX. I think it shows that everyone involved cares about the brand and cares about skateboarding as a whole.

Rounding this off, now that Through And Through is finished, what’s next for you? Are you already working any more projects or sections you can tell us about?

Yeah! There was a bunch of stuff not used in Through and Through, so I’m just trying to build off that and work for the next one.

You visited the UK a few years back as a guest rider on The Big Push with Shiner and spent most of your time in the north of the UK, whereas last year you were back here again, on a Real tour that saw you skating mainly around the south. Did you feel there were any big differences between those two areas of the country?

I didn’t feel as though there were any major differences in those areas of the UK besides people’s accents. I was psyched to get to spend some time in London and skate all the legendary spots there though, because I didn’t get the chance to the first time around.

Your family is really athletic with your dad being into basketball and your brother a professional football player for the Carolina Panthers. It’s well known that you actually drifted away from hockey because of skateboarding when you were younger – was your dad supportive of you veering towards skating instead?

I think my dad just wanted to be involved in what I was doing. He loved sports and watching my brother and I play and coached us. I also think my parents were worried skateboarding would lead to me getting into trouble. All in all, over time they supported it 100% because they knew how much I loved doing it

American Football is obviously quite a hands-on and rough sport. Who do you think gets beat up harder with their respective past time – you or your brother?

(Laughing). I would say that I probably get beat up more on a regular basis, but my brother has had a lot more major injuries than me.

Mr Brockel gets high in Tottenham like many others whilst Jeremy keeps an eye on him (fish) Photo CJ.

Was there any trick or piece of footage in Through and Through that was a particularly hard battle for you?

The back 360 on the bump over gap was a battle – mostly due to shitty weather. It was the last two days of a trip we were on from Vegas to El Paso. We went there the first day and it was super windy and my board wouldn’t stay on my feet so we went back the next day. This time a storm was approaching so I knew I had limited time. I ended up doing it, and as I’m rolling away it started raining and then hailing. So I lucked out on that one, (laughing).

The video basically happened from you guys just going out skating – there was no actual plan to make a video, right? 

Yeah we didn’t really have a plan. Just going on trips and filming. A lot of the team was filming for other videos, so when they realized that the guys who weren’t filming for anything specific had a whole bunch of footage we decided to put something together.

From your perspective, what were the major differences between filming for Since Day One and Through And Through?

Nothing too major: I kind of snuck into Since Day One at the last minute. They hit me up to have footage in it and then I went on the last couple of trips before the deadline. Through and Through I was on all of the trips and it was an all HD production as well as opposed to Since Day One, which was a mix of VX and HD.

Had you filmed much with Jeremy before embarking on Through And Through?

No I had never met Jeremy prior to Through And Through. He just started coming on trips with us last year. He’s basically a younger version of Dan Wolfe. Really tech savvy and motivated to make quality videos.

Frontside blunt slide on a burgundy number. Photo courtesy of Gabe Morford

Even though it was a more montage-based project this time around, you still had the ‘last part’ so to speak. Did you know beforehand that you were going to be closing the video down, or was that sprung on you when you first watched it?

Once the video began getting put together Jeremy hit me up and was telling me about the video and then mentioned I was going to have the last part.

Did you guys have any sort of team premiere for Through And Through before it dropped on Thrasher, or was the first time you got to see it the same time as everyone else?

The night before the video was released online we held a premiere at the Soma West skatepark in San Francisco. We basically just barged it. The crew at Deluxe got the projector screen and the sound system together and just held a pop up premiere at the park.

What do you personally think to the montage based style of editing of Through And Through compared to that of a part-by-part video like Since Day One?

I think it was awesome. It gave the video more of a feel of ‘this is the REAL team’ if you like. These guys kick it all the time together and skate. Don’t get me wrong, I love videos that are part by part too but I think this really worked well.

You shared a part with Massimo Cavedoni in Since Day One and I think it’s safe to say that he’s a pretty low-key figure. Can you shed any light on what he’s been up to lately?

I actually still hang out with him all the time. I recently moved to LA and he lives real close to me, so he is always out skating with us.

No messing frontside nosegrind at quite a pelt. Photo courtesy of Gabe Morford

Any backroom talk at DLX about you going pro soon?

You know how we do it at Deluxe. We keep everything under wraps, (laughs).

Nearly everyone who I’ve spoken to about Real considers it more of a family than a team – how tight knit is everything between you guys, Jim and Tommy?

Real and DLX are definitely a family. We don’t just throw anyone on the team. We all hang out all the time and skate and stay in touch. That’s the way it should be. The best thing about having those guys in charge is how much they love skateboarding and what they do for skateboarding and skate shops, etc. Nothing is just for show – it’s all from the heart.

What have you got lined up project-wise now that Through And Through has been wrapped up?

Right now I’m just out filming and trying to put something else out as soon as I can.

Also, whilst we’re here, is there any message you want us to pass onto Nicky Howells for you?

(Laughing), I actually just ran into Nicky recently in LA. He was out here with some friends skating. Super random. I was stoked to see him though. It’s been awhile.


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