The UK never had a regular video-magazine. Whilst 411 was enjoying quarterly success both at home in The States and throughout the rest of world, our little island couldn’t quite keep up. Obviously the climate in the UK doesn’t lend itself too kindly to frequent and full length video offerings (owing in large to weather, spots and injury, it’s safe to say that quality domestic company videos can take anywhere between one and five years to produce, for instance), but throughout the 1990’s, there were a good few contenders who were looking to fill that home-grown VM void.
Rollersnakes were first to see the gap and the market and jumped straight in with their short-lived VideoLog series. Between 1994 and 1996, Rollersnakes produced 7 instalments of VideoLog, which, along the way, featured full parts from the likes of Tom Penny, Frank Stephens, Harry, Geoff Rowley and Ben Rodriguez, alongside competition coverage, sections imported from overseas (Gershon Mosley in VL5 being one, Chad Muska and friends in VL6 being another) and extensive product ‘reviews’ for the latest in demand gear that Rollersnakes were stocking.
Summer 1996 saw Snakes pull the plug on VideoLog, leaving a big VHS shaped gap in the scene that was promisingly filled two years later with the appearance of Viewfinder #1. Filmed and edited by the likes of John Cattle, Ben Powell, Alan Glass, Tom Moore and various other hard-grafting lensmen of the time, this 30 minute first offering featured skating of every type from as many different areas of the UK as their 8mm tapes could reach. Top pro’s, up and comers, legends, local heroes, visiting friends…the amount of people included is seemingly endless. Twelve months went by and Viewfinder #2 appeared in skateshops just in time for Christmas 1999. Clocking in at just under an hour in length, #2 covered more ground, featured more people and generally covered everything that happened around the UK that year that wasn’t already earmarked for in progress company releases from the likes of Blueprint and Unabomber, and accurately documented the state of the British skate scene in the lead up to the new millennium. Accompanied with a soundtrack as unpredictable and eclectic as the skateboarding, #2 is, to this day, still widely regarded as a classic amongst UK VHS enthusiasts.
Issues #3 and #4 appeared in 2000 and 2002 respectively, by which time those involved in the gathering of footage for Viewfinder found themselves heavily involved in other video projects, leaving John Cattle largely in charge of the VF vessel. After several years seemingly lost in the wilderness, Viewfinder #5 saw Cattle and co. step into the DVD arena with a double disc offering made up of recent footage, archive clips, UFOs and plenty more visual oddities.
It’s no secret that the internet pretty much replaced the video-magazine over the course of the 2000’s, but the first four Viewfinders contain some pivotal moments in UK skateboarding that deserve to be applauded. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some of the finer sections from the series for you either to be stoked on for the first time (if they somehow passed you by or you were unfortunately too young/not born upon the time of their release) or for you to reminisce over if you were paying attention to UK releases during the late 90’s through to the early 00’s.
Engage your eyeballs, grab yourself a brew, sit yourself down and enjoy…