1). Why is it important that the public hear your message?
Well, when you think about it, there isn’t one society that doesn’t have some form of storytelling. That to me speaks greatly of it’s importance to us as human beings. Sometimes it’s all we have, the ability to tell a story. So if we don’t pass down our stories, we could lose so much. And how wonderful it is that we can be immortalized by them. We’ll be long gone but we can only hope that our stories live forever. That’s just my epic and romantic way of putting it (laughter).
There was a point in time when I didn’t want to be a filmmaker anymore because I thought it was meaningless, being only for entertainment. But I was wrong. I now believe as a filmmaker, once your experiences and feelings are shared with your audience, a connection takes place that reminds everyone about the human condition and how we can all relate to each other. So to share your stories and be able to create such a reaction in people means that there is a greater force working alongside you that goes way beyond just entertainment, so you must always keep that in mind. The message that Best Foot Forward sends out is the importance of friendship, acceptance and looking at life in a positive way. I make movies about it because everyone else should be thinking it too. The fact that you should live your life like that can never be argued with.
I wanted to show a serious side to the life of a skateboarder, and not that their lives are dramatically different from anyone else in the world, but it’s just not a topic you see in films regularly. I wanted to show skateboarding not as a silly, childish activity where the only conflicts arise from the competition itself or trying to get sponsored, or dealing with angry parents who complain that you skate too much, to me those are more stereotypical. What if their problems were from the outside world, and the only way they are safe is in the skate park?
This story can happen to anyone, whether they be skateboarders, tennis players, poker players, you name it. So it’s not that I am forcing people to know that this is happening to skateboarders, I’m just showing my side of it. I don’t think that if the public doesn’t realize that skateboarders are also human beings with feelings after watching Best Foot Forward that there will be an outrage (laughter) but I think by seeing this film, one can see a different side of the skateboarding community.
2). Skateboard culture prizes individual skill but there is also a tight community. What insight does your film give into the skateboard community?
Excellent question. The whole film revolves around 3 friends and their camaraderie as skateboarders as they learn to support each other through their hardships. The community that these friends are a part of is based on what I’ve experienced from going to the local skate park in Peabody for so many years. In Massachusetts, skateboarding does have a community but it’s not as large as other places. Or maybe it is and I’m just not digging deep enough like I should be (laughter). What’s great is that I do see a lot of people doing positive things for skateboarding. A friend of mine, Brendan Gibney, runs a School of Skateboarding in the North Shore area where he teaches young kids how to skate. Another friend of mine from high school, Ricky Brandano, owns a skate shop out in Arizona called Legends (hopefully you’ll be seeing some of his merchandise in the film, haha). There’s also GetSome which is a brand of apparel in which the proceeds go to Project Skate Park, which is all about building a stronger community within the skate park establishments, and its great because its the BMX riders and skaters working together. They’ve all been very supportive of me and the film and I thank them greatly for it. They are all doing positive things that have nothing to do with what has been giving skaters a bad reputation for all this time.
The problem is that skateboarders are outsiders, they are attracted to a sport in which the world is your playground and the streets are your terrain. Add some wild, teenage angst in the mix and you get some bad chemistry with the authorities.
But I feel that now there are lots of positive things happening, and Best Foot Forward shows these skateboarders taking the negative things that life has thrown at them and turning them into positive things. And they do this with the help of an accepted establishment within the skateboarding community.
3). Why did you choose the medium of film to tell your story?
Well, film has been my medium of choice since day 1. As a screenwriter, the goal is to find appealing topics that will give me some fulfillment when telling the stories that arise from the discoveries I make during the writing process. Best Foot Forward was the first script of mine that ever did that for me, and it continues to do so, which is how I know it’s a great story.
I could tell this story in book form but I feel that it wont do it justice. Yes, reading is a wonderful thing, and the appreciation of words and language has been diminishing so a good novel wont do us any harm (laughter), but I’ve molded myself to be a filmmaker so that is the medium I feel most comfortable with.
4). Skateboard fashion is very distinct, how does it reflect the pulse of the community?
Hmm, definitely a multifaceted question. I see skateboarders as t-shirt and jeans kinda people. Since they’re younger and don’t tend to dress to impress, there are no rules for what you have to wear. It’s an escapist form of sport to begin with so it tends to be a mostly non-judgmental society. You’ll see everything from punk fashion to urban, to indie, to preppy, and anything else you can think of. What’s great about skateboarding is that it doesn’t have a color. It’s made up of many different cultures so no fashion style is outlawed.
I think there’s an underlying topic within this question though, and it’s the topic of how the fashion of skateboarding has made it more commercial. The shoes and clothing companies started booming and all of a sudden everyone was wearing skateboarding apparel, people who had nothing to do with the sport, and to them it was just something cool. I honestly don’t remember why I started skateboarding but it probably had something to do with the commercialism of it, since it was happening right at the time where I was the appropriate age for it. But I didn’t really buy into it in that way because I honestly just wanted to skate. I liked the clothes because I liked the sport, just as a basketball player gets a jersey of their favorite player. And I bought the shoes because you really can’t skate in anything else (laughter). But all in all, fashion is great for anything that’s positive since it breeds more publicity and awareness for it. And it’s simply just a way for the people who enjoy skateboarding to express what they like.
5) Do you see a connection between skateboarding and the arts?
Well, they are both a craft and a hobby, so in that way, yes. But can they both be seen as destructive and beautiful, yes again (laughter). When I watch skate videos, which aren’t narrative films but videos of pro skateboarding talents, I admire so greatly the beauty of skateboarding captured on camera that there’s no argument it’s not an elegant dance between the feet and the board. And it’s so unique because they are doing stylized tricks and stunts but yet it is movement that when observed under a certain light is very beautiful. But just like art, it can be seen as insubordinate, rebellious, and lacking in any kind of merit. So we have to be careful of how we use it.
6). Do you find that many skateboarders fall prey to depression. Why do you think so?
Hmm, that’s tough to say because I only know a few of them in such a way where I would know if they had depression or not. And it’s not something you hear about on the news as being a widespread dilemma with skateboarders today. So I guess I have to say that it’s just like every other group of people; some do and some don’t. All I can hope for is that the ones who do fall into depression will be able to look at Best Foot Forward as showing how skateboarders overcome their depression in an uplifting way and it can maybe help cure the blues they’re having themselves.
7) Are there any other projects you are working on?
Well, right now the main goal is Best Foot Forward so I’ve been putting most of my efforts into that, but I like to do fun, smaller projects with my friends and colleagues as a way to stay fresh and creative, whether it be through acting, writing or filming. I think a skate video might be in order to get us all in the right mood (laughter).
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