Remembering skateboarding's top guns

16:00, Mar 17 2014
Stacy Peralta: Returns to chronicle the history of skateboarding with Bones Brigade: An Autobiography .

A decade after chronicling the birth of skateboarding in Dogtown and Z-Boys , documentarian Stacy Peralta is back to look at one of the greatest periods of skateboarding popularity - the 1980s - in Bones Brigade: An Autobiography . James Croot quizzed him about the making of the film and where he sees skateboarding today.

Where did the inspiration for the doco come from?
Tony Hawk and the other five Bones Brigade members who appear in the film were very moved by my documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys which chronicled the original Zephhr skateboard team I had been on in the 1970s.
Tony and the boys felt they had a similar experience in skateboarding during their reign in the 1980s and felt their legacy was worthy of a film. That was around 2003. I turned them down saying I wasn't keen on making another documentary that I was also a participant in.
They kept asking me to reconsider until towards the end of 2010, Lance Mountain phoned me and said that they were all now older than I was when I made Dogtown . That hit me hard. I didn't think these guys who I knew so well as young teens could ever reach middle age. So I knew then that to wait any longer would be foolish.

What was toughest part of putting the documentary together?
It came together quite easily.  There were the usual story and editorial challenges but for the most part it fell into place probably easier than any film I've made.

Was everyone still willing to talk?
More than willing - very eager.  They all wanted to tell their story, they were eager to share it with the world and they were eager to get it out of their own systems.  They were also eager to see the collective dots of their shared history be woven together into a whole.

Were you surprised at what the guys revealed ?
I was very surprised they were willing to speak so candidly and so honestly.

What was the biggest shock?
How close we all still feel with each other even though we don't see one another that often.


Tell me a bit about the Bones Brigade's movie successes. What do you remember about working on the likes of Police Academy 4?
It was all a great dream.  We had so many opportunities back then to help give definition to skateboarding. It was all so new and so many aspects of the sport were being discovered and were emerging. The Police Academy film allowed us to shoot one of the world's first, if not ''the'' first street skateboarding sequences for a general audience and it was all because the producer and creator of that series of films kept noticing his teenage son dominating their home TV watching the Bones Brigade videos of that time.  One day the producer sat down with his son and watched the New York street skating sequence we had done in Future Primitive, he was so blown away by it that he decided he wanted a street skating sequence in the next Police Academy film. 

Do you think there's  a place for a touring Bones Brigade style troupe today?
If someone put it together then there would probably be an audience for it.   

With snowboarding becoming a bigger and bigger part of Winter Olympics, can you envisage a time when skateboarding might be a part of the Olympics?
I'm not eager to see that happen.  Skateboarding is an animal that doesn't like being caged.  

How has skateboarding evolved since the days of Bones Brigade?
It continues to provide identity and meaning to young people all over the world.  It becomes the doorway to the world for so many people today.

And what does it have to do to stay on the up in the social media age?
Remain honest.  

Why do you think so many of the Brigade are still boarding - do you think it's something they'll ever retire from?
There is no reason to give up things you love doing.  They love skateboarding and always will, it's who they are.  I, too, skate almost daily.  I do it for exercise and I do it for spiritual reasons - it's a distinct part of who I am and how I've been formed, it's important I do it and stay in touch with it.

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography 8.30pm, Thursday, Rialto