"FINTA" / PREMIERE / Dino Coce / INTERVIEW

As his Instagram account brimming with quite the unique combo of tech skills and creativity on and off the board (like they all say) can demonstrate to the layman, Dino Coce has been ripping the streets of Split, Croatia for a long time; and, while his name has been circulating beyond his home region over the yesteryear - after his part in Raul Žgomba's "TABULA RASA" - his own, longtime activity as a filmmaker putting together his personal video project: "FINTA" had mostly remained a secret to everyone but the most initiated and local. In fact, one would have had to be there (and sober) in person at the 2017 edition of the Vladimir Film Festival to catch the public broadcasting of the trailer - but on those who somehow were, it left an impression like no other, foreshadowing Michel Gondry-esque practical effects and a generally inventive editing direction at the service of equally thoughtful, and honest, street skateboarding mostly captured through a simple Canon XM-2.
 
Fast forward to now, twenty twenty and Dino finally completed "FINTA", after over half a decade of work and just in time for what should have been the tenth Vladimir (turned edition nine-and-a-half due to the pandemic). The corresponding DVD and D.I.Y. screen-printed merch is available right here, right now and as for a sneak preview, today, LIVE is presenting a section of the film dedicated to no one in particular but a specific location in Split: the mishmash of the historic Diocletian’s Palace and Strossmayer Park aka. Đardin, both of which Dino honored with his own reinterpretation all the while openly embracing influences by the likes of Colin Read. Needless to say, the questions for the following interview spontaneously raised themselves...

LIVE Skateboard Media: Yo Dino, what’s up! So, we’ve been bumping into each other at the Croatian Vladimir Film Festival for some years now, and we’ve premiered your section from Raul Žgomba's indie video "TABULA RASA" before but only got to exchange that much on that one occasion. So may you please introduce yourself to our readers for good - where are you from, how and when did you get into skateboarding? How has been your local scene(s) growing up?

Dino Coce: I'm good Aymeric, chillin'.

My name is Dino Coce and I am from Split, Croatia.

Skateboarding attracted me because I used to play the Tony Hawk video games on the PlayStation 2; my friends and I tried everything: rollerblading, BMX, scootering, parkour... But skateboarding had something special I didn't know existed. There was a small hill near my house that everybody in my neighbourhood would skate; the biggest trick to do there was riding down the hill standing up. Otherwise, we were all butt-boarding...

And then one day, I did it standing up. It was back in 2007; my immediate local scene was small, consisting of Bruno Ban, Dujma and I.

 

"I had one DVD
with me:
'SPIRIT QUEST'.
I watched it twenty-six times"

LSM: We’ve discussed filming for « TABULA RASA » before, now let’s talk about your role as a skate filmmaker. Is « FINTA » your first production? It’s been in the works for a while, yet you always assumed it would be, it looks like - if I remember correctly, you were already teasing it for 2020 at the 2017 edition of Vladimir. How come you knew you would need that amount of time? Can you recount the journey that was making this video? What prompted you to start your own project, and how did you fall into the practical addiction?

DC: If you mean my first production in DVD form and that I am super happy with, then yes. Otherwise, we had been making full-lengths for YouTube before: "VJEŠTINEZ", "ŠOPAPAJA", "SPLIT PERSONALITIES"...

I teased at Vladimir in 2017 but at the end of the trailer I put "still filming" because honestly, even I didn't know when it would be finished. From 2015 on, after our previous video "VJEŠTINEZ", we just kept collecting footage, knowing that eventually it would go somewhere... And then, in 2016, Colin Read's "SPIRIT QUEST" dropped. Which changed everything.

I was on the island called Brać that whole summer, baking pizzas for living and I had one DVD with me: "SPIRIT QUEST". I watched it twenty-six times, the whole full-length (which spans for one hour and forty minutes, I think). And ideas just started to pop up in my mind, that I would then write down.

"Practical addiction" [laughs], I don't know, it's like, if I want a clip of a camera floating around on balloons for my video, I can pull it off in After Effects in maybe two weeks, but doing it for real is something else... Actually, you can't, because the camera is too heavy so you would need five thousand helium balloons, maybe more. I could only do it with the fake camera.

 

"That's how we really
inject some of our
mind in everything
we do"

LSM: Did anything in particular dictate the experimental direction of the video? What would you say your main inspirations are? The universe is very poetic in a fresh way and captures a certain magic in life your photos also do, with an emphasis on nature and a contemplative perspective on the world. How was it pairing that up with the dynamism and filth of a skate video? Can you introduce your dog, Orion?

DC: Main inspirations behind my video are Connor Kammerer's part in "SPIRIT QUEST", and the Nakano section in Far East Skate Network's "OVERGROUND BROADCASTING" by Takahiro Morita, where every skater dresses and acts like a pool ball.

The idea was to make a video that you can watch many times and not just for the skaters.

I believe that ideas are some special, two-dimensional kind of geometry which can then be elaborated into three-dimensional geometry by the means of thought - when you produce a thought, capture the patterns of that thought and codify them into the physical world that others can also perceive. That's how we really inject some of our mind in everything we do.

I know that a skate video needs good tricks to be good, but when you make it just that, only skating, then it becomes just another skate film, whereas when you have a story or something else supporting it, then it has something special. Or maybe it's only me who thinks like that...

Orion: Kcvbolvfgopfgopcvofgvbpč5284nmvbfvbcvv.

DC: This was Orion on a keyboard.

"I spent all my summer
on Brać sewing
that camera together
for those eventual
two seconds in the film"

LSM: How did the general focus on practical effects come together throughout the production? Can you describe the general concept of them, and what the usual process and planning was for all those ideas that you materialized in « FINTA »? Would you say having had six years to work on one piece helped the ambition of those ideas grow? Again, it kind of looks like the deadline was set to be a distant reach from the start.

DC: The practical effects grew naturally, I could talk about every finta in the video for hours.

But in general, the original concept was always simple: for instance, I wanted a clip of my dog carrying a camera. That's an idea so simple, it could come from a kid; everybody can think and talk of something like this, but when you actually try to make it for real (and what is real?), you start bumping into so many obstacles. Can a dog really carry a camera that heavy? Can a dog film? Of course not, unless you give it a GoPro or some stupid shit.


Orion.

That plush Canon XM-2 camera, I sewed together only for that, so that Orion can carry it and "film" me. I spent all my summer on Brać sewing that camera together for those eventual two seconds in the film; well, I also re-used it for the helium balloon sequence.

Anyway, I put the little squeaky thing that you can find inside dog toys inside the camera, so that Orion would think it's a normal toy. I kept throwing him the camera regularly for around three weeks, he kept ignoring it and then one day he suddenly started carrying it. I was so amazed the plan had worked.

So later I tried trying to film this trick with my friend Bruno actually filming it and Orion running next to me, carrying his plush camera.

Bruno constantly had to be calling Orion and filming at the same time, which was tricky as Orion only listens to me.

"The film would only
be finished when
all thirty-four ideas
are finally done"

We also kept going through problems such as Orion holding the camera in the wrong direction or too far away from me, sometimes even upside down. But in the end, we somehow managed to get the clip.


Orion & Dino.

I had thirty-four ideas and the film would only be finished when all thirty-four ideas are finally done. So, the deadline was always Vladimir every year and then the next; in the end, it's so funny that it premiered on the tenth edition of the festival, and my dog Orion is ten years old. "The prophecy is true"...

LSM: Like you're saying, just a few weeks ago, « FINTA » got its long-awaited world premiere at the 2020 edition of the Vladimir Film Festival - technically the tenth anniversary of the event although branded as the ninth-and-a-half year and open to a smaller audience than usual, due to Covid-19. Can you recount how the premiere went? When you heard about the pandemic affecting the accessibility and size of the festival, just the moment you were about to premiere six years of work, what was your reaction? In the end, who could make it to see it and how did you feel? Also, I heard Connor Kammerer is just about to hook you up with a N.Y.C. premiere of « FINTA »?

DC: The premiere on the Brioni islands at Vladimir was magical. I even brought some artefacts from the video there and we made like a small table with everything.

I filmed that night, and it will be on my YouTube channel.

I told Nikola Racan and Butko I didn't care about how many people would be coming eventually, I just wanted to finish the video and show them my film regardless - if you ask me, had only five of us been there to watch it, I would have been more than happy already, that would still count in my eyes. Then the Split crew came, not everybody but they brought Orion.

"If some kid from
Split, Croatia
can make a movie,
then everybody can"

Due to the conditions the premiere was held in the congress hall on the Brioni islands, which is so funny when I think of how Orion was most likely the only dog to go inside, ever.

Anyway, the final idea and finta was at the premiere: we connected my camera to a hidden cable by the window and when finally the credits rolled, Butko - the video D.J. - slowly revealed what the camera saw, then I grabbed the camera and walked through the audience with it, and everybody could see themselves on the big screen like they're in the movie too.

And yeah I am so grateful that Connor is setting up that premiere at New York City, some kid from Split, Croatia has a movie showing in the U.S.A., I can't believe it.

LSM: How did you pick the skateboarders you wanted to feature in « FINTA »? How many of them would you say the video comprises? How was it having them having to face the experimental nature of the process every time - did anyone ever think something like the miniature camera shots were strange? You knew what the results would look like and what you were going to achieve in the moment, but maybe some didn’t?

DC: I picked the skaters who are my friends. That is also one funny thing: you know that situation in the world with "pro skaters", and how when you are a kid, you look up to the pro skaters - you watch them, study them, want to be like them... But at Vladimir, everybody was watching my friends like they are those "pro skaters" kids will look up to. I like that so much. If some kid from Split, Croatia can make a movie, then everybody can.

Without my friends, the film would be shit. I captured and edited everything but they helped me with so much stuff - thank you Luka, Dujma, Ban, Frane, Leo, Stipe, Ivo, Iva, Viktor...

I think around forty-two skaters in total are featured in « FINTA ».

About the process, every idea we would go for - for instance, the mini camera thing - I would always capture and edit on the spot and show them, so everybody knew everything about what was going on the whole time, and sometimes even gave me tips to make it all better.

 

"The trick is to
get to the Riva
promenade without
bumping into anybody"

LSM: This particular section from « FINTA » we’re premiering today revolves around Diocletian’s Palace and Strossmayer Park, both in Split, Croatia; the spots look incredible both as skate spots and as general locations, with some rugged or out-of-reach gems (such as the rooftops). Can you please tell us both the history of those places, and how the concept of devoting a full section of your film to them came together? Some of those areas look very frequented, if not touristic, how difficult was it to get everything done? Is the rooftop spot hard to find and not get kicked out of, again for instance? Do the spots have historic value in the skate scene too? Some of them do look like the kind of stuff the past generations of skateboarders would have skated forever, or is it all a recent approach?

DC: Diocletian's Palace is not meant for skating at all, it's actually highly illegal there, but Đardin park is indeed our equivalent to LOVE Park in Philly - it has ledges, stairs, the best flatground and even a fountain if you are thirsty.

The locations are very touristic; when you're riding around Diocletian's Palace, the trick is to get to the Riva promenade without bumping into anybody - and the floor is so good, and over two thousand years old.

The rooftop is called Vestibul, I didn't even know about that spot up there until I ran into it - you only need five kune to get to the top.

Đardin has been skated from the beginning but Diocletian's Palace, the local skaters don't like it.

For the full history of Diocletian's Palace on YouTube, check this out.

LSM: Unbeknownst to the masses but not to us, you’re quite up there as the world’s biggest fan of P.J. Ladd’s section from « WONDERFUL HORRIBLE LIFE ». What message did you see in that part as a kid? Would you say some of the magic you’re putting in your videos now is an evolution of the one watching that section used to make you feel? How is that era of skateboarding still impacting your aesthetics to this day? The Canon XM-2 has got to come from somewhere...

DC: I do like P.J. Ladd's section in that video, and the message is, if you've watched some older videos in which P.J. talks, he's like "I just eat, sleep and skate, I suck...".

"You don't have
to have a
Sony VX-1000
to make
a skate video"

P.J. was my inspiration for some tricks I did, like the fakie five-o fakie 360 flip out. I first saw that one on the United Nations thing on the Berrics and wanted to learn it, which I did in 2017, but now I'm looking at things completely differently, and I don't mean just skateboarding. In my head, every trick is on the same "rank".

 

Bruno Ban.

Imagine showing a kid who has never seen a skateboarder or skateboarding in their life two T.V. monitors: one showing some guy ollieing up a curb (easy trick), the other a fakie five-o fakie 360 flip out (hard trick).

Both will get the kid to think the same, be it "damn, the board jumped with him, is it glued to his feet?..." or "damn, the board did this crazy flip thing and he still rolled away, what the?...".

But then I can even go deeper - the guy ollieing up the curb, it's easy and he will be equally able to do it twenty years from now but now, the hard trick, I feel like its main purpose is to show off for others.

Twenty years from now, the guy who did the hard trick will most likely be like "fuck, why can't I do that anymore now, I suck" or something.

Nobody will ever do such a hard trick on the way to the store. In retrospect, about this trick for instance I admit I did it for the others - to show off. And nowadays I feel like a lot of people actually share that mindset of skating for others.

Not everybody at all, but there's this trend where for instance if something isn't on Instagram, then it never happened...

The Canon XM-2 is just the camera my friend Bleki gave to me - you don't have to have a Sony VX-1000 to make a skate video.

And full-length skate films - why does one makes a skate video? It has to serve a purpose; for sponsors and brands, the video is intended to help sell their shit, for me it was to explore the possibilities of what's possible to film in this world, what's possible to do and everything. The plan is to trick the viewer into rewatching it many times.

"Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up." (Terence McKenna)

LSM: Thank you for your time Dino! Any shout outs or special thanks? Anything in the cards for the future already?

DC: Thank you Aymeric and LIVE Skateboard Media for putting up with my ramblings.

I want to give a shout out to Nathan Fielder, who was another an inspiration for my film.

Also to Jim Chesnar and all his friends who want to dig up the Lemminkäinen temple and show the planet the Bock Saga.

 

Get your copy of "FINTA" straight from Dino here!

 

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