"GRAINS" / Kevin DelGrosso / PREMIERE

the first time I (coincidentally) caught a glimpse of kevin delgrosso's work he was then still putting into the making of his skate video "grains" (now avaiLable here worldwide and here in europe) might have been sometime, somewhere on the slap message boards. and if it actually was, then you better believe that something as pure as his TRAILER had to stand out amid all the hot industry gossip and the fred gall jokes. strong of its inner country position, as though sheltered from the popular east vs. west coast diptych europeans are most often exposed to and the consequential, common identity crises, "grains" excels at telling a story: that of a strong, organic scene whose actors' general connection to skateboarding has no choice but remaining genuine - arguably the best possible luxury. some honest, local energy finely encapsulated within the product of kevin's hard work of a film, directly crafted after his sharp vision: of course live skateboard media wasn't "just" going to share a chunk of that, we also had to ask a few questions, from across the pond!

LIVE Skateboard Media: May you introduce yourself, and where are you from? Where was your video, "GRAINS", filmed, for the most part?

Kevin DelGrosso: My name is Kevin DelGrosso and I am a skateboarder and video maker from Illinois, USA. "GRAINS" was mostly shot in smaller cities and towns throughout Illinois with Joliet and Peoria being the most prominently featured. We also did some traveling to nearby Gary, Indiana and neighboring states Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and Iowa.

Kevin DelGrosso. Ph.: Michael Spizzirri

LSM: The video is a fifty-minute compilation of insane spots, unseen on the global scene for the most part, all skated very well. The resulting impact is impressive and the video feels like you went on a thousand missions to really secluded spots sometimes, skating just about any little thing you could find. How long did you work on this project for?

Kevin: Iʼd say we filmed around three years for "GRAINS". It wasnʼt until maybe the start of the second year that I had a solid vision, cast, and concept for the video so a lot of the footage you see is from second and third year.

We got in the habit of only taking backroads through small towns whenever we would travel which didnʼt speed up the process but was also how we were able to find such interesting and new things to skate. I think the smallest town we skated and got footage in had a population of three hundreds or so - a town in Illinois called Varna.

Pat Hogan and Kevin. Ph.: Michael Spizzirri

I'm really happy on how much ground we were able to cover and how many original spots in unseen areas we were able to document. But there are still areas we werenʼt able to get to which makes the idea of future projects exciting and keeps us motivated.

"I would actually have a hard time getting people to skate
some of the spots and areas I wanted to cover in the video"

LSM: As a result, "GRAINS" only better showcases the specific intricacies of the locations, as well as their architecture - you get to sense a certain vibe of what it appears to be like living there, there are so many spots including random street obstacles but also obscure porch-to-porch gaps and abandoned houses. So much stuff is being skated, itʼs really like a video postcard. "GRAINS" also features voice-overs from documentaries about the area as to ensure the viewers catches a correct glimpse of it, and thereby correct how it might not qualify as the most frequently represented location in popular skate media. How much was it in the back of your mind that you felt obliged to produce something that was bound to turn into a window into your scene, so you had to make it look good and do things right?

Kevin: There are so many things a skate video can focus on whether it be the hardest tricks, personalities, or new technology but documenting Illinois and attempting to present it in a unique and thoughtful way that had not been done here before was always my main goal with "GRAINS". Most people in Illinois gravitate towards Chicago for skating but I knew from early on that I wanted to showcase as much of the rest of Illinois as I could - all the rural towns and smaller cities that were untapped with potential. You calling it a “video postcard” is really awesome to hear especially from halfway around the world!

Gary, Indiana. Ph.: Michael Spizzirri

The voice-overs came from digging up old educational films about the area. I came across a Gary, Indiana film highlighting how strong the school system there was and how fast the city was growing during the 1950ʼs-60ʼs. Seeing how the skate footage I had already filmed contrasted with the audio in the film told the story of Garyʼs rapid decline so visually - I knew I had to seek out more audio that furthered the viewers look into our area and incorporate it throughout the video.

LSM: May you please introduce us to the most prominent skaters featured in the video? Again, so many different individuals, characters, styles. Plenty of all-timers too, right? Whoʼs that kid who did the wallride off the roof?

Kevin: Eric Thomas and Riley Vaughn were out with me most weekends, missions, and trips. They both put in so much time filming so it was important for them to be prominent throughout the entire video as well as having their own individual parts.

Eric Thomas, backside kickflip. Ph.: Chad Matthews

Eric and I have very similar tastes in skateboarding and both love a good spot hunt. Weʼve worked on projects together in the past and are very in tune with each other's process. The amount of footage he has makes that pretty obvious.

Riley has been the younger kid skating local parks forever and after only a few times street skating he started adapting to the crusty weird spots we would go to and they played to his ability extremely well. In quite a bit of his footage he was only thirteen, fourteen years old. We even had to re-film certain tricks because he grew so much in the couple years of filming, didnʼt want the "Grant Taylor in Mindfield" effect [laughs].

Riley Vaughn, pop shove-it. Ph.: Chad Matthews

Pat Hogan and Seth Neetz were also very prominent throughout the video. They didnʼt get on many trips but kept it close to home and were able to get a lot of footage in their small hometown on spots they grew up seeing and skating together. As rad as a new spot is, it is just as cool seeing someone progress or bring something different to a spot that has been around for years but not utilized as well as it could be. Theyʼve been good friends forever so I knew I wanted them to share a section in "GRAINS" - you can drive around their little town and point out all the little nooks and crannies they skated in the video.

Seth Neetz, lipslide. Ph.: Michael Spizzirri

There are two wallrides off the roof! Ryan Chlumecky melon wall rid it first and the next try after Tommy Lyons straight wall rid it. They actually got it back to back after both battling it in the summer sun for a bit. Love that clip. They both have a good grip of footage throughout the video.

"Driving an hour into cornfields with no knowledge of spots might not be the most organic representation of their everyday skating"

LSM: How was it organizing those filming sessions with so many people in so many different locations? Were some of them more down to hit the streets than others? Do most of those guys naturally skate street spots as much as they did for the video, and keep the idea alive; would you say their clips are a loyal depiction of their organic skating and of the local scene? Who was the most particularly psyched on telling you about their spots and taking you there?

Kevin: I think I was the most psyched on finding spots! I would actually have a hard time getting people to skate some of the spots and areas I wanted to cover in the video. I'm sure a lot of filmers can relate to this. Once in a while a big crew would form but a lot of times it was just Eric, Riley, and I driving around searching for stuff. It wasnʼt until we came back with the footage or photos of the spots that other people wanted to go to them [laughs].

Eric Thomas, 50-50. Ph.: Michael Spizzirri

Other then Riley most of the guys have been involved in past projects or featured in other local videos so street skating was nothing new to any of us. Driving an hour into cornfields with no knowledge of spots might not be the most organic representation of their everyday skating but it makes for good footage and can showcase their ability in new and exciting ways.

The most organic section in the video would probably be the Peoria, Illinois portion. Peoria is pretty secluded from the rest of the state and has a really small but rad scene. There are only a handful of skaters there and with no good skatepark they are always in the streets and skating together whether or not Iʼm there filming. Giving them some shine was another goal I wanted to achieve from the start. Peoria is two hours south of where the rest of us live. It took a lot of weekend trips to make that section happen, along with locals Justin Johnson and Haden Cole contributing footage.

Riley Vaughn, boardslide. Ph.: Chad Matthews

LSM: Technically, everything about the video is on-point, from the VX filming to the editing, the work on soundtrack, and even the photos shot around its creation. What is your background in skating and filming like, and if you were to mention specific influences as far as skate filmmaking (or even cinematography or art in general), who would you say you are into? What were your favorite videos to watch, as of recently?

Kevin: Thank you! Iʼve been involved in making videos locally for the past eight or nine years now, from having parts in them, to making my own, and to contributing to other projects. It has been a lot of trial and error but it led to making "GRAINS" which is something that Iʼm very proud of.

Growing up Joe Castrucci and his work with Habitat and Alien has always been a huge influence. Specifically “Mosaic”. The well-crafted intros, use of film, spots, and art direction are all timeless.

As of more recently, Matt Creasy's video “Birdwatching” and all the Threads Idea Vacuum videos have been on repeat. Their use of text and mix of film, hi-8, and VX inspired many aspects of "GRAINS".

I have to mention our friends doing the Deep Dish series in Chicago, and those Bust Crew guys in Richmond for how consistently they are putting out quality projects too. 

Pat Hogan, yank in. Ph.: Chad Matthews
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