PREMIERE / "Skating Is Easy" / Pete Spooner / INTERVIEW

« Skating Is Easy » is the title of N.Y.C. transplant from Minnesota Pete Spooner's seventh (!) full-length video in thirteen years; you might remember him as one of the names behind the 2006 underground hit « Boondoggle » or the filmmaker behind the more recent « Insano ». Still a VX-1000 aficionado after all these years and consumed by making skate videos, Pete was kind enough to take the time to work with us on the release of Grady Moquin and John Manoles' shared section of « Skating Is Easy », as well as reply to an avalanche of questions; all now LIVE, for you!
LIVE Skateboard Media: Hey Pete, what’s up! May you please introduce yourself, as well as your background in skateboarding and filmmaking? Where were you first introduced to skateboarding, and where are you based now?
Pete Spooner: Hey dude, I'm from Minneapolis, Minnesota but I've been in N.Y.C. since 2014.
I started skateboarding in 1999 and by 2006, I put out my first video. I just put out my seventh video called « Skating Is Easy ». It's pretty crazy.

Crew playback. Ph.: Kevin Horn
LSM: The first instance of my personal attention catching your name was alongside Philip Schwartz’ and Tim Fulton's in the credits of « Boondoggle », a classic indie full-length from 2008. I remember I got it not even realizing it was from a state as underrepresented as Minnesota, on the sole basis of how good the project looked; it’s only later when I became friends with Mike Lemnitzer - who I knew was from Minnesota - and I saw a copy of « Boondoggle » around his flat that I made the connection. Was that your first time working on a skate video, or had you done some others before? I’ve heard of something called « WhoWhat?! », from a couple years prior. Also, what are some of the newer videos you’ve done since (most of which can be watched directly on your YouTube channel)?
Pete: Yes « Boondoggle » was our big one for sure. « WhoWhat?! » was indeed the first one, and it was in 2006.
« WhoWhat?! » was just made by Philip Schwartz and myself; we didn't meet Tim until bit later, before « Boondoggle » came out.
After « Boondoggle », the three of us made « Flow Trash » in 2010. Phil and I did « Debris » together in 2012. « Debri2 » came out in 2014, this all happened in the middle of my move to N.Y.

"There is a rich video history in Minnesota before us, for sure"

« Insano », in 2016, was my first video made while living only in N.Y. - this was also my first solo project. And finally « Skating Is Easy », 2018 - just before the New Year.

Kirian Stone, kickflip nosegrind. Ph.: Kevin Horn
LSM: Had there ever been major local vids to come out of Minnesota before « Boondoggle » blew up? Could you name some, and maybe recommend links to those curious to check it out? By coming out at the right time when the Internet was still young and people more enthusiastic about content, all the while being an effort of impressive quality on both sides of the lens, that video suddenly defined a strong identity for the Minnesota scene, so now I’m curious about what people were doing earlier there.
Pete: Yes, there is a rich video history in Minnesota before us, for sure.
We came into all of this right as skating on YouTube started being a thing. I remember before « Boondoggle » came out, I made a trick tip video for a forward flip that has almost a million views.
But yeah, before the YouTube explosion, Benji Meyer was my idol. He made videos that I still regard as my all-time favorites. Benji was filming a bunch of skaters that rode for a local shop called Fobia. Dudes like Steve Nesser, Clint Peterson, Seth Mccallum and Emeric Pratt to name a few. My favorites were « Anonymous » and « Joy & Pain », which both came out in 2001.

"I've known David since 2003 and I still couldn't tell the two apart"

LSM: You have a legacy of some quite funky video titles. This new one, « Skating Is Easy » - what is the message, if any? Inside joke, actual philosophy, a little of both? Also, where was it filmed? I’ve spotted L.A. clips, so I know it’s not just Minnesota. How did you pick a line-up for this one? May you please introduce the skaters? In the case of this specific section shared by Grady Moquin and Josh Manoles, how did it come about and fall into place?
Pete: [laughs] Yeah, it's a mantra and a joke at the same time. Obviously skating is hard as fuck. I think Pat Gallaher gets the credit for coining that one.

Pat Gallaher, switch drop into 50-50. Ph.: Kevin Horn
I can't remember the inception of it, but all of a sudden it was the perfect thing to say to one of your homies struggling to film a trick, like: "You dude, just know that skating is easy, get the clip, then we'll get beer and tacos, it's that simple". We'd all have a laugh and calm the nerves and it honestly works, everybody should try this at home.
The line-up is Pat Gallaher, Cooper Winterson, Jeremy Murray, Mike Lemnitzer, Kirian Stone, Zach Moore and a shared part between Grady Moquin and Josh Manoles. I have a strong opinion on shared parts. The skaters should have a totally different appearance and those guys do; it was a great pairing. I remember my friend David Jaimes shared a part in this L.A. video with Auby Taylor; I've known David since 2003 and I still couldn't tell the two apart.

Cooper Winterson, backside nosegrind. Ph.: Kevin Horn
LSM: You seem to live full-length to full-length the same way certain people live paycheck to paycheck, talking pacing - as soon as your video is over, DVD’s are printed, and the parts have been uploaded, from an outsider’s perspective it seems like you can’t help but instantly fall into the exact same process again, and start a new project from scratch. You’ve made some many videos over the past decade it looks like you just can’t stop. I know sometimes people are so focused on production, moving forwards and how much work they feel is left to be done, they don’t even realize how much it is that they’ve done in the past, or are currently doing; lacking hindsight because they’re all about non-stop creation. How consumed by skate video making would you say you are? Do you ever get weary of the formula, or do you renew yourself enough for the process to still feel fresh? What would you say is your drive for filming and editing so much?
Pete: I mean yeah, I am totally consumed by making skate videos. I also have a lot of skaters I'm involved with who are pretty motivated to film and take time out of their work schedules to go on trips so its not like pulling teeth, but the people I've filmed over the years has changed a bit. There are some dudes I've been filming since the « Boondoggle » days, but there have also been some that have not totally quit skating, but skating has taken a back seat in their lives. And that's life and totally fine.
I'm thirty-three years old now, but filmers have more longevity than skaters. I work for an airline and get free flights as well as a generous amount of paid time off, so my life in pretty conducive for making skate videos.

Pete & Cooper. Ph.: Kevin Horn
After a video is all wrapped up and it's February and I have a week of work ahead, I'm hitting up the homies and being like "Who's trying to got to somewhere warm?" - and the process starts all over again.
Every video I've done has been a two-year process. The first year is always just filming tricks and after one year, I start to see how the video is gonna be, i.e.. who is capable of filming a full part or who's gonna end up having a shared part or whatever.
The second year has a bit more focus on guiding the video to take that shape and start considering music and design, etc... I get a lot of feedback from people that support me as well as the skaters I film with that they appreciate the full-length video, but I do often think of doing something different. I've wanted to do a shorter video for the last two but then after a year I'm like "Ahh, if I just film for one more year then everyone will have full parts and it'll just be better". We'll see on the next one.

"It all depends on what viable is to you, like what is your goal?
For me, it's all for myself"

LSM: You’ve probably seen the indie (and overall) skate video and media scene undergo a lot of changes throughout the past ten years. Nonetheless, you never changed your approach and keep following the classic process of printing physical DVD’s for sale, setting up a dedicated website, teasing and uploading individual sections last… Would you say sticking to such guns is viable on a level comparable as it might have been, say, in the « Boondoggle » days? Are there still a lot of people actively supporting such projects, or do you insist on doing it the way you like to for the love because it’s part of the process that you enjoy, and you just want the footage to get out there anyway? Any subtle adaptations you’ve had to give from your model of ten years ago, maybe? Do you have a message for other filmmakers still rooting for the VX-1000 / DVD formula in the current times? I mean, that’s probably just as easy as skating.
Pete: Of course everything has changed so much, and is still changing rapidly. I'd say any template you want to follow has and could work, or be viable. It all depends on what viable is to you, like what is your goal?
For me, it's all for myself. I love to do it and I want to continue to do it my way with my friends for pure enjoyment. During the « Boondoggle » days, a younger me wanted to be a "professional filmer" but I don't regret not pursuing that harder. I think we could have done more with « Boondoggle » and pushed it as a brand going forward after its release, but back then I didn't realize how popular it was at the time. YouTube was so new and I didn't realize the views are videos were getting was a lot.

Nate Cameron, frontside noseslide. Ph.: Kevin Horn
After all that, years later, I hear so many people bring that video up to me. In 2009 (a year after « Boondoggle » came out), I went to Barcelona with C.J. Tambornino. We were at MACBA and Madars Aspe and all his homies approached us as C.J. fans and were his hype men while he tried to film a trick on the big four. 
The way I describe the whole DVD sales being a thing still to non-skaters is that it's the equivalent to people who collect vinyl, but in skating. It's still something people out there appreciate. Just don't make too many DVD's, kids; that's a tragedy I've seen before.
LSM: Alright Pete, let’s wrap this up! Any new project you’re working on already, anything we should expect in the future? Any shout outs, last words? Thank you for doing this.
Pete: Yeah, on to the next one. Maybe a shorter video filmed in a shorter timespan this time, but we'll see. I'm just back to filming and seeing how it goes.
I've already made a trip to the West coast after « Skating Is Easy », and am planning a midwest trip in May. 
Thanks for having me. I just want to say thanks to Benji Meyer for showing me that you can make a sick skate video no matter where you live (which was a new notion back then), all the skaters that have been down to push themselves with me past, present and future, and all the people that support my videos.
R.I.P. C.J. Tambornino.

Ph.: Kevin Horn
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