Rob Mentov "Travel Mixtape" / PREMIERE

Rob Mentov - you might remember the name as the one of the man behind the Street Feet edits we used to share on live, a handful of moons ago. Well, Rob was just granted a guest graphic as part of the new Love Skateboards collection, an occasion for which he took some time aside to put together a skate edit for us, filmed in various exotic locations and he even went as far as subjecting himself to our ritual of the 5 W's again, after all thOse years! Stay on the move, Rob.

LIVE Skateboard Media: Some of our readers might remember you as the man behind the Street Feet videos or follow your current activity already, but for those who aren’t, who are you and where are you from?

Rob Mentov: My name is Rob Mentov and I'm a filmmaker based out of Toronto, Canada.

I started out making skateboard videos under the Street Feet brand, which was basically an outlet for myself and the homies out here to work on skate video projects we thought were interesting. I still maintain the brand as much as I can but I‘ve branched out and spend most of my time creating non-skate documentary and narrative projects in places around the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and a few others.

Skateboarding still influences my approach in every project however.

Portrait by Jake Borchenko.

LSM: When did skate filmmaking and photography get into the picture for you, and do you reckon this drive to document your surroundings might have stemmed for your original passion for skateboarding - would you say that's what sharpened your eye and encouraged you to regularly leave your comfort zone in the first place?

Rob: Around twelve years ago now, a couple of my best friends and I bought a VX-1000 after a couple years of skateboarding. It was tough to find a filmer in Scarborough where I’m from and whenever we did film, it was even tougher to get the footage and put it towards something. I think that taught me early on not to rely too much on others in order to create something.

"Now instead of looking for some perfect bank to ledge, I’m seeking out stories of change to hopefully advocate for"

Skateboarding has always been a huge launch pad for my work, both in being able to create something with no resources, to actually using the skateboard to break down barriers with people while in obscure places and trying to get a deeper sense of their perspective. A lot of the time photographers can be seen as outsiders coming in, especially when there’s little time to build relationships. Skateboarding allows you to engage with people who think it’s interesting, you get to teach them a bit and have a mutual dialogue as opposed to remaining one-sided by just taking their photo and leaving. 

This has been incredible helpful in both documentary work and street photography overall and I try to bring my board anytime I'm working on a project for that reason. Skating has instilled the initial seed to learn about other cultures and places but now instead of looking for some perfect bank to ledge, I’m seeking out stories of change to hopefully advocate for through filmmaking and photography. Although I’m always looking for spots as well and putting together a list for future skate trips to, say rural Nepal or Rwanda.

Still by Rob Mentov.

LSM: Where did all this end up taking you thus far? What are some of your favorite destinations you’ve been to, and is skateboarding always a motivation or have you learned to combine it with more general social purposes on your trips and in your projects?

Rob: I haven't gone on a skate trip since the Love trip to Paris last year, and that was a lucky stopover from a project I've been working on in Nepal for the last year and a half. In the last few years I've been traveling to Lebanon, Jordan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Nepal among others.

I think Myanmar was one of the most interesting places I've gone to. Something about the people, and the architecture. The twenty-kilometers-per-hour colonial train that travels for twenty hours through country, or the Myanmar beer that shares the same branding as the country's flag.

"The local skateshop is a dude named Puis who has a mobile shop in a truck and drives around to skate spots and peoples' houses"

I think somewhere between Myanmar and Cambodia, my love for still photography began. It’s also got a really strong scene for skateboarding and the country has been changing a lot over the last while. They have a really hard time getting product out there and the local skateshop is a dude named Puis who has a mobile shop in a truck and drives around to skate spots and peoples' houses. Ali Drummond is doing some really great things in pioneering the scene out there.

The actual act of skateboarding, finding spots and making a clip is always something I aim for but it's usually a non-skate related project that takes me to these places.

That being said, I always spend my downtime at a local skatepark if there is one on country. With any new place you travel to, the skate community is the best resource. It immediately breaks down barriers and friendships begin quickly. Skateboarders generally have a strong sense of what’s going on in their cities and are incredibly smart and informed. They’re pretty much naturally born fixers and have been an invaluable source of friendship and support on these trips.

LSM: Why would you say you’re into more ‘exotic’ or remote destinations than the average skateboarder? You’re interested in more than just skate tourism to the ten best marble ledges in the world, is that right?

Rob: Whether it's for skateboarding or otherwise, I'm far more interested in a more remote or less travelled place. I think it comes down to being about to have an honest interaction with people that's not necessarily clouded too much by the tourism industry. 

Although, skateboarding gives that opportunity to have a really authentic and less surface level interaction when traveling if you look for the opportunity. I think skaters are privileged to have a really unique look at places around the world that other travelers might not get to have.

"There’s so much anxiety and negatives impeding on our everyday lives that I enjoy skateboarding internally for what it is"

Haha, I definitely fall into the group of skaters to search for a more interesting spot for a basic trick over the most perfect ledge to do a difficult trick. Both skateboarding and filming skateboarding for me has always been about the spontaneity. I love filming lines that are adapting to the environment, and changing with every try. There might be a pedestrian blocking the spot or a car or bike crossing path, and I’m obsessed with that interaction between the skater and the world around them. It’s good to see that skate videos are embracing that more over the last few years, rather then setting up some tetra-pack bench in a secluded garage with a generator and spending hours filming the best trick.

I mean, that sort of skating is cool too but it just seems way too stressful for me. At the end of the day there’s so much anxiety and negatives impeding on our everyday lives that I try not to stress out too much about a trick and enjoy skateboarding internally for what it is, rather then trying to film the best whatever on whatever ledge.

Rob Mentov guest board as part of the new Love Skateboards collection.

LSM: What is this new Love Skateboards guest graphic about? What is the photo and where was it taken? What special meaning does it have in your eyes?

Rob: So Joel and Isaac from Love asked Jeff Srnec and myself to submit a black and white 35mm still for a guest series they’re launching in the spring.

I've always been attached to this one taken in rural Peru of a local English teacher staring out into the landscape. It was taken a few years ago on a little Olympus point and shoot. This was one of my first trips outside of skateboarding that really instilled my love for photographing people and cultures. I actually remember taking this one super quickly but loving how it turned out. I usually have take about twenty bad photos of a subject to come out with one relatively usable one, so I was pretty happy with this.

We thought we would pair it with this clip from several countries shot over the last few years. It's always been a collaborative effort at Love and I'm grateful to those guys for considering me part of the family.

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