Rick Charnoski and Buddy Nichols

Rick Charnoski and Buddy Nichols


We should do something we love. Easier said than done for most. Six Stair, Buddy & Rick’s company, does just that… make films & videos on subjects they love… Luckily, they can. Skateboarding-Music-Art- and the list goes on. Follow dreams, they do come true. These two are living proof, but it’s not easy… Mmmkkkaaaayyy…

OLSON: What are your names?
RICK: It’s Erik Phillip Charnoski.

OLSON: Where did Rick come from?
RICK: My parents called me Little Ricky. They named me Erik and never called me Erik, which sucks, because I like Erik.
BUDDY: My name is Coan, it’s Gaelic, middle name, Esbenshade, last name, Nichols. In seventh grade, I was into punk rock and skateboarding and I dyed my hair blonde and everybody called me “Butterhead,” but, in Boston, it’s “Buddahead” so that became “Buddy.”

OLSON: So we’re not running real names. That’s what I’m gathering here.
RICK: “Rick and Buddy” is actually “Coan and Erik.” Buddy and I have talked about it and, in the next film, we’re going with Coan and Erik instead of Buddy and Rick.

OLSON: How did you get involved with skateboarding?
RICK: In 1976, Ocean City, Maryland, oldest city skateboard park in America… the Ocean Bowl was a couple of blocks off the boardwalk and we used to go to the Paul Revere Smorgasbord because we had a large family. My mom would go there, literally, with a trash bag and fill the bag up with food for the week of our vacation. The parking for the food place was right next to the skatepark, so me and my brother, Glen, who also skates, would just latch onto the fence. We were like, “We’re not going to eat.” Finally, Glen got a board at Sundancer, the local skate shop. Glen and I were the youngest of five. The older three were total trouble. Glen and I found skating and that was the end of having to take care of us. Just drop us off at the Ocean Bowl. That’s where it all started.

OLSON: Coan, what about you? Never again will I call you Buddy.
BUDDY: [Laughs] Perfect. I got into skating like everybody in the ‘70s because my older brother did it. We were living in Raleigh, NC, and we used to go to the skatepark there twice a month. My mom would drop us off there for eight hours and we would skate. Then my brother got out of it, so I got out of it. We moved to Boston and, in 1982, punk rock and skateboarding swept through like crazy town. All of a sudden, there were 15 kids with skateboards listening to Minor Threat. Some of my friends were like, “Let’s go see a punk rock show.” I had no idea what that was. It was Mission of Burma and Negative FX and I got hooked. I remember it was all the eighth grade punker kids and I was the only seventh grader that got into it. I made my mom help me shave a mohawk. I was like, “You guys think you’re punk? I’m not even into punk rock and I’ve got a mohawk!” They all started making fun of me like, “You’re a poser. You’re not even into punk rock.” I was like, “This is punk rock. I’m not even into it and I’ve got a mohawk. That’s punk, isn’t it?” Then I really did get into it. I shaved off the mohawk because some kids in Harvard Square called me a poser. I was like, “Mohawks are poser? Well, I’ll shave my head then and actually be cool.”

OLSON: That was in Boston?
BUDDY: Yeah. By ’82, it was just punk and skateboarding. It was a package deal. There was no other music. I remember my brother was a big Clash fan and I wrote “The Clash Sucks” on my Converse high tops even though I still liked the Clash, but the word on the street was that they were English kooks. The Dead Kennedys were out. In Boston, anything from California was out.

OLSON: What about New York punk rock? Was that accepted or not?
BUDDY: Boston and New York? No. Maybe a little Agnostic Front snuck in there because they were similar to some of the bands from Boston, but it skipped right over New York and went to D.C. You could do Minor Threat or Bad Brains, but forget New York. New York was just skinheads that would come up and beat the shit out of the skater kids. That was all we knew about New York. These tough dudes would come to Boston and rough up all the little skate dudes. They would influence the skinheads in Boston who would then say, “Skinheads kicked the shit out of the skaters.” Then that was something.

OLSON: Did it become a feud?
BUDDY: Yeah. Luckily, we had dudes like Jake Phelps and his crew, who were the older skaters and we would watch them and see them fighting back. They all had the same little blonde dreads. I thought Jake Phelps was the coolest dude on the planet, when I was 13 years old, just his look and his deal. I remember one time at this punk show, he jumped down into the middle of the pit and pulled down his pants and spread his butt cheeks and chased people backwards with his bare ass. I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, bar none. [Laughs]

OLSON: Skateboarding and punk rock… Buddy, you were in Boston and, Rick, you were in Pennsylvania?
RICK: Yeah. I’m from Pennsylvania, but everything that has to do with skateboarding started in Ocean City for me. In the late ‘70s, in suburban Pennsylvania, shit didn’t exist. It was all about the coast. When we were back home, my crew was my brother and my buddy, Geoff Graham, and a couple of other dudes. We had to find wood at construction sites because everything was getting built in these new neighborhoods.

OLSON: You were stealing wood to make ramps?
RICK: Always. We were stealing wood and sneaking our parents’ car out when we were way below 16. We were going out to construction sites and loading the car up with wood and driving it back and hiding it. All of a sudden, there was all this wood. Everyone was saying that someone else’s parents paid for it, and then we were building all these ramps. It was a lot of lumber to build ramps.

OLSON: You guys never got caught?
RICK: I never got caught, and I have photos of all these ramps that we built. It was all half pipes with 16 feet of flat.

OLSON: You guys had already developed into the flat bottom ramps?
RICK: Totally. It was all flat-bottom. The more flat-bottom, the better. You were gnarly if you had 16’ of flat and you had time to think about the next move you were going to bust. [Laughs] If it was a scratcher frontside grind, you were going to stand there for 15 minutes and think about the kickturn you were going to do on the other side.”

OLSON: [Laughs] Yes.
RICK: We were just stupid kids. This one time we were driving is this one kid’s Subaru station wagon. He wasn’t really a skateboarder, but he was easy to manipulate, so we got in his car. He didn’t really want to do it, but we needed the wood for this ditch ramp that we made. We were driving down the road and you know when they pour concrete on the road and they have the manholes set up and they stick up? We were driving down the road, and the road ended and we kept driving and landed the car on the manhole pipe that didn’t have any road under it. We messed that dude’s car up. Somehow we pulled it off and never got in trouble, but we were just total thieves.
BUDDY: We were doing the same thing.

OLSON: You were building ramps when you were a kid. You see a site going up and you see the wood and think, “We can get that wood. We don’t have to take all the wood. We’ll just take what we need.”
BUDDY: We just took what we needed. We were usually pretty surgical about it.
RICK: We’d get a circular saw and a rock and smash some nails in there and get some kind of angle.
BUDDY: We were lucky to meet other kids that got into it. By ’83, my buddy, Davey, and I had met these Irish kids from West Roxbury. They had two ramps. Then we stole the wood from three houses down and built a ramp. We moved it in the middle of the night behind the houses. For some reason, we thought that was more stealth going through people’s backyards. We got it to his place in the morning and we’re out there sawing wood to build the ramp. It sounded like a construction site.

OLSON: It just shows your commitment to making it happen.
RICK: You got pretty bored pushing down the street and hitting the rare bank or ditch before you had to build shit. Skateboarding made us good-natured thieves. As kids, we learned that kind of conniving slithery way. We knew we had to make it happen. We knew we had to lie. Our parents gave us a little room because they knew it was a positive thing that we were doing. We were skating. From the beginning, it was the same spirit as it was later making films. We were going to figure it out or we weren’t going to get to do what we liked to do and I didn’t like doing anything else.

OLSON: Yeah, but you got to ride Cherry Hill, Rick.
RICK: Yeah, but Cherry Hill was hours away and I was in grade school. The only time we got to skate Cherry Hill was around Christmas because my mom would go to the Cherry Hill Mall shopping. Cherry Hill Mall was the shit in the ‘70s. It was the ultimate shopping experience. There was a water fountain and an Orange Julius and Spencer Gifts where you could go look at black light posters with girls’ boobs or you could have your mom drop you off at Cherry Hill Skatepark. My first trip there was insane. Brad Bowman and the Godfrey brothers, Jamie and Dean Godfrey, were skating. There was the first Cherry Hill article in Thrasher that Friedman shot. I’m sitting in the background at the Egg bowl and Jamie Godfrey is cracking an air. It was Cherry Hill rarely for me. Otherwise, it was wooden ramps and a parent that was cool enough to let you use their yard to put it in. Once you built a ramp, it was like a beehive of weirdos there every weekend.

OLSON: Once you guys found skateboarding that was it. No. Wait. Buddy, you had already quit once.
BUDDY: Well, the first time I skated was because my brother did it and I did anything my brother did. Then my brother became a full-blown jock. When I got into it later, it was to do my own thing. It’s that classic story. There wasn’t that much going on at home. My mom worked all the time, so the options were to watch TV or watch my little sister or go out and skate all day. It’s the same reason that anyone of our generation will say they started skating and it’s the same reasons kids skate now. A big part of it was that we were searching for a way to be different. We were already losers. I know I wasn’t a hip, cool guy. You were already a loser, but you were trying to give meaning to your loserdom. It was like, “How can I define myself besides being that weird loser that doesn’t like anybody else? I’ll become a skateboarder and get into punk rock and then I’m choosing to be a loser. I’m not a loser because everyone else says I’m a loser. I’m a loser because I say, “I’m a loser on my own terms.”
RICK: Let’s talk about films.

OLSON: Wait. This is called the pre-cursor to getting to where we’re going.
BUDDY: We’re building the foundation.

OLSON: It’s not like you just started making films about skating because you’re filmmakers.
RICK: Well, it was born out of skateboarding. I was always obsessed with documenting skating from day one because of my friend, Geoff Graham. He would always show up and say, “Look at this camera I found in my dad’s basement. We just need batteries to make it work.” He was always taking photos. Every ramp we built and every trip I’ve ever taken and every single ramp and every person, I documented. I still have the photos, including the photo of my first ever backside air riding a Steve Olson board. Thirty-five years later, you were at my house in Brooklyn and I said, “Hey, I need your phone number,” and you wrote it on the back of that photograph. I flipped it over and I almost fell over. The coincidence of that is ridiculous.
OLSON: Okay. Settle. The reason I want a little bit of your background through skateboarding is because it opened your minds to a lot of things in life later on. Do you know what I mean?
RICK: It was commitment.

OLSON: You were building ramps and doing the documentation and doing your own thing and not going with the obvious. How did you guys meet? I’m skipping huge parts that I don’t like to skip.
RICK: The ‘80s were lots of looking at Thrasher and trying to mimic and pretend that we had it going on. We were building ramps and then we got out of high school. What’s the first thing you do when you get out of high school? You get in the car and you go on a road trip. I was like, “Let’s go skate! Let’s drive to Dallas, Texas, from Pennsylvania to skate the Jeff Phillips Skatepark.” That’s when I met Buddy, and Davey Rogers.
BUDDY: We did the same thing. Rick did it from Pennsylvania and we did it from Oregon. We did the same trip.

OLSON; What year was this?
BUDDY: ’89.
OLSON: Skateboarding was happening then.
BUDDY: For vert skating, that was probably its last push. We were still trying to push it.
RICK: The Jeff Phillips Skatepark was still alive, but his park was struggling to keep going.
BUDDY: It was the best thing going though because it attracted a group of skaters from Pennsylvania and a group of skaters from Oregon.

OLSON; It was somewhat of a melting pot that brought you guys together in the middle of Texas.
RICK: I was like, “Jeff Phillips has a skatepark? I’m going there.”
BUDDY: That was the other draw. It was a way to meet Jeff Phillips without being a nerd and cold calling him or something, so we went down there.

OLSON: You can’t just cold call him and say, “Hey, Jeff, buddy, it’s me. Can we go skate?”
BUDDY: This was our plan and you’re going to laugh because it worked.

OLSON: [Laughs] I’m just laughing at the cold call idea.
BUDDY: We were in Oregon and we always went on road trips and the ace in the hole was that you could bring an ounce or two of kill bud.

OLSON: Why only in Oregon?
BUDDY: The weed in Oregon was far advanced from other places. We lived in a place where we could get really good weed for fairly cheap. We were like, “We’re going to go skate Jeff Phillips park. We don’t really have much money, but if we pool our money together, we can buy enough herb so when we get down there we can hook Phillips up with an ounce and he’ll let us skate his park forever.” We didn’t have any money to skate it every day, so that was the plan. We got this kid, Joe, who was 16, to drop out of high school to drive us there. We had Red (Mark Scott) in the car, and me and my buddy, Davey, who I had started skating with in Boston who moved to Oregon right after I did. We got stopped at a checkpoint and they searched the car. I had two ounces of weed stuffed into two cameras in the back. Instead of film being in there, I had stuffed the weed in there, just in case. The dogs were going crazy and they couldn’t find it. We got through it and got to the park and the way we met these guys was that my buddy, Davey, skated for Skull Skates and Dan Tag had just come out with a pro model on Skull Skates. We had no place to stay and Davey walks up to Tag and says, “Oh, hey, man, Skull Skates. That’s cool.” Tag was like, “Hell yeah. Come stay with us.” There were eight of them shacked up in this studio apartment in the ghetto right next to the skatepark, so then there were 11 of us living there. The very next day we met Phillips and gave him the weed and he was like, “Absolutely. You guys just pound on the back door and I’ll let you in anytime you want.” It worked. We became buddies with Phillips and he brought us skating pools and it was awesome.

OLSON: Yes! That is dope.
RICK: From there, we all moved on and didn’t see each other again until later. We didn’t have each other’s numbers or cell phones or Internet or anything. We didn’t run into each other again until 108 Riverside Skatepark that Kessler opened in Manhattan in 1996.
BUDDY: Again, that was the hot spot. That park was teeny, but if you wanted to skate somewhere outside, it was the closest outdoor ramp to skate. I lived in the city, so it was definitely good for me.
RICK: Buddy had moved to New York City from Oregon and I was living in Philly with Tag. Talk about the dark ages of vert skating, the mid ‘90s, forget about it. We went up to the city to ride this little ramp and that’s where I saw Buddy again. I was like, “Wow! After all these years!” How do you forget that voice? I was so jealous of Buddy. I was working at this frame shop with Tag in Philly, and Buddy was talking about how he was getting ready to go shoot a High Times documentary in Amsterdam. Buddy was doing all of this cool shit. I was like, “He lives in New York City and he’s going to Holland and he works for High Times. Damn!” Shortly after that, I sold my part of the frame shop and moved to New York City. I didn’t know what I was doing, but somehow I got this idea that I wanted to make videos. Before I moved to New York, I remember talking to my buddy, Adam Wallacavage, about it and I was like, “I want to make videos.” He was like, “There’s this guy Thomas Campbell who does just that. He’s got a 16mm movie camera and he makes skate videos.” I was like, “Wow. You can do this. You can make skate videos and travel the world.” It was just so abstract.
BUDDY: It’s funny because I met Thomas when I lived in Spain and he was like, “You can make skate videos. Do it.” Thomas was our inspiration to make skate videos.

OLSON: Oh, that’s cool.
RICK: I’m sitting there eating a falafel in South Philly with Adam and I decide that I’m getting a camera. Tag and I buy this little Hi8 video camera and we’re going to share it. We were each going to take a vacation. Tag was like, “I’m going to take a vacation and take the camera.” We each gave one another a vacation because one of us had to watch the shop while the other one was gone. Tag took his first trip down to see Groholski in Florida. Stone Edge was the skatepark and he brought the video camera down there with him. When he came back and I saw that footage, it was amazing. This was his very first video with an on-camera edit. He shot the trip like a vacation video, but he edited the thing on camera. I watched it and I was laughing because Tag is the funniest ever, and then there was the skating. There was some weird noise and you’re at a dinosaur park, and he’s whipping a coconut at a car driving by. It was just stupid shit. I was like, “Oh my god.” He broke down the wall of just going for it. That was the start right there, so I moved to New York City. Fast forward a few years later, and I met up with Buddy. I went and got a job filming the Warped Tour in 1998 because I had nothing to do and I heard there was a job putting ramps together. I didn’t have any money and I needed to get knee surgery and I had no insurance. Same problems as today. I was desperate for work, but I didn’t want to work a normal job, so I went and proposed this video idea to the owner of the Warped Tour, Kevin Lyman. I just went and knocked on his door and said, “Hey, man, I want to make a documentary of the Warped Tour.” I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was down for anything but washing dishes. The dude said yes and he gave me a budget. I went back to New York and I went to see Buddy and he said, “Dude, you have to get gear.” We make this wish list of a camera, headphones, tripod and microphones and I go and buy it. I didn’t even know how to work the thing. It was a VH 1000. It was the shit. The first thing I did was go to Skatopia and I made my first warm-up video called Skatopia. I came back and Buddy had a video premiere for me at his house. I think there was an audience of five or ten people. It was Buddy and his wife, Bella. Bella made some food and it was a sick night. I edited the thing together with his buddy, Johnny A, who later edited Fruit of the Vine. After the premiere at Buddy’s house, Buddy says to me, “I’ve got this idea swimming around in my mind and I’ve been thinking about it forever. Why don’t we go out on the road and film skating? Let’s hit the road.”

OLSON: Wait. Did you do the Warped Tour video?
RICK: Yeah, it’s called Punk Rock Summer Camp.
BUDDY: I had made a couple of vids after I came back from Spain and I moved to Atlanta for a little while, and Grant Taylor’s dad, Thomas Taylor, had Stratosphere Skate Shop and we became friends immediately because Thomas is awesome. He’s like, “I need to make a vid and you’re always hanging around and you’re into this.” He bought a camera and we started filming. That was the first time I ever filmed. Then my wife’s dad gave me a Sony Hi8 camera. I had a camera and Thomas had a camera and we were both filming stuff. Then I moved to New York and made some videos with my buddies and made some videos for school. I was in graduate school taking film classes and then I got a job in TV and learned more. I really wanted to buy a new Hi8 camera and it was like $1,000. I would go to this video store up in Herald Square, once or twice a week, and just look at this TVR 85. One day, the guy was like, “You really want a camera. What’s wrong?” I said, “I don’t have any money.” He said, “Buy this camera and I’ll give you two rolls of film for $60 and you go make a movie.” He was just some cheesy sales guy trying to not let me get out the door without buying something.
RICK: There was the Pac Lab next door that did all the processing for you, so it was a really easy turn around.
BUDDY: The dude at the camera store rigs me up with a kit and tells me about Pac Lab. He said, “Go shoot on this camera and it’s $10 to develop the film. Then go down to Chelsea Flea Market and there’s a guy that sells Super 8 projectors. I ended up springing for a good one for $15 at the flea market. For under $100, I bought two rolls of film, a projector and processed it, and I made a little movie of walking around 14th Street. I was like, “This is amazing.” I incorporated some of that stuff into a couple of videos that I made with buddies. After I saw the Skatopia video, I was like, “That’s really cool. That’s good.” I liked the storytelling with the interviews.
RICK: It started out with the skating but, at Skatopia, the more interesting part was all the shit that was going on besides the skating.
BUDDY: It just so happened that I had this little camera. I said, “I want to do this thing where it’s a skate video with interviews and talking about pool skating and what it means.” When I got psyched on the Super 8, it clicked. All the old footage you see of swimming pools in the ’60s was shot in Super 8. I was like, “I want to take that same idea of the Super 8 family footage around the swimming pool, but now the pools are all empty and we’re skating them, so it looks like an old home movie from the ‘60s, but it’s our home movie about skating. When Rick showed me the Skatopia video, I saw it all come together.
RICK: Buddy was all into Super 8 and he was doing videos like the Beer City video. We were both just chomping away and then we met and it was like, “Oh my god, Super 8.” I used to shoot Super 8 with my dad’s camera and make all these little weird Super 8 films, so I was on the same road. When Buddy showed me his Super 8 footage, I was like, “I used to do that!” I made some weird little art film and got all stoked. My friend, Al Baker, was having a show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and I made a Super 8 movie about stickers. It was basically walking around New York City with Buddy and the Super 8 camera and going, “Is this in focus? Is this blurry?” Everything was out of focus, so we called it an art film, which is always the excuse. The best thing about Super 8 is that the shittier it looks, the better it is. It’s an art film.
BUDDY: So I said my idea to Rick and the funny thing is that I was settled with a wife, and a job working in TV. I was freelancing, but I had a good gig and I was making good money. When Rick was like, “Let’s leave in a month,” I had to say, “Oh, okay, let’s do it.” We left almost right away.
RICK: I went out and shot the Warped Tour video. Looking back it’s funny because we had no idea. We were just stumbling through the dark. They were like, “We’re going to premiere the Warped Tour video at the new Vans Skatepark at the Block in CA.” It had just opened, so Buddy and I got on a plane and flew out there.

OLSON: So they flew you out?
RICK: Yeah. We had a free ticket, so we flew out to premiere the Warped Tour video at the skatepark, and Ice T was there. It was so sick. We’re skating and Rhino was skating the combi with us. I kind of knew Rhino, but Buddy knew him better. Buddy was like, “Hey, we’re getting everyone together after the Warped Tour video premiere to go shoot the trailer for Fruit of the Vine.” This was in ’98 or ’99. We go to the Block and we meet Rhino and Rhino was like, “Let’s go. There’s a pool that’s really good right here, the Orangewood pool.” We go there and start shooting film and we’re putting the microphone in front of people’s faces.
BUDDY: Without Rhino, we would have just been out there randomly shooting ourselves skating. Rhino hooked us up with pools and the people. Fruit of the Vine is Rhino’s deal, in a sense, because he was so instrumental and he shot footage too. He really hooked it up, so we shot the trailer. I remember putting the trailer together. Rick and I couldn’t edit. Back then you had to spend $5,000 on an edit system and our buddy, Johnny A, had gotten hit by a car. He got a $150,000 settlement, so he was like, “I can’t really do any work out in the field now because I’ve got a bum leg.” We talked him into a medium 100 edit system and we were like, “You’ll have tons of work!” The first work was me and Rick, but we didn’t have any money to pay him. Luckily, he wasn’t tripping that hard. He was like, “We’re learning together.” There was no access to video, especially non-linear stuff, at that time, unless you were in film school, which we were not. This was our film school. We edited the trailer and we were watching it and we were like, “Holy shit, this is amazing. This is the coolest thing ever to us.”

OLSON: How long was the Fruit of the Vine trailer?
RICK: Five minutes. We edited the footage and got some music and put titles in it. The most exciting thing was putting in the voice-over from one of the interviews and dropping it under the Super 8 film.
BUDDY: I was so excited I couldn’t sleep at night.
RICK: I couldn’t believe it. As far as I was concerned, we had just made a feature film. We might as well have been watching Apocalypse Now, but way better. It was insane that we pulled that off. We come back with the trailer and we’re like, “We got this. We’re going to take a month-long road trip.”
BUDDY: We went to one of the parties at Skatopia and sold these VHS tapes of the Fruit of the Vine trailer and the Skatopia video together and we were selling them for $20. I think we raised $1,500 to go on the road.
RICK: That was rad for back in the day. People were not making their own skate videos then, especially about pools and Skatopia. Everything we did was a scam too. We went in after hours to this fashion production company in New York City that used to give us work. They made VHS duplicates for the fashion houses and they had a whole rack of VHS tapes. We hooked a deal with the guy to go in there after hours to make copies of the VHS tapes. We borrowed a projector and a beta cam and we projected Super 8 on the wall and shot it off the wall.
BUDDY: We didn’t have any money to get it telecined. We didn’t even know what that was. Then we went out on the trip. We both got credit cards, and it was the first day of the trip. We were at Coco’s in Ocean City and Rick’s camera bag was gone. To this day, we don’t know what happened.
RICK: We had a car full of dudes and we pulled in to get breakfast and stuff got pulled out of the back of the car because we needed to get something. The camera bag had the mother lode: a VX 1000 underwater Super 8 camera, packed with film, sound gear, headphones and microphones to make this movie with and it got left in the parking lot on the first day of the trip. Gone.

RICK: I almost collapsed. Not only did we lose all our gear, I lost all my money and my credit cards. We proceeded to make Fruit of the Vine with our back-up video camera that you couldn’t see through because the screen was broken. We used that for audio and we used this little pocket Bell & Howell Super 8 underwater camera. We had to buy more film because all of our film had gotten lost.
BUDDY: We came back from the trip and we begged, borrowed and stole and we were $40,000 in debt. We ordered 500 VHS copies of Fruit of the Vine. Our buddy, Sloppy Sam, was like, “Why did you get 500? You’re not even going to sell 100 of those things. Who cares about pool skating?” We were like, “Well, aim high.” We got a break for printing 500. It just didn’t make any sense to get less. We ended up selling 7,500 VHS tapes out of my living room.

OLSON: You sold 7,500 VHS tapes?
RICK: Yeah. This was with no internet, no cell phones, no Instagram and no distributor. We were selling VHS tapes via mail. We were putting them in envelopes and sending them.

OLSON: Did it only take a month to shoot it?
BUDDY: No. The trip for Fruit of the Vine took seven weeks and it was 77 pools and a few side trips.
RICK: Fruit of the Vine was where it came together. Buddy and I came back out to have our big premiere and we somehow hoodwinked Adidas into giving us $10,000.

BUDDY: Kessler hooked it up with the woman, Sally, at the 108 Ramp. You could tell when Kessler was going to do you a real solid. He said, “I’m going to pull a card for you guys.”
RICK: He’d act like the Don.
BUDDY: Sally was getting some Adidas money for the clinic at the skatepark that Kess was doing for the kids. He built this park and the main goal was to get the kids skating that would have never had access to skating up there.
RICK: He had the hots for the girl with the money.

OLSON: [Laughs] There you go.
BUDDY: Kessler hooked it up. We get to the rental car place and we didn’t have any money, and we just made one call to the Adidas guy.

OLSON: Do you remember what year this was?
BUDDY: It was ’99. We got to the place on the day before the camera bag gets stolen or left or whatever. We called and said, “Okay, we’re here. We’re about to start our trip. We just rented a car and we’re about to book these plane tickets.” And it was crickets. Nothing. We finally tracked the dude down and he says, “Okay, cool. I’ll see you when you get to Oregon.” On faith, we shot for a month. The whole thing was predicated on getting this $10,000.
RICK: We had Lance Mountain in the van because he rode for Adidas then. We couldn’t believe it.
BUDDY: We finally make it to Oregon and we met up with the Adidas dude and he was like, “This is my last day. I’m quitting. Here’s your check for $10,000. Cash it now.” And he was out the door.
OLSON: That is so amazing! [Laughs]
BUDDY: He gave us $10,000 and we went to the chick’s office that had hooked it up and she hands us a coupon for $500 credit at the Adidas store, so we went and got laced up in some Adidas gear.
RICK: We brought Dogboy and hooked him up with a bunch of clothes.

BUDDY: Then we went back to Burnside.
RICK: We got a bunch of weed and went to the titty bars.

OLSON: Whoa. Did the $10,000 cover the trip?
BUDDY: No, it made it so that we didn’t have to go home though and we could cover it on credit cards after that. We were getting into dangerous territory without it.
RICK: Plus, we had to go home and buy all the gear again.

OLSON: You were also determined to make it happen, due to the trailer.
BUDDY: Yes. We processed all the film at Duane Reed on 4th and Broadway in Manhattan. They were still accepting Super 8 because of NYU. The lady was like, “You know we just take this four blocks down the road to Pac Lab, so can’t you just take it there because this is a real pain in the ass?”
RICK: It was the greatest fumbling-through-the-dark project. Every step of the way of that film, if the next step had not happened, it would not have happened at all. It was a house of cards, the whole thing.

OLSON: It was meant to happen.
RICK: Yes. After that, Buddy and I came home and then we made Northwest and then we made Tent City and then we made Deathbowl to Downtown.

OLSON: Wait. That’s too far ahead. Fruit of the Vine put you on the map, right?
BUDDY: Absolutely. Then we got a few TV jobs for that old Bluetorch channel. We did the Skateparks of Oregon series and then we went to Ecuador and skated that big full pipe with a crew of 12 dudes. We did those two things and that kept us alive in between Fruit of the Vine and Northwest.
RICK: There were not a lot of people shooting and editing skate content back then.
BUDDY: You have to put it in context. These were the only full-blown tranny vids coming out of the year. There was nobody shooting and editing and putting it together and telling the stories. We were just doing it because that’s what we liked. It just so happened that we had zero competition in the game of doing tranny shit.
RICK: Also, the only way that anyone was ever going to see your movie back then was if you’d go out and show it. The experience was shooting and making the thing and then going back out there and projecting it up on walls and having premieres. That’s what we did. We took another road trip and showed it to all the people we had just made it for.
BUDDY: The screening tour was always as long as the tour of shooting it.

OLSON: So Northwest was financed by you guys?
BUDDY: Yes. Adidas gave us $5,000 for that one.
RICK: Somehow we hoodwinked those guys again. With Northwest, while we were up there shooting for Fruit of the Vine, Buddy had grown up with Monk Hubbard and Mark Scott, and it was just like a light bulb went off the same as it did with Fruit of the Vine. It was like, “This is amazing.” These guys aren’t just normal guys. Burnside was the template for all of it, the DIY movement. Then these guys started getting contracts from cities and it was starting to happen. We documented the start of the skatepark revolution.
BUDDY: We started with Lincoln City. In Fruit of the Vine, you see the original first part of Lincoln City getting built. That was the first real skatepark up there in southern Oregon. It was Lincoln City and the other one was Ashland. We were like, “We have to document this shit because this might be our only film.” Northwest was going back and retelling, besides pools, what we thought was the coolest story. It was the next wave of building ramps because all you wanted to ride was tranny after looking in the magazines and seeing you guys skating pools. This was the next step. Now we had grown up a little bit and we realized that we didn’t just have to build with wood. After I moved to Oregon for high school, in the winters when it was raining, we were always looking under bridges for banks and loading docks and anything that was covered. By the time, I moved to Seattle, Monk was up there and some other dudes, like Slim and Smiley, were always looking for a place to build. It was this weird fantasy type thing like, ‘Let’s find a place to build!” It certainly wasn’t my idea. I was just along for the ride. In 1985, Burnside was a place that had this slanted wall. We would go there in the hand-down-wall-ride days because it was dry. It was one of the five or six places on the circuit. That’s when these other cats, besides Red, went down and started it, because it was on the map a little bit already. We went to shoot Northwest just to document something real that only skaters were doing. I mean tennis players weren’t out there paving their own tennis courts. Dudes weren’t out there building baseball fields. If they were, that would have been a cool story too.

OLSON: So it comes all the way around to where Hubbard builds that Houston park. If he hadn’t started this, I would have never gotten to do my sculpture there. I just had to throw that in there.
RICK: Yeah. It’s all connected.
BUDDY: There’s Shaggy on the back of Fruit of the Vine. He’s the main guy that built the Houston park.
RICK: That’s the beauty of the whole thing. It’s the genuineness of the whole culture or whatever you want to call it. The shit is real no nonsense. No one in that circle, you or those guys, ever went into this with some agenda. It was just do it because that’s what we’re doing. To us, what Buddy and I were doing in the filmmaking thing, Red and Monk and those guys were doing the same thing in building skateparks in the same spirit. It was seriously mind-blowing when we came to the realization of the multi-dimensional awesomeness of handmade concrete skateparks with their own rules and their own ways of figuring it out. It was so inspiring. These guys were doing it. They were making it happen. It was changing the whole landscape of what skateboarding was. It was absolutely the truest most authentic expression of all things that skateboarding embodied. It all started with Burnside.

OLSON: So you guys were making films and Hubbard and Red are building skateparks because of the love for skateboarding. It wasn’t because of a contractor doing it to make the mark-up. Northwest covers that and then Tent City was next?
BUDDY: There were a couple of little things in between, but Tent City was the next big thing.
RICK: That was our first commercial gig.

OLSON: It was where you had a budget?
BUDDY: Yeah. It was something we were doing for someone else. It wasn’t purely out of our own brains. We knew Pete Hewitt. We were in his scene and he was in our scene. He and Julien Stranger must have liked the stuff we were doing.
RICK: We were working a gig in midtown NYC and Buddy said, “The Antihero dudes are in town.” They were down at Max Fish and Pete said “Come on down.” We go down to Max Fish and we’re sitting there and I didn’t know anything about Antihero. That’s the funny thing. The whole time we were making these videos, I didn’t know anything about skateboarding. We were just doing it. I didn’t know Cardiel or any of those dudes. I had seen the one Antihero video with the cow on it and they were throwing people off cliffs. I was like, “These guys are scary. They’re like the Hells Angels of Skateboarding.” I was scared of Julien. Pete comes over and we all somehow end up, uncomfortably, at the same table. Pete is like, “This is Rick and Buddy,” and then he walked away. Julien was like, “Hey, so we were thinking that maybe you guys would want to take a road trip with us to Australia and we could do what you guys did with Northwest.” I remember seeing Julien in San Francisco at the Northwest premiere and I was thinking, “There’s that guy Julien Stranger. He’s the dude that owns Antihero.”
BUDDY: By the end of the conversation, it was like, “We’re going to Australia in eight months. By next year, at this time, we will have made a film about going to Australia.” We were still living in New York and then we moved to Los Angeles and did that Antihero trip.
RICK: By the time we made Tent City, it was 2003. We ended up flying up to San Francisco to get ready to go to Australia and we met the whole team. We should have filmed that. It was like the opening of a TV show where you go around and you pick people up in the van and you meet them on the way to the airport. We knew Peter and Julien at this point. I remember we picked up Trujillo. He was like, ‘Hey, dude!” He hopped into the van and threw his bag in the back. I was like, “This is like a cartoon.” It didn’t feel real. We picked up Trujillo and then we picked up Cardiel and then there was Joey Tershay and Matt Rodriguez, and then we met everyone else at the airport. I was taking pictures and I took a photo of all of us on the sidewalk with our boards. All of a sudden, we’re all there at the airport. We were like, “Holy shit. We’re going to Australia!”

OLSON: You were finally going to Australia to make a skate film.
RICK: It was the gnarliest thing. It was exciting.
BUDDY: In three years, from Fruit of the Vine to that, it was just awesome. Our friend, Una Kim, worked for an ad agency and she got us a killer gig in L.A. and that was the whole reason that we could do any of this. We were making plenty of money because we didn’t get paid to make Tent City. Jim bought our tickets and then took the money back out of our royalties. We got royalties for every DVD sold. Up front, we didn’t get paid to make it, so we could have never made it on our own.
RICK: We more or less did it for free, but the Tent City thing was insane.

OLSON: Did you come out of pocket?
BUDDY: No. They paid for everything while we were down there. The only thing was that we were out of work for a month, so we weren’t making money, but we didn’t care. We were more than happy to do it. Even though we didn’t know those dudes that well, we wouldn’t have made a film for any other skate company at that time. We were doing all our own shit. It was like, “Oh, Antihero? Drop everything.” Those two skate videos, F*cktard and Cow are two of my favorite skate videos. We were going to get to make something for that company. We were going to be part of the historical record of these cats that embody the same spirit of Fruit of the Vine and the cats building their own skateparks and everything that we were into.
RICK: It was just a really good coming together of groups of folks. It was tent city. We slept in tents. They skated like animals every day and every night. We drove somewhere and found some piece of dirt to skate. It was cool. We went for a month with no showers. Everyone had a tent and we all had our own little camp going on.
BUDDY: Everyone had a tent except for Bailey. He never had a tent. [Laughs]
RICK: It was something really cool. We camped and skated. That’s all we did.
BUDDY: It was a statement against skateboarding becoming more corpo. At the time, some companies had taken a tour in a rock star bus. We were sleeping in tents, which was fun for us, because that’s what we were all about. We were trying to make films about ‘whatever you see isn’t all there is.’ You make your own reality. You make your own dreams. You make your own scene.

OLSON: Was there any self-pressure to perform? There had to be some sort of pressure because you guys were going up against Cow and F*cktard.
RICK: Definitely. These guys were the best too.
BUDDY: We felt a huge responsibility to portray what we thought was the coolest skate company out there in a way that certainly didn’t detract from that. We didn’t want to take them down a notch. We only wanted to make the legend grow.
RICK: The only pressure was how was our crappy Super 8 thing going to translate these dudes. We didn’t know how it was going to work out. We didn’t know them and we were doing interviews with Julien and Cardiel. It was like, “Okay, interview time.” They didn’t want to talk, so we’d just pull the microphone out when people were talking in the car and try to grab things.

OLSON: Was Tent City where the accident went down?
RICK: Yeah. We got to meet John on that trip and he’s the best dude. We had Julien, Cardiel, Trujillo, Hewitt… It was a pretty serious crew. We were lucky. Right place, right time and it was a really bad set of circumstances to end it.

OLSON: What was next after Tent City? Was it Deathbowl to Downtown?
RICK: No. It was Pearl Jam.

OLSON: I’m just looking for a timeline.
RICK: We did a film with Pearl Jam right after Tent City. We were editing Tent City at the same time that we went to skate pools with Salba and Jeff Ament, the bass player, from Pearl Jam. I had met Jeff at the Hailey, Idaho, Tent City screening. I’m packing up the gear at the end of the night and Jeff Ament walks up and says, “When is it coming out? Where can I get a copy?” I was like, “Get one in the shop.” I completely blew him off. Later, I learned that this was the dude that was going to be down in L.A. in a few weeks and we ended up in the shallow end of the pool with him because he liked to skate pools and he had hooked up with Salba. At the end of the day, we were sitting outside at some Taco Bell and we were getting ready to get in the van and I was like, ‘Hey, man, if you guys ever want to take us out on tour with the band, it would be sick to shoot some Super 8 of the band!” I knew their music and I thought it would be cool to shoot some music film. Buddy was like, “Ssshh. Jeff and I already talked about this.”

OLSON: It was another cold call.
BUDDY: [Laughs] Yeah. It was another cold call.
RICK: We get an offer to go on the road with these guys. It was the same story as Julien. Jeff was like, “Can you do for us what you did for them?”
BUDDY: Jeff is such a rad dude. He’s a skater, first and foremost. With his whole ethos and spirit, he’s a conspirator from way back.
RICK: Pearl Jam was what they stood for again. It was an authentic group of dudes. They own their own shit. They’ve got their own management. They’ve got their own fan club. They’ve got their own jam room. They’re a family and they made it happen on their own and they’ve been together forever. Holy shit. We were just asked by Julien Stranger to make a skate video and now we’re doing this video with Pearl Jam! We were getting these offers from these really respectful people asking us to make films for them. Now we’re going to shoot a music documentary feature-length movie on Super 8. We were like, “How are we going to do this?” Now we’re dealing with high-end audio recordings matched with Super 8 that only runs at 18 frames per second and doesn’t keep good timing. Here we go again. We were walking blind into the toilet bowl trying to make another first.
BUDDY: We bought a Sync Sound Super 8 camera, so we at least had one good camera that recorded sound.
RICK: We rented the other one from a dude in Beverly Hills. To make a long story short, we made an amazing film with those guys. It’s called Vote For Change and it was about a focused stop tour that they went on in swing states before the Bush/Kerry presidential election. Bush won. Ultimately, the film was…

OLSON: Questionable.
RICK: It was questionable, but it happened nonetheless. We went out to document this true story. We jumped in the van. We didn’t go on their bus. We brought Preston Maigetter with us and he was our driver. They would fly and we would drive all night and get there the next morning to the location. We would grab Jeff and go skate and shoot shit. One day we showed up and Neil Young was there. It was crazy. So we made that film.

OLSON: How was the experience as a filmmaker going from skating to music?
BUDDY: It was the same. The breakout skate session just gets replaced by the killer music session. In terms of the vibe, it follows the same sort of arc as a skate film. In retrospect, we could have mixed it up differently, but it worked out. We were just fumbling through it like we fumble through everything.

OLSON: You’re filmmakers and you film skating and you’re shooting action and now you’re filming something that’s more visual. On top of that, you have the audio performance on top of the video.
RICK: There was the audience too, and we had a story to tell, which was, “What does it mean to vote? Why do we have to vote and who is voting?” We’re outside trying to get these political angles and we were just going on our intuition. We were recording people talking and having conversations. It was real, authentic and interesting.

OLSON: When you were making your first little Super 8 films, did you ever think that it would transpire the way that it has?
RICK: No. I never thought that it would, but that was always the goal.
BUDDY: No. When I moved to New York, it was because I wanted to go to graduate school and study documentary film and media, so I was watching the classics of the documentary form in classes. I saw the Maysles’ films and Michael Moore came in one time. We were seeing the old British documentaries that the Postal Service used to pay for and then it was Pennebaker. They are so inspiring because they were really just reporting. They were picking up a camera and pointing it and recording. A lot of the skill is in the editing and storytelling. You get hooked on the storytelling.

OLSON: Yes. It’s also about the subject matter.
BUDDY: Yeah. We set out to make Fruit of the Vine and make these skate films, and the whole goal was to make a skate film and also tell a story that appealed to a more general audience than just skating. We always looked at Fruit of the Vine and Northwest as the films that have the bridge trolls, the dirty bridge rats and you could show it to your mom and somehow translate what you’ve been doing with your life for the last eight years. That wasn’t the ultimate goal, but that was a by-product. Thousands of people have come up to us and said, “This was the first time I ever sat with my dad and watched a skateboarding video and he got it.”

OLSON: He understood.
RICK: That was the most satisfying thing about making films. You get to reach a lot people and a lot of people have personal experiences with watching the films. It’s like, “My girlfriend finally gets it. My parents finally get it.” That’s the stoke.
BUDDY: Speaking of stories like that, my favorite one of all time is this guy that contacted us way back. He said, “Hey, we’re trying to get a skatepark built in our town, but all the city jobs are union. There’s a big meeting at the Union Hall tonight and we have to convince the union that we need to bring in skilled labor when no union member has that skill. Do you mind if we show Northwest because I think that we can translate that and convey the message to these union concrete workers about how rad it is and what we want to do?” Then he emailed me back and said that they convinced them to do it. We played a little part in helping get that thing going and helping to bridge the gap between these union dudes who had never skated a day in their life and just wanted job protection, which makes sense, and the skaters who just wanted a rad place to skate. Through our little part, we brought those two together and that’s the ultimate goal. You can’t really convey that message with skate porn.

OLSON: Within the film, they can actually see it.
RICK: Yeah. They can hear and see the passion that these guys are talking about.

OLSON: It works for those that can’t understand.
RICK: Yeah. Anyone can understand passion and stoke. In storytelling, that’s what you try and convey. Even with the Pearl Jam video, we were interviewing people about voting, Democrats and Republicans, and we were trying to pick out the people who were super passionate or, on the other end, people that were really dispassionate, because people can understand that too.
BUDDY: When you ask if it’s the same as making a skate video, yes it is. You’re just conveying raw stoke, which is what you get from skating and punk rock and building your own skatepark or building your own ramp and making shit happen. Ian MacKaye will talk for six hours about it. He was an early influence of everybody when you talk about something like that.

OLSON: What happens after Pearl Jam?
RICK: Blood Shed.

OLSON: Blood Shed was pre-Deathbowl to Downtown?
BUDDY: It was at the same time. Deathbowl to Downtown went on for three years. It was 2005, 2006 and 2007.

OLSON: How did that originate?
BUDDY: It was Kessler again. There was an article in New York Magazine called “Dogtown East.” Finally, Kessler got somebody to listen to his story.

OLSON: I remember the article. Go on.
RICK: It was the story of the roots of graffiti, Zoo York, and Kessler’s crew in the ‘70s: Crunch, Futura, Ali, Haze and Zephyr.
BUDDY: So that article comes out and Kess had some shuck and jive with this dude at this ad agency. Long story short, they were like, “Hey, do you want to tell the story about New York? We’ve got a little bit of money.” We were like, “Yeah. That sounds good.” We probably hadn’t worked in a month, so we said we’d mess around with it and see what happens. It went in fits and starts for a year or so where we weren’t getting much done.

OLSON: Why weren’t you getting much done?
BUDDY: Because there wasn’t that much there and there wasn’t that much money. This was going to take some serious investigation. Shit was scattered to four corners of the earth. We went back in and said, “We’re going to need more money, but we’ll tell the whole story of the evolution of skateboarding set in one of the most unlikely places, New York.” Instead of setting it in California, which everyone knows, we wanted to tell the story from some weird backward perspective.
RICK: It was the history of skateboarding from a city perspective instead of a beach perspective.

OLSON: Exactly. It was urban and the contrast was huge and interesting.
RICK: Yeah. Skateboarding survived not because it was a beach thing but because it became an urban city thing.
BUDDY: The city became the skatepark. Skateboarding would not have grown if it had stayed this hang-loose-surfer-dude thing or it would have been Pac Sun longboards. We thought it was a really interesting story and Zoo York comes from our buddy, Kess, and he really wanted to tell the story. In a lot of ways, it’s an ode to Andy Kessler, who we all loved.

OLSON: You wanted to do this and Kessler was like, “Yeah,” and then boom.
BUDDY: Yeah. It took us three years. During the last six months, we worked on it full time, but before that we had different jobs in and out because it took so long to gather things. We had to put together a film that spanned 35 years. We had always put together films from road trips.
RICK: This one was feature-length. Deathbowl to Downtown was 88 minutes.
BUDDY: We were doing a film on the history of skateboarding, set in New York, so we felt this huge pressure. It’s funny looking back on that film now and the things that we know. We probably mixed up years all the time and who cares, but when you’re making a film, we had a responsibility to get the timeline right. That’s a pain in the ass. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now that it’s done, but it was like untangling a bunch of cords twisted together. You keep putting it away like, “I’ll untangle that mess when I need one of the cords.” It was like homework.
RICK: It was hell. It was the most pressure in unfamiliar territory. That movie was one thing, of all the movies we’d done, where we were like, “What are we doing here?” It was the structure of it and we had assistants and we were buying archival footage and getting rights to music and interviewing people who skated then. We lived in New York for eight years and I never even talked to any of these people because we had nothing in common. I didn’t know Keith Hufnagel or any of these guys. I was a pool skater. The whole time we lived in New York, we were making movies about California. The second we moved to California, we were making a movie about New York.

OLSON: But you felt pressure? You were rolling into the territory of the unknown.
RICK: Yeah. It was people’s personal lives. We were using their personal footage and photos. Most everybody that we dealt with were going into their closet or under the bed and pulling out boxes of archives and being like, “Here you go.” It’s crazy if you’re just straight up telling a story about New York City, but if you’re going to do a historical documentary about the people that made something happen in New York City, the stakes were pretty high. They could have gotten Larry Clark to do it or people who knew what they were doing or some famous filmmaker, but they hired us dorks, who, at that point, were just choking doing interviews with people sometimes. There were a couple of times where it was like pulling teeth trying to get information from people and get material. Some people just weren’t into it and some people were too into it. They started to think it was going to be their story. Expectations were so high. That was the biggest struggle. We had to keep going back to Kessler and giving him updates. He didn’t want us to mention the company Zoo York at all.
BUDDY: It was like, ‘Okay, dude. Really? Whatever.” So that was pressure.
RICK: We were basically starting where Dogtown and Z Boys left off and taking it up to the present. I think the film subtitle was the Evolution of Skateboarding. The story was how it went from the beach to the city. That is an interesting notion but it took a while to do it. In the middle, to keep ourselves sane, we did one of the most fun projects, Blood Shed, which you were in.

OLSON: Yeah. Did you guys have fun doing Blood Shed? What was Blood Shed for?
RICK: That was for Creature. We were at the Rumble in Ramona and Lee from Creature was there. Sam, Al and Darren were making a video called Hesh Law. They kept saying, “You guys have to do something for the new Hesh Law video.” We were like, “Okay.” Before that, I had wanted to make this movie called Operation Infiltration taken from a Thrasher article. It was the story about these dudes that were on a mission to skate a pool and they ran into trouble with these satanic freaks that live in the house. Buddy came up to me and said, “The Creature dudes really want to do this.”
BUDDY: I told Lee, “Rick has this idea that he’s been talking about filming and it has monsters and horror movie stuff and skateboarding. Talk to Rick.”

OLSON: Cold call Coan comes through again.
RICK: I’m like “Hell yeah!” It was a short film with actors and sketches and comedy.
BUDDY: We go psycho nuts trying to put together this film, again in a new landscape. Everything was pure fun with that thing, until the last few days of the edit. It was the opposite of Deathbowl to Downtown. It was pure artistic release. Deathbowl to Downtown was math and Blood Shed was recess.

OLSON: The completion of Blood Shed took place between Deathbowl to Downtown being completed?
BUDDY: Yeah. One of the reasons it took three years to make Deathbowl to Downtown was we took off four months to do Blood Shed. It was a blast.

OLSON: So you wrote the script?
RICK: Well, the idea came from a story that Mofo wrote. I just rewrote the story more or less and I wrote in all the dudes from Creature. We just kept working it and mulling it over. It just so happened that I was going out with this girl that had some other girlfriends that were willing to be blood sluts. It’s a skate film with a bunch of hot girls that live in the house and come out and kill the boys when they skate their empty pool.

OLSON: Again, an empty pool.
RICK: Yeah. It was so fun. That film, unfortunately, came at a weird time with the Internet. It just didn’t get a chance to get out there. Nobody has ever come up to us and said, “Oh, Blood Shed, sick one, guys!”
BUDDY: It’s funny. Again, we got to work with our ultimate homies, Sam Hitz, Darren Navarrette, Al Partanen, Cranny and E-Man, of course. Hewitt’s got a cameo and Heddings is in there. Gravette is in there and you, Olson.

OLSON: And Duane.
RICK: Yeah. Talk about a dream. Let’s talk about the experience of standing there and directing Steve Olson and Duane Peters in a short film about skating in a pool. That’s like being a kid who likes to play chip and putt and suddenly you’re hanging out with Tiger Woods, like, ‘Hey, dude, chip one over here and then come over here and trip and fall and get up and grab your club.” You don’t get to do that. If you’re some kid in little league, you don’t get to go hang out with Mickey Mantle and jam. We were like, “We’re making a film right now and we’re kicking it off by shooting a scene with Olson and Duane, the original Santa Cruz dudes that got us pumped. This is too much.” To us, that was insane.
BUDDY: Absolutely. Again, we didn’t seriously get into making skate vids until our 30s. We had jobs. Rick had a business and I had a whole deal working in TV. We had a whole life through our 20s and, at age 30, we said, “Let’s make skate movies.”
RICK: It’s what kept us skating. We got to see the world in our twenties through skating and skate trips, but usually when you get to be 30, you’re not really getting ready to pop the cork off the top. We were like, “We’re ready to really do it now.” I was 30 and a couple of knee surgeries in and I was ready to really start making films with all the bros.

OLSON: Skateboarding allows that, for dudes to do it. You had this amazing subject matter.
BUDDY: Yeah. For two dudes in our 30s, we were like, “Living in New York is cool, but we’re only getting to skate five or six months a year. We have to get to Southern California and ride pools. We need to be skating five or six times a week. We’ve got to be skating many, many pools.” We come out here and we’ve got a dream job and dream terrain. Sometimes you just have to say, “Life is too short. We have to get out there and start doing it.”

OLSON: So you do Blood Shed and then you go back to Deathbowl to Downtown?
RICK: Yeah. We finished Deathbowl to Downtown. For a few different reasons, including a bad business relationship that we had with someone, we were cooked after that. We were pretty burnt.
BUDDY: We barely worked for a year after that.

OLSON: Oh really? It burned you out?
BUDDY: Yeah. It came out right at the time when DVDs shit the bed. The internet wasn’t popping enough to where we were going to sell a million copies on iTunes, so that fell at a weird time.
RICK: A lot of things went wrong there.
BUDDY: It was a weird divergence of a lot of not great shit.
RICK: We were like, “What did we do? Could we have done it this way or that way?” It was a weird one. On the other hand, Deathbowl to Downtown got us to Harvard Graduate School of Urban Planning and Design. We got invited by Harvard to come and speak and show the film. We got invited by Columbia University to come and speak and show the film. We got flown to Taiwan and Holland to show it. People responded to that film in a weird way. We went to Harvard and Columbia!

OLSON: That’s absurd.
RICK: It is absurd.

OLSON: It really is absurd, but it makes perfect sense because of the investigation and research done within the urban landscape of design and architecture, but it’s totally absurd from a skateboarder’s perspective of going to those places.
BUDDY: It was another case of people coming up to us all the time, but this time it was street skaters and not tranny dudes and bridge trolls. The street skaters were like, “Dude, I watched this with my family over and over.” People from Europe were like, “I sat down and watched this with my family and they finally understood what I’m into.” If it does that, it’s good. We’re obviously not in this shit for the money because we’re broke. If there’s anything that can come out of it, it’s conveying the story of our life and what we do and what we’re into and what sparks us off on our amazing journey in the world. Having other people being able to convey their own deal through it is awesome.
RICK: The Deathbowl project was probably the least satisfying one to work on because it was like going to school or going to work. We couldn’t just jazz and freestyle it. We had a story to tell and we had a structure. Then we were doing these little commercial projects here and there. Along this whole timeline of making films, there were these other small things happening. Buddy and I have a studio and we were somehow managing to keep the lights on, by begging, borrowing or stealing, this whole time. Then again, we’ve never pitched a job. We’ve only ever been asked. We had this conversation yesterday sitting here trying to figure out what we’re going to do next.

OLSON: Cold call Coan no longer exists. You haven’t actually been cold calling at all. It’s just cold pick up the phone call.
BUDDY: Yeah. After we did Deathbowl to Downtown, we were like, “What did this do for us?” Randomly, we get called by Vans, Steve and Jared, and they were like, “Hey, we like your guys’ stuff.” I think we had done a little thing with Dennis McNett. After that, they were like, “Grosso did a little sales video for us and everyone responded really well. He’s got a great personality. Would you guys want to do something in your freaky style with his freaky style? We think you guys would work well together.” We didn’t really know Grosso.
RICK: The last time we saw Grosso, he ‘borrowed’ $15 from me when he was in the middle of his spinout in the early ‘90s.

OLSON: It happens.
BUDDY: The next thing you know it’s, “Have a meeting with Jeff,” and he comes up to L.A.
RICK: Grosso shows up to have the meeting for Love Letters and that was also the meeting that Julien was having with Grosso to say, “Come to Antihero.” I was staying at a friend’s house and Julien was crashing there. Grosso shows up and it’s a combo of Love Letters and Antihero. We planted the seed for both of those projects in the same evening.
BUDDY: Jeff was like, “Do you have any ideas?” We said, “We can do pretty much anything. It just has to involve you because people love you and you’re funny.” He said, “I’ve got this idea, but it sounds kind of lame. It’s called Love Letters to Skateboarding.” Grosso is so passionate about skateboarding that he teared up when he was interviewing Scott Foss.
RICK: Grosso has almost cried a few times.

OLSON: He’s passionate about it.
BUDDY: He will choke up talking about a handplant that he saw someone do yesterday or he’ll choke up talking about Scott Foss in 1980. He is through and through into skating, so it’s a slam-dunk.
RICK: We all know that Grosso is funny, but you don’t know how easy it is to work with that guy. He’s got it on his mind and he’ll say it. You sit down and turn the camera on and it’s one take. It’s the same as us sitting here and talking to you. It’s not an act. That’s how the guy is when you turn the camera on. The guy is a genius. He knows his history and he’s totally entertaining and he can shit talk the hell out of people and get away with it. He’s just awesome. Love Letters is another perfect storm. The guy knows what he’s doing. Grosso shows up and he can call anyone.
BUDDY: I think the thing that is the most interesting is how amazing Grosso is at it. It’s such a slam-dunk that it happened and we were able to put it together and it gets out there because it has the distribution behind it. It’s pushed out there.

OLSON: It’s insane. It has visibility.
BUDDY: For us, it’s great.
RICK: What’s funny is that Lance Mountain had talked to us a year earlier about maybe trying to do some sort of skateboarding show. It was the kind of thing where we told Grosso, “We’ve been talking to Lance about this.” It got to the point where Grosso had to call up Lance and say, “Dude, we’re going to do it.” The thing with Lance never happened because it was going to be through Fuel TV or something.
BUDDY: Lance was actually writing love letters to Bobby Valdez and posting them in the mail and waiting for a reply.

OLSON: Right. It didn’t happen. What’s going down now?
BUDDY: We’re doing another Love Letters. Love Letters, for the last three years, has sort of been our backbone. It keeps the lights on and keeps us out there. I think we’ve done 45 of them now and we’re working on season six. Rick is also working on a feature film called Warm Blood.

OLSON: There are so many stories of things that have happened in between all of this. From Cambodia to the weird hotel things, just from my knowledge of what has gone down.
RICK: There was a Gus Van Sant film. Olson, by the way, you have been involved with so many of our movies.

OLSON: [Laughs] Yeah. I live down the street and you’re my buddies, so it’s easy.
RICK: We call on you every time we need a weirdo for a movie. [Laughs]

OLSON: Yeah, but what is your real name?
BUDDY: Coan Ebenshade Nichols. [Laughs]

OLSON: Okay. What about your film, Rick?
RICK: Well, the Love Letters take a while to do. You can’t just sit down and get them done. It a multi-month thing. In the gaps of time, since Blood Shed, I’ve always wanted to make a feature film. In the same spirit of everything else that we’ve done and in the same kind of convoluted what-am-I-doing way, I’ve probably wouldn’t have gotten started if I would have known it was going to be this ridiculous, but it’s too late.

OLSON: You’re in.
RICK: I’m in. That came from when Buddy and I were invited to the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2006 and we met a guy and it was the first time that someone outside of skateboarding looked at our film. This guy knows film and he knows the best and he’s like, “You guys are filmmakers.” We were like, “No, we’re not.” He said, “Yes, you are.” He introduced us to Christopher Doyle, who is one of the most amazing filmmakers. He did all the Wong Kar Wai films and Rabbit-Proof Fence and the new Psycho with Gus Van Sant. He’s a cinematographer and he was getting ready to do a new film with Gus Van Sant and he was like, “I want to work with you guys.” Next thing you know, we got a phone call from Gus. Also, on that trip to Australia, we met a guy named Amiel Courtin-Wilson who was a young film director who had not yet made a film. We also met James Hewison who was the one that brought us there. Now, years later, the relationship is still alive and I went to help Amiel make a film in Cambodia. That film ended up getting accepted into the Venice Film Festival and it won an award. We were all there and it was insane. I got to see this scrappy thing get made and I couldn’t believe that we were all now sitting in Venice, Italy, seeing it on the big screen wearing tuxedos with people handing out $500 bottles of wine. It was the same as the parking lot at Burnside turning in to a skatepark. It was the absurdity of, “Look what happens!” So I came back and our buddy, Jocko, puts out this zine called Elk Zine. It’s like an art zine weirdo thing. He sent one out one day and it was like the rewriting of a girl’s journal. We read it and now that’s being adapted into a feature.

OLSON: You’re directing?
RICK: I’m directing and co-writing.

OLSON: Who else is co-writing?
RICK: It’s Amiel, the guy from Australia, who made the Cambodia film, and James, the guy that brought us down to Australia. They’ve also brought the money and distribution for it. As a sideline project, I took that on and we started shooting in December in Modesto, CA. It’s a feature film that people are going to sit down and watch for 90 minutes in the theatre, but the thing is made by skaters with skaters. It’s another skater project, but it’s not about skateboarding. It’s about all these dudes we know that we’ve collected through the years through skateboarding. The guy shooting it is a skateboarder. Now he’s a cinematographer. A couple of the dudes on the crew are skaters. One guy is now a lighting guy. The other guy is the gaffer. Some of the people that are in it like, you and Andy Roy, they’re all skaters. We’re just taking the same weirdo crew of friends that have all kind of grown up and learned skills and trades and filmmaking and we’re going to give it a shot at storytelling. That’s the new project besides the next season of Love Letters.

OLSON: Nice. Done.
BUDDY: See you out there.


Punk Rock Summer Camp-Warped Tour- 1998
Wasted- Beer City- 1998
Fruit of the Vine- 1999
Skateparks of Oregon- 2000
Ecuador- 2001
Tanked- Beer City- 2001
Tobaccoland- 2001
Northwest- 2003
Tent City- 2003
Vote for Change-Pearl Jam- 2004
Random Shorts- 2005
9 lives- Tylenol- 2005
Route 66- 2006
Round Trip Bottle- Red Stripe- 2006
San Pedro DIY. – 2007
Paranoid Park- Gus Van Sant- 2009
Against Me! Live at Six Stair 2008
Deathbowl to Downtown- 2009
Bloodshed- 2009
Fuel TV Pool School- 2010
Straight Traipsin’- Anti Hero- 2009
Don’t Traipse on me- Anti Hero- 2010
Traipse Southwest- Anti Hero- 2011
Frankly Speaking- Anti Hero- 2012
Shorebreak Baby- Anti Hero- 2012
Pearl Jam 20- Cameron Crowe- 2011
Shootin’ The Shit with Neckface- 2010
Time and Space- Tait Roelof- 2010
Time and Space- Dennis McNett- 2010
Bones Brigade Trivia Show- 2012
Love Letters to Skateboarding- 2011-present
Primitive Blast- the Shrine- 2013
Deep River- the Shrine- 2012
Freak Fighter- the Shrine- 2013
Worship- the Shrine- 2014
Tripping Corpse- the Shrine- 2014
Jessup Home Movies- 2015
Anti Hero in Israel- 2015
Warm Blood- in production



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