Spike Jonze’s Skateboarding Legacy

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Spike Jonze is the acclaimed director of films such as Her (Spike won the Oscar for best original screenplay), Where the Wild Things Are, Adaptation, and Being John Malkovich (Spike was nominated for Best Director). He’s also directed some of the best and most well known music videos ever like Bjork’s “It’s Oh So Quiet”, Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” and “Praise You”, Daft Punk’s “Da Funk”, Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”, and of course Beastie Boy’s “Sabatoge”.

But if you’re even slightly involved in the skateboard wold your first thought when you hear Spike Jonze’s name is the amazing skateboarding work he’s done over the years. Spike got his start in BMX co-founding Dirt Magazine and eventually became the senior photographer for Transworld Skateboarding. Since then he’s worked on some of the best and most influential skate videos ever made. Now I’m not going to post every thing he’s done in skateboarding (because it’s a lot) but instead I’ll be posting my personal favorites. I’m going to post these in chronological order so if you want to see his newest, more technical stuff then skip to the end of the post and and work your way backwards.

Little Keenan – Mouse (1996)

R.I.P. Keenan Milton
I’m going to skip over his first couple videos and go strait to Mouse because that’s where I think Spike really started coming out as a creative genius. The special effects in this “Little Keenan” skit aren’t particularly good (it was 1996, and as Spike says in the commentary they had no idea what they were doing), but the idea is solid. And that’s what makes Spike’s work so good, it’s is the simplicity in the ideas and the fun execution.

Woods Skating – Mouse (1996)

Another skit from Mouse has Rick Howard skating through the woods. Again we have a very simple idea that’s well executed. Of course you can see the wooden planks laid down on the ground that Howard is riding on but that doesn’t take away from the skit, plus that’s the sort of mistake that Spike seemed to embrace early in his career. Why have it be perfect when it’s all about the fun.

Charlie Chaplin – Mouse (1996)

I’m going to post a few skits from Mouse because it’s one of my all time favorite videos. Here Eric Koston (one of the best skateboarders ever) and Spike have a fun take on Charlie Chaplin learning to ride a skateboard.

Brothas From Different Mothas – Mouse (1996)

Last skit from the Mouse video, I promise. I love the vibe of this shit and the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with skateboarding at all (except the actors).

Intro – Yeah Right! (2003)

Now I’m going to skip The Chocolate Tour and jump strait into Yeah Right! The intro was filmed at 1000fps and allowed us to see all of the small imperfections of the basic flatground tricks. Nobody had seen skateboarding like this before.

Owen Wilson – Yeah Right! (2003)

Spike Jonze’s Hollywood connections helped get Owen Wilson in this one. This skit started a theme with Spike of blending some A-list actors into the skateboarding world which he continued with Jack Black and Will Arnett in Pretty Sweet.

Invisible Boards – Yeah Right! (2003)

They painted the boards green for this one and made two passes with the camera to key the boards out. What’s really impressive is the fact that they scrubbed out the board’s shadow as well.

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Magic Skateboard – Yeah Right! (2003)

There’s no special effects for this one, just a fun idea. It’s so simple it makes you think, “Why didn’t I think of that!”

Synchronized Skating – Hot Chocolate (2004)

This video features an original song by Bjork (you remember Spike Jonze has directed a few of her music videos).

Fire Session – Hot Chocolate (2004)

What’s cooler than playing with fire…not much.

Intro – Fully Flared (2007)

This intro is absolutely bonkers. Spike brought in his special effects coordinator he worked with on Three Kings to do the explosions. And how about that Mike Mo switch flip at the end, talk about pressure!
Skip to the 12:20 minute mark in this next video for a cool behind the scenes look at how it was done:

Intro – Pretty Sweet (2012)

Drones where pretty new in 2012 and this is the first time I remember seeing them used in a skate video. Needless to say it blew my mind.

Jack Black – Pretty Sweet (2012)

Jack Black is hilarious as the stereotypical skate filmer.

So there’s some of my favorite Spike Jonze skateboard-related videos. The fact that this guy is a Hollywood director, actor, and oscar winning writer and still continues to work in the skateboard world where he started is amazing. You the man, Spike.

2014 Oscars - The show

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