Think & Thank (full video)
I believe it was 2001 or 2002 when I first met Matt Creasy. I was riding for this company called Supernaut, as was Atlanta skater Chris Head. Chris and I were out in California for some reason and he introduced me to his buddy Matt who was also out there visiting. After hanging with them both for a bit and hearing about their ATL scene I decided to fly down to Atlanta a few months later to skate with them. They all lived in skate house along with Phil Kent, Nick Turner and maybe Jeremiah Babb was there too, or at least he lived nearby. They were in the midst of filming for Matt’s second video for the Georgia skate shop Ruin, called Nouveau. And whilst I was there (in addition to learning backside smith grinds on their grind box outside of their house) I very quickly realised Matt’s video making skills were something special. After showing me a few rough edits of what he had been working on, the pride he took editing together sequences was apparent, and the way he made titles and his use of different formats really stood out to me at that day and age. So years later when I reconnected with Matt after he’d finished the first Threads video I wasn’t all that surprised at what a masterpiece he’d help create. But make no mistake, Threads is not all Matt Creasy, it’s a collective of like-minded individuals. The Threads Idea Vacuum they call themselves and a few of them were kind enough to speak to us about how they assembled, some past memories of making the videos over the years and a little bit about their 6th video Think & Thank. Read below for an interview with Matt Creasy, Alex Rose and Josh Shupe.
Interview by Will Harmon
So how did the Threads videos begin?
Matt Creasy: I was at a point where I was strongly considering concluding my video making. I had just spent a few years between 2011-2013 working on a video, and my plan was to put my all into it and then pursue graphic work. I had been making videos for almost 15 years at that point, and I just didn’t feel like I could make a clean break from videos, I still had too many ideas and concepts that I wanted to get out.
One of those ideas/concepts was making a collaborative effort with another scene or crew. In reality, it was also going to take a collaboration for me to produce a full length video because of increasing responsibilities. I was extremely lucky in that I clicked with Alex Rose at a time that I was really motivated to make a video with all the ideas I hadn’t yet got out in other videos. I feel like it was a very simple process as soon as I floated the idea to Alex. I remember that the first plans we had to start filming got cancelled due to an emergency in Alex’s family, but after that it was a solid six months of skating every weekend together between Atlanta and Chattanooga.
We did have a very flexible structural blueprint, we wanted to take the collaborative element between Ty Evans and Dan Wolfe from Beware of the Flare. That video really shows the 16mm and voiceover/narrative approach that Ty had with TWS at the time and merged it with the super clean and straight forward/ skate first/ classic soundtrack video style that Dan Wolfe is known for. I wanted to push the hi8 and 16mm and add the narrative/references through text, and Alex really added the super energetic fisheye and crew expansion. In hindsight it was just really opportunistic timing and a shared wavelength for myself and Alex, just a motivation to make a video combining creative positions and crews with a little bit of coloring by numbers as far as taking influence from our favorite videos.
How did you guys meet?
Alex Rose: I met Matt on a skate trip to Atlanta with my friend Chris Scoggins. They had known each other for a long time and I had known of Matt from the classic Ruin videos. I had been filming with some smaller 3-chip cameras but it was on this trip that I used the VX1000 and MK1 fisheye for the first time- filming the two of them.
Josh Shupe: I met Alex when we were in our late teens skating in Chattanooga. I was filming the older guys in town that I started skating with and Alex was filming the younger group of guys he came up with. At some point, we all eventually merged into one big group. Strangely enough, I think the first time I met Matt was also through our friend Chris Scoggins on a trip to Atlanta, but check the tapes because my memory is pretty bad. I knew who Matt was when I met him because of the Ruin videos though. Nouveau was definitely one of the videos I always watched before going out to skate. Still is.
There’s a lot of different filmers involved in this project. How were the connections made to these other scenes and what was the convincing process like to make sure everyone’s footage all went to this project?
AR: The filmers in this video were mostly on board from the start. Ben Schmidt chipped in a ton of Baltimore footage and our homie Kim Scott had some good stuff of Mike Bloodsworth that he contributed as well. Ben is working on a video of his own, so we had a lot of discussion back and forth delegating what stuff would go where, but in the end he came through with the stuff that was best fit for the project. Josh Shupe is on a consistent tear filming with all the Chattanooga guys but also his unique contribution was pulling the Nashville crew; Matt Sharer and his friends into the mix.
JS: The Chattanooga guys are always on it with Alex and I, but like Alex said, I also really enjoy filming with the Nashville crew. My friend Matt Sharer and I worked on a part for a video I made called Conjure, and during that time we became super close. Since I was in Nashville a lot hanging out with Matt I got to know the other Nashville homies really well and started filming them too. Over time that ended up amounting to a good chunk of footage that I knew we could turn into a section for the video. Thankfully they were all stoked in it, so it didn’t take any convincing to make it happen.
MC: The connections have all been very closely related from the beginning of Threads. In the second video, Headcleaner, Chris Thiessen came in and made a ton of connections to threads. One really impactful connection was Taylor Nawrocki, who got Damon Vorce (Co-owner of Politic) to fly him out to come film. Taylor convinced Jason Spivey to come along, and that is literally where the Baltimore connection was made. That followed to Brian Powderly, Sam Shuman, and then Ben Schmidt.
Chris also connected the California crew. He introduced me to John Lindsay and then Mike Bloodsworth, which was the start of the Long Beach and South Bay crew. Mike brought Jestin Davila in, and that is how this group for this video was assembled.
Connections seem to happen very easily and naturally, however convincing people to contribute their best footage is much more difficult. Essentially, we are asking that another video maker put aside their individual vision, goals, or even recognition for a greater good. With the abundance of opportunities available to put a 5-10 minute video together and quickly cycle through the online and social media skate world and receive personal accolades, it can be very challenging to advocate for forgoing that individual recognition. Luckily, we have always been able to have level headed and open-minded conversations and work in compromise to compel all the videomakers involved to buy into the bigger picture. I think the sacrifices of our individual credit that Alex and I have made with threads is apparent and shows authenticity to our pitch that the sum is better than its individual parts.
How do you guys decide on the editing process with everyone? A lot of cooks in the kitchen!
AR: A lot of show and prove honestly. We had an open editing process; almost an editing battle. Who could show the skater or sequence the best? Not much friction though, it was a friendly process. Any of the main contributors that wanted to edit, had to throw their hat in the ring and show off their rough outlines, then if everyone agreed, we would make the edit work for the video. I would say the most back-and-forth edit versions went into Herbert Brown‘s part, which Matt took the win with. It makes sense, his part was the most complex and Matt has the most experience with that stuff. I was really stoked to see the way he arranged it. That being said, Think & Thank is by far the most edits I’ve had to make the final cut for a Threads video.
JS: Seeing the edits come in and then weighing in on them is something that helps the video get stronger with each pass. When someone has a good thing going in an edit or sequence, and we all agree it’s the way to proceed that’s all it takes. I edited a very small part of this video while Alex and Matt built the majority of the timeline. It’s hard to match their ability and output, but I’m happy to try and absorb some of that through osmosis.
Are any of the filmers involved in this full-time paid skate filmers, or for everyone involved is this more of a passion project?
AR: No, no professional filmers in the group. Ben is a student and works with pets aside from filming. Josh works for an insurance company here in Chattanooga administering medical leave, and I work in I.T. for an auto group that has dealerships in Tennessee and Georgia.
MC: We all work other jobs, I work as a settlement negotiator for a law office. Jestin was managing a horticultural operation the whole time we were making Think & Thank.
Personally, I think it’s really a benefit to work with people that have other careers or day jobs totally unrelated to skating. It’s so easy to get burned out or jaded on skating itself if you work closely in the skate industry. I definitely do not want to assert that video professionals lack drive, ability, or creativity, but in Threads we kinda bond over the aspect that we are doing the videos just for us. It may not exactly be a rally point, but I think we do unify on working together on a shared personal goal.
There are a lot of subtle as well as not-so-subtle references to classic skate videos in the Threads vids, and the admiration of Dan Magee’s Blueprint videos is quite apparent, but can you tell us what skate filmmakers have been the biggest inspiration for you guys?
AR: Big inspirations for the video stuff would be Mike Manzoori, Dan Magee, Joe Perrin, Mike Hill/Chris Carter/ Neil Blender for the old G&S and Alien Workshop vids, and Creasy has been a huge influence. I would shout out Mike Atwood, Zach Chamberlain and R.J. Hess as big inspirations for how I approach filming through the years too.
MC: For filming, I have taken a lot from French Fred, Josh Stewart, the misled youth Jamie Thomas with the early MK1 stuff, Dan Wolfe, Zach Chamberlain, and Ryan Dearth, who I learned a lot by watching how he filmed.
For video making style, I also took a lot from French Fred, specifically how dynamic he can be and change his direction and aesthetic from video to video. I also pulled from the Feedback to Modus era Ty Evans with the heavy 16mm usage and fluid transitions that don’t break video by fading to black. Another thing I try to build on is the approach Dan Wolfe used, which is to simplify what’s going on in front of the lens. He put the right skaters in the right setting both aesthetically and suited to their skill set. It reminds me it can be easy to get carried away with video ideas, but ultimately the skating has to be the primary focus. A lot of the time when I start working with new skaters on the videos I can tell they haven’t looked that hard into skate videos; I really like trying to share the the deeper perspective and explain how having a better understanding of what’s going on internally with videos can help their skating come off better on film. In particular, I spent a lot of time with James Coleman and David Clark watching and talking about videos. Those guys have a super deep knowledge of what variables can improve clips: like where to be in relation to the camera, what spots will look right, how to concept the tricks they want to get in a way that will unify a part. There’s a whole cerebral dimension to the videos that can make skating come across better, and I really enjoy that a lot of people in threads have or try to build on that.
Has it been difficult sourcing VX1000s and more importantly the MK1 lens since it’s now been discontinued?
AR: It has at times, although I haven’t seen the worst of it yet. I was able to replace my MK1’s front glass just before Schneider stopped the repair service and I also recently came up on a working VX1000 for cheap.
MC: very much so. For me it’s gotten to the point that I’m not setting myself for the constant disappointment with the camera breakdowns by carrying my Hi8 too, and using it quite a bit.
JS: So, I still use the very first VX I bought at 16 years old. It’s been worked on by Kerry at Video Electronics so many times I doubt it has an original piece left in it, but it’s still holding on. I’ve tried to buy a few over the years to have as back ups or for parts when I find a good deal, but you can see the resource scarcity is starting to affect their price in recent years. The MK1 seems to be on the same path as well. Hard to find one going for a reasonable number. I was also lucky enough to get a new front element put on one of mine before Schneider stopped doing the repair service, but it’s not coming out until the one currently in use is beat to death.
I think the music used in Threads videos is one of the most essential pieces of the puzzle. Do you guys listen to this music all the time or are you constantly searching out new artists/bands that could work to accompany the skate footage?
MC: Music is beyond crucial in skate videos, you can define eras of skate videos by the music in them. The early skate rock, punk, oldies & underground hip-hop, indie rock, jazz, and then things kinda changed in the last decade with all the YouTube searching. The access of crazy extensive catalogs that navigate themselves on the youtube searches really broadened the music you started to hear in videos. I guess you could sort of call it a collective consciousness on how and what music was being searched by videomakers. For this video I wanted to become less aggressive with the YouTube searches and more just on songs and artists I hadn’t gotten around to using in other Threads videos, specifically: Jimi Hendrix, The Clash, James Brown, and The Kinks. Generally, less obscure stuff and more classics to bring a more dynamic range.
JS: it’s a never ending search for music. I’m kind of always listening to music with the intent of ‘could this work for a video?’, but sometimes the best songs just fall into your lap from a random playlist or mix you decided to listen to. Watching old videos is rad because you might hear a band that you forgot about, or just hear a song in a way you hadn’t previously and then try to find something similar. Music is a driving force for skate videos so you gotta come correct.
Can you explain the meaning behind the title Think & Thank?
MC: The title was a super early piece of text we had on a sweatshirt graphic at the beginning of Threads. It means to give and take at the same time in the videos. To the videos, think means create, or try and produce something that is uniquely yours. Whereas Thank is giving recognition to what great things have happened in skate videos, and then trying to include these things like song use in homage, direct reference, or conceptual tactics in the videos. Its kinda the ironic statement on past plus present equals future, it is sort of true for skate videos.
Can you talk about a few guys in the video, why they were chosen?
AR: Sure, I think Herbert made the biggest development in the video. I saw a big improvement on the way he went about his lines and his overall approach with skating while filming with him. He got so much better and more comfortable on his board in the process, always with a great attitude. Of the core group, I think Nick Guertin and Cameron Dell stepped up their own established approach to skating the most. All the normal stuff they would do, they did it bigger, or with a new twist on it. It really shows that you can still progress into your 30s, gave me a lot of hope for the future of skating here in Chattanooga. Need to shout out my friends from Baltimore as well, the way they approach the spots there is a perfect fit. Sam Shuman in particular has a great eye for that stuff, linking the vacant house spots together and showing off a whole block at a time.
MC: Most of my contributions to Think & Thank hinge pretty heavily on Mike Bloodsworth. He was the first person I started working on a part with out here in California, which actually took a little while to find. Mike is like a bowling ball on a steep street when he skates, it is fun to watch in person and on film. I haven’t really filmed with someone to mark a part like that in a long time. It reminds me of skating with a young Justin Brock, the two skate vastly different obstacles and have a pretty different trick selection, but have a really similar approach. Mike always commits and really skates how he films, and he takes direction extremely well.
What was also very beneficial about Mike is his almost infectious enthusiasm and genuine desire for everyone around him to do well. For making a video with a crew that really maybe the most underrated and most important skill sets that someone can bring. That enthusiasm is what brought in Jestin Davila, Josh Wilhite, Jon Morefield, Evan Goss-Baker, James Britton, and Noe Norris all into the fold too. Honestly, the water found its level pretty quickly with going out filming with this group. Everyone was able to truly skate street, like in the backpack and stick to a 4 block area per session way, which is exactly how I prefer to go out nowadays. It was also clear that the group skated well together, which is even more important. I was also really stoked that most of the crew out here went out to Tennessee or Baltimore too, so that they could skate with everyone else in the crew and get to skate the same spots. The willingness to commit effort like that was a big factor in all of them getting significant sequences in the video.
Now that this project is done, already plans for another one?
AR: For sure. It should be interesting, we’re getting a lot of stuff with some new faces. Some friends from out of town have been visiting more often and getting good footage. Some of the younger kids like Warner King are getting better and filming some wild stuff too.
JS: Absolutely! Really looking forward to seeing the next project take shape. We’re fortunate to have such a big cast of people to skate with that we’re able to stack footage at a rapid pace when everything goes well. Adding some new people to the mix is also going to be nice for us and the viewer too. Not only does it breathe some new life in whatever the next project is, but it gives us a chance to play with a new dynamic and approach.
Looking back on all the Threads videos, do either of you have a particular part or section you’re most stoked on?
AR: This question is tough. There are a lot of moments in the series that I could call my favorite, but there is an edit that seems like a time capsule while also accomplishing Threads’ original purpose: After Hartman’s part in the first Threads video; the montage with the Oscar Brown Jr. song. It’s just such an unlikely combination of southeastern skaters from all the different crews. They all live within 100 miles of each other, but up to that point they had mostly stuck together within their respective groups. I love that edit just for the memories of accomplishing the goal of not only uniting what would become the main Threads crew, but everyone within arm’s reach that would put effort into making videos. A lot of that grouping didn’t end up shaking out, but we had conversations and made an effort to expand on nearly everyone in that montage for bigger sections in future videos. Looking back, unifying that regional grouping gave me a lot of confidence to expand into our goal of including skaters from all over.
MC: It would be David Clark from the first Threads. David and I started skating together as teenagers and because of that I think we had a pretty good understanding of each others skating tendencies and patterns, so I feel like I became pretty good at figuring out how to put the camera in the best positions to really catch David.
Right before Threads David and I made a few different parts within about a year (Quiksilver edit, a guest part in Ruin Skateshop Birdwatching, and Bender Hardware Video), and so we had kinda started Threads in the midst of a really productive period. It was also a period in which I think I changed the way I thought about making videos and David changed the way he thought about skating in general. I wanted to be way looser and fluid in the camera movements, which I was hoping would show the changes in David’s skating which I think had become a little more aggressive and had picked up a bit of pace. I also think it is the most effectively I have used Hi*8 stuff in a single part, and connecting back and forth with VX clips.
The first Beastie song “Gratitude”, was David’s idea, and after we got enough footage, and thorough 16mm accents I thought that we could do a two-song part, making a second change of pace song to end the video. This was also a nod to how well Lost & Found included the Hero Second Song move. Ironically, as the real album for Check Your Head plays, the track after “Gratitude” is the perfect counter in terms of the change-up. The end of the elevator scene to the zoom shot 16mm of the push wallride cut long as “Lighten Up” kicks in is my favorite transition of any I have made in a Threads video.
JS: I think David Clark’s part in the first Threads video will always stand out to me. I was just contributing footage to the videos at that time and had no involvement in the editing process. So, when I saw that part and the bass line from Gratitude kicked in, I was hooked. The energy is just palpable in that edit ’til the end.
Will there be a Threads DVD boxset one day?
AR: We definitely need to do something like that. If you play all the videos, they line up seamlessly with the last, as in, the first shots of a new video are always the last shots from the previous. I feel like that has to be done in one big timeline and shown one day.
MC: That is definitely the plan. Like Alex said, we match up the end to the beginning of each video, very much the way horror movies like Jason and Halloween originally did. Naturally, that creates the opportunity to make a seamless one-piece box set. With the 10-year anniversary in the near future, that could be a good chance to pull it off.
Looking forward to it! Thanks guys.