Cinematographer Explained

What follows is a brief, yet somehow also exhaustive, synopsis of the exact themes, subthemes, objectives and techniques that combined to make each and every section in Transworld’s recent Cinematographer Project so singly epic.

cinematograher dvdThis is not the playlist order of the dvd. I skipped around seemingly at random, so:-

Mike Manzoori

Theme: The fortifying shroud of nighttime.

For many the darkness that follows sunset carries a sense of freedom and abandon, it is a time to let loose.

Manzoori LocationsAll the clips in Mike’s piece are nocturnal and at the end, when the sun rises and the locations pop up on screen we get the impression that Mike traveled all those places during that one, epic, shred heavy night.

We can draw only one conclusion; Mike Manzoori is Santa Claus.

Next I decided to watch,

Bill Stroebeck

Bill Stroebeck’s piece is called Fat Bill is Dead. His Cinematographic (sin-em-at-oh-graff-ik) muse is, in part, New York City. Specifically the gritty New York of the 80s. The imagery through which Bill interprets this drug-addled, destitute era includes such epicness as the Gonz on roller skates and some raw, mind-melting street shredding by some of the best out. It’s a win-win.

Mark Gonzales on rollerskates in New YorkTorsten Frank

Themes: Skateboarding as a form of performance art, grimy rap music, growing old gracefully.

Angry manNotes: Mark Gonzales voiceover. Hand-brake skid into London rap section. Fucking amazing full pipe, Stuttgart electropop easier going than earlier reality check.

Torsten closes with the Gonz talking about self-expression which is, we assume, the first thing on Chewy Cannon’s mind upon switch flipping a bench in a crowded London street. Also featured; Lem Villeman, Benny Fairfax…wait a minute, brainwave! Torsten works for Adidas! Which is great. But it does get me thinking about that most heinous of subjects…


It’s a shame to view everything with the sub woofer of dollars and cents laying down a fat breakbeat under the aggressive melody of skateboarding however, like the Wu said, C.R.E.A.M.

Next I skipped to:

Dan Wolfe

The Wu, weird, is this place wired for sound? Did i say that out loud?

Busenitz back nose blunt 3rd and army cornerOkay opening with banging shit from 2 of my faves Wu-Tang and Busenitz, Wolfe’s cinematography point of view is slanted towards the documentarian, he says so himself. The way I see it Dennis is Platoon Leader, Ramondetta is acting Sergeant and Ernie, Brock and the rest form some sort of crack-shot sniper team. They declare war on the streets, some sort of architectural jihad, and Wolfe is there to capture every fearsome fire fight.

To sum up, if the streets are the French countryside in 1916 then the Real team are the skateboarding Battle of the Somme. Look it up.

RB Umali

RB’s cinematography point of view can possibly be summed up thus:

“Queens representative, dismember your genitals, now you’ve got a pussy, fucking with the general,” keeping with the whole military theme it seems. He continues, “Lungs filled, smoky like a pork shoulder, mash out (?), one second in the 4th quarter. Triple penetrate, pussy need a renovate, fuck ’em like a dog and leave em twisted like a mental state.”

This poetically prefaces and reinforces Eli dropping in off the bus shelter.

Eli drops in on bus shelterThe closing panning shot, of Chaz Ortiz back smithing with the New York skyline backdrop, is visual poetry every bit as beautiful as the lyrical gems RB feels best accentuate his gorgeous clips of Zoo York’s finest pros and talented up and coming young street rippers.

Lee Dupont

Synopsis: Monolithic concrete structures get prog rock seeing to by unkempt, unruly youth of today.

Themes: Hair of varying lengths and states of cleanliness, the sun’s relationship to the earth, grime, speed, flow.

Subtext: Beer, marijuana, manual labour and the erosion of the middle class.

Lee sums it up perfectly himself in the following artist statement.

Lee Dupont's artist statement

Christopher Middleton

Opens with a thunder-from-down-under switch 3 by Louis Marnel and doesn’t let up.

Louis switch three

Notes: Ultra speed. Aussie greats. Use of cars. Apocalyptic? Mad max?

Skater towed by carBrennan Conroy

Fred Gall with a sledge hammer is Brennan Conroy’s clear counterpoint to Stroebeck’s Gonz on Rollerskates.

Notes: Continuing exploration of Habitat. Situation normal. First-rate skateboarding by Gall, Gillette, Syvanen, Suciu, Angel, Khalsa, Janoski, Delatorre, Garcia, Baxter-Neal.

Fred Gall with a sledge hammerBeagle

Themes: Chicken bone.

Subtext: Evolutionary biology.

Beagle is, of course, the name of the ship on which Charles Darwin made his landmark voyage to the Galapagos. Baker Boys filmer Beagle’s artistic viewpoint is a clear Los Angelean reaction to this important historical fact.

Chicken Bone

His segment is therefore a joyous celebration of tricks and a careful observational study of the  kids that are most genetically predisposed to perform these tricks.

Conclusion: Nowison

Jon Holland

Subject matter: The Mafia, hemis, hella-tight tricks, van parties.

Techniques: Stalking and trapping excellent crew-reacts-to-bro-landing-trick shots. Being down to chill after the session.

Power ranger skate mafiaChris Ray

Theme: That dude who smoothly devastates every spot, Evan Smith.

Subtheme: Evan Smith also plays in a band.

Objective: Showcase the world-class ripping of Evan Smith.

Technique: Carefully, expertly film the ripping of Evan Smith.

Evan Smith back lip in amazing line

Benny Maglinao

The Alien Workshop

Artistic objective: Utilize intense rhythmic audio combined with skateboarding so incredibly good that viewers are lulled into an ecstatic, trance-like state, perfectly primed for their imminent abduction.

Wealthy benefactors: Sinister extra-terrestrial beings.

Editing system: Invisible mothership the size and shape of Ohio.

Russell Houghten: A Brief Interview.

Sattelite dishesHi Russell. I just rewatched Cinematographer at home. You did such an amazing job. The finished piece is well worth the bleeding eyes I’m sure the post-production caused. Good work.

Russel HoughtenThanks so much John! I really wanted to try something different for that video and I’m happy with how it came out, definitely eye bleeding editing.

And that wraps it all up in a beautifully crafted, multi-branded trade show lanyard.

Beginning to end The Cinematographer Project is long. This provides value. If time is of the essence then treat cinematographer like a book of poetry, or art, where the poets and artists receive varying levels of financial support from wealthy benefactors. Acquiescing to commerce we can call it. Or we can stop being a smart arse and  just call it a skate video worth owning.

Part 2 of the Joe Pease interview will go up as soon as I sort out these technical difficulties. Also coming soon, an unsettling, eye-bleeding look behind the scenes of Russell Houghten’s Cinematographer Project production.

14 thoughts on “Cinematographer Explained”

  1. I completely misinterpreted DuPonts work, I thought perhaps it was meant to be satirical, mocking technology and current trend of "hipster" photography by overly using effects that resemble instagram filters

  2. Brilliant thematic connection between Gonz on Rollerskates and Fred Gall + Sledgehammer. Good stuff.

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  4. Evan Smith is helping make DC a respectable shoe company once again. his skating is just amazing to watch. The whole video was solid and i definately loved Russel Houghten's and Chris Middlebrook's parts as well (especially because i am Australian myself). The only bad thing about this video is it made me want to skate really bad – and for the next month i cant

      1. because at the ripe old age of 17 i've had to have my big toe nails removed permanently and in order for my feet to recover quickly and fully i need to avoid physical activity, making my feet sweat, putting pressure on them etc. Fingers crossed this ends past toe troubles and i can move on and get rollin again soon.
        Thanks for the reply!

        1. Ah, the old big toe nail removal. Well, it's better than having your entire foot removed so we can be cheerful about that I suppose.

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