Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dogtown & Z-Boys

Directed by Stacey Peralta and written by Peralta and Craig Stecyk, Dogtown & Z-Boys is the story about the revolutionary group of skateboarders who brought the skateboard back to the public eye in the 1970s as they would set the stage for the world of skateboarding in the years to come. Narrated by Sean Penn, the documentary explores this group of young skateboarders who would take the aesthetics of surfing and put into skateboarding as this group would include Peralta as well as influential skateboarders like Tony Alva and Jay Adams. The result is one of the most enthralling documentaries ever created.

The film is an exploration into the history of skateboarding when it had a brief period of popularity until the late 60s where it was seen as a trend until a group of kids from Southern California would bring it back with the help of a new formula known as polyurethane that created new skateboard wheels that would help improve the performance and traction of the skateboard. Among these kids who would revive the art of skateboarding were Stacey Peralta, Jay Adams, and Tony Alva along with several others as they would bring a lot of the movements they’ve acquired as surfers and infuse it with skateboarding. With the help of photographer Craig Stecyk who would shoot much of the film’s archival footage as well as take photographs, the gang of skateboarders known as Z-Boys would do new things and pave the way to make skateboarding a legitimate sport in the coming decades.

Peralta’s approach to the film is very simple as he would interview many of his colleagues including Z-Boys co-founder and skateboard manufacturer Skip Engblom who talked about the world the boys lived in. Much of it involves a world in Southern California that seems to be ignored where Peralta, Adams, and Alva were part of a small band of surfers that would surf in places that was their own. Once they discovered the new polyurethane wheels and put into their skateboards, they would create moves that they would perfect in various places including abandoned pools during the droughts in California. What the Z-boys would do not only bring back the world of skateboarding but also revive the Skateboarder magazine.

It would also bring back skateboarding competitions where the champions from the 1960s would be destroyed by the Z-Boys as there were complaints from female skateboarders over claims that Z-Boy member Peggy Oki skated like a guy though some claimed she skated better than the guys. It’s among these moments that proved to be very lively and humorous where Peralta uses the archival footage to create a sense of energy as well as some poetry through some of the skateboarding footage. He also reveals how the Z-Boys group disbanded once Skip Engblom was unable to support the group due to his lack of funds as many of them would be sponsored by other skateboarding manufacturers who had money in their pocket. While Peralta and Alva both would emerge into great success where the latter is an icon and the former would create skateboarding videos with Craig Stecyk that would introduce a new generation of skateboarders including Tony Hawk.

With the help of cinematographers Peter Pilafan and Sebastian Jungwirth, Peralta would interview many of his colleagues including those who were fans of that period like punk rock icon Henry Rollins as they’re shot in black-and-white with some backgrounds courtesy of Craig Stecyk in the set design. While many of the Z-Boys are revealed to live comfortable lives, the one person that was considered the big tragedy of the story is Jay Adams as he was a very wild child that loved skateboarding but became troubled by fame and such as he would repeatedly get in trouble as he is also interviewed in the film as a ragged man that lost a lot of his youth.

With the help of editor Paul Crowder and sound editor Dane A. Davis, Peralta infuses a lot of footage to showcase the history of skateboarding as well as the world his band of brothers were in as it‘s told with some humor by Sean Penn who knew them as he is also a fan of skateboarding. One major aspect of the film that really helps drive it is the film’s music as the original score by Paul Crowder and Terry Wilson is very low-key in its electronic setting while music supervisors Deborah MacCulloch and Mark Reiter would bring this very eclectic array of music that largely consists of rock music from the 70s ranging from art rock, punk, new wave, heavy metal, and many others as it just brings a lot of energy to the film.

Dogtown & Z-Boys is a magnificent documentary from Stacey Peralta. The film works not only in talking about the history of skateboarding but also showcase why it is so popular as Peralta and his band of brothers would help revolutionize the sport. It’s a film that manages to make those who don’t know anything about skateboarding will be very interested as well as skateboarders who want to know about the history of the sport. In the end, Dogtown & Z-Boys is an outstanding film from Stacey Peralta.

© thevoid99 2014

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