The class of Greg Hunt’s work — and often personal relationships tied to it — is bound to productions whose influence is profoundly circular. The videos which first inspired Greg as a young skateboarder later became an anchor to the filmmaker who continues to give to skateboarding’s audiovisual culture.
“S.F. and the Place To Be” (Introduction) — Mack Dawg Productions: Sick Boys (1988)
[Part begins at 3:00]
Sick Boys is the video that I’ve realized, later in life, is my guiding light. It inspired me profoundly as a young skater primarily because I wanted to see those people more than anyone: Julien [Stranger], Mick-E [Reyes], Natas [Kapaus] and San Francisco in general at that time. It wasn’t a company video, but even those weren’t common then. I feel like it was made over a longer period: you didn’t get a look into those people, or even just skateboarding like that at that time. Sick Boys was almost — not documentary-like — but there was a lot of what you wouldn’t normally see.
Is it just because that video had such an effect on me that I feel it’s so perfect or is it really that perfect? It’s hard to say. But especially the opening and when the music starts, the way it feels with that footage and music is so good. There’s a lot that felt like treasure as a kid.
I realized later, subconsciously, what I was aspiring to when making skate videos was to try and capture that feeling: the candidness of it. I think that’s why I initially shot a lot of film; I connected more with shooting 16mm than DV. Ironically, I ended up renting a one-bedroom apartment above Mack Dawg’s garage when I worked for DC Shoes. We ended up becoming friends. Skating hadn’t come around to that point yet where people were looking back as much as they are now. I’d ask him so many questions about Sick Boys. I think he thought it was funny that I was so obsessed.
Natas Kaupas — Santa Cruz: Streets On Fire (1989)
[Ed. note: Streets On Fire contains two parts with Natas. The title, Streets Of Fire in the embedded video above is a typo.]
I could easily put Natas skating to “Brave Captain” in here too. Also, Wheels of Fire (1987) — I could be wrong, but I feel he pioneered the video part in that. Natas had two songs, a lot of footage – all groundbreaking and it was shot well with a great soundtrack. That was huge and it took Natas to another level. It’s called a “video part” now, but I don’t think anyone had assembled anything like that before.
Again, because of how much it shaped me, I feel it’s so perfect. That footage of Julien at Benicia is golden. The China Banks and everything they skate together — that segment makes me so happy. That was “my time,” when I was 13-14, and skateboarding was my entire life. Things were progressing so fast and it’s hard to describe what it was like seeing a lot of that stuff for the first time. What Natas and Mark [Gonzales] were doing back then was mind-blowing whether it was in a magazine or video. That China Banks carve over the bench where Natas reverts it last minute — you wouldn’t have expected it. It seemed impossible and the effect that Natas had on skateboarding and a lot of kids like myself was profound because it was like magic.
Of course, skateboarding is still progressing and the level people are doing it at is incredible, but it’s a [form of] progression where everyone is pushing it further. Back then, people were creating things out of the blue constantly.
When I started making videos, there was no rule book. Reflecting back on Sick Boys and that segment in Streets On Fire — I knew if I got close to that, then it would be a good video in the sense of how it felt when I was watching it. I learned pretty early on that that’s all you have – your instinct and your gut – when you’re sitting there alone, editing. [I’m] going off how these old videos made me feel and trying to capture that has given me direction.
Rob Dyrdek — Alien Workshop: Memory Screen (1991)
Rob was one of my favorite skaters when I still lived in Michigan. Workshop was out of Ohio, so there was an awareness that was happening really close, in Dayton. The eccentricities of Memory Screen I didn’t connect with deeply at first in terms of wanting to get into filmmaking or art, but I loved it and watched it a lot. To see Dyrdek skating these parking lots in Ohio – he was a kid like me and that’s what we did — but it seems so far from the Dyrdek I eventually got to know.
Rob was really progressive and definitely the best street skater in the Midwest. There was that connection of someone so close, that was that good, but also there’s so much I love about how his part is put together. The home movie footage of him playing baseball — it’s so epic because that’s actually Rob.
There have been different times in my life where I’ve watched Memory Screen a lot for different reasons. When I started making Mind Field, it was a tricky line to walk wanting to honor Workshop’s visual heritage, but not feel like I’m copy and pasting something out of Memory Screen. There are so many good bits – I wouldn’t even say parts – so many little pieces of that video that are so special and so bizarre.
Mike Daher — Stereo: A Visual Sound (1994)
I moved to San Francisco 1991, so I was exposed to a lot of really incredible skateboarding, but I had never seen anything like how Mike skated. We hit it off right away and ended up being roommates through the time we were filming A Visual Sound.
Seeing Mike skate in person and how high he could kickflip — he could kickflip over a folding chair, which I still think is insane. He was kickflipping over picnic tables [Ed. note: Mike’s part in A Visual Sound contains the first documented kickflip over a table.], switch ollieing stuff, but also it was his control and approach to skateboarding that inspired me. He did the frontside 180 to fakie manual on the Market Street block and that thing was big. Nobody was skating like that and Mike had such a unique style.
He started skating young and grew up in both Jersey and Tampa, plus he was good at transition. He could do Japan grabs four feet high out of a tail stall. I’ve seen him do kickflip melon grabs waist-high on a blank deck with no griptape. He had natural talent mixed with a long history in skateboarding.
That period of time really shaped me not just as a skateboarder, but as a friend and person. I looked up to Mike in every way and he’s one of those people who is a genuinely good human in every way.
Anthony Van Engelen — Fucking Awesome & Hockey: Dancing On Thin Ice (2020)
[Part begins at 3:55]
Having known Anthony and having worked with him so long — where he’s at in life and the reputation he’s created is inspiring. I didn’t know he was working on a video part. I’ll never forget seeing that for the first time, thinking, “Man, I cannot believe he’s going this hard still.” Not that I would’ve ever not expected that, but taking a break from being around Anthony all the time and then seeing him come through with that part blew me away.
Skateboarding, and skating well, is so central to who he is; it’s such a part of Anthony being a complete person. Seeing him now with how F.A. is doing and with his family, it really makes me happy. Having known someone for that long, and experienced as much as we did together, that part cemented his status as one of the greats.
I’m not going to speak for Anthony, but I have spent a lot of time with him and everybody has their own thing which pushes them. How skateboarding fits into his life, and why it’s so important to him, comes from somewhere deep inside. He has this drive to do it and he’s like that with everything. He needs to push himself and I think that defines him in a lot of ways. It’s not because he wants his career to look a certain way; it’s that he needs to go out into the street and film.
Ultimately, it was hard to look beyond the switch backside noseblunt. I had to digest that before I started thinking about the fact that the fucking Green Bench was back in action. That’s twenty years since they first stole that thing! I wasn’t part of the heist, but I was there the first day it was there. It’s such an Anthony thing to have a giant, heavy, curved, steel bench that he’s lugging around. It’s metaphorical for how he is as a person and skateboarder. He sort of needs that thing that’s so inconvenient and difficult to conquer, but still, you’ve got to just drag it out.
It’s not like he likes torturing himself, but he thrives off getting through that torture and into triumph.
Honorable Mention: Matt Hensely (Night Session) — H-Street: Hokus Pokus (1989)
Previously: Zered Bassett, Neil Herrick, Trung Nguyen, Nick Boserio, Elissa Steamer, Casper Brooker, John Gardner, Bobshirt, Brandon Turner, Shari White, Nick Jensen, Tony Hawk, Naquan Rollings, Jack O’Grady, Josh Wilson, Maité Steenhoudt, Jahmir Brown, Una Farrar, Chris Jones, Mason Silva, Beatrice Domond, Mark Suciu, Justin Henry, Breana Geering, Sage Elsesser, Bobby Worrest, Nik Stain, Anthony Van Engelen, Dom Henry, Bing Liu, Andrew Reynolds, Cyrus Bennett, Jacob Harris, Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbert Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams