Grey Area

Words: Guy Jones

greyarea_dvdsleeveFor those of you unaware, ‘Grey Area‘ is a delicious visual skateboard buffet, highlighting the often over-looked Polish scene. I recommend the purchase of this dvd for a number of reasons: Firstly because of the rare spots, which means the lines (which are vast) are fresh and exciting. Secondly, it comes with a top soundtrack and thirdly the filming and editing is seriously crisp. You have to congratulate Kuba Kaczmarczyk and Paweł Piotr Przybył who were behind this project as this production is a must see.

When you’re watching rhythmic lines and subjects going fast as fuck, people often don’t notice the filming qualities unless they’re captured terribly. Look out for the styles of recording throughout, as they are often as impressive as the actual content, not to mention the actual aesthetic which is overdosing in dope. The skate skillin’ is complimented with various filler shots namely of wildlife, soldiers and other items of interest and all importantly, not overdone. There’s an impeccable balance.

Some of the skaters that feature in this include Michał Juraś, Krzysiek Poskrobko, Danijel Stankovic, the Polar team and a solid bulk of the Polish and Swedish scene, who are criminally underexposed. The gnar destroyers who are present in this flick make incredible use of the abundance of derelict and raw surroundings. Poland has some beautifully unique architecture which creates lines aplenty. As a result the lads make good use of almost anything in sight and do it extremely well. This is particularly pertinent to my man Michał Juraś, who not only holds down a full part but features in various montages throughout raising his footage count to near on 10 minutes. Some of the spots he skates are barely spots and that makes the appreciation bar peak. True player!

Michał Juraś with one of the scariest looking ollie’s of all time in Wrocław. Ph: Kuba Bączkowski

Michał Juraś_byKuba Bączkowskie

The sections are laid out in such a way that it’s mandatory to watch the whole video rather than skipping sections and each one highlights something fabulous. There’s an abundance of montages including a brief history of the DIY struggles and accomplishments, ‘Back to the 90’s’ and ‘Fun’. The latter alone should entice anyone viewing this review right now to pick up a copy of this film. The content fully justifies the anticipation.

Krzysiek Poskrobko pops a fatty. Ph: Kuba Baczkowski

KACZMARCZYK_FILMING_byKuba Baczkowski

The soundtrack is a banger, ranging from psychedelic rock, raw 90’s hip hop, 60’s sun-hunting sounds and other sub-genres that get you even more hyped on the incredible skating that ensues. Watch the trailer if you need more persuasion, then go out and buy this keeper of a scene video to see some of the most authentic, genuine scenes in Europe. Grey Area I salute you. Ziiiiiing Peaaaace!

Grey Area is available now at various UK skate shops, hunt one out today.

“Grey Area” The Skateboard Movie / The Trailer from Grey Area Video on Vimeo.

The Art of Rap – Something From Nothing

Ice-T’s directorial debut is a documentary of epic yet intimate proportions as he embarks upon a series of discussions with legendary rappers and purveyors of hip-hop in the cities of New York, Detroit and Los Angeles. Not a history lesson per se, the film merely touches on some of the more historical elements of the genre – how it originated, how it progressed and grew – but focuses more on each rapper’s individual process and attitude towards lyrics as well as their theories on why it’s not quite a well-respected art form in the same respect as jazz or blues.

A whole host of MCs offers up insight on their approach towards rhymes and one of the overwhelming features of the film is how we see rappers with actual pen and paper crafting their verse with consideration and diligence. This is not something that the genre of hip-hop often brings to mind. Seeing Grandmaster Caz’ obvious irritation at running out of ink and having to switch pens halfway through his flow is something quite brilliant. His neat handwriting fills the page, albeit littered with F words and N words. Another who is interviewed by the always eloquent and directive Ice-T discusses the construction of a track from the outline of a plot, kicking off with its conclusion and there are also some great shots of sheets of paper with flowchart diagrams tracking the progression of lyrical content. Dr Dre teaches us that Tupac wrote all his lyrics (again with pen and paper) inside the vocal both and then would lay them down immediately.

This film teaches us many things about legendary rappers’ processes and also how they think the genre is viewed and why it’s perceived in such a way. It also brings us a series of original a capellas as the likes of KRS-One, Melle Mel, Q-Tip and Kanye West present original rhymes direct to camera, prompting woops, gasps and general sounds of approval even in a half empty cinema. This is the sort of piece of cinema that should really be shown in schools and universities in years to come but is also a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Sarah Maynard

Element Skateboards ‘Future Nature’

As workers around the world celebrated Labour Day (May 1st) with a well-deserved day-off or a good old riot in the streets depending on your current national economy and austerity plan, Element Skateboards paid homage to their hardworking team of amateur skaters by releasing for a 24hr period only Future Nature. Staying true to their environmental roots, Element decided to build this video around the idea of a David Attenborough wildlife show. They replaced Sir David with Blueprint Skateboards’ chief Paul Shier and invented an entire plethora of pig-latin names for their riders e.g. Accelerus Impossibilus or Gracefullius Awkardus, the tone is set for 37 minutes of top-knotch skateboarding.

With Cole Matthews, Mark Stewart and Ricky Bedenbaugh behind the cameras and Kirk Dianda directing, the Element amateurs give it their best in a bid to become tomorrow’s professionals. Julian Davidson opens the show and demonstrates his love of long rails. Despite the majority of the tricks involving flat metal bars, Julian does find time to kickflip up a hefty set of stairs too. I’ll skip straight to the last skater Nick Garcia here because I honestly thought I was watching Julian again. Rails aside, Nick takes his transition skills and applies them to banks and walls. Nick’s switch noseblunts are a treat and his ollie manual down a bank is worthy of Mosher status.

Back to the order of things, Boo Johnson and Madars Apse have the next couple of parts and each of them is dope. Boo has a very easy-on-the-eyes style that leaves you wishing the editors had put more lines in his section. The handicap ramp ollie to frontside 360 line is an example of Boo’s smooth operation. Madars on the other hand is the round peg in a square hole. He fits the happy blond-haired wholesome image that Element pushes, but he skates like someone brought up on Mark Gonzales and Eastern Exposure tapes. Trading big pop and sun bleached school yards for powerslides and wallie jams, Madars is obviously a Euro in a land of Yanks.

Speaking of Euros, the European Element team get some shine sharing a flow section with their American counterparts. Trent McClung and Nassim Guammaz serve as bookends to a solid section where the highlights include Chase Webb stepping on Nyjah Huston’s coat tails and Tom Schaar getting dizzy with the world’s first 1080°. Not bad for a montage section.

The last amateur to feature in this video is Evan Smith. I leave him till last because I doubt he’s going to stay amateur for very long and will soon join the professional ranks for Element or dare I say it, Habitat? Long droopy hair? Check. Travelling man? Check. Guitar strings? Check. Handsome skating? Check. Evan has been producing some stellar skating recently (c.f. Transworld Cinematographer) and this new section is full of unseen top rate footage that means he’s been putting in the work. Highlights include Evan’s fakie 5-0 variations in various Californian ditches and his Iberian wallie combos.

Some people might find the nature documentary theme of this video annoying but I believe Element wanted to stay true to their game and have a bit of fun at the same time. My personal preference would have seen Skateboard wrangler Bob Sanderson hired to lurk behind bushes and pounce on a few of the riders as they rolled away from afterblack hammers. The 24hr window posting might be a scheme to limit pirate copies hitting the net, but nothing stays offline for long nowadays. Look out for Future Nature on iTunes soon.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis