Posts by Josh Ellis:
Shot (mostly) in 2017 on super 8. A few video clips from 2018 crept in there. The follow up to Film School from 2010.
I also made a zine that (sort of) covered the creation of the film. All photos were shot on film and developed in my bathroom. A few of these might’ve been on the site before, but many were not.
I don’t have the edited master file for any of the early web clips. The earliest one I have the final edit for is number 26, from Aug 2003.
Not too long ago while I was trying to throw away some hoarded crap in my basement, I found a pile of burned cds in a box. On those dozen or so cds were files I must have moved off of my hard drive to make room for newer stuff. In other words, some of the earliest stuff I had ever filmed. The gears in my head started to slowly turn.
I knew on a hard drive somewhere I had the tiny compressed web version of the early web clips. Why not try some forensic files shit and try to recreate an early webclip? I dragged the 320×240 3 meg web clip into the timeline and slowly started puzzling the original clips over it. Eventually I found all the files I needed, and Mini Video 17 was reborn.
Some of the files are kind of glitched out with some dropped frames, but there’s nothing to be done. I was too lazy to 1:1 match the idiotic 2000 typefaces I used, so I used some idiotic 2018 typefaces. Good enough.
Filmed Oct 23, 2000. Ben Vance and Greg Lutzka in Chicago. This was the first time I had ever skated down there in my life. I remember those guys skating away from the car before I could make a mental note of where we parked. This was before cell phones, so I had to follow them or lose them. I thought we’d never find the car again.
I don’t have any photos from that session. These will have to do.
Ben, hucking a big backside ollie. Greg, backside tail at the TF. Before we knew what TFs were. Heiderich Greenhouses. Your griptape would be fucked from the dirt, but it was the best ever. Also a time saver if you needed to pick up some flowers in a pinch for a wedding and/or funeral. Or if you needed to play Wolfenstein 3d on a Packard Bell 386.
A little behind the scenes. Quality year 2000 digital 8 vs year 2000 super compressed web clip. Yeah, that’s the quality you would get after waiting 35 minutes for the file to download. And you liked it! You might even debate on the wiskate forums what Ben says at the end of the video. “Sean Todd bails”, of course.
Lately, I’ve spent all of my allotted internetting time talking about things that happened in times long past. I’ve completely neglected our current era of disappointment and regret. Here’s some photos taken in the year of our lord, 2018. September.
Last time I took a photo here, Bush was the president, my gamer system of choice was the original Xbox (modded – with 120gig harddrive installed – I’d rent games from Blockbuster video and copy them [it was really scary modding the Xbox, I did it myself]), and Pizzy lived mere feet away from me. Fast forward a dozen years, we still haven’t gone back to the moon and Vince did a wallride melon to fakie, and Max did a wallride nollie out at the same spot that I once took a photo at a relatively long time ago. Coincidentally, it was also the first time in a dozen years that we didn’t get kicked out of this spot.
The best natural quarter-pike in Milwaukee. Pizzy found a way. Do you think anyone has ever finger boarded here? It seems like the scale would be off. Finger scale, this would be even bigger than the biggest mega ramp. Is there a Bob Burnquist of finger boarding? If so, I doubt he lives in Milwaukee.
Same day. This goofy vent ledge. It’s not the best spot out, but it looks nice enough in photographs. Vince, switch fs nose. It’s loud when you skate on this thing, and it made some random hero really crabby. If you used it for finger boarding, it wouldn’t be nearly as loud. But again, the scale is off. Is there a Tiago or Stevie of finger boarding? If you can’t land a trick and get really upset, can you finger focus your finger deck?
Tavis again. He was working on a line, so he did this hecka tall nollie tailslide a bunch of times. Does it burn more calories when you skate a tall ledge? Next time I’ll ask Tavis to wear Pizzy’s Fitbit so we can find out.
Vince, no comply. Reportedly facing a moratorium after the year 2018. Sleepy, switch backside kickflip. I actually don’t even recall him ever doing this trick in the past, so it’s somewhat surprising he busted it down the “Love Park Big 3”. If you didn’t get it, that’s a joke. This gap is about 1/5 the size of the Love Park gap. Which was a four stair, of course. What’s your favorite trick down it? If I had to choose, I think I’d go with Wenning’s switch backside 180.
The crew that had assembled in the fountain from Caligula. We were all gathered up so we could dance the night away to celebrate Sky High’s 30th birthday. Biggest crew ever at the spot? Was there any oiled up Greco-Roman wrestling? That’s for me to know…
Also! An interview with me about hi-8 cameras, html, and seeing Baby Shecks skate at Tampa Am – by Matt Wes of Broke Skate MKE.
February 2007. The first video that I made in that year. A new era in a way. I say that because this was the first clip in a long time that had footage that was filmed specifically to use on the website. For the previous few years I had been filming stuff to only put into bigger productions. Maybe we can consider it a relapse. Or a devolution.
When I had first started the site it was the same, filming specifically for the site. There was no bigger purpose, until there was. The web stuff fell off. This was the return.
A small mission to the Batman ditch. An early Milwaukee “street” spot. It was barely standing nearly a dozen years ago when we filmed this. It doesn’t exist at all anymore. All of the dirt under the banks washed away and it collapsed. Anyway, we travelled there with some wood to make a janky roll in so the ditch could be skateable for one of the last times in history. Some minor yard work was needed, and then the crew was able to relive the glory days of the past. Unfortunately no one thought to bring chains and/or jousting equipment for a proper gladiatorial battle of wits and physical endurance.
The Batman logo, seen above, was a true vintage skate rat scrawling from the 80s. “It belongs in a museum!”, isn’t that what Indiana Jones says? If only there was a way to look up famous movie quotes. I hope someone invents a technique soon.
I realized I lied when I claimed I was filming all of this stuff to specifically use it on the website. It was more like a dump of “throwaway” footage, but the opposite. We were deep in the creation of the Beez videos at this point. The footage included in this webclip was too normal/good to be included. I must’ve decided to get rid of the good clips so they wouldn’t go to waste.
This group photo was taken right after I was filmed doing a wallride over a bunch of nude Barbies which Russ later edited to emotionally disturbing experimental music.
Wonks! An important member of the crew at the time. Perhaps maybe even more accurately, a mascot/best friend. Would she care if you came home at bar time reeking of Sparks brand malt beverage and desperation? Hell no, she’d wake up, party, and watch Road House with you while sipping a Hamms. She wasn’t sipping the Hamms, I was. She only drank water. Or Hamms, if you happened to spill some during a heated Dance Dance Revolution face off.
James and I were “street fishing” a lot during this time. It was a private lake, no trespassing posted! We’d park in a church parking lot, air up a two man inflatable “fish hunter”, and carry that thing through the woods to the water. I didn’t know a damn thing about fishing at the time, but it was fun, and we’d catch a bunch of bass while trying to propel the boat with farts and laughter.
Like I said, use the goofy crap in Beez, and the more serious clips for the website. If you’re well versed in the Beeziverse, you’ll recognize this photo is showing a moment portrayed in Beez 2 – Unusual Protocol. I knew Russ would never use a clip of a standard pole jam, so like they say, if you love something, set it free. On this day Mike was truly blessed with the spirits of wackiness, and put on one heck of a silly demo for all to witness.
In all of my years skating in the city, I had never really skated the benches at the PAC too much. I always felt like it was the spot with the scariest bust factor. The cops didn’t mess around back then, I feel like they got so much softer on skaters nowadays.
The period this video was filmed was one of the only times we skated the spot on a somewhat regular basis. I remember this night, James, Gabe and I had some brews, then got on the streets. For me, this was one of my earliest tries at shooting with an off camera flash. The thing sucked, it didn’t use radios, just fired (in theory) when the on camera flash fired. In other words, it worked about 6% of the time.
This photo of James was hiding in the archives all of these years. It took a little photoshop magic to rescue it. I’m glad I discovered it.
Somehow I also remember this session pretty well. It was on new years day 2007, and it was way warmer than it had any right to be. The car lot here had recently closed, and for the first time ever it was open season on the flat bars. I remember being really pleased with all of the cool moves we managed to film. How could such a relatively good spot be skatebable for long? Eleven years later it’s still sitting there. A lot crustier, but still ripe for a rippin’.
That reminds me I forgot to mention that this was the period when we met and started skating with a lot of guys from Illinois. It started with Russ, who I vaguely knew from the 90s punx days, friend of a friend type of thing. He started bringing Gabe up here when we were working on the first Beez. Gabe and Russ knew SAG and Kryger from the local park (pre Jojo I’d assume), and must’ve invited them to get weird for the Beez sequels. It was a FIB fest!!
Back to the topic, we went to the dumb plastic brown bench over the grate with a bunch of people from Illinois. SAG went insane! I don’t know what inspired this vulgar display of power, but SAG showed that bench a thing or three. Which further reminds me, his nickname at the time was “THE ZONE”. The way he attacked that environmentally friendly recycled plastic material explains it all. “THE ZONE!!”.
P.s. I filmed the final clip in the video while I was talking on my flip phone.
The second clip of 2006. This is a direct relation to the clip I wrote about last week, “Brigitte”, also from 2006. The same circumstances as before. It is compiled “greatest hits” footage from the “Hurry Up and Die 2.0” sessions. In other words, clips that were filmed (mostly) after the January 2003 premiere of “Hurry Up and Die”.
Again, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I don’t know why I chose the clips I did. They seem to span the timeframe from 2002-2006. Some were actually in Hurry Up and Die and/or Beez. My only guess why I reused some clips was, it was nearly impossible to post a full length video online at that time. Even Youtube allowed only 10 minute long videos for maximum length. I suppose I just wanted to show off some of the coolest moves I had happened to capture, and this was the only way to do it.
Let me get the first trivia out of the way right away. That “cool” effect in the beginning of the video was me filming through the holes in a Savier brand knit winter hat while zooming in on some trees at Riverside. I’ve always been one for practical effects. Follow @anti_cgi on Instagram!
Behind the scenes in the editing room. Elliott was at his most glorious. Heated sessions of MK2 on the regular. The most unsavory battles were obviously the Jax vs Jax face off, otherwise known as a “Jax Off”. (Credit to Russ on that terminology). My computer sat directly across from this personal arcade. It probably explains why I only made two video clips, clocking in at barely over 4 minutes run time for that entire year. Who’s got time for editing when you’re tempted to relive the arcade glories of the past?
Another issue was the fact that Sparks brand beverage was still lawfully on the market. Fueled by caffeine and GMO corn syrup malt drink, too much time was spent prancing away at the local 80s night, putting on “Rock Man” childrens’ sized Halloween costumes, and just the general process of “getting weird on beer”.
All of those time wasters are true, but it has just come to me that I know the real reason why I failed so badly at making more stuff – the hard drive I had all of the video footage stored on died. I was sat down making a new clip, and the drive went out in a blaze of glory. I have only just now, 12 years later, made serious progress in recapturing all 100 or so of those DV tapes. The moral of the story is, backup! I don’t even know if it was plausible in those days for a normal person to be able to backup gigs of data.
Chicago, 2003, Rock becoming one with the urban fauna. I’d like to imagine the descendants of these bunnies are still running the block. A long line of glory traced all the way back to when Rock gave them a nice little rub. Their verbal histories, passed on from generation to generation, remember him as a king. Their one true living god handing out pets and happiness, asking for nothing in return.
This photo was taking slightly before the ledge to ledge ollie featured in the video. Did upping the cuteness meter help John do the trick? How can we discount the theory? The bunnies were unsure, yet in the end willing to receive the pets only a towering man-god could give. Maybe some sort of bunny magic helped John to hop, hop, hop over the dangerous pit. I hate myself for that. 🙁
This was the time period where this spot was basically some sort of rollerblade mecca. I remember rolling up and there were what must have been 100-200 kids blading their asses off. So many sagged sweatpants. So many terrycloth head bands. The wax on the ledges was inches thick. It was truly a sight to behold. Long before I knew Dave Ruta, I saw him roll up to one of these sessions, say “you guys aint doing this shit while I’m here!!”, and they all bladed their asses out of there. Legendary. Follow @koolmoeleo on Instagram!
John Rockafellow – 50-50. I’ve never exactly liked this photo. My fault, not John’s. The goofy angle just makes the pipe look way lower than it really was. I’m unsure of who filmed the clip. I’ll just guess Pat Forster, I keep giving him credit for all of the other clips, why not.
This was always a difficult spot, and not many successfully got a sweet taste of glory here. John was the first!
Ben Vance – Noseslide. A different day than in the video. Same idea. I always thought it was really cool how Ben tied both ledges together in a line. It’s great how he busts the noseslide in the video in a sort of silly nonchalant fashion. It’s almost like he’s laughing at it on the way down.
James has a long and sordid history with his friend, the frontside board, on this rail. Or is the rail his friend? I’ve seen this rail do things to him that a true friend would never do. The rail is definitely not his friend.
It seems he spent his teens and twenties coming here to catch a thrill whenever the need struck him. Quizzing my own brain, I can think of several different times he came here for a wild ride. The smith in the video was the wildest of them all. He took a beating like Rocky did from Apollo. Even though he could hardly walk for days after the smith battle, just like Rocky, victory was his.
“The Ender”. A trip to Madison. Greg was going ham like that chomping monster shown at the end of Hellraiser. “Never enough.”, Russ’ favorite quote from the movie applies. I’m not well versed in Madison “ABDs”, but as far as I know he was the first to kickflip and frontside flip over the rail here. I was filming, Pat Forster shot the photo on my camera. This photo shows a frontside flip down the stairs, sans rail, which I don’t remember happening. Did I film it? No idea. There’s another photo which looks like a frontside 180 over the rail, but I guess it’s the frontside flip taken just a touch too late. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. If anyone wants to discuss Lord of the Rings, I’ve been rereading the series for the first time in almost two decades. There are a lot more differences between the books and the movies than I remembered.
We’re coming up on the 20th damn anniversary of this website real soon. I’m not quite sure how to celebrate such a thing, but a rehash of our web clips from the past comes to mind. A lot of these clips, especially the earlier ones, have never been on the internet in high quality. Think 320×240, super high compression, long download times.
My original idea was to begin as far back as I could go, and also dig up photos and other related memorobilia that could pertain to the video at hand. Unfortunately the earliest videos were also filmed when photos were shot on film, and I’m definitely way too lazy to try to dig through that stuff and try to discover the so called photographic gold.
The earliest clip that was made after digital still cameras came into my life was from April 2006. Mini Video 33 – Brigitte. Filmed on a Canon GL1. Edited on a PC program called Ulead Video Studio Pro, which I remember being like a half assed copy of Final Cut Pro. This was the first time I used French pop music from the 60s, which has turned into one of my most predictable editing moves over the years. The song is by Brigitte Bardot, which explains the mysterious(?) title of the clip.
This video is actually a really bad example of what I’m trying to accomplish with this series of web posts, let me explain.
In January 2003 we premiered my first full length video “Hurry Up and Die”. Instead of calling it a day and putting out the video as it was (I even had the VHS box artwork in hand!), we decided to keep filming and upgrade the video with better clips. In retrospect we fucked up, no end date was chosen, so there was no way to know when this improved version of the video was finished.
Eventually, it was already years past the premiere and obviously “Hurry Up and Die 2.0” would never be done, so I decided to dump the clips onto the web. That makes this video a “greatest hits” of the clips filmed after the premiere of “Hurry Up and Die”. I kind of question how or why I chose the clips I chose, it seems like they range from 2003 up to 2006, which is when this clip was created. There really doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it. I think a couple of the clips were even in one of the “Beez” videos.
All those words later, my point is, I don’t exactly have photos that match up with the things portrayed in this video. I dug through the hoard as well as I could. Some of these finds make some sense, some are a stretch. I did my best.
Ben Vance – Ollie. Shot on set during the creation of Hurry Up and Die 2.0. The video shows a 180, the photo an ollie. I think Pat Forster filmed the clip while I shot the photo. I don’t recall footage of the straight ollie existing, but my brain is no longer working so well, it might exist.
This was the worst spot ever. Ben is popping his ollie off of some crappy sheets of plywood he threw over the unskateable run up.
The crew! Ben, Rock, Willy, Aaron, Nate. All key members of this video production. I believe here we were watching some sports. A pretty uncharacteristic thing to be doing at my house. This was the GAME ROOM, for gamers only. At this moment in time I think everyone in this picture lived within a few blocks of each other. Less travel for maximum shred.
Jeff Bauman. He was the young maniac back then. Never afraid the “duh heck!” himself onto a rail. Pictured here wrapped up like a burrito, looking somewhat shell shocked. I don’t know what was going on at the time. Photo was taken in Tampa, where the nollie 180 down the 10 stair was filmed. We were down there for a skate trip in January 2005.
Same trip. Everyone got sick. I remember sleeping in a dorm in an old train station. Everyone already got all of the good blankets. I ended up with six sheets. Bill was nursed back to health by this cat and his first generation iPod with 1 gig of storage. This photo also has a burrito vibe. I’m hungry.
Uncle Willy – Smith. A session at this ramp is featured in the vid. The ramp was in a barn at the Van Housen brothers’ house near Thiensville WI. It was a rad set up with rad vibes. Reason: the barn was filled with cats. Later on, this ramp was recycled into other obstacles at Cream City. I think it was turned into the old banked manual pad with parking blocks on it.
First trip to NYC, 2004(?). The big spiel about the easy availability of digital photos and what not at the beginning of this post was a slight lie, as I just dug out some pics from this trip and they were shot on film. The video had a line we filmed on this trip. Pat Murphy once told me he learned how to do varial heelflips by watching how Ben does them in the clip. I always was kind of bummed how I filmed the line, but Ben’s cool moves more than make up for my failings in life.
Ben Vance – Smith. Same trip. I could be remembering this wrong, but I think for some reason we drove through to night to make it to New York. Without ever sleeping, first spot of the day, Brooklyn Banks. Awesome to see in person for the first time. Top banks shut down pretty soon thereafter(?). This photo was on this site ages ago, I’ve always liked it. I had bought the fish eye this was shot on right before this trip! (Canon 15mm). I still use this lens to this day. Great return on investment.
Finally, two unreleased rarities of Pat and James. Battery park at night. On camera flash. They kind of turned out alright, but my prints were messed up. These new scans are the first time I’ve really even been able to see these photos. Also, I had just got this fish eye. Did I mention that? Did I maybe shoot every photo on this trip with it? I wonder why I did not film these tricks. Maybe my battery for my camera light was dead. Times were tough back then, keeping those things charged.
That’s it for now, until next time.