The hour is near. Very near. So near in fact, that some of you reading this may have already seen it. We are talking, of course, about Away Days—the first true full-length from adidas Skateboarding (adidas released Diagonal in ’09 as a European team video, but Away Days is the first official global team video). Headed up by director Matt Irving; in turn flanked by filmers Chris Mulhern, Torsten Frank, and Justin Albert; then guided by photographers Sem Rubio and Zander Taketomo; and finally led by Skin Phillips and Jascha Muller, the finished product—Away Days—is set to premiere May 12. Having shot the video’s intro in Barcelona this past winter, Irving and a cross-section of the amazingly diverse team discuss the broader vision behind the imminent classic on the eve of its homecoming.
Words By Mackenzie Eisenhour
“THE VIDEO IS GOING TO BE FUCKING EPIC, MATE! GONZ! BEING IN SPAIN WITH THE WHOLE TEAM WAS A TREAT. WE GOT TO ALL GET TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME AND FINISH OFF LAST BITS FOR THE VIDEO OPENER. I’M BLESSED TO BE A PART OF IT! TRULY! THANKS, ADIDAS!”—Chewy Cannon
“I JUST WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW, FOR ME, IT’S NOT LIKE NIKE OR ANY OTHER GIANT COMPANY. IT’S ADIDAS. GROWING UP, ALL MY FAVORITE ATHLETES WERE WITH ADIDAS. THE FRENCH FOOTBALL TEAM IS WITH ADIDAS. IT’S [ZINEDINE] ZIDANE. TO BE INVOLVED WITH THEM IS STILL A DREAM COME TRUE.”—Lucas Puig from his Pro Spotlight in 2012
MATT IRVING, DIRECTOR
If you had to provide a mission statement for this, what would it be?
The biggest thing for Away Days was that we wanted it to be a collective effort. We have a pretty big media team. There are a lot of eyes and people behind the cameras and editors that we work with. We wanted this film to be representative of everybody, so I’m directing it, but then we have the three filmers/editors— Torsten Frank who did Diagonal [’09], Chris Mulhern who has done a lot of our web edits, and then Justin Albert. Torsten handles Europe, Justin handles the West Coast, Mulhern handles the East, but they all travel too. Those are the three main filmers. Then we have a network of other people involved. This guy Pierre Minhondo here at Juice works with me.
And you guys [Juice] remain a separate entity from adidas?
Yeah. We’re the creative agency for adidas Skateboarding, and we have done all of their stuff—all the videos and everything—over the last nine years. We have a network of photographers too. Sem Rubio, who has been on staff for a long time; Zander Taketomo; Sam Muller; and of course Skin [Phillips] as well.
Was the Away Days theme Skin’s idea? It’s from a soccer/football term, right?
Yeah. We were kicking around name ideas, and we were having a tough time coming up with anything. Skin, out of the blue, came up with this concept of “away days.” He had to explain it to us, as none of us knew anything about it, but basically there’s this whole subculture in the UK that stems from hardcore soccer fans. Away days are when you go to a rival team’s town to represent. It’s sort of the root of soccer hooliganism. So it related to adidas with the big soccer background, and if you look at the hashtag for “away days,” you see this whole aesthetic for it too with adidas shoes, Stone Island jackets, and Fred Perry polos. It also comes from this thing called the “casuals movement,” that was sort of this appropriation of more casual attire but worn in a specific way.
Is this video sort of the end result of the aesthetic that you guys have been cultivating all these years? It’s not a departure from that?
No, it’s not a departure from it. It’s an extension of what we’ve built through the web edits and print and all of it. Creatively it will have a consistent vibe, even if there is some diversity in it as well.
I feel like the adidas vibe has been very mature and subtle since the beginning. Even as far as the team. It has really taken the high road throughout. Like you never had that one rider get put on that was just for marketing to the lowest common denominator.
Yeah. There has always been a conscious effort on that front. We have always assumed that people watching are relatively savvy. They know what’s up. They don’t need to be marketed to in a hardcore way. In the end, what really matters is sitting down and watching five to seven minutes of legit skating. As far as the team, everyone kind of fits. And that’s from years and years of building and being very critical as to who gets added into the group. Jascha Muller is the team manager, and he and I have worked hand-in-hand on building it right. He’s also a co-creator on Away Days and helping out a ton.
How was the Barcelona shoot? Was it crazy to have that many people out there at once?
The Barcelona shoot was the biggest shoot we have ever done. We had 23 skateboarders—the entire global and international teams. We had four filmers, three photographers, three team managers. It was insane. We would meet up every morning at Sants. Everyone would crew up there, then we would divide into three crews and head out for the day. Each crew would get a filmer. We did that for two weeks. We did 10 days and 10 days, so there were three crossover days for everybody.
The video will be out right around the same time as this issue and article, correct?
From what Jaime [Owens] and [Dave] Chami told me, the issue comes out in early May and then our premiere is on May 12. So just a few days before for subscribers, but about the same time for everybody globally.
Did you guys watch the recent Vans video [Propeller] and take notes from that? Is your approach similar or different?
I think for us it just meant it was time to step it up. Everyone knew we wouldn’t be doing this like the two-weeks city edits. Now we were going to spend three years filming these parts. Everyone has their own method to filming a part. Some are relatively planned out; others just react. For us, going into the forum of the full-length, I think you’re going to be criticized more than ever before for your output. I think it’s really important to still take the time to release those full-lengths. They will dry up. They will wither away. And in the end, it’s the things like Propeller that really stick in your mind. Those are the really big moments in history. If that goes away, we’re all going to be sitting around watching web edits. Then if that goes away, we’ll all be sitting around talking about Instagram edits.
Then Snapchat edits.
Pretty much. It’s going to be 15-second blasts, with nothing ever really standing out or having depth to it.
The shoe companies seem to be the main sources now for keeping the big-budget full-length alive.
I think they have always been a key part in skating, but I think that on the video side that really started with Menikmati [’00]. Everybody has their own perspective on when they started to matter, but to me, Menikmati was when shoe company videos really started to matter.
“I HAVE A BUNCH OF GOOD MEMORIES OF JUST SKATING WITH A GOOD CREW AT SOME OF THE BEST SPOTS, TRIPPING ON SKATING AND LIFE, FEELING FORTUNATE, AND JUST TRYING TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE. AWAY DAYS MEANS HAVING AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE IN A VIDEO BACKED BY ADIDAS, AND WHEN A COMPANY LIKE THAT IS BEHIND YOU, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GO FOR IT.”—Dennis Busenitz
“THIS VIDEO MEANS A HELL OF A LOT TO ME. IT’S THE WHOLE ADIDAS TEAM PUTTING THEIR HEART AND SOUL INTO SOMETHING THEY LOVE THE MOST—SKATEBOARDING. I LOVE THAT. IT HAS BEEN THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE, AND I’M EXTREMELY PROUD TO BE A PART OF IT.”—Jack Fardell
“BARCELONA WAS A LOT OF FUN. EVERYONE WAS FUCKING KILLING IT. WE LIKE TO BE NUMBER ONE AND HAVE FUN AT THE SAME TIME. WE TAKE OUR FOOTWEAR SERIOUS.”—Mark Gonzales
“THE VIDEO ITSELF IS A SNAPSHOT OF OUR SKATEBOARD LIVES OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS. IT’S REALLY COOL TO BE PART OF THIS PROJECT WITH ALL THE RAD DUDES WHO ARE PUTTING SO MUCH INTO THIS FILM. I THINK MATT [IRVING] HAS AN AMAZING EYE FOR QUALITY. HE UNDERSTANDS THE ART OF SUBTLENESS. HE DOESN’T NEED A LOT OF GLITTER TO SHOW HOW AMAZING SKATING IS. HE KEEPS IT RAW AND CLEAN”—Silas Baxter-Neal
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