Ty Evans has been behind some of skateboarding’s most respected videos of all time. From Modus Operandi to Yeah Right, Ty has directed many of the classics. So it was a bit surprising to me that his latest project, Pretty Sweet got such a polarizing response from our little skateboard world. While it sold incredibly well and many said they enjoyed the more commercial elements to it, SLAP members went as far as to pose the question, “Is Ty Evans the worst editor of this generation?” With all the discussion and hilarious comments, I figured I’d call Ty to get his opinion on the whole thing and try to ask the questions many of us have been wondering.
Pretty Sweet sold pretty well yeah?
Yeah it was crazy. It was #1 in the Sports and Documentary categories on iTunes and overall out of all the films it was #2. It’s funny to see it in those ranks. There’s still hard copy sales of the Blu-ray DVD and we’re just getting it out on Xbox and Playstation. Girl put in a ton of money to make this thing happen so I’m so grateful it sold well and Girl could at least make their money back and in return the film also stimulates the brand and the kids want to go out there and buy Girl stuff.
How many copies have you sold of Pretty Sweet so far?
A good chunk. I could tell you Fully Flared was the best selling skate video of all time, and Pretty Sweet is basically at those same numbers at this point, 2 months in. So it will be the best selling skate video…
Some people said that Pretty Sweet was aimed for people that don’t skate. Is there any truth to that?
Sure. I think I made it for skateboarders and I think there’s things in there that people who don’t skateboard could watch and be that cheese on the mousetrap that draws them in. Hopefully that same person that kicks you out for skating that ledge at 2:00AM can see this film and kinda get what you’re doing. And instead of coming up all psycho to kick you out, they can be like, “Hey, I know what you guys are doing, I understand why you’re back here. I might not agree with it, but I see where you’re coming from.”
I think there are some commercialized aspects of Pretty Sweet, I think that’s great about it. Some people that are hardcore skateboarders don’t get that. Because all they see is the smaller picture of just skateboarding and not the bigger picture of, “well how can this help skateboarding?” And it’s funny because those people probably think that it’s doing damage to skateboarding, but I view that as the complete opposite. It’s only growing skateboarding and making it bigger. It’s that age old argument, “My vision of skateboarding’s right, and your vision is wrong.” You can argue it to death but at the end of the day everyone has their own idea of what skateboarding is.
The whole thing is to make these films not only for skateboarding but outside of it as well. That’s the key, bridging those 2 gaps. Let’s say you show it to your uncle and he knows nothing about skateboarding. Maybe there’s something that he can find in there that he can connect with you over, and maybe you guys have never connected before. I think that’s bigger than skateboarding. That’s filmmaking and making films that inspire people on an emotional level.
It’s so funny, I’ve made 20+ skate films and since the middle of the 90s anyone can go out and film footage and put a bunch of tricks back to back and put a song over it. That’s fine, people love some of the stuff I’ve done that way. But I’m not gonna just keep doing that. I’m gonna keep evolving and trying different things and who’s to say the next film I make has anything to do with the last one.
Are you happy with the final product and how it turned out?
It wasn’t 100% my vision, but I really like how it came out now that it’s done. Usually when I edit these films it’s just me and Rick [Howard] and Spike [Jonze] would come in at the end and help out.
But with this one there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, so it was a little bit harder to juggle that for me. I think it looks different than any other skate film, for me I feel like it’s a progression, and the next logical step. Out of all the films I’ve made I feel like Fully Flared was really closer to my vision and feel of what I was trying to accomplish. Fully Flared was pretty close because I had a lot more control over that.
There was a rumor that your goal with Pretty Sweet was to make a flashy commercial skate video to set up your resume before you left Crailtap.
Its funny, people can say that. The thing is, it’s just progression. If you look at my old Transworld videos, the films I made afterwards look nothing like those. And then you look at the films after that, they look different. For me utilizing a lot of those tools, I feel like no one’s done that in skateboarding so I might as well try it. Whether it be using a Phantom camera or a helicopter. It’s funny, people say a lot of stuff, that’s fine I don’t care, but I’ll laugh because some of it, they have no clue. There’s so many more decisions going into this thing than just me. There were a lot of other people involved with making the film.
Is there ever a point where the focus is too much on the technology & gizmos and gadgets than the skating?
For sure, cause you can focus on that stuff and the trick gets lost cause you filmed it badly. That’s always the risk. Whether that’s Fred doing his rolling angle 10 years ago or using a new type of technology now. So yeah, that’s a risk but at the same time it’s like, I don’t know, do you want to just keep repeating yourself? I’m not gonna film with a fisheye on a curb next to a photographer ever again. I’m not gonna do that anymore. That’s been the formula for 20 years or longer.
Some older skaters were bummed that the focus was more on the new younger skaters. Was that the plan all along?
When we starting making the film, a month after Fully Flared was released, we had a meeting with everyone. We said basically whoever wanted to be in it, could be in it. Whoever doesn’t, don’t worry about it. The guys with a ton of footage and the big parts are the guys who really went for it. We’re gonna use the best of the best stuff. Some of the older guys weren’t around that much. They run companies, have families, have obligations, they are in their mid to late 30s. I would love to see those other guys in there.
I wanted Poppalardo to have a part so badly I flew out to NY right when we started making this thing and we brought an extra HD camera. We spent an extra $12,000, met a filmer out there, trained him how to film and introduced him to Popps, the whole deal. I tried to get that going, but it never panned out.
Why didn’t it work out?
I don’t think he was into it. Maybe he just wanted to film with Bill and maybe Bill wasn’t filming HD at that time? I would talk to him and he’d say he’s down and wanted to, and had all these spots in mind. I put everything in place there, so if he wanted to film it was there.
Did he get any footage / tricks?
With that filmer and that camera, no. Not one thing.
You can only get out of it what these guys are willing to put into it. With Fully Flared I was really adament about it, and trying to really push the guys you know? And that kinda rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and pushed them too hard. So with this one I was a little more mellow about that stuff, and that kinda shows. I just focused on those guys that were down to do it. And that’s what the video is.
So it wasn’t a marketing ploy, like, “We’re gonna get 80% new bucks and 20% older dudes.”
At the end of the day, those were the guys that were really going for it.
You said there were guys still burnt from Fully Flared?
For sure. Tons of guys just wouldn’t film. They wouldn’t say anything but it was just obvious. They weren’t coming out. I’m not gonna beg people to come and skate. The two guys who kept going were Marc and Guy. It didn’t matter what Fully Flared was, that was nothing for them, they just kept going.
Can you tell me about some of the original song choices you had in there that didn’t make the final cut?
I had Cory [Kennedy] skating to Donovan – Hirdy Girdy Man…. There were so many different songs. We had Faces – Stay With Me for Kenny Anderson & Gino and all those guys part but we couldn’t clear it. Marc gave me a bunch of songs but the Bowie – 5 years, was the one I really liked. It just fits. Marc’s part is really straight forward, and almost trick, trick, trick, to the song, where you look at some of the other parts and there’s a lot more going on in there. It’s good to have both of those flavors within the film.
What do you think about people saying there were too many hi-5’s or smiles in the video?
I’ll just say there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen and leave it at that.
I’ve heard Spike [Jonze] was really adamant on them…. Wasn’t that in an interview or something?
Yeah he loves hi-5s and smiles. I will say, there’s one thing that I do like about some of those shots. In Raven’s part he frontside boardslides this rail, and there’s a shot of his face as he is riding away. You know when you’re skating with your buddies and someone finally does something and you’re going nuts? You can see that in his face right there. That’s the difference between an aimless hi-5 or something like that, there’s reasoning to a lot of those shots. It’s not just in there randomly.
The shot of Guy puking. Spike actually talked about how he wanted that in there. And it makes sense, that’s in there because Guy’s not randomly puking, he has heat exhastion from trying the same trick all day for like 8 hours in the blistering heat in China. It’s all little things like that, that make sense.
Didn’t realize there was so much calculation to those little shots and edits.
A lot of the time when I watch video parts, you can never capture what it feels like to skate with the guy. I’ve skated with Brian Anderson forever, done 3 videos with him and I’ve never been able to capture what it’s like skating with him. But if I look at like Vincent’s part, you feel that sketchiness. That goes back to the editing being retarded all over the place, and he’s swerving everywhere. All the shots of him falling on the ground, flying out onto the street, the cars, how it’s edited super fast and sketchy – it feels like a mess. That’s what it feels like skating with him.
And with Cory’s part, it’s the polar opposite, it’s him smiling, having fun, and the song is smooth. Those two parts really feel like those two individuals. That’s what’s really cool about it, where a lot of that stuff people complain about… I don’t know would you rather just see trick trick trick of Cory Kennedy? Yeah… I feel like that’s what a lot of people might feel like, but I wouldn’t. That’s why I put in that stuff. I’m sure some people understand it and some people don’t. But if they want, they are free to come by my house and I can explain what every shot means to me in my warped world.