Full disclosure here: I’m not of the “print generation”. I got put onto skateboarding via MTV, THPS video games, and the Internet. I wouldn’t really buy many skate magazines as a kid, but I would flip through them at the supermarket while my mom was doing her grocery shopping (and steal the sticker sheets).
Even though I haven’t held onto a mid 2000s issue of Thrasher that I can call my “first skate mag”, that doesn’t mean I don’t have any sort of appreciation for print. Working in skateboarding media, I’ve learned how much time and effort goes into putting together a story that feels strong enough to publish online, and can only imagine having to consider the added pressure of that story being published in thousands of issues of glossy pages to be shipped out and seen all across the world. Producing for print vs. digital is a whole different beast, and that’s a fact that often goes overlooked. Once it’s in print, it’s there forever.
Lucas Beaufort has spent the last year putting together a documentary focusing on the importance of print media in skateboarding, and has gotten a chance to talk to some of the OG industry heads, pro skaters, and photographers who have made these mags so iconic. He hopes to prove that print is not dying, as many have argued, and that instead it just needs some shaking up and restructuring. We picked his brain to find out what he learned from the making of this doc, and how he thinks print can survive alongside the digital skate media world we inhabit today. – Alexis Castro
Q & A WITH “DEVOTED” FILMMAKER LUCAS BEAUFORT
Why did now seem like the right time to produce this documentary?
I’m 35 years old. I grew up surrounded by magazines. At that time every month was a gift. I had a subscription to Sugar Magazine [a French skateboard magazine], and it was so important to me. 20 years later in 2016, I realized how much print has influenced my life. I felt the need to pay a tribute to people who spent their life documenting skateboarding. For this documentary, I filmed 42 people during 10 months. People gave their all. It was something that I will never forget. In it, I focused on 3 periods. The 90’s, because I grew up at this period. The second period is the Internet era. The third one is the future of print media.
As a documentarian and skate fan, what are the most common mistakes you think skateboard mags and media are making today?
Common mistakes would be:
– Saying yes to everything.
– Pleasing advertisers at any cost.
– Hiding the truth.
– Trying to compete with social media.
– Talking about news that you’ve read 3 months ago on Instagram.
– Thinking that kids don’t wanna read.
What’s your personal favorite era of skateboarding and the media surrounding it?
As I mentioned, the 90’s, are still very special to me. I feel like when I was a kid, just meeting a pro was like a dream, and now you can talk to anyone anytime you want, so kids can get used to it very fast. When I was a kid, having a new skate video was like Christmas time. I remember watching Eastern Exposure Zero for the first time. It was in my living room with 10 of my friends. We must have watched it 20 times in a row [laughs].
Today, my point of view has changed, probably because I’m older now. I receive 18 different skate mags every month from all around the world. When you have a lot, it becomes less precious. I wish publications could do less content, and better content. It would be rad to have only one issue per year, but one that would look like a coffee table book that you would want to keep forever.
”I feel like these days, you’re not allowed to do anything like that, and that’s a problem.”
Did you ever used to jerk off to risque skate ads? Do you think that type of overly-sexualized stuff is too risky to run in such a PC culture?
I preferred Playboy for that! But I always loved that stuff. Ads like Hubba made me laugh. I never took it seriously, same for Shorty’s ads. I feel like these days, you’re not allowed to do anything like that, and that’s a problem. People are scared to have an opinion. They don’t want to upset anyone so everything is too safe now. I think we need more boobs today.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done with a skateboard magazine?
I was once in Tokyo with my brother, and we were hanging around in a park when suddenly I felt the need to take a shit. Luckily, a public washrooms was just in front of me. It was pretty ghetto inside with no lights. When I finished the job, I realized there was no toilet paper. Next to me was this old Japanese newspaper and I cleaned my ass with it. I ended up with an irritated ass for three days.
Are there any magazines or publications outside of skateboarding that you see leading the way for a new model of magazines?
I don’t see any magazines outside of skateboarding leading the way, but I feel like skateboard magazines are evolving now, in a good way. Transworld just announced that they will print bi-monthly to have more time to work on a better product. That’s the future of print, to become something rare that you will keep forever. I also feel like we need to be surprised. A magazine like Place from Berlin always tries to come up with a new concept and special theme. I love it and I’m always intrigued to know what’s next.
What do you think of Transworld’s switch to only publish 6 times a year?
I’m really into this move. If it were me, I would go once a year [laughs]. When I discussed with Jaime Owens [Editor-in-chief at Transworld], we talked about it and I asked him, “How can you guys still print 12 issues a year?” He admitted that he was constantly on deadlines and it was hard to renew. I receive so many skate mags every month, and to be honest with you, I can’t read everything. I don’t have time for it, so I just flip through it. Sometimes I wanna go back to the time when it was hard to get one copy of Transworld or Thrasher. I wanna feel something special again.
Do you think skateboard media or publishers have any responsibility to readers or skateboarding as a culture?
Definitely, it’s almost like a duty. Sharing the info via your website is cool, but creating your own content is even better. I’m always surprised when I send a video to a skateboard outlet and they just repost it, with no words, nothing. How do you want to keep your audience when you treat them like that? In depth stories are super important to me. Soma or Apropos in France are always trying to rock the boat and it’s super interesting to read because they have a voice.
It seems like you talked with a lot of old people in your doc. Did you talk to anyone from the Internet generation about how they feel about it – that maybe didn’t grow up with print?
Well, when I had the idea to make a documentary on skateboard media, I knew where I wanted to go. I wanted to focus on those people who grew up on print only. Of course I’m interested to know what the new generation think about it, but I didn’t want to do a contrast between the old and the new generation. It’s more about showing the new generation how important print was before the Internet Era. But I think it would be interesting to know what they think about the documentary.
Do you think you are overvaluing print because you are just old and you grew up in that era? Maybe we are just being stubborn dinosaurs.
You’re right, I’m probably overvaluing print, but it’s my fight. To me, supporting print is a way to support skateboarding. When I cruise in my town (Cannes, France) and I see all the kids playing with a fucking scooter, I feel so bad. I feel like I missed something. I feel like I didn’t play my role to transmit the good values to those kids. I want to redeem myself.
Have you considered making your own magazine? What has held you back from doing it?
I worked for a magazine called Desillusion for 8 years. When I quit in 2013, I told myself I would never work in the print industry again. I felt tired of always asking brands for money.
I feel like if I had to make my own magazine I would do something purely for the passion of it with no advertisers. When you work with advertisers, you know that you have to make some concessions. This video documentary is a passion project. When I was 13 years old, I had this dream in my head, this dream to be able to meet all those guys for a specific reason.
In your opinion, what are some of the greatest skateboard magazine interviews of all time?
I love when they hurt. The interview you did with Mike Carroll was really crazy! The interview with Anthony Pappalardo on 48 Blocks also blew my mind. Back in 2000, Corey Duffel’s interview in Big Brother was insane, too. It’s hard to see stuff like that again, especially inside magazines with advertisers.
Do you think there’s any correlation between different magazine’s girth, size, and page count, and the publisher’s penis size?
So, who has the biggest penis? Thrasher? In Europe it seems that we care a lot about the quality of the magazine. Have you ever seen Place Magazine, Dank Magazine, or Solo? Those magazines are beautiful and thick as fuck…
Do you think skateboarding will go the way of porno: that we will get sick of watching HD skateboard clips with drones and start to want lo-fi “amateur” webcam skateboard clips because it feels more “real”?
We all know that life is an eternal restarting cycle. When we were fed up with fish eye and shitty quality we were stoked on HD camera. After watching everything HD, we were stoked to go back on VX1000. I feel like there will always be two schools. Some follow the trend and some don’t care.
The major magazines try to sell a one page ad for a couple thousand dollars. If you ran a skateboard company, do you think it is worth it? Would you buy ads, personally?
I sold ads for a lifestyle magazine a few years ago, so I know how it works. To me, it doesn’t make any sense to contact a skate company with no money and ask them to pay $3,000 for a one page ad. It’s crazy. The small, independent companies should have the opportunity to advertise with what they have. I’ve heard that it’s different today and magazines are more open to discuss prices, and I like that.
The problem is more about what are you able to do for money? Should we let brands that are not from the skate world advertise because they have money for it? Or do we have to stay core and faithful to our culture, with the risk of letting your business die? It’s a real complex subject where it’s hard to find a balance.
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