Every local homie video has followed the same washed out formula for decades: Buy a cheap fisheye, scatter in some rap or indie rock music, and film some antics with a parking lot security guard. But in Grayson Miller’s new video The Healing Song, he and his crew seem to have transcended into a cult. I guess there isn’t much else to do in Atlanta, Georgia.
They turned up the sharpness on the footage and tinted it all blood red. They paired that with some creepy instrumental music and a bunch of crusty Atlanta spots. With every major video in 2021 using angsty guitar tracks and indie pop music, this devious twist is a breath of fresh air.
But, this video isn’t all occult vibes and unconventional video editing tricks. Check out the comments and you’ll find some heartwarming messages. Victor Gonzalez’s mom gave a shout-out to her son and filmer, Grayson Miller. Any video that can make a mom proud might not belong on Jenkem, but it’s still well worth a watch.
Q&A with creator Grayson Miller
What inspires the mystical-enlightening aesthetic of your videos?
I think what’s recently inspired me and pushed me in that direction is the fact that a skate video can be whatever you want it to be. I think the limits of what a skate video can communicate should be pushed as far as humanly possible.
It seems like some companies edit as if there’s a rule book or something with these very rigid, straightforward, and frankly boring edits. I like to get as far away from that as I can without getting too ridiculous.
Do you think you could start a cult with videos edited in this style?
I have a pretty good understanding of what it takes to be a cult leader and if I went that route I don’t think I’d have the time to make videos anymore hah.
Where does your crew name “Widdip” come from?
It’s just something me and my friends used to say back in the day as a kind of greeting. Basically like wuddup.
Would you ever try to be a part of a cult like Scientology?
My parents inadvertently put me in a cult once upon a time so I’ve definitely gotten my fill. They’ve been around since the ’70s and have gone under many names: SLIC ranch, cornerstone, pathway, insight, to name a few.
It was basically a rehab for angsty teens that manipulates parents into thinking their child will die if they don’t join the program. It was cult vibes right off the bat, but like with all good cults, they do a great job of forcing you to stick around. Fuck Scientology.
“My parents inadvertently put me in a cult once upon a time.”
What was the most cult-like thing they had you do?
I always had one foot in and one foot out the door so I didn’t participate in this myself, but the lengths they’d go to force someone to stay was pretty insane. Very manipulative stuff that would involve multiple people staging certain scenarios.
They’d do stuff like encourage you to get a girlfriend, just to use that as leverage if you wanted to leave. “If you leave, your girlfriend is going to leave you.” “If you leave, your parents will kick you out of the house.” It was all about them having more leverage in your life and being in control of your affairs.
I’ve heard people compare skating to a cult. What do you think of that?
Skating is way too diverse nowadays to be compared to a cult. There’s so many different types of skaters that have such a wide variety of opinions and beliefs. In a cult, everyone’s more or less brainwashed/forced to have the same set of beliefs and values.
What did the Bellsouth plaza mean to the skate scene in Atlanta?
I think it meant a whole lot for us to have a plaza spot of that caliber right in the middle of the city. It’s a very recognizable spot that people saw value in going out of their way to travel to.
A lot of Atlanta spots aren’t really technically “good.” Most of them are just unique and look cool on film. Bell was a spot you could just skate for fun and have a really great time, whereas a lot of “spots” here aren’t exactly all that fun to just cruise around at.
What’s the state of Bellsouth now? When did the demolition start?
So in early 2018 AT&T decided that to save costs, they would relocate three of their Atlanta offices; one being the old Bellsouth building. They quickly moved all of their employees out and laid off the security. Bell became virtually abandoned and completely free for us. We’d skate there for entire days, eight-hour sessions.
Eventually, they put up big signs that said a renovation would begin on October 10th, 2018, so it was pretty well known that we had until around then. Construction ended up getting delayed and the fences didn’t go up until early 2019, but after that, it was a wrap.
They completely redid the entire front plaza portion adding in fake grass and fake rustic wooden benches. There’s currently one wallride in the front of the building that is still skateable. They removed the entirety of the ledges on the side of the building, but as of now the ledges in the back are still skateable. They did rehire heavy 24/7 security though.
What’s your favorite clip that you’ve filmed there?
I love all the stuff me and Shane [Farber] got to film there over the years, but I’d have to go with the wallride kickflip down the eight stair. I remember watching him try that, and it felt like the culmination of years of him learning how to skate that spot. It made me feel like we’d done what we set out to do with that spot and I could somewhat accept that it would get demolished.
What’s the most iconic clip ever filmed there?
I thought about this for a while, and I’m going to give it to my guy Ed Selego with the kick back fifty from One Step Beyond. I was nine when that video came out and it was my first time seeing Bellsouth in a big professional video. Something about the fact that professionals in a random video I picked out traveled to Atlanta to skate there stuck with me from a really young age.
You had a few clips in the video, right? As the filmer and editor, does it feel weird to edit your own clips?
Yeah, I had three clips, and yes it’s very weird to me. It’s kinda funny to say this because I’ve done it loads of times, but I have never enjoyed editing my own footage. My friends are very sweet and always encourage me to skate and include my own footage, but it’s never felt very good to have to watch my skating, judge it, and work with it in that way.
What is your editing process like?
Honestly, my setup for a while was pretty gnarly. For whatever reason, I got into this habit of editing strictly at night on my high-rise apartment balcony. Summer, winter, rain, snow, doesn’t matter; I’d be on my laptop out on the porch bundled up smoking, having beers, and editing for hours late into the night.
I did our last video and most of this video was on that program. Thinking back it’s a bit sketchy having my little hard drive with all of our footage out in the 10-degree weather, but I never had any issues. More recently though, I got my laptop scrubbed squeaky clean and I just sit inside on the couch so I don’t get it all dirty again.
What is something about the ATL skate scene that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
It’s hard to explain, but there’s this interesting combination of hospitality and territorialism. It’s the type of place where you don’t get respect unless you’ve given it, and I learned that very early on as a kid. I’ve been straight booted out of DIY spots more than once because I wasn’t there buying concrete and helping build. It’s really taught me a lot about respecting spots, respecting tricks people have done, and valuing the community more than your personal needs. That being said, the scene has become way less harsh and much more inclusive in recent years.
If there was one song that could heal people what would it be?
Sexual healing, duh.
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November 8, 2021 11:35 am
This is what skateboarding looks like without a shoe sponsor.
November 8, 2021 2:33 pm
Good video. Still too much slow mo and close up Strobeck style for me. But good.
“It’s the type of place where you don’t get respect unless you’ve given it…It’s really taught me a lot about respecting spots, respecting tricks people have done” – I LOVE this! I wish skating had more of this right now.
“the scene has become way less harsh and much more inclusive in recent years” – I don’t love this.
“There’s so many different types of skaters that have such a wide variety of opinions and beliefs” – I’d like to believe this, but not sure I do. Too many clones in the “cool guy” uniform doing the same “hot” tricks, thinking they’re different but don’t have their own unique individual personality because they’re afraid of offending or not being liked.
Then again, nobody cares. Everything sucks. ;-)