If you close your eyes, it’s easy to picture an early 1900s mansion shrouded in mystery, with tobacco smoke weighing heavy in the air and a single drop of blood on the ballroom floor.
Luckily for us, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out how beautifully done this video is. It features a list of Philadelphia staples like Matt Militano and Joel Miller skating spots not typically synonymous with the Center City Philly spots we are used to seeing. He masterfully pairs Sony VX1000 footage with soft orchestral music creating the feeling of a skateboarding film noir.
It’s one-of-a-kind, smart, and at times strange, yet the skating is dialed, gritty, and powerful — all things you’d hope from a full-length. While we could go on and on, it’s easier for you to watch. After, check out the Q&A we did with Zach about where he finds inspiration, Philly antics, and what’s next for him and his crew, and pick up a copy here.
Q&A W/ Creator Zach Sayles
Do your homies call you “Say-less?”
Surprisingly, I don’t think anyone has called me that unless it was by accident. My nickname throughout high school was “Snayles,” so maybe this interview will bring it back.
Do Philly skaters have any stereotypes or things they hate about NYC skaters?
From what I’ve noticed on Instagram it seems like almost all NYC skaters are models on the side. People who I wouldn’t even think would be into that casually pop-up in GQ or walk the runway. It makes sense though. There’s a lot of good-looking skaters up there. I’m here for it. Go off.
What’s the sketchiest shit you saw while filming in Philly?
Dylan and I almost got stabbed skating this bump over wall out in West Philly. This woman came toward us waving a 6-7 inch hunting knife, screaming that I was recording her and not Dylan. We tried walking to our cars, but she kept pushing toward us and I had to just walk down the block to get away.
Dylan was able to get in his car, so he picked me up and we chilled a couple blocks down the street til it was safe enough. She tried slashing my tires but didn’t succeed. Luckily, she left and my car was fine. We never went back to that spot, but I’d like to try again.
The ground is super crusty in a lot of the clips you filmed. What is the perfect filmer wheel in your opinion?
Anything that allows you to skate like it’s your regular setup. I got tired of carrying around two boards so I just switch my wheels back and forth from hard to soft wheels. I’m always itching to skate. Sometimes you only get 10-15 minutes before someone asks you to film something, so being able to do tricks comfortably on a cruiser is ideal for me.
Given the spooky nature of your video, have you heard any ghost stories about Philly or experienced any paranormal activity?
None in Philly, but my family did have this really bizarre occurrence when I was a kid. My great-grandfather had just passed away and both my mom and two sisters saw his ghost in reflections of mirrors throughout the house. All on different days. We lived in a pretty old house at the time. Creaky floorboards and all that. It definitely freaked me out, but I never ended up seeing him.
Are there any directors or movies that you really nerd out to?
I like a lot of David Lynch’s work. John Cassavetes. I’ve gotten into the Marvel universe over the past year which has been fun. It’s hard for me to make time to sit and watch movies. I’m always running around doing something.
Marry, fuck, kill: Alfred Hitchcock, David Cronenberg, Guillermo Del Toro.
Kill Hitchcock since he was an asshole. Fuck Cronenberg since he’s the freakiest out of the bunch [winks]. Marry Del Toro because he looks good to cuddle with.
Was the whole video filmed on VX or were cinematic cuts/b-roll stuff filmed with something else?
All the skating was shot on a VX1000. All the black and white shots were either shot on a Bolex or a Blackmagic Pocket 4k. I had set a premiere date before fully finishing the video and didn’t have enough time to get film processed. I put some of the Bolex lenses onto the Pocket and hoped it would blend well enough.
How many VX1000s do you own and how many were used in the making of Veil?
Right now, I just have one fully working VX and about 4-5 for parts. Through Veil, I probably went through 5-6 VXs. A lot of them sadly got destroyed in the making, including one of Tracy Goreman’s that he let me borrow. Still need to get him a new one.
What do you think of the tapeless VX setups? Is it fuck HD for you?
I bought a tapeless setup halfway through filming and hated it. It was too awkward and I didn’t want to take the time to make it work. The look of HD has really grown on me over the years. Mainly HPX/HVX footage. I’d like to change it up a bit and try something new, but finding a clean Xtreme for a reasonable price seems few and far between.
Who are some of your favorite videographers and inspirations?
Josh Stewart. Ryan Garshell. Nick vonWerssowetz. Cooper Winterson. Brian Panebianco. All of them have influenced the way I film and edit in some way. Large or small.
Non-skate, I’d say, Lynch, Ray Metzker, Nathaniel Dorsky, Lis Rhodes, and Ingmar Bergman have all changed my perception of what filmmaking is and can be.
Who’s the best skater / filmer out right now? Is it Austin Leleu?
Matt Bublitz just put out a part that I really liked. Otto Ray secretly rips. Devon Connell and Austin are tied for best skater/filmer that I know personally.
I’ll tell you the worst skater/filmer out right now — Sean Spellissy. I mistakenly asked him to film a clip of me one time and he had his whole left leg in the frame [laughs]. Love you, Dre.
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