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SBD/Issue 57/Sports Industrialists
The Daily Goes One-On-One With Stacy Peralta
Published December 4, 2003
Skateboarder Turned Filmmaker Stacy Peralta
Skateboarder turned filmmaker STACY PERALTA could be deemed the man who started it all at least when it comes to skateboarding and its impact on American culture. He is perhaps best known for his work directing and co-writing the documentary, "Dogtown and Z-Boys." The film, narrated by SEAN PENN, won critical raves for its depiction of the Z-Boys skateboarding team in Santa Monica, California, in the '60s and '70s, and won awards at the '01 Sundance Film Festival. After his skating career, Peralta co-founded skateboarding company Powell-Peralta, later cutting ties with the company. Peralta put together the Bones Brigade, a skate team featuring such talent as STEVE CABALLERO, LANCE MOUNTAIN and TONY HAWK. Always active in filmmaking, Peralta created the pioneering "The Bones Brigade" skateboarding video series, and has assisted on Hollywood films, including STEVEN SPIELBERG's "Hook." Peralta recently spoke with Assistant Managing Editor Schuyler Baehman while working on future projects.
Question: What is your favorite movie?
Peralta: "Network." To me, it embodies everything great about a motion picture. The acting is the best acting you are going to see. It's the best writing you are going to see. It's extremely entertaining. But most importantly, it's about something that affects you when you watch it. You leave the theater thinking about something.
Q: Have a favorite sports movie?
Peralta: I'd have to think about that for a while. I've never categorized movies as a sports movie. I really liked "Hoosiers." I really liked that a lot, in fact.
Q: Which directors do you look up to?
Peralta: One would be SIDNEY LUMET, who actually did "Network." The body of work that he has is very unusual and is really, really actor-based as far as the quality of acting that you see. It is full of really strong storytelling. That is somebody who I gravitated towards.
Penn Has Right Of First Refusal To
Star In "Search for Captain Zero"
Q: Who are some of the actors or actresses with whom you would like to work with?
Peralta: Sean Penn, EMMA THOMPSON, JOHN CLEESE, just to name a few.
Q: What is the status of "In Search of Captain Zero," which you are pegged to direct?
Peralta: Sean Penn is a producer on it and has the first right of first refusal to star in it. It is still in the works. As soon as we can get the script solved, and done properly, that is what we are waiting on.
Q: What do you think about product integration?
Even James Bond's Motorcycles
Were Manufactured By BMW
Peralta: I have mixed feelings. When you're watching a movie now and you see someone drinking a Coke, it's now drawing attention to itself. You know that that didn't just happen, that person didn't just pick that up. The logo was placed there deliberately so that you could see the logo. You don't see the back of the bottle, you see the front of the bottle with the logo right there. We're all professional viewers, so when you see that now, it takes you out of the movie. You realize, "Oh, they got paid to do that." I know that is the future of advertising, to a certain extent, but it is off-putting, because it takes you out of the organic storytelling. It's a double-sided sword. The person who succeeds at it is going to be the one who somehow makes it impactful, yet invisible.
Q: That is the trick of the creator and the marketer as well.
Peralta: Absolutely. You don't want the person seeing it to realize that they are seeing it. When you can succeed at that, I think you have really done something.
Q: What kind of music are you listening to right now?
Peralta: An eclectic mix. If you had to say anything, it would kind of be this ambient-acid jazz-techno stuff. I guess people call it experimental, I'm not sure.
Q: Any particular names attached to that type of music?
Peralta: Yeah. I like this band out of England called FILA BRAZILIA. And I like all of these compilations. There is one called "The Future Sounds of Jazz" that I've really found a lot of good stuff on.
Q: What is one device you couldn't do without?
Peralta: My Apple Laptop, which I wrote Dogtown the documentary, Dogtown the screenplay, and my new film, about big wave surfing, "Riding Giants," on.
Q: What television station do you find yourself watching the most?
Peralta: I read books. If I watch TV it's usually a non-fiction cable channel.
Q: Which company or brand you most admire?
Peralta: Whichever company is successfully making hydrogen fuel power possible. I dislike the companies like Disney and Nickelodeon to name only a few which are now trying so desperately to squeeze every last penny out of their "brands" that they end up destroying the imagination behind them. They end up diluting their brands by putting them on too many products and sucking the magic out of them.
Q: When you hear the word Nike, what do you think of?
Peralta: Big. Huge. Giant. Athletes getting huge amounts of money. You look at companies like that and there is this incredible need of constantly growing bigger. And that is unfortunate.
Q: Why do you feel that is unfortunate?
Peralta: The bigger you grow, the more irrelevant you become.
Q: I know that was a concern of yours when you left Powell-Peralta.
Peralta: That was always a concern for us even when I was with the company. Even when we got to be successful, we always tried to portray ourselves as a small company. We knew that if we appeared like a big company, we would lose our luster; we just wouldn't be interesting anymore. That goes to show that the struggle and the climb is what is really interesting. Once you get into position and you are looked at as the No. 1 thing, you're not as interesting anymore.
Q: How did you end up getting a role in "Real Genius"?
Peralta: I acted for a while. Five years. It was a side thing to get to understanding acting better. So I did that and I acted in some television shows and some stuff like that. I knew that was not what I was going to pursue in my life, but it was something I was really glad to learn more about because when I work with people I'll at least have a better understanding of it.
Although X Games & Gravity Games
Take Out The Art, They Have Shown
Action Sports' Relevancy
Q: Do you think things like the X Games and Gravity Games are good for skateboarding?
Peralta: Again, it is a double-edged sword. What is bad about this programming is that all of these networks program skateboarding and bicycling and all of these sports the exact same way. They strip the art out of it. They strip the poetry out of it. They show one continuous hard thumping note over and over and over. There is no beauty shown. That is the bad news. The good news is that by showing these sports they are proving that these sports are very American American as baseball and football - and that they are as relevant as these other entrenched sports that we all grew up playing in school, but not really enjoying.
Q: Do you think that the mainstream has understood that message that action sports are as much a part of the American landscape today as baseball, football, etc.?
Peralta: If they haven't articulated that to themselves, they certainly are acting that way. You see it everywhere. You see it on television commercials for McDonald's. When you have corporations that are that big putting skateboarding in their commercials, you realize that skateboarding has come a long, long way. These companies now want to be associated with skateboarding because they know that it is the pulse. That is what kids are inspired by.
Back In The Day, Peralta And
The Z-Boys Rode Pools
Q: What is a favorite memory from the Z-Boys days?
Peralta: Right before pool riding exploded, when we were riding the pools. Just the core collection of us, before we really had any clue as to where it was going. There was a certain purity to that time that was incredible. The rug could have been pulled out from under us the next day and we were expecting that. That was just a great period when there was no reason to do it other than the pure love and joy of it.
Q: And from the Bones Brigade days?
Peralta: During the time when skateboarding kind of died in the early '80s, when I was taking my team all around the country, like Stevie Caballero, Tony Hawk, MIKE MCGILL and Lance Mountain, and again thinking that any day this thing could be pulled out from under us, just the joy of it. We were building something. We would have contests in people's back yards in Nebraska. Doing stuff that was cool. It was fun back then. We could make those kind of decisions to do things like that, where nowadays it's not as easy, because there is so much money riding on the line now.
Q: What do you think the skateboarding industry will look like in 2010?
Peralta: That's a good question. I don't know if I can answer that. I really don't know. It may look exactly like it is now. Or, maybe, it will be made up of big companies. I'm not sure if it's going to be made up of big companies, or all of these splinter companies like it is now.