Torsten Frank’s filmmaking has defined adidas Skateboarding’s visual output for over a decade.
His filming, editing and visual style is unique and really well-defined. His edits always show more than just the tricks that went down but the vibe and atmosphere of the sessions and personality of skaters he shoots.
This might be because he’s not just adidas’ global filmer, he’s also the German adidas skate TM, so he knows what looks good but also understands what it takes for skaters to get tricks in first place.
Torsten puts tonnes of work into his edits capturing legendary tricks of skaters on the team but is at the same time behind the scenes helping a whole new generation of German skaters carve skate careers.
As you can imagine he’s a busy guy so we were stoked to hit him up for a long chat about his filmmaking, creating his Thrasher series Abnormal Communication with The Gonz, find out about his recent projects for adidas, the behind the scenes stories of some of the most standout clips he’s shot, and his favourite thing about filming epic tricks and documenting the three stripes trips he goes on.
Read Torsten’s In Focus interview to find out about hiring planes and getting surfed out filming the ‘Puig’ section in Biarritz with Lucas Puig, making the first three Abnormal Communication episodes in Sicily, Boston and New York with Mark Gonzales,Heitor Da Silva, Blondey, Dennis Busenitz, Maite Steenhoudt, Nora Vasconcellos, Silas Baxter-Neal and Gustav Tonnesen and his favourite thing about skating on trips with The Gonz, filming underground lines in Stuttgart with Patrick Zentgraft, Kai Hillebrand and Lem Villemin , skating The Supreme New York Bowl with Jamal Smith, the behind the scene story of Mark Suciu’s Backside Noseblunt down Blubba and his most recent filming with adidas Germany’s upcoming wunderkid, Reece Knobloch and much more.
How were things for you at the start of lockdown Torsten?
First of all, it was really a shock. Since March 2020, everything was Lockdown. How can I continue with no travelling? No fun side, no meeting friends, the big thing for me is to meet with the homies and skate in the city.
Then it kind of cleared up. Then when I went into Stuttgart, I saw there were more skaters, there were like 50 skaters.
I saw like 5 girls on skateboards, and then a 40 year old skater, a six year old boy, and then I saw a mom and her son, skating, and all of the OGs, skating flatground, at this central spot where we’ve been skating for like 20 years, it’s like the meeting point of Stuttgart and when skaters were allowed to go and skate, there was like a rainbow of different skateboarders there. I was like wow this is amazing.
Yeah and my office here is in the Beast Distribution, we get Palace boards, Magenta boards, and there during 2020 we all realised that Corona has helped skateboarding to be bigger than before. I was like wow…this is the only escape at the moment.
Since April it was the only thing we can do and everyone was like, let’s go out and skate, it’s good.
Yeah and then I started to discover Stuttgart again, finding new spots and going here and there and visiting new spots. Then adidas told me Lucas Puig is getting a new shoe, so maybe you can meet up with him and do some of your first travelling this year.
I was like OK let’s see what I can do as they wanted me to film with him in Biarritz. But there were no flights. So I had to go on the train.
So this year I started travelling different, going on cars and train. I got there and met up with Lucas and Maité Steenhoudt and I realised how damn sick the last few past years have been travelling and meeting people around the world. In 2020, I had one trip and it was like wow, this is the best.
It started off as let’s film a couple clips and one clip with the plane flying by. But then Lucas was like “Hey Torsten, If we film a lot of tricks the first day, maybe we can make a part. If you come for ten days, I’m going to get a part!”.
I’m like okay, let’s do it.
He’s like yeah, we’ll go surf in the morning, then I’ll pick a spot and then we’ll go back and surf, and then I’ll take you out with the family and at night we’ll go and get a beer and then it’s going to be good. It turned out exactly like he said.
We skated every day, start off early in the morning and would go surfing and then he’d say I have this trick for a spot we’d go and he’d get the trick. It was so chill man.
Lucas Puig, Switch Frontside Wallride: Shot by @semrubio
The part was great. How did the plane clip at the end go down?
To be honest Lucas was like, “Hey Torsten, I want to do this idea with the plane!”.
Then we started organising everything with the plane company.
The adidas banner got printed somewhere else. I was there for a week for the first time, we ended up doing a second trip because in the middle of the first trip, they were like, the banner is not right in time, and the plane company is not ready.
They were like Torsten you will have to come back. So I came back for those ten days. So we got more time.
Then at the end of the second trip, we said we’ll do the plane clip. The plane company said tomorrow there’s no wind, we’ve got the banner, we’re going to fly this route, we know where the spot is and where you both will be and we’ll do 10 rounds.
So Lucas and I were always skating, every day, focusing on his part. The day before Lucas is like here is the spot, it’s a little bit downhill, there are two wooden benches, I’m going to do a Backside Tailslide to Fakie at the end and then you pan up and the airplane is coming.
I’m like okay, Backside Tailslide to Fakie…that should be possible. But I was like hey Lucas, wait, there’s a big fucking rock in the way, where we start for the back tail, I can’t see the plane
Lucas is like no problem Torsten, Sem is on the phone he can see, send us a text on the phone and on the count of 3, we’ll go and I was like let’s see, we’ve got ten tries.
So Lucas is on the phone, “hey Sem is the plane coming?”. Then Sem’s like yeah the plane is coming and then Lucas goes.
I’m filming behind him, back tail to Fakie; I’m panning up, no plane. But then the plane comes but the banner was so far away on the rope attached to the plane. It was like 200 metres behind. I was like I can’t get the banner and the plane in the picture.
I was like fuck, Lucas the timing is super gnarly and your only doing a back tail….but we still spent like eight, nine tries going for it.
On the tenth try, he got the back tail and I panned up and I kind of got the plane in there. But I was like Lucas I’m not so stoked about this whole shit right now. It looks stupid, with just a back tail. He’s like alright fuck it Torsten, I’ll do a better line, and I’m like really? Okay let’s try.
So we had the back tail in ten tries but then we manage to get another seven tries at this other line. I’d pan up and still couldn’t see the plane.
But then on the last try, I was like Lucas this is going to look sick but we’ve literally got one try left. He’s like I’m going to do the line I swear! Then he did a back tail to Fakie followed by a Switch Pop Shuvit Nosegrind Revert and as soon as he lands the banner is flying through the frame.
I was like oh my god Lucas, we are lucky bastards, and this is like winning the lottery. I can’t fucking believe you just did it on the last go. We were both so stoked.
But then the next week the clip came up on The Nine Club and Jeron Wilson was like, I think it was fake, it was CGI, it’s not real! It made me laugh!
Lucas, Kickflip to Fakie, Biarritz: Shot by @semrubio
Yeah, the timing is so good it looks like it was CGI
Yeah that was a great moment. Two days before I was nervous, I was thinking about it, what if he doesn’t get the back tail, how to pan up, that huge rock.
I could hear the plane more than see it sometimes during the shoot but mid filming I decided we’ve got three more tries so I’m not going to pan to the plane but to the banner because the plane was too far away and pan later so everyone can see that there was a plane.
Yeah it was sick. We had a good beer at the end of the day, tonight we’re going to celebrate, and it was a good time.
What has it been like seeing Lucas evolve as a skater?
Switch Tailslide Body Varial Heelflip Out. It’s amazing to see how he comes up with new tricks.
He goes up to a ledge, tries like 3-4 or 5 different tricks, and all of them are crazy. Then he’ll try them all a few times. It takes him a little bit of time to choose a certain trick but as soon as he’s feeling a trick, he always lands it and did it amazing to be honest.
I was always a fan of showing the whole character of a skater. My first part with Chewy Cannon, in the Diagonal video, it started at the towers on the roof where he stayed and where he’s having a smoke on the rooftop. I like to show people’s personalities.
When I was in Shanghai with Brian Peacock, I wanted to show how he lived in a tall building and show him looking out the windows where you can see the whole of Shanghai. It’s always what has inspired me.
Right now the lifestyle of Lucas is what I showed in the video. He wakes up early, goes barefoot to the ocean and has a surf, he has skills on a surfboard, walking on the board, goes to the knees and takes energy from having a surf to his skating.
That’s how Lucas is in 2020 and 2021. That’s the new Lucas. That’s how he’s grown into skating and surfing right now. It’s cool he does both at the moment, right now, both with the fun aspect, we’d never go back 3-4 times to do something for his part.
You know his part starts with the Switch Frontside Pop Shuvit to Switch Firecracker?
I was like wow. I’d never seen him do anything like that before. I was like you should do whatever you like for this part that shows your skills. He skates a bowl barefoot and he does a Backside Noseblunt in the bowl. It showed his transition skills and also how he’s changed and where he’s at with his skating right now.
Do you have a favourite trick from Lucas’ part?
I always liked to start with a good trick, I really like the Firecracker he did at the start, and I’d never seen him do that before.
With filming, usually, I think I could film things a bit better but on that last trick, I was really happy that I was in front of the camera and that he landed just in front. It gave me a hype too. He did it perfect and I think I filmed it almost perfect too. Really happy about it, doesn’t happen all the time.
I had to skate backwards with the camera, there were cars coming, I was blind, going into the street, where there were cars, it looked easy but it was hard to film, it’s always a struggle but it all worked out great.
He does Slappy lines, amazing ledge tricks, Firecrackers, bowls and bangers. It’s a mix of Lucas’ skills on all of these different terrains.
Lucas, Switch Backside Tailside, Biarritz: Shot by @semrubio
When did filming for this part go down?
What was your next project after that?
A Thrasher part with Kai Hillebrand, he’s from Berlin. I spent some time in Berlin with him filming for the part. After that travel restrictions became difficult. I travelled in Germany to Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and I just did stuff with the homies here in Germany.
Because now all skateparks are closed and it was snowy and rainy and cold, I had an idea.
Patrick Zentgraf, he’s on Primitive, he’s a good homie. I told him and Kai, I was like hey guys; let’s film a parking lot, subway underground edit.
So they came to Stuttgart and we skated all of the parking lots because if I see footage in Europe right now, there’s a lot of underground spots. Say for example in London you have Southbank, which is undercover but there are a lot of these types of spots all over Europe.
I was like winter 2020 was about underground spots. We used to go to Barcelona but everyone is doing this at the moment. We have a lot of them in Stuttgart. We have Stairs Paradise; it’s amazing, one with a pyramid to Wallride, one with perfect flat and another one with Slappy ledges.
I filmed that and was stoked to film what is left to skate at the moment, even when there was gravel in there when it’s snowing. So we did an underground section
Who was the edit for and who was in it?
It was Kai and Paddy, for adidas, filming while underground; it was just a couple days of filming.
Have you done anything like that before?
Two years ago Stuttgart council asked me to make a video about 8 spots in Stuttgart, like iconic spots in the city.
I did one section about the underground spots in Stuttgart; it’s like three minutes long. There was one with wooden rails that’s pretty famous, where Lem Villemin did a Back Noseblunt and Bigspin Boardslide down the wooden rail.
What’s it like filming with Paddy and Kai?
Both of them are from the middle of the Germany. I’m from South Germany. I’m also the TM for the German adidas TM team. I started 6-7 years ago. I put them on the team 6 years ago. They grew into the team really well and now Kai is on the global team and Paddy is on the European team. We are super tight, really good friends and we’re doing a lot of projects together.
I filmed Paddy’s Primitive part that came out. It’s good and filming with Kai, he skates super-fast, does high Ollies, takes basic trick and does them perfect. I don’t want to say he’s the German Danny Wainwright but his skating is in that direction. He’s got that kind of style and ability to nail simple tricks and make them look awesome.
Yeah, he has some rad footage in the Abnormal communication edits you make for Thrasher
Yeah, he was in the Marblehead and New York edits. Kai has a little background as an actor as well, there was a skate film called This Ain’t California that he featured in.
Yeah that film was sick, although it’s fictional, it felt real
The main actor in the movie called Panik was played by Kai. He’s the main guy. But I’ve got some information for you. The story is real. It’s just not a documentary. People were thinking it was all filmed in 1988 or 1989, it’s not, some was filmed now, but the story is for real. In the movie, they’re going to a big contest because Mark Gonzales will be there. So in the story they go on the train to Prague to get there
So I asked Gonz. I said, “Hey Mark, there’s this German movie called This Ain’t California, is what happened in it true about this contest in Prague, where you there?”
He’s like, “I’m going to watch it, I’m going to watch it!”.
And then Mark watched it and said hey this is real, I was there in 88′, I was there at the contest – OK I had short hair not long hair but the story is actually true.
But even though people were saying it was a real documentation of events, it’s not a real documentary, it was just a movie about a real story.
That’s interesting to know.
So when we go back to 88-89, East and West Germany they had come back together again. In 1989, there was this contest in Prague and at that point it was not allowed for a guy from East Berlin to travel to West Berlin, to Germany, to Spain, to Italy but a guy from East Berlin was allowed to travel to Prague.
So this part of the film was a true story. It was the first time that skaters from East Berlin saw Western skateboarders and American skateboarders, that’s the story and that’s why they were so hyped.
Gonz told me that when he was there he saw that these kids from East Berlin, their boards were fucked, they used crazy things for trucks and their wheels were made out of metal, everything was homemade. Gonz was like there was this East Berlin skate crew here with those homemade setups.
The soundtrack to that film is unique
I was at the Berlin premiere of the film, Mid 90s with Kai and at the end of the movie screening we were able to talk to Jonah Hill at this dinner together with him. Watching the film, Kai realised in Mid 90s there is a song from This Ain’t California.
So Kai asked Jonah, “Have you seen This Ain’t California?”
Jonah was like “Ah I’m not sure….”
Kai was like “For sure, you’ve seen it! You’ve taken one song out of the soundtrack into the Mid 90s, that’s for sure. You know all of these movies mate!”.
That’s funny, he definitely has. How has being a TM been over the Lockdown?
I am really happy and thankful that we have quite a big team in central Europe. I’m happy we can support all of our boys and girls. We have some new talents on our team
We have this new kid called Reece and we’re stoked to have him and supporting him living his dream of going into skateboarding. I love being a TM. I like helping them as much as I can. I’m the oldest one for sure and I’ve got experience.
I can tell Reece, like how things were with Lem Villemin and this and that.
I like being the filmer but also being the guy helping them to find new sponsors, trips and projects.
You go the extra mile. Any future plans for adidas Germany on the horizon?
Reece is 16 years old so I try to help him as much as I can and I want to help him to grow in skateboarding. I think maybe he can put his cards on skateboarding like Kai and Paddy have done.
I’m looking forward to continuing Abnormal Communication. This is what I really love, telling stories through Gonz. Let Gonz talk about skateboarding and I can do the edit that fits to it. Just be around Gonz with a cool crew, this is my dream and I hope it can be realised in 2021.
My dream is like helping the skaters, my Jetlag Brothers, Chewy, Lucas, Gunes, and Heitor. My dream is to continue going with Gonz. I love to film them. It’s my passion.
How did you come up with Abnormal Communication?
The first trip was with Blondey and Lucas to Sicily and it was a trip because Sem Rubio did a Mark Gonzales book that has just come out at the time.
Sem first had the idea to do a book and he asked me if I wanted to go to Sicily, it’s going to be Lucas, Blondey, Gonz, and we just filmed. At the end of the trip, I went to make an edit and had an idea and I thought hey, I always liked voiceover; I don’t like people sitting there and talking too much or just pointing a camera into someone’s face and asking them to say something.
I was like I want to let Gonz speak about that trip. So I hit him up and I was like, “Hey Gonz, how did you like Sicily?”
He was like, “Yo, the people in the cars are even more aggressive than us and the people in the cars they see us skating and think they are more impressive than us driving aggressively then us on our skateboards!”.
It’s a crazy thought but it’s actually 100 percent right when you think about it.
I always like how he comes up with poetic style of thoughts about skateboarding.
Yeah, for sure, so why did you include Sem’s photos in there too?
Abnormal Communications is a mix. There are layers to it. One layer is skateboarding. One layer is the 16mm, B-roll style, the skaters cruising, I always like seeing how people come through to the spot, like what’s before and after the spot and the next layer is the voice over and the next layer is Sem’s photo. So photos are like even more texture on the 16MM.
I don’t want it to be dry like a documentary, like people sitting on a chair, talking about it. I want it to have a flow, even if Gonz is talking, you see someone skating. I don’t know. It’s a style I’ve created in my head a little bit over the years. Just to add something a little bit than just skating.
With Gonz, it’s like a present, his voiceover is fucking gold. He said I don’t have time to be negative about people, I know a lot of people don’t like scooters but I just go with the flow when I asked him about why he did the doubles with the scooter kid.
After the trip I always have a couple questions in my head. So I put on the camera and recorded my conversation with Gonz and he just said that. I was like this is amazing. I just love it.
So after the first Sicily tip, I came home, I did a little edit, I showed it to adidas, they loved it, they saw it was unique, and cool storytelling they never did before, I was like why don’t we do a Thrasher episode out of it?
I got a big team to help me out. Matt Irvine talked to Thrasher gave us a bit of direction about booking the travels and everything. I had the freedom to do the edit the way I wanted to do it.
I always choose the people I wanted to hang out with them. We’ve done ones with Nora, Heitor and Jack Fardell but I always ask Gonz who he would like to go on a trip with too. Then we have a cool crew, different ages, styles and skaters. That’s what I like.
In Abnormal Communication Ep one, Heitor does a Noseslide Transfer One Foot Out. Did he come up with that on the spot?
This is the thing about skating with Mark. So we went on a train to skate a bump to bar or something I think. But with Mark, if we have a spot in mind, like that, we never end up skating the bump to bar. We skate everything on the way.
That spot was on the entrance of the train station. Mark was like hey let’s skate this. It was super crusty. There were cars on the run up.
But with Mark you always start skating whatever is about, wherever you are. On the way to the spot Mark will always find three different spots, sometimes it’s not even a real spot but he’s like let’s skate it.
The cool thing is that Heitor Da Silva is the kid who just goes with the flow too and just tries something. So Heitor and Gonz is the perfect fit.
Gonz said, after the Boston Marblehead trip and one we did in New York, that he thinks Heitor is one of his favourite skateboarders right now and that he’s got so much flow and style. He reckons Heitor skates everything kind of like he does but with his own playful look to it.
Agreed. How did that Noseblunt Casper Plant Heitor did go down?
This is so typical Mark. When a crew skates with The Gonz, he’s always like Heitor…can you do this trick or that trick? I remember one day he was like today I want to do a Double Impossible!
Gonz is always asking you about tricks and your like really he’s going to try this? This is fucking gnarly and he always usually tries it.
So that day we were at the park and he was like Heitor, let’s try this together. A Frontside Half Flip to Nose Casper and he was like Heitor come on you can do it, and they tried together. Gonz came close too. He just tried to give Heitor a challenge. He always gives people a challenge and hypes them up to do it but he always comes up with some crazy tricks.
Blondey told me a story once where the Gonz wanted him to try to Ollie over a rolling jump ramp, that had wheels underneath, and Blondey had to jump over this jump ramp over another jump ramp. Blondey tried it and he actually broke his arm doing it.
So that happened before the first trip to Sicily. So when I invited Blondey to Sicily he was like I’m super stoked to go on this trip with Gonz but he said Torsten, I’m not going to do everything that Gonz asks me to do on this one.
So when we arrived in Sicily and on the first day when we got there Gonz was like hey Blondey, I just saw a roof gap, let’s go there, please, let’s skate that right now.
Blondey was like oh my god not this again. But in the end Blondey did an Impossible over this roof gap and Gonz did an Ollie over it.
Yeah that spot looked gnarly
The run up was so crusty. On his first run up, Blondey nearly slipped into the fucking hole in-between the roof gap. He was like it’s happening again. Gonz wants me to Ollie the roof gap, so what do I do? I Ollie the roof gap! Haha.
Maité’s Layback Smith Grind and Heitor’s One foot on that quarterpipe were sick, what was it like filming those?
Maité fit perfect with the crew on that trip. It was like Gonz, Heitor, Gustav, Busenitz, Blondey and Maité.
She has a loose style on a board, flowing, always smiling. That was the first session she and the Gonz had together. They were just having fun and she pulled out her signature trick. The Smith Grind with the layback right at the knees. It’s super iconic.
How cool is it at her age, a trick where you see her silhouette and you know it is Maité? You know like the Jordan dunk? For me it’s like that. It’s iconic for her.
Gustav is sick too. What’s it like filming with him?
Gustav Tønnesen is the silent magician. He plays around on his board as well like wow, so creative. He’ll find a little crack where he can just pop out a Nollie Frontside Flip, a Nollie Cab Flip even. He’s one of my favourites to be honest. Skating-wise he’s amazing; he always comes up with a super sick trick.
A couple years ago, I went with him on a demo trip. I was like wow. As he’s a quiet guy, you think he’d be hiding at a demo and not skating. But he skates a demo like woah, nailing Switch Tre’s, even Miles Silvas and Felipe Gustavo were like damn he can skate a demo. He was all over the place. Gustav is that guy for the demo
What about Dennis Busenitz’s Noseslide Nollie Flip Out on the big shaped board?
To be honest Dennis was just like playing around with the board. Gonz was like hey Dennis you want to skate my board. Dennis was interested in the shape. He did a few tricks on flatground and then did a back tail. Then at one point I was like should we film a back tail and I don’t know a Kickflip or something?
He’s like yeah I think I got a line. So he started off with a back tail to Fakie and then a Half Cab followed by the Noseslide Nollie Flip Out.
I was like this is not possible but he did it really quick. I was like oh my god. He just did it easy. It was easy for him. But at the beginning I was like there’s no technical trick, possible on that board. It’s Dennis, he’s got it still!
Do you have a favourite trick you filmed of Nora Vasconcellos?
The Backlip in Boston that Nora did on the steep hip. Backlip pop back in again, that shit was gnarly. I mean everyone knows she’s ridiculously good at bowl skating but she can transfer it to the streets. That was a proper street spot, that’s a gnarly trick. There’s a really sick photo by Sem as well of her Backlip.
In the Marblehead episode, Gonz does a roll on 50-50 over this high round flatbar. It reminds me of his clip in Reel to Real. Was it a homage to that trick?
That was actually a spot he picked. Mark has this old Mercedes and we had this little rental car and he was like OK guys let’s go, I have a spot in mind. But then we stopped at a gas station and we were like, you need gas? He was like yeah I need gas but I also want to do this Wallie 50-50 that’s here too. Get gas and get a trick.
The people from the gas station were cool and were just watching us, they were cool. I thought they were going to kick us out. But because they saw Mark, an older guy, skating gnarly, running up on the sidewalk, Ollieing up the curb and going for it at full speed, they were really into it and just let us skate.
You are right. It was probably inspired by that trick from Real to Reel and he did it again. It’s gnarly; it’s hard to grind on a big round thing. You can bail left and right. But maybe he wanted to do it as a homage because in that video he does a Footplant on a big tree and that was definitely a homage.
He said to Sem, hey look at this shot of this trick I did in 89′ where he did a Footplant on a tree and he was like I want to redo it on this tree here in Marblehead because there was a crusty little bank in front of it from the roots that was concreted over.
Mark likes to do a homage. I remember in London there are the famous two concrete mini ramps, that connect with each other at Meanwhile and there is a big channel between the two. Geoff Rowley Varial Heeled it. Gonz was the first to do an Ollie there. Five years ago, he’s like I want to do an Ollie over that again as a homage to that first one that I did.
Yeah, it’s crazy he did it so many years after
He was like I’m 50 years old, but I want to try tricks I did at 20. Most of the time he’s redoing them. I’m like wow, this is just amazing.
Heitor is like I want to be like Mark, I want to continue skating even if I’m that old. It gives him a good feeling that your skate career doesn’t have to be over when you’re 30.
Mark shows to kids, to older skaters, even like Silas Baxter-Neal, who’s an older pro now, if you want to have fun on a board you can even if you’re like 50 nowadays.
Yeah, just look at Brandon Turner’s Switch Hardflip down Wallenberg. In the NY edit, Silas does a sick Wallride Nollie at Brooklyn Banks. What was it like filming that trick there?
Yeah we tried to jump the fence at The Brooklyn Banks, but going to the ‘real’ banks was tough there’s loads of construction, that’s been there for a while.
There’s a lot of security too. So we were just outside. But Gonz pushed up a piece of wood, so you can roll up the bank with wood. It was a bit rainy, it took him a while. It’s a legendary spot and I like that Silas was skating this iconic place and it came out really good and also Gonz was stoked to see him skate the OG Brooklyn Banks.
How did you end up filming at the Supreme New York bowl?
Mark was like during winter time I mostly skate at the Supreme Bowl. He comes with a little bike over the Brooklyn Bridge, on his little bike, with a big board on one side. He always has a lot of stuff to carry. Always, somehow. He arrives and the Supreme guys are like here is some product and then he has even more luggage to carry.
He was like let’s skate the bowl. He told me that day he wanted to do a Front Board around the corner, and that he thought he could make it. He always has a challenge, a mission. He’s never over it. He skates it all the time, but for example sometimes when I film with a guy in Barcelona, they will be like I’m over it.
But not Gonz. Gonz skates the Supreme bowl everyday but he’s never over it.
He was super hyped and I remember him saying that day I want to do a Frontboard through the corner, I want to do a Nosepick again and that day he came really close to a big Frontside Ollie Stalefish.
Gonz invented the Stalefish and he really wanted to do one. He Ollied really high and you needed to do it for this bowl, you had to bend your knees on this one and he came super close. He’s always hyped to learn a new trick after he hasn’t done it for 10-15 years. He worked hard on that Frontboard round the corner; he slammed and goes for it again.
Even Zach Saraceno was like woah he’s going in hard, I’m not trying anywhere near as hard as him, I’m just doing Frontside Ollies to feel good but I’m not going to go for a Frontside Flip because I’m scared to slam in this bowl, if I could maybe even do it.
Gonz is trying, slamming and always comes up with a great trick at the end.
How did filming Gonz and Tony Hawk’s doubles go down?
I have to say, I didn’t film that one, it was the homie, Pep Kim. But I heard the story because I asked Gonz.
Gonz and Tony are the same age. They’ve known each other for a long time.
Gonz just always wanted to skate with Tony and he heard that Tony was in New York and called him and asked him if he had time for a skate session together at this bowl for an hour. Tony got in an Uber, got out the Uber and got there. He’s thinking what are we going to do, this is a gnarly bowl and it turned out the Gonz had not even set up his board up yet, so they’ve only go half an hour left.
So Mark had a quick warm up and this bowl is deep and steep but it was Gonz’s idea and he Ollied over Tony and it’s a legendary timeless photo now.
The two OGs. Tony Hawk, the most popular skater on the earth and Mark Gonzales, the most creative, underground skater of all-time on the other side, both skating together and being friends. It showed there’s a place in skateboarding for everyone.
It’s like if The Sex Pistols played with the Beatles. Although that probably wouldn’t happen because, I was saw some interviews with Johnny Rotten recently and learned he hated The Beatles because they were so different but you get what I mean.
For sure, so speaking of New York what went down with Mark Suciu’s Backside Noseblunt down Blubba, you filmed that right?
I filmed that one. So Mark had it in mind for a long time. Although Billy Rohan did it before to Fakie, Mark was like okay, it was more like homage to his original trick.
Eventually he was like; ah fuck it I would like to do it. He was trying the Backside Noseblunt down the Hubba. But for an hour and half nothing happened. He was getting in and slipping out. After that, I was like damn; I don’t think he can get it.
Then he had a big slam on his back and that was more like a wake up call and the next try, he slid through the kink.
I was like wow, it took him one and a half hours to find out how to do it and the worst thing has happened already and then he did in the next 10-15 tries.
So it took him 2 hours in total. But for the first hour and a half it looked like it was not happening but then he came up with the Backside Noseblunt. The whole crew was screaming. It was amazing.
Sick. What was it like filming Gonz and Jamal Smith in New York?
I went to New York twice for Abnormal Communications Episode 2.
On the trip I went with Kai as soon as we landed I called Jamal and asked him to come to New York from Philly so he could come and skate with the Gonz.
We met Gonz in front of his studio and he and Jamal started doing Shifty Heelflips. They were doing Shifty Ollies and Heelflips together and clicked with that trick. Jamal did a Switch Shifty Heelflip and Gonz was hyped on it and they were talking about Shiftys all of the time.
Then we skated from Manhattan over the Bridge to Brooklyn to the Supreme Bowl.
Gonz started skating the bowl and I was like Jamal come on get some tricks on this bowl, it’s a dream. He did this one 5-0 revert into another revert that he does. But then Jamal was like. “Hey Torsten, I’m so hyped to skate with The Gonz I just want to watch him, can I just do that, while you film him…I just want to enjoy his skating and chill and watch!”.
Jamal is a chill guy. He did his trick and was like today’s something special I just want to watch. I was like you did a good trick; you guys had fun, why not, sure.
Rad. Did you see Gonz’s skate performance at the Stadtisches Museum in Cologne back in 1998?
No I didn’t go I was at art school at the time but my teacher went there. At one point, my teacher was like so Torsten you’re into skateboarding, so you must know Mark Gonzales? I was like yeah, I know him from skate videos, but that was like 10 years ago.
My teacher was like he was at an art show at a museum, in Cologne, doing a performance, skating, with the words Aloha on his back, which means hello and goodbye in Hawaiian.
Why did he have Aloha on his back?
So Gonz told me why he had Aloha written on his back.
Hawaiians invented surfing to have fun, it was like their hobby. But when colonists came to Hawaii they forbid surfing. They were like this is not allowed anymore, surfing is over, you should do what we do in our culture, you should work, and you’re not allowed to surf anymore because this is our land now.
So Gonz picked up that term and that scenario as a homage to the people of Hawaii because they just wanted to have fun and surf and for us it’s fun to skate and he wanted to express that. Skateboarding comes out of surfing and why you should skate is to have fun.
At one point I thought he did the performance in London and New York and other major cities. But he only did it in Cologne and I’m not sure why he only did it there.
And then he did it 20 years later in New York, almost the same performance, Wallride to Wallride, Body Varial back to Wallride and stuff like that.
It was so different for the time, even now. What’s your favourite photo of Gonz from the Abnormal Communications episodes?
There are so many. The Ollie over the roof gap that he does on this longboard when we just started to film the episodes in Sicily. That was really like wow, this is gnarly and the photo looks so amazing.
Gonz going over the gap, doesn’t it just describe Gonz, a little bit, who else would see a roof gap like that and think about doing it on a Longboard?
It’s just him going over the limit, doing things you don’t see regularly. It’s a timeless classic.