082: Colin Kennedy/Skate Vérité

Colin Kennedy, Silver Lake, Los Angeles, April 2019. Photo: Tozer

“The skating dictates what I make”.

“Nothing”, Calvin Coolidge tells us, “can take the place of persistence and determination”. Throw in an inquisitive mind, wide creative horizons and a supremely affable nature, and you have a pretty unbeatable recipe for success.

It is something Colin Kennedy seemed to instinctively know from an early age, and helps to explain how, over two decades, he has carved out one of the most highly-regarded careers in skate media.

Colin at work. Photo: Marc Ritzema

Colin is without question one of skateboarding’s most influential filmers, celebrated for the uniqueness of his artistic vision and the sheer longevity of a career that has spanned two decades and taken in stints at DVS, 411 and the Berrics.

Today, he is a freelancer legendary for bringing a unique eye to his projects. He is responsible for some of the most dazzling skate shorts of the last decade, films like Quik and One Stop, which combine a singular creative vision with some absolutely incredible skateboarding to create a beautiful aesthetic commonly likened to cinema vérité.

Colin on the other side of the camera with a heel flip fakie. Photo: Anthony Acosta

But, as our hugely enjoyable conversation reveals, there’s much more to Colin’s story than this. Instead, this is a tale is about the power of hard work, the importance of listening to your hunches, and the creative rewards that come when you stick faithfully to your own artistic vision.

Photo: Tozer

Put like that, it sounds simple. But it takes creative courage to back yourself to such a degree, another thing that Colin has had since day one. For anybody struggling to follow through on their own projects, or wondering how to take the next step on their own personal journey, Colin’s work and career path are a welcome inspiration. Listen to the episode below:

Connect with Colin

Show Notes

  • Life in Silver Lake.
  • William Mulholland and the history of water in LA
  • Chinatown.
  • Collin’s hometown Whittier.
  • A multi cultural skate background.
  • His aunt and uncle being his alternative role models.
  • First experience of wider skate culture
  • Local skate heroes.
  • Hooked on skating since 1988.
  • Early film influences: The Bones Brigade Video Show, Future Primitive, Street Skating with Rob & Natas, Gleaming The Cube.
  • The Gleaming The Cube recent reunion shot.
  • Tony Hawk driving the pizza delivery truck scene.
  • Thrashin’ (1986).
  • Point Break (1991)
  • “When pop culture appropriates something that you’re into when you’re young, you’re not seeing it through the cynical lens yet”.
  • Skating with his older brother Josh and his friends.
  • Small world of street skating in 1989: “you couldn’t have that large of a disparate opinions of who’s good or what you like”.
  • First board
  • The H-Street Hokus Pokus soundtrack.
  • The accessibility of alternative culture in skating.
  • Early filming experiments
  • The selfish excitement of being filmed yourself as a teenage skater.
  • Editing on two VCRs.
  • Reluctantly becoming a skate filmer: “I didn’t want to compromise my chance to skate”.
  • When he finally “caved-in” as a filmer.
  • First filming gig using Sony VX1000 in 1997.
  • Finding the right partner to film.
  • Getting his job at 411 Video Magazine aged 19.
  • Working with Chris Ortiz.
  • Embarrassing early projects.
  • The fatigue at 411 when he left
  • ‘Day in the Life’ segments with Steve Berra and Daewon Song.
  • Filming Gino Ianucci, Keenan Milton and Eric Pupecki in Roomies.
  • eS’ video Menikmati (2000).
  • Adio – One Step Beyond.
  • When the internet first came: “it was a nuisance”.
  • Filming ‘Skate More’ for DVS.
  • Pre-YouTube days.
  • Shoe companies becoming the new distribution of skate videos.
  • The DC Video (2003).
  • Fully Flared’ (2007)
  • Making decisions to move forward.
  • “I’m a restless soul”.
  • Desire to create videos with “staying power”.
  • Leaving DVS.
  • His work affected his family life and relationships.
  • Going through divorce.
  • “Serialising content became a practical solution”.
  • Making video podcasts.
  • The initial horror of YouTube
  • The Berrics era.
  • Working with Steve Berra.
  • “Skating is a tough crowd”.
  • The self-policing landscape of skateboarding.
  • Working on ‘One Stop’.
  • The projects he’s focusing on now.
  • Shooting ‘QUIK’.
  • Working with brands whilst keeping creative control.
  • On another project for Adidas with Daewon coming out this year.
  • Passing all his projects through his wife first who is the best critic.
  • Working with his wife on short films and music videos, including ‘Brother & Sister’ by Blue Foundation.
  • Wired to be creative within boundaries and parameters.

People Mentioned

Companies/Brands/Organisations Mentioned