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950 RowanDavis backside180

How Nike's first exclusively Australian full-length film came together.

Words by Chris Middlebrook.

Caption: Rowan Davis came through hucking for Medley – backside 180 over a huge kinked rail. Photo by Cameron Markin.

Filming a full-length video is not easy on anyone involved, but I think that’s why we do them. They take a lot of hard work, lots of hours of driving, skating, planning, organising, great days, crap days, serious injuries, broken boards, security, cops, no spots, no tricks, too rainy, too hot – the list goes on but I won’t.

Medley follows on from the other Nike SB Australia video projects that I had produced. Pretty much the entire team had been involved in a video project by this stage and next I wanted to make a video, not a clip, that had parts the way we used to make them. This one was to focus on the younger up-and-comers.

It started initially with five guys: Jason Rainbird, Nicholas Andrewes, Jarrad Carlin, Dean Johnston and Sam Atkins back in September 2016. Following the completion of Cumberland County in May 2017, it made sense to add Charles Robertson, Jack O’Grady, Noah Nayef, Corey Young and Rob Pace to the roster. Brendan Gardoll’s tireless commitment to filming Cumberland County set him up to be the guy to work with them on Medley. Getting a full-time gig as a filmer was a dream come true for him.

There were still a few add-ons to come, one of which was Hayley Wilson. Hayley demonstrated she was down to get busy in the streets with the guys and I believed she deserved the opportunity to film and be a part of the project. Following this, flow guys Rowan Davis and Sam Sutton started filming with Brendan around November 2017 and wanted in, so they were added and were followed closely by Harry Mcevoy and Raph Langslow. If you do the maths on that, you’ll realise that Rowan and Sutton filmed their parts in less than six months.

The project morphed many times over the 18 months of filming and faced its fair share of challenges. The squad was big and the budget got tighter as we moved along. We did get one trip to Taiwan in late 2016, and a few to Canberra here and there, but as travel budgets dwindled I realised we needed to be set up to film most of this on home turf. Geoff Campbell and I would film in Melbourne and Brendan would cover Sydney. The skaters could travel between cities and work with the filmers who were there – that’s how we would do it.

The team spent a lot of time working together, and I was determined to capture and build that vibe into the video. I wanted to show their personalities and not just a bunch of tricks. That stuff isn’t always easy to capture, but you only need the right snippets of the right moments to make it work. I think what shines through, in the end, is that there was a passion and drive that existed amongst the squad to create a great video. It was the skaters’ approaches and attitudes and the way they fed off each other that made this video what it is.

As the footage built up, I started thinking about how was I going to pull all this together into something cohesive. I was adamant that I wanted to make a video with parts and to minimise the number of montages, and with the montages, I wanted the skaters that were in them to complement each other. I also wanted to ensure the whole thing flowed and kept moving.

When you start out making a video, you don’t know who will pull through with a part. With so many people involved there were many variables when it came to editing and producing. The questions ensued – How many parts? Who are they? How many songs and how long will each of these songs be?

My friend Lawrence Greenwood was up to the challenge of creating a soundtrack for the video. He had just done the song “For Lewis” to accompany the Lewis Forever video in January, and we’d discussed a soundtrack approach for Medley. This allowed songs to be created and amended but also gave the whole video a vibe from part to part. Lawrence would create short tracks, and I would see what would and wouldn’t work, and assign them to each skater and give him feedback, he’d then build them out and then we would curate them to fit to part.

The title Medley came during an editing session as I was looking at a sea of half-filmed parts and rough edits and laying sections over different rough beats. I thought, This is such a mixed bag of people – different ages, styles, tricks, approaches. Medley came to mind. It complements a showcase of the best dudes doing their best stuff and made sense from a soundtrack point of view.

My friend Gab Cole gave the project that extra bit of visual appeal with the artwork and titles that made it distinguished and also carried a youthful vibe. Then it was weeks and weeks of countless hours editing, tweaking, re-editing, changing songs, changing orders, pushing deadlines, then pushing deadlines again for one more clip all the way up to the very end to squeeze every little bit into the video and make it as good as it could be.

In the end, the video became something far bigger and better than I ever could have imagined and I thank everybody who put in and made it what it is.