5 Skate Films You Need To See

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If you’re a frequent reader of Canvas, you’ll know that we’re pretty big fans of skateboarding. It can be equal parts creative, exciting, visceral, artistic and inspiring, appealing to different people for different reasons. With that in mind, we’ve decided to put together a list of five of our favourite skate videos that we think you really need to see.


When Girl’s Yeah Right! movie first came out it was a game-changer in a lot of ways, but mostly due to the way it blended clever cinematic tricks and gorgeous cinematography with sections from some of the world’s most talented and recognisable skaters. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker and Girl co-owner Spike Jonze and Ty Evans, the film used green screen technology to create the illusion of invisible skateboards and over-the-top tricks, as well as featuring a section of tricks shot in ultra-slow motion, filmed with a camera capable of shooting 100 frames per second. There’s even a cameo from Owen Wilson!


Alien Workshop’s Photosynthesis is more than a just a great skate video – it’s proof that skateboarding and video art can co-exist in a way that has purpose, evokes emotions and looks beautiful. The skating is incredible, with the Alien Workshop team doing amazing things at some classic spots which don’t even exist anymore, but for a lot of people it’s the vibe of the film that makes it so special. From the hazy images on the video cover to the clever editing, perfect pacing and laid-back atmosphere it created, Photosynthesis is as good a piece of skate art as you’ll ever see.


If all the artistic shots and Modest Mouse soundtracks seem a little soft, Toy Machine’s Welcome to Hell is the polar opposite. Straight from the outset, Welcome to Hell was a statement and a wake-up call, full of energy, excitement and power. A team including Ed Templeton, Elissa Steamer and Jamie Thomas seemed to destroy everything put in front of them, with Toy Machine becoming pioneers in the art of taking on huge gaps and massive rails. The film’s soundtrack works perfectly, and it includes one of the most brutal slam sections in existence.


Yes, we know we’re cheating by trying to include three different videos, but the choice was too difficult. For a while it seemed like you couldn’t go a year without Transworld releasing a truly memorable and inspiring skate film, and if you ask anyone which was their favourite, they’re guaranteed to say one of these three. Feedback saw parts from a young Arto Saari, Geoff Rowley, Andrew Reynolds, Jason Dill & Chad Muska and Sight Unseen offered a perfect mix of bowls, hammers and technical ledge skating, while The Reason shone a light on the talents of Stevie Williams, Cairo Foster and Gershon Mosley.


Looking at the list so far, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Americans have largely dominated the word of skate films. Flip’s Sorry proves otherwise. In 1994  the UK company moved out to the US, and 8 years later they dropped Sorry - an incredibly influential, wildly popular and distinctly European video with parts from Tom Penny, Geoff Rowley, Rune Glifberg, Bastien Salabanzi and Ali Boulala. The film even got a bit of added British flavour with introductions from punk icon Johnny Rotten.

There are obviously countless films we could – and probably should – have included in this list, so here are some other videos we highly recommend you check out:

Menikmati (es), Misled Youth (Zero), Video Days (Blind), The Storm (Osiris), PJ Ladd’s Wonderful, Horrible, Life (Coliseum), Bag of Suck (Enjoi), The Search for Animal Chin (Powell-Peralta), Fully Flared (Lakai), Stay Gold (Emerica), The DC Video (DC).

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