Revenge of the Devil’s Toys is a new longboarding film unlike anything you’ve seen before. We caught up with Fabio Palmieri of NotWorkingFilms and Giancarlo Percopo of the Montestella Crew to discuss things.
CW: Who are you guys? And why is there a talking skull in your video?
Fabio: It’s a good question, and I’d like to reply that Grandpa Abrahams will be angry for your definition, he’s a really bad-ass, but I don’t know exactly why this has happened. Our story is our background. Gianka (Giancarlo) is a longboarder, besides a musician and a longtime friend of mine. I’m a director with contemporary art roots. We grew up together in the difficult reality of Naples, and since two years we make videos with other skaters from Milan, the place where we actually live. With these guys we started the “Montestella Crew.” That is not a professional sporting team, just friends sick for longboarding who meet at the Montestella Park in Milan. Our aim is to make videos with a different approach to the skateboarding, not really focused on the technical side but on the emotional and ecstatic experience. We always loved metal music, horror movies, all things weird and creepy and of course the skateboard, so Revenge of the Devil’s Toys connects all these interests.
CW: The trailer is longboarding meets Quentin Tarantino. I assume he’s been a huge influence. Your thoughts?
Fabio: The video is clearly a tribute to Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ Grindhouse and to all B movies in general. At the beginning my challenge was just to mix these various genres with the longboard, but we had so much fun that the project overflowed, and it became something closer to a real feature film.
Long time before YouTube and this massification of the media, we dreamed for hours on a single magazine stolen from a friend, on a single picture as the graphic of our board, until that image became the landscape of our imagination and our ride. I think this evocative aspect is strictly connected to the skateboard, and I always try to communicate it in my work.
Giancarlo: A special mention to the Santa Cruz Claus Grabke “Clock” model (1988, by Jim Phillips) that stunned us for years.
CW: Where do you guys like to ride? Is Milan really that flat?
Giancarlo: We like to skate in every downhill spot that allows a good drift. We like freeride and slide, but also downhill and slalom. We are satisfied with flat spots, too, ’cause Milan is a damned plain city – except the Montestella Park, which is a little artificial hill made by the rubble of the World War II; this is something interesting and poetic at the same time.
CW: So who’s the guy with the mad editing skills?
Fabio: As a director, I found in longboard the perfect stylization to tell the relationship between strength (adrenaline, downhill) and grace (freeride, dancing), as the ski jumping was the ideal stylization for Werner Herzog to tell the ecstatic moment in his Die Grosse Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner. Unlike the street skate, I think longboard embodies the most primal feelings of the board sports, where the sensation of a simple carving becomes more important than the trick itself – where the fun and the quest for feeling free remain the main goal.
CW: The first Devil’s Toy took place in Montreal, Quebec, more than 45 years ago. How did it get onto your radar, and what are your thoughts on Claude Jutra, the director?
Fabio and Giancarlo: Internet is a magical thing. The Devil’s Toy is one of those rare films that really left a great impression on you. Up to 1980, independent and low-budget productions were creative and radical, and they talked about a rising sub-cultural phenomenon. Today it seems that the appearance dominates, forgetting these experimental roots – luckily with some exceptions as [Stacy] Peralta’s work, the Z-Boys documentaries, Sector 9’s Second Nature (absolutely breathtaking) or some Loaded videos. But we’re also in the middle of a global social revolution, with such an advanced and accessible technology never had before, and skate culture is exploiting a newfound popularity. We believe that something good must come out from this. At the same time, it’s sad to notice that “mainstream filmography” [has] used skateboarding just as an excuse to justify trivial stories or as an appeal for young audiences.