Tuesday, January 29, 2008
DAN MACFARLANE: SKATEBOARDING EXPLAINED
FROM BOOTLEG MAGAZINE APRIL 2007
Skateboarding Explained is a different breed in terms of how-to videos. There hasn’t been anything this comprehensive in terms of teaching people how to skate, from the basics to the tricks. MacFarlane teaches the 8 fundamental principles of riding a skateboard that apply to all levels of skating. By using these principles a skater’s performance automatically improves.
Originally from Houston, Dan MacFarlane has been skating for 20 years and represented some of the biggest companies in the skate industry. Top ranked on the pro circuit until taking a break to create Skateboarding Explained, he is also the top instructor at Lake Owen in Colorado, having taught thousands of skaters. Lake Owen is one of three Woodward camps known worldwide as the best camps to attend if you want to learn or improve skateboarding.
Skateboarding Explained’s nuts and bolts explanations are designed to teach skating to anyone from 5 to fifty (MacFarlane has taught a 51 year old to skate). The how-to dvd offers more than the typical trick-tips how-to-video. It stresses the fundamentals over and over throughout the dvd. This is smart, a must, especially for parents whose children have taken an interest in skateboarding. Foot placement, eye lines with on-screen arrows to position a skater’s focus in front of them as they move as well as narration by MacFarlane stresses practice, practice, practice. This repetition is key to assist new skaters get better and faster, not by merely popping in a video.
In an era of demanding rapid results this dvd is refreshing, something that reinforces practice instead of a quick fix. Kids spending time playing video games are susceptible to the notion that performing a kick flip is as easy as pressing buttons on a game controller. The basics are the main ingredient for any trick you want to perform, whether the 50/50, the Varial kick flip, Pop-Shovits or a nose or board slide.
Without these basic fundamentals, without learning first and having it down solid, learning the harder tricks is more difficult. These fundamentals, such as foot placement and sight lines, are repeated throughout Skateboarding Explained but are important to learning and are the basis for anything created or learned later on. It serves as a reminder to kids who are eager to learn but may be impatient. So even if someone is impatient, and skips further to the harder tricks, they are still getting reinforcement of the basics.
Also of note is the inclusion of footage of falling by MacFarlane. Doing so reminds kids that practice is necessary and even the pros still take a fall. While MacFarlane has been skating for 20 years and is a pro he is smart to stress that falling down and getting up to try again is imperative to those willing to learn. Trial and error will make you a better skater. And MacFarlane’s video shortens the learning curve without sacrificing safety.
The video is about focus. Instructions are simple, easy to understand and the footage is shot clean and in slow-motion (think The Matrix, 300) which illustrates the range of movement a skater should be emulating. The footage is shown without narration focusing solely on proper movement, no distractions. The dvd is separated by chapters for each lesson so it’s easy to back up and watch again.
Next to a helmet, Skateboarding Explained is a solid investment by parents or anyone, at any age, wanting to learn to skateboard.
BOOTLEG: How did the idea come about for Skateboarding Explained?
DAN: From the time I began instructing, my students would tell me how they liked lessons with me because I would actually “Explain” the tricks. They said they had videos that didn’t really help them, and they suggested that I make one.
BOOTLEG: How long have you taught at Lake Owen?
DAN: Since 2001. (I have taught thousands of private lessons and at other camps too.)
BOOTLEG: With the release last December and a wide release in May 2007, how easy or difficult has it been to get the word out to skate shops around the U.S.? Has it been word of mouth/internet buzz mostly?
DAN: The primary distributor, VAS Entertainment has really gotten the word out. Also, we have had magazine ads, an ad on Olliepop gum packs, and thousands of flyers distributed at major skate contests and events everywhere. I also spent a lot of time getting the word out through MySpace. I’m glad I did, because the real buzz came with the release of the 360 flip sample video on Myspace. They featured it as a “cool new video” and it ended up being the 2nd “Top Played” video out of all of Myspace that day. It had over 285,000 plays in one day! I took it off after a week, and in the end it had over 327,000 plays and a 5 star rating! MySpace has been a powerful tool for sure.
BOOTLEG: What do enjoy most about teaching others to skateboard?
DAN: I like to help people do things that they never thought they could do, and help them break away from self limiting thoughts. Even if they eventually get into something else besides skateboarding, they’ll carry the principles they learned with them.
BOOTLEG: What is the age range of students?
DAN: I have taught people from 5 years, to a 51 year old woman. I had the 51 year old woman doing fakie 360 kick turns on ramp, and fakie backside shove-its on flat ground! It was awesome!
BOOTLEG: What do you find is the hardest part of skateboarding for students to learn or what is the biggest hurdle?
DAN: A lot of people set limits on themselves or think negative thoughts. I help them get past this by teaching them tricks that are realistic for them, then pointing out how they just overcame their self limiting thoughts by landing the trick. This really works!
BOOTLEG: Is it easier to teach bowl skating versus street? Which do you enjoy most?
DAN: Once one learns the fundamentals and basics, the difficulty of learning street or bowl seems about equal…It just depends on how far one wants to take it. I enjoy teaching both…I am happy as long as the student is happy and learning what they want to learn.
BOOTLEG: How long did it take to shoot, edit and complete the dvd?
DAN: Due to weather and camp being in session, there were a lot of obstacles and challenges filming it. We basically filmed all of the stand-up shots in two days. On the third day we filmed the fundamental tricks, and on the last day, we were under budgeting and time pressures, so we filmed the rest for 16 hours straight! I was smelling blood and felt like I was going to have a heart attack after skating for that long! Keep in mind that I was the director too. To produce and edit it took about 6 months. It was gnarly. When you watch it, the video is so easy to follow, but the hardest part was making it work that way.
BOOTLEG: What has been the response so far?
DAN: The response has been great! It’s like the positive response I get when I actually teach, but on a much larger scale.
BOOTLEG: Do you have any other dvd’s planned?
DAN: Definitely! I have already been drafting new versions.
BOOTLEG: How long have been a professional skateboarder?
DAN: I have been pro since 2002.
BOOTLEG: When did you first become interested in it?
DAN: I started skating when I was 11. Since then, it’s all I want to do. Skateboarding tends to do that to people.
BOOTLEG: What has been the appeal for you, the physicality, the outsider/independence aspect of the sport…?
DAN: I was always stoked on what could be done on a skateboard. I like the fact that you don’t need a team or partner. The other thing that I love about skateboarding is how creative you can be with it, and finding new obstacles to conquer or take your tricks to. For instance, I thought up that Barley stall to 270 out (the photo sequence) and did it the next day, just for this interview. To me, that’s what is awesome about skateboarding…creating and progressing.
BOOTLEG: Have you ever been a surfer?
DAN: I live in Houston and there’s a bunch of surfers here in the gulf coast. I have tried to surf, and stood up once, but that’s about it. I would definitely like to get into it.
BOOTLEG: As a skater, what is it you like about Mentality decks? Have you made modifications or asked for them in order to grow as a skater?
DAN: All Mentality products go through a meticulous testing process before being picked by the team. We won’t make anything that we wouldn’t ride or wear ourselves. Everything is top quality and as a result, everyone is really happy. I feel that the main thing about Mentality is the message that were sending…”Your mentality has everything to do with riding a skateboard and the lifestyle that goes along with it.”
BOOTLEG: You’re from Houston, in your travels do you find that skateboarding is similar no matter where you go, the attitudes, the drive for the sport, or do regional differences make a strong impact?
DAN: There are noticeable regional differences because of weather, terrain etc, but overall I think skateboarders are skateboarders everywhere you go.
BOOTLEG: Throughout your career, what has been the biggest change in skateboarding?
DAN: The biggest change has been the expansion of skateboarding into the mainstream. I wish I had all of these public skate parks when I was growing up! Also, it is considered “cool” to be a skateboarder now. When I was growing up, being a “skater” seemed to have a lot more negative implications. I’m glad it’s more accepted now.
BOOTLEG: Do you see skateboarding remaining an outsider sport, something that will remain independent, or do you see it growing as a sport taken in by larger companies?
DAN: I think there will always be skateboarder owned companies. I believe all skateboard companies should be run by skateboarders because one must actually be “live” skateboarding and pay their dues to actually understand what it’s all about. However, I think it’s pretty obvious that big companies are going to be cashing in on what we created…They’re already doing it and they’re getting better at it. There are positives to this and there are negatives to this. It’s our responsibility as skateboarders to keep the integrity…I think we’ve done a pretty good job at it so far.
BOOTLEG: Do you see it growing as a sport taken in by larger companies?
DAN: That is a possibility if we don’t hold our ground. I think it’s inevitable that skateboarding is going to, keep growing; it’s just a matter of whether we’re in control of what goes on or not. I would like to see skateboarder owned companies become the “large companies” so that we won’t have to worry this stuff. Certain skate companies have already achieved this independence.
BOOTLEG: How do you feel about the encroachment of larger companies on the world of skateboarding? Or, in other ways, has it always been there to some extent?
DAN: This is an industry built from the ground up by people who love to skateboard…I am not too stoked on how certain companies have crept in and began to cash in our efforts. Once again, that has its positives too, because after much protest from us, some of them are giving back.
BOOTLEG: What skater(s) do admire most or did as a young person?
DAN: Tony Hawk, and Rodney Mullen. I still admire them because they are still pushing the limits on many levels.
BOOTLEG: Skateboarding is bigger than ever, where do you see it going in the next ten years?
DAN: I recently saw an article where the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, or SGMA said that in the next few years, skateboarders would out number baseball players. Skateboarding is taking over!
Skateboarding Explained can be obtained from your local skate shop, skateboardingexplained.com, monsterskate.com, skatewarehouse.com
and can be rented by download on totalvid.com. It will also be available
through CCS.com in their summer preview (mid April).