Salute Your Shorts: Spike Jonze Skate Videos

Movies Features Spike Jonze
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Salute Your Shorts is a weekly column that looks at short films, music videos, commercials or any other short form visual media that generally gets ignored.

Back before he was directing feature films, Spike Jonze was best-known as one of the few auteur music-video directors.But before he was directing music videos, he was directing skateboarding videos (and if you go even further back, he was first a photographer then an editor for skateboarding magazines).His first time behind the video camera was filming skaters, and regardless of whatever else he’s worked on since, it’s a topic he continues to return to time and time again.

Spike Jonze’s first video, at least so far as anyone has documented, was “Rubbish Heap” for World Industries, put together back in 1989.Even as a first completed video, the film shows a lot of promise, if not too much execution.Jonze’s camera is incredibly fluid and seemingly everywhere, with some difficult angles and creative framing.Another Jonze trademark, the use of rather esoteric music instead of a more typically punk or pop-rock flavored stuff usually featured in skate vids, also comes into play.Otherwise, it’s not a particularly noteworthy skate video, and though it looks pretty good for the time it was made, for the most part it blends in with everything else that was released later.Jonze’s voice can be heard a little less than a minute in, which is welcome, since for anyone but skateboarders it may be hard to sit through the entire video.This excerpt video cuts off about 10 minutes before the end, but the rest of it is largely more of the same.Unfortunately, Jonze himself didn’t have much of a hand editing the video, which explains why it’s far more aimless than everything else he’s worked on.

Two years after completing “Rubbish Heap,” Jonze came out with a second skateboarding video, and this time the result was a resounding success.“Video Days,” made to promote Blind Skateboards in 1991, was originally noticed due to its innovative skateboarding techniques.Mark Gonzales in particular was popular, though perhaps of more interest to outsiders is the footage of Jason Lee—yes that Jason Lee

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