Skaterdater: the world's first skateboard movie
How do you make a movie like "Skaterdater?" The entire production of this international award winning short is unique in almost every way.
Time Magazine, in an April 1966 movie review, called the store of "Skaterdater" a minor theme polished to a "professional perfection - a swift, sensitive and funny celebration of a small universal truth. Succinct as poetry, "Skaterdater" simply happens like a green spring morning; it is the lyric cinematic equivalent of light verse."
The events which were responsible for getting "skaterdater" story on the screen all began with the determination of two young Hollywood hopefuls, Marshal Backlar, a former Princeton philosophy graduate, and Noel Black who had earned two degrees at UCLA's film school. Each of them had kicked around the industry in various production jobs, and they shared a common frustration for wanting to make their own pictures.
Quitting their jobs they embarked on their Odyssey. Gathering together their saving, equipment borrowed from friends, a young crew who believed in their project, short ends of film acquired from Hollywood studios by a "secret supplier", and shooting on weekends, Backlar and Black, now calling themselves Byway Productions, began filming their carefully written shooting script which contained not a word of dialogue.
Naturally, their problems had just begun. Improvising a dolly to move along with the skateboarders through the streets; helping cameraman Mike Murphy follow the moving skateboarders - sometimes with the camera lense two inches off the ground; the soundman Michael Moore trotting behind the camera struggling to keep his sound cables clear; and spending evenings showing the days shooting to prospective backers as "the first theatrical film to capitalise on the new skateboarding craze" - these were among the ensuing month's headaches.
Finally, the shooting was completed, the shots edited, the sound effects laid in. Then a search began for the final critical factor which would be needed for the ultimate success of the entire project. A score had to be written that would capture the idiom and the feeling of the wild young boys on the boards. Believing that rock and roll is the true modern music of our times, Blackar and Black approached Mike Curb and Nick Venet, two of the most successful young musicians in the business. Their brilliant collaboration on the score gained them praise in many highbrow circles where rock music is not normally thought of as an art form.
The rest is pretty much show business history. "Skaterdater" was a nominee for an Oscar in the 1965 Academy Award presentations. In May of 1966 it was the short subject Golden Palm Gran Prix winner in the Cannes Film Festival - the only American film to be awarded a prize in that festival. It is now playing at motion picture theaters all over the country, and there are plans for it to be the basis of a television special. It's makers, Blacklar and Black have received offers to do feature films from five major Hollywood studios.
That then, is the successful formula...almost!
Words by Gerald Schiller
Excerpt from the Skaterdater soundtrack, 1966