The rise of independent brands is bringing skating back to its roots as a subversive subculture. This transition has opened the industry's doors to new board and shoe companies, turned low-key shredders into household names and ushered in a new era of film makers that have become their own brand – Chris Thiessen is one of them.
Along with aiding Transworld in their transition of image rebranding, Chris has also been cementing his name in the independent skate videographer category with a solid resume of videos under his belt. We sat down to chat about his work, his inspiration and the heavy squad he rolls with.
Hey Chris, why don’t you give us the rundown; name, location, etc?
I'm Chris Thiessen. I grew up about 40 minutes north of Atlanta in a town called Dacula in North Georgia. I’ve lived out in Long Beach, California now for over 7 years.
You recently filmed and edited TransWorld’s Riddles in Mathematics; what other video projects had you been involved in?
Before Riddles I worked on several TransWorld videos (Perpetual Motion, Outliers and Substance) along with multiple Threads videos (Headcleaner, Threadcleaner, Supervisual) and several of my own independent videos back in Atlanta.
Was it a pretty organic process, travelling filming with those guys? Or was there a bit of a learning curve; figuring out how each person operates, how you can work together?
Yes for the most part it was a pretty organic experience filming and traveling with those guys for Riddles. We would all discuss places we wanted to go for the video and then try to make it happen. Once we were in a new city we would usually start the day with deciding on spots we wanted to check out and then make a day out of hitting everything that came along the way to these spots. So we did a lot of cruising which is a lot of fun. I met most of the guys in Riddles as we started working on the video. I ran into Yaje (Popson) in LA and we skated a few times and it lead me to asking him to be a part of the video. Leo and I had begun emailing back and forth discussing skating and videos. I was so stoked on his approach and attitude towards skating that I had to get him involved in the project. I had met Ben (Gore) the year before in LA and I hit him up to see if he was down. I am a big fan of Bobby's (Dekeyzer) skating so we reached out to him to see if he would be interested. I ran into Stevie (Perez) and (Bobby) Worrest while skating in LA and Long Beach and was sparked to ask them to get involved as well. Everyone has a similar appreciation for skating so being out filming with everyone was always fun. It was truly an epic experience!
Jordan Taylor - Nose Manual - Photo: Alex Schmidt
What are some of the challenges that come along with filming people you don’t know?
Probably just the process of getting comfortable filming with each other. Everyone has their own approach so in the beginning you’re feeling it out. The early days filming with someone are fun, that’s when the spark gets lit.
How did you come to be the man behind the lens of Riddles in Mathematics?
I had been working for TransWorld since 2010. I was mainly doing the web videos for the TW site the first couple years I was there and in 2012 was asked to start working on the full length TW videos. The first one I worked on was Perpetual Motion with Jon Holland. The 2nd was Outliers which I worked closely with Oliver Barton on. The 3rd was Substance which was the first one I did completely solo. After Substance it was time to start the next full length which would become Riddles.
What got you interested in filmmaking?
I got sparked on the idea of making skate videos early in 2006. I had friends that were making videos in Atlanta and watching their process lead me to want to give it a try myself. So in the spring of 2006 I bought a VX and a new computer and started from scratch. Once I started I was hooked and became obsessed with it quickly. It was a challenge to do everything which was fun.
Who are some of your biggest influences when it comes to filming and editing style?
These days I'm mostly inspired by the VX world. VX videos have always had my attention over anything else. I am a big fan of Zach Chamberlin and Yoan Taillandier. Those dudes are probably the 2 best filmers in the game in my opinion. I love watching everything Josh Roberts does. I also love Alex Rose and Matt Creasy's filming styles. The Japanese VX skate scene is also incredible and the Rios crew is really inspiring.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
We are currently working on a new Threads video here in Long Beach. A few of the dudes involved are Jordan Mccollough, Alex Schmidt, Darius King, John Lindsay plus a lot more.
Give us your top 5 skate videos of all time:
Mosaic, Mix Tape, Cigar City, Jump of a Building, Photosynthesis.
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