We’re stoked to be hosting Charlie Cassidy’s part from the new Shit4Brainz video 4X4, filmed entirely on a TRV900 camera featuring some of the roughest spots this side of a badger’s arsehole whilst simultaneously laying a solid blueprint for how to handle them. Have a watch, pick up the full length DVD from The Palomino to properly show your appreciation, and scroll below to read an interview with Charlie covering such varied subjects as spool swapping, VHS collectors, the challenges of finding untouched spots in the Big Apple, trading weed for Christmas trees, and the metaphysical aspects of Bill Danforth. Embrace the crust…
It might be well trodden ground to point out, but I’ll be fucked if it doesn’t get me stoked every time I see serious effort being put in to finding crusty, unique spots in a video, rather than another otherwise enjoyable edit which relinquishes a major part of its hold on my attention by its over reliance on filming somewhere like MACBA or Canada Water. Don’t get it twisted, I love both of those places – they are essentially fun as shit to skate, which is why they have become such skate Meccas – but I’ve had MACBA shoved in front of me so many times now it’s comparable to Anthony Burgess’ Ludovico Technique, and the ubiquity of Canada Water on social media and on every second London video to hit the web is such that, by now, it might as well be consistently soundtracked by a bit of the old Ludwig Van. A video, on the other hand, which demonstrates a keener eye in the field of spot hunting, is one which will immediately grab my interest and shake it like a terrier with a rat in its jaw. 4X4, the latest video from the Shit4Brainz crew, is one such visual terrier. The relentless outpouring of crust, spots cutty even by New York standards, will have even the hardiest brick bank fondler wincing and automatically clutching their filmer wheels.
Not only that, but they put out the video on both DVD and VHS, a declaration of intent which puts them firmly in our camp when it comes to opinions on physical releases (you can pick the DVD up from The Palomino). When we got the chance to speak to Shit4Brainz crew member Charlie Cassidy, as well as hosting his part from the video, we jumped at the chance; which is how you find yourself on this web page about to watch him ably handling crust and read about such varied subjects as spool swapping, VHS collectors, the challenges of finding untouched spots in the Big Apple, trading weed for Christmas trees, and the metaphysical aspects of Bill Danforth. Enjoy, osmose, then go out and skate something drenched in tetanus.
The part which accompanies this interview is from the new Shit4Brainz video 4X4 – for the uninitiated, what is Shit4Brainz and who is involved? Who can we expect parts from in this one?
Shit4Brainz is our little homie company we’ve been doing since around 2012, but we’ve been taking it more seriously since filming the video around two years ago. We made some shirts, wax, stickers, etc. to come out with the 4X4 Video and plan to keep it going with more product and vids. Our main crew is Thomas Del Carpio, Dylan Sepe, Tyler Rennard and myself, but we’re always skating with other people as well.
The whole video was filmed on a TRV900, did this bring up any challenges with regards to malfunctioning equipment or sourcing parts considered outmoded by the camera industry? And on the other side of that coin, what pluses came from using it?
I’d say 98% of the video is the TRV actually, there were a couple clips in there that were Hi-8 and some really old clips where I don’t know what camera it’s from – for example, the bail from the beginning of my part is from when I was 13 and there’s a clip in Tyler’s part 5-0ing a curb when he’s about 9.
I didn’t have too many problems with the TRV though, my lens got kicked off and scratched so I had to superglue the front part back on and eventually got a new camera and lens. I’d also have to superglue the hot shoe every once in a while so it wouldn’t jiggle when I’d film with a handle. I just recently upgraded to a VX1. It does look way better, and you have more control of the settings, but now there are no tapes and things are expensive and hard to find.
Pluses would be that it’s got a big screen and it’s cheaper and smaller than the VX setup, I’d get both the camera and the lens for about $150 each, but this was before they stopped making the lenses – I think they’re at least double now for a good one.
And editing wise, would I be right in saying you’ve taken influence from the cinematic masterpiece that is Street Survival with Bill Danforth? Have I been thinking about layback airs too much and am over-reading into this? Both?
I’d never heard of that one but just checked out some of it on YouTube. The beginning graphics are really sick and kind of similar to some stuff in our vid so I could see how you’d think that. I used this old editing pad thing that might be the home version to what they used for that, but nah, not a direct influence. Lay off the laybacks dude haha.
The layback airs just floated through your window perhaps, like some kind of airborne spores from an alien planet, resulting in the editing we see in this video…
Yeah, they must’ve passed through the astral plane space time continuum to permeate my subconscious third eye and awaken the layback secrets deep inside.
So having moved from Florida to New York, what was the best thing and worst thing about the move – both skate wise and non skate wise?
The best thing about moving to NY from Florida is pretty much everything; the food, the spots, more stuff to do in a smaller area, not having a car, the weather at times, I can go on and on. The downsides are that the Florida beaches are really good and I miss my friends that still live down there. We came out with a video called All For Now right before I left for NY and the days of filming for that were really fun, we just had a bunch of spots that were dialed in skate wise because we had known the area for so long. It took me a while to get that comfortable here and find my own spots, because everything has been destroyed. I feel like a traitor skating the same old stuff and it seems like the most common compliment to the video has been the variety of spots, which means a lot.
It’s definitely a challenge in a big city, finding something different to skate that hasn’t been rinsed and that might still be interesting and fun to film something at. What were your favourite NY spots to skate during the making of this video? Also, on the subject of filming in the city, when it comes to New York skate footage interactions with lurkers is almost a specific trope – any particularly good clashes happen during the filming of this one?
I think my favorite trick in my part is the backside 180 nosegrind on the red house ledge, it wasn’t really the most fun but I was stoked on how it came out. I got the fisheye angle but wasn’t super happy with it, so I tried it again with a long lens but my friend Jose ended up walking in the middle of the clip. At the time I was mad but now I think it’s funny and makes the clip. Plus it was cool to get him in the vid since he doesn’t really skate, we call him Joser Poser.
The spot I skated for my last trick was probably the most fun, we had seen it for years but it was behind a fence and overgrown with weeds. One day we noticed it was cleared out and the fence was open so we skated it for a couple days and ended up getting a couple clips on it. The reason it was open was because these hippy Canadian dudes were setting up to sell Christmas trees, they were really cool and let us skate for hours. Soy ended up trading them some weed for a Christmas tree.
As far as characters, we ended up bumping into this rapper dude named Top Notch. We were skating this cellar door in an industrial area when he walked by wearing a sick studded yellow leather jacket and started filming us on his phone. He was super stoked on us so we gave him some stickers and started following each other on Instagram, we thought he was going to be kind of whatever but he’s actually a really sick rapper. We ended up saying his catchphrases all the time and started naming things after him, like my favourite spicy nacho Doritos are now top notch dirts and this beer drinking spot we go to is called top notch rocks. He’s sick.
Haha fuck yes Top Notch!
Apologies for going full ex-Media Studies student with this one; but, with the Internet acting as skate footage outlet de rigueur in this day and age and every feral kid on the street asking if you’re ‘filming that for YouTube?’, what do you think the place of the physical skate video is in our culture?
I think if you didn’t grow up buying skate VHS or DVDs you’re probably not going to care about having a physical copy of a video. There’s so much skate content that gets pumped out everyday that people don’t want to buy it anymore. It’s just a different experience watching a VHS or DVD, like the whole film vs digital or VX vs HD thing – it just feels different and also has some nostalgia to it that attracts certain people. The VHS community is really cool (the b grade, weirdo, horror shit is probably my favourite) and I get stoked on all the dudes with the crazy collections out there, especially the skate VHS collectors. Whenever companies put out physical media nowadays it’s always dope to see; Sabotage, Quasi, Threads and Loophole are all good recent examples, and it’s amazing that there are places where you can find the old stuff too, like The Secret Tape.
I wanted to make physical copies because our crew still watches that stuff pretty frequently and, since I’m probably not going to make a physical copy skate video again, I wanted to try to make it special. We first thought of putting them all on ET tapes because they have a green top flap on them, but it was getting hard to find so I looked on eBay and found I could get cheap coloured tapes in bulk – Vegetales (green), Nickelodeon (orange) and Bob the Builder (yellow). Eventually I figured out the spool swapping thing, which is when you take apart and mix all the colours of the tape casings, and we ended up collabing with The Secret Tape who helped us promote those (thanks man!). As far as how they sold, I guess they did okay for a homie video. Around the premiere we sold more DVDs but the VHS have been selling slow and steady the whole time. It’s definitely like a niche thing, but if you get it you get it and that’s who we were trying to appeal to.
Oh man, I’ve just started discovering the hardcore VHS horror/B movie community on Instagram and I’m stoked – I lived in a skate house where one of my housemates worked in a charity shop and would get first dibs on the videos, so seeing those over the top VHS cases gets me all nostalgic and fuzzy feeling. It’s sick the way people are still making them; you guys, Fos with the Heroin videos, it kind of feels like how loads of punk bands are putting out music on cassette tapes now. An analogue fuck you to the digital era in a way, or at least to popular culture’s tendency towards steamrolling older mediums?
Anyway, that would probably be the perfect place to finish, but it would be remiss of me not to ask you to list your top five skaters with alliterative names!
Damn that’s sick! Yea we had a VHS plug but they ended up closing because of COVID unfortunately. Analogue forever!
I think you’re the second person ever to bring that up to me and I don’t really fit the bill pronunciation wise but in no particular order… Erik Ellington, Andrew Allen, Antoine Asselin, Jake Johnson and Dustin Dollin.
Charlie Cassidy – 4×4 Part