Director of the documentary film DRAGONSLAYER --> DRAGONSLAYER is a documentary about the skateboarder Josh "Skreech" Sandoval. He's a character and the film follows his many ups and downs dealing with young parenthood, competing, and relationships. However, rather then try and make some type of statement about him, it just presents him objectively in the way that he is through wonderful cinematography.
I spoke with Tristan Patterson, the film's director, over the phone and asked him some of the questions I had after watching his film.
ATTENTION: The following interview may contain SPOILERS -- so you may want to watch the film before you read it.
Skreech is what I describe as a crusty kid. He doesn't seem to shower often and often hangs around a semi-homeless group of friends. Anyways, midway through the film they all take a road trip together and all I could think about was how bad the van must've smelt.
"To be honest, I think we all smelt pretty bad," said Tristan "so I can't really be judgmental about it"
It's that approach to the filming that allowed Tristan to capture so many intimate moments though. Especially, in some of the scenes where he got footage of underage kids drinking and using drugs, which I imagine would've been next to impossible if he had started preaching at them.
"I wasn't witnessing anything that I wasn't doing at their age. So who am I to tell people about how to live their lives"
But what about when they would trespass onto peoples' properties to skate their pools? Wasn't he nervous?
"I figured that if anything happened, we'd be able charm our way out of it."
And it's Skreech's charm, which becomes apparent as the film progresses. So even though you see him get into some pretty hairy situations or party too hard, you realize that his heart is in the right place. And that he actually is trying to be a good father.
After all the time that Tristan and his crew spent with Skreech, I imagined that it would be nerve-wracking to finally show the finished film to him.
"When we screened the film for Skreech I was kind of nervous because it had been about a year and a half long process... but he just kind of laughed at all of the moments he had forgotten and every now and again would turn to his girlfriend Leslie and tell her that she looked really good in a particular scene."
Tristan told me there were countless moments he wished they were able to capture on camera. But the film is great as it stands, so he doesn't have to worry too much. It got me wondering though – what was something he thought most people wouldn't realize about Skreech when they watch the film?
"He's an early riser and would often be awake before any of us. Plus, he has this remarkable ability to be aware of everything that's going on around him."
One of the things that I thought the film was able to capture excellently was how rough skateboarding in pools actually is. I mean, in photographs it looks like this glamorous thing, but in reality it results in broken bones and ripped skin.
"It's really hard to convey to people that these guys are seriously injuring themselves when they fall in a pool. The surfaces are often rough and the transitions are slow."
The trucks on Skreech's skateboard are so loose that even a little kid points it out to him during a competition. So, it's a miracle he can skate with it, let alone do an entire competition with it. One of which is in Sweden of all places. After talking about how amazing this was for a little while, Tristan told me about this myth people would often recant when they were around Skreech.
"When he was 18 or 19 he skated with a Barbie doll taped to his arm so he wouldn't break his wrist."
For more info on the film, check: dragonslayermovie.com
LA Times review: http://articles.latimes.com/la-et-dragonslayer-capsules-20111111
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