Modern skate videos are rarely released without a mountain of hype behind them. Josh Stewart took seven years to make Static IV/V, the upcoming Vans video has been in progress since 2008, and Plan B hyped True for close to ten years. The iPath promo didn’t have a lot of buzz around it; in fact, it didn’t even have an official premiere. Instead, it quietly dropped in the fall of 2005, tucked neatly in the corner of issue #19 of The Skateboard Mag, free to subscribers (and whoever tore the bag open at their local grocery store). The video surprised everyone with top-notch skating from a list of legends who were seldom seen before the promo dropped, and even less in the years since. The iPath promo is considered a classic now, but little is known about what went on behind the scenes. To celebrate the video’s tenth anniversary, we caught up with Dan Wolfe, the mastermind behind the project, to see what he had to say about the iPath promo a decade later.
Closure (2003) was supposed to be your farewell to filming. How did you get involved with the iPath promo?
I worked for iPath from 2001 through 2005, doing ad & catalog layout. The team had been collecting footage and decided that they wanted to release something, so I agreed to edit it.
How long did the project take? Did you have total creative control over the video? The iPath team was definitely all over the map at this point, literally. How much of the video did you actually film?
I’d say a few years. I didn’t have total creative control. Like most company skate videos, it was mix of the rider’s ideas and some of the ideas that Mike Fox & myself had. I’d say I filmed about 20% of the video.
Was all the 16MM footage filmed by Mike Fox? Did he play a role beyond just filming?
Yes, the 16mm was all filmed by Mike Fox. Mike and I became friends and then roommates and he was always around filming and traveling with the team.
At the time of release, the iPath team was full of guys who were rarely seen before and since the video, such as Quim Cardona, Tim O’Connor, and Jake Rupp. As such, it earned a cult following of sorts. Did you expect the video to gain such notoriety while you were filming it?
Not really, because as the title implies, it was meant to be just a promo. I think it ended up surprising people because it wasn’t really hyped up and it just came out subtly and had good skating in it.
Since you didn’t film the whole thing, how hard was it procuring footage of some team members? I’m sure lots of footage came from tours, but I can’t imagine there being a huge batch of unused Bobby Puleo footage to pick and choose from, for example.
It wasn’t hard to get the footage. Once we started doing rough edits and showing team riders, the video gained momentum and people started sending stuff in.
Who stood out most during the filming process?
Probably Jack Sabback & Matt Rodriguez. Jack was hungry and on a mission and Matt Rodriguez is just a master.
Were Jack Sabback and Matt Rodriguez slated to have full parts the entire time, or was the video a “film as much as you’d like and we’ll include whatever” deal?
They weren’t necessarily slated to have full parts. Anybody could have stepped up, but it just became obvious that they had the goods.
Who’s idea was it for Matt Rodriguez to skate to his own music?
Matt’s. He mentioned the idea and we thought it was cool, so I went to his place in Sacramento and filmed him playing.
Did you have any part in motivating Ocean Howell to have the amount of footage that he did?
Mike Fox used to live with Ocean so they were friends with each other and were always skating anyway. I also became good friends with Ocean while he was living in San Francisco. I wouldn’t really call it motivating him, it was just going skating with friends and filming.
What was filming with Danny Renaud like? This is when he was in full-on dirt mode, correct?
I didn’t film Danny at all, his footage came from other filmers or Habitat. I do believe it was during his full dirt mode though, for sure.
Going back to music, I’m a huge fan of the Gang Starr track used for the Dirty South part – it fits really well, and the transition between Jon Newport and Danny Renaud is perfect. Was that all your idea?
Yes, that one was. I’ve always liked that Jeru song and when I was trying different songs for those two, I dropped that one in and knew it was the right song.
Another unique section of the video is the Barker Barrett/staff part. I can’t think of many larger company videos that took the time to highlight the behind-the-scenes players, and it really adds to the tight-knit vibe of the video. What was the inspiration for that? Any good stories or trivia behind that part?
The inspiration was just Barker and showing that the staff skated. Barker rips and is a character, plus Mike Fox, Markus Brown, and John Trippe… all rippers.
What were some of the better rider ideas that made it into the video? Were there any rider ideas that you initially didn’t think would work, but fit well in the finished piece?
Kinda drawing a blank on this one. The only rider ideas I can think of are Matt playing his own music, and Jack’s Kinks song, which he picked and I thought was perfect.
What was your favorite part in the video?
Matt Rodriguez, for sure. He skates fast and fluid and is really in control of his skateboard.
How do you feel about the video in relation to your other work? Are you surprised people list it as one of their favorite videos, or favor it over your other videos?
I like the video, it’s short and has a good vibe. I think it struck a chord with people because iPath was a good crew of people, people that were actually friends that skated and hung out together and not some type of assembled “super-team.”
What changes would you make to the finished project if you were to release it today?
Maybe just try to get more footage of the Jersey part dudes, like Tim, Bobby, and Quim.
A huge thanks to Dan Wolfe for taking the time to answer our questions. Special thanks to Matt Creasy for helping with the interview.