Renowned skateboard filmmaker Josh Stewart got his start making videos in his native Florida. He's built a stellar reputation on skate films including the "Static" series, Adio's "One Step Beyond" and "Cigar City." Recently, Stewart returned to his Florida roots to work intensively on the first shop video for Miami's premiere skateshop, MIA. The result, "Welcome to MIA," is premiering now and due to hit shops everywhere next week. With a solid crew of skater including Ed Selego, Forest Kirby, Joel Meinholz, Brian Delatore, Ben Gore and more, the video is one worth buying and definitely one to watch again and again. I caught up with Stewart to talk about the making of the film and what he's got coming up next.
How long did you work on this project for?
I've been good friends with [MIA co-owners] Ed Selego and Chris Williams forever but I've never really done anything with the shop until this video. It literally took almost exactly two years to the month from when we started to when we finished. I was working on "Static IV" when he called me about it. I was like, 'Dude, I'm going to have to split between the two videos.' But it ended up where I put a lot more energy into the MIA project because those dudes needed it to be done. I was in Miami for about 12 months over the last two years working on it.
Tell me about some of the guys that have full parts and how it was decided who'd have full parts since the shop has a broad team.
When it got started, like I said, I already had stuff that I was working on. But Ed and Chris were in the first video that I ever sold or did that went beyond Tampa [Where Josh got started making videos]. Because of that friendship, I told Ed, 'Dude, I'm not going to do this video unless you're going to have a full part for it.' So Ed was a no brainer; Ed has to have a part. And then Joel [Meinholz], he's been the Miami guy forever. He's from Wisconsin originally but basically everybody in skateboarding knows him as the Miami representative. So Joel has to have a full part. Forest Kirby wanted to do a full part but he was still working on the Zoo York video when the project began. So I didn't know if that could happen. With everyone else, we gave everyone the opportunity to step up and if they were excited at the opportunity and took advantage of it, then they'd get a part. The people you see in the video who have full parts are people who tried really hard and stuck with it through the whole thing. Even Brian Delatore, I didn't think he'd have a chance of coming through with a whole part because he didn't live in Miami anymore and when we started the video he was living in San Francisco and we didn't have a filmer in SF with him very often. But it just worked out that he can get a ton of footage really quickly so ...
Of the whole video, the montages and the full parts, what gets you the most excited looking at the finished project?
That's hard to say. It's hard to give a single answer. Joel is somebody who's never really had a proper full part. He had some pitfalls here and there but I'm really psyched to see him come through with a full part. All of us were really happy about that.
Ben Gore was the dude that probably took the most advantage of trying to skate. He stayed in Florida as much as possible and would show up every day to skate. He and I would find new spots all the time. To me, his is the most complete part because he put the most amount of energy into it.
I filmed a part with Forest in "Static." I've been friends with Forest forever and I just didn't think he'd be able to come through with a part just because of his obligations with the Zoo video. I don't know how to say it but it's a completely different feel from what people are used to from Forest Kirby's skating. So that got me really psyched. I've seen a lot of people react really well to his part at the premieres. I mean, his Zoo part, I just watched it again, it's amazing. So for him to be able to come through with a new part and a whole different feel to it, that's sick.
This video has gotten a lot more hype than other shop videos mainly do to the heavy lineup and your involvement in the filmmaking. Is it going to be more widely distributed?
This is MIA's first video and I haven't distributed my own video since "Static II" but we tried to get every contact that I've had in the past. The video, thankfully, has a sick pro lineup and a few ams that haven't really gotten to shine yet but people know they're amazing like Delatore and Gore and this kid, Louis Perez from Miami; his stuff in the video is amazing. So hopefully the video is so well rounded so they'll be an interest worldwide. We've gotten distribution in Europe and Japan and all over the U.S. Hopefully it gets out there as much as possible. We didn't have the luxury of doing a digital distribution with iTunes or anything but hopefully it gets out there quite a bit. It'll also be available to order on my site, Theories of Atlantis, and on the MIA website. It's shipping now so the video will be available as of today, should be in shops at the beginning of next week.
Anything else you want to add?
I'll just say this: Barcelona and now Shanghai are kind of go-to cities today for companies to send their teams for a month at a time to film for videos. Miami was that domestic city for over a decade. Everyone would send their team to film but nobody from Miami ever benefitted from that. It's one of the cities that was pillaged and used by the skate industry without anything being given back to that community; guys from Miami didn't get sponsored, the scene didn't really get support. MIA skateshop has given the city a scene. With this video, it puts Miami on the map as its own skate city. I can't recreate the Sub Zero video, "Real Life" or the FTC video, "Penal Code 100A" but the goal was to try to make a shop video that's as memorable as those iconic videos and that puts the city itself on the map with an identity as a real skate city.
Beyond this video what's next for you? Do you have other projects on the horizon?
I was right in the middle of filming "Static IV" before this thing. I've been still working on that when I can. I don't have the lineup completely solidified but Jahmal Williams and Vivien Feil will have full parts. Other than that, I'll take on whatever else comes my way. I'm psyched to do different things, anything new that's not a two-year-long production I'm into.