Scerbo: "The video just kind of happened"

It's been almost two months since Skavenger sent the Internet into a flurry by premiering their video on Defgrip. The video, full-length, available for free, and about as true to actual street riding you can get without actually filming the riding, was one of my favorite things to happen to BMX last year. Bob Scerbo put the video together and let me pick his brain about the video and videos in general. Bob spoke frankly about ABDs, spots, and approaching his riding and video making in the exact opposite direction of the majority of BMX. First, I'm going to completely throw out any objective journalistic integrity and say that the Skavenger video is great. I'd even go as far to say that I think it's your masterpiece of sorts. It's not wildly different from other videos you've been apart of but it seems complete and entirely thought out. Did you know how you wanted it to look from the beginning?
Scerbo: Honestly the video just kind of happened, a lot of it was ideas I had been playing around with bored at night and out of nowhere it seemed like we needed a video to be done, so I just started combining mess around edits and really liked what it was turning into. The video was not very thought out or anything, but neither is Skavenger.

Sandy Carson

Bob Scerbo in Austin, Texas, 2004.

What about the TV show theme? Was that something that you'd been messing with or did it come together later. I personally love that aspect of it.
Not really sure how that came together, it just seemed fitting with the kind of footage I was stock piling. I am constantly filming stuff off my TV and gathering sound bites for some reason, it's just kind of a hobby of mine. Edwin and Vinnie are always sending me funny stuff from the TV too, I guess the video is just a big inside joke to some degree.

Awesome. Okay, I really don't even want to touch this since the argument is so over done but I feel like I have to ask. What are your thoughts on this comment on Defgrip, where the video premiered, "Filming was so [expletive] it made it almost unwatchable. It aint 97, figure this modern [expletive] out"?
Obviously that is one comment out of many viewers and I have no idea who said it. I would love for that clown to test his credentials against mine in the filming world and riding in general, that would be fun for me. Unless someone says something to my face I have no respect for it.

Stepping away from the Skavenger video for a minute, I'm curious to get your opinion on something. This isn't saying there are any in the video, honestly I wouldn't know because I don't study videos, but what's your take on something that's "Already Been Done" on a spot (ABD). Do you care? Should kids care? My friend and I were discussing this and we both decided that if you were going to do something, you should do it and not stress it.
I take that serious on a street riding level but not on a video level, there is no need to study what other people do or base riding around anyone else. With that said, if I personally do something in a video and some herb goes and 180's or bars out of it knowing I did it and throws it in some slop edit, that's just corny. As far as being out riding with your friends goes, the streets are open and everyone should have fun. I will say I have no respect for filmers ghost writing videos for riders who have skills but no eyes.

Bob's part from the first Skavenger video.

Right. That makes sense. But can you elaborate on this idea of ghost filming? I'm assuming you mean like just straight up telling a rider what to do?
I just appreciate riders who truly love their spots and take pride in learning their landscape. I was never really a fan of the idea of street riding being about clips. It seems now the rate that companies expect things to be done is really taking a lot of the soul out of it and you can tell when you watch videos. It's pretty similar to the old trail rider/dirt jumper disputes years ago. I don't like seeing spots violated.

That's a good point. This sort of relates to the ABD dilemma, how important are spots in videos?
To me spots are everything, and it has nothing to with my videos or what other people do. I am obsessed with it on a level that there are only a handful of humans that would ever understand. I study maps, learn my history and lurk the hood in ways that would scare most people. I can honestly say it has never been about getting things done as fast as possible for me. I don't relate well with most of the people in my "profession." I feel blessed to work with the riders I work with.

How so? Does this relate to the early comment by the kid on Defgrip said; new filming technologies and fancy editing isn't really what you are after. That's what makes you different from the others in your profession?
I am definitely into new technology and appreciate all kinds of editing styles depending on how it is done. I like when people have a distinct style. I was more talking about my ideas of what a video should be and how the process of making it should be. It's comparable to when a nature show can't get a shot naturally -- they will shoot it in a studio and blend it into the show. Sometimes that's how things look to me In bike and skate videos these days. I don't want it to sound like I think everything is bad, there is a ton of great stuff coming out all the time. It just sucks that a lot of the riders I want to see are getting pushed out because a younger kid in the van is gonna get more done, and whoever paid for the trip needs to make sure the investment is worth it. I want my videos to be the opposite of that approach.

I'm glad you said that. It's one of the things that I do respect about skating -- older guys still have clout. But back to spots quick. Would you say you seek out street spots like how people used to (still do) seek out pools, pipes etc? I mean, I think it shows on the video -- the spots are incredible.
Sure, pools and pipes are spots just as much as a ledge or a set of woods that would be good to build trails. I am constantly seeking things out that are non-riding related and that's how I find a lot of my spots. Anyone who has ever gone on a mission to find a pool or a mythical spot will tell you the journey is what it's about. When the journey is Newark at 2 a.m. trying to see into the projects, you are definitely gonna have an interesting time.

When you say you seek things out that are "non-riding related", care to elaborate?
When I say non-riding related it means I could be there for any number of reasons from food to something historical I want to look at.

Okay, final question. In addition to initially releasing the video online, the flick is available for 5 bucks as a real DVD. What was the idea behind releasing online and keeping the DVD price so low?
I wanted the video to be seen for obvious reasons, it's really tough these days to stand out and I have to constantly reevaluate how I put stuff out, that is why we debuted it online. The DVD exists strictly for the people who collect. I collect everything and just thought it was a way to be fair. Every copy was burned either by Vinnie or myself and done by hand. I think we found a perfect balance this time around but obviously things are going to continue to change and I will try my best to adapt.

If for some reason you haven't watched the Skavenger video, You can watch it in its entirety on Defgrip.

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