A CHAT WITH ZEKE KUBINSKI ON HIS LATEST VIDEO PIECE WITH JOEY LUNGER
Interview by Ryan Loewy
Photographs by Zeke Kubinski
The dynamic of the skater-filmer relationship is a special one. A wealth of trust and honesty are required in order for the relationship to work and for both parties to truly benefit one another.
I asked Zeke for a few minutes of his time to get a better understanding of how their relationship developed, as well as his craft with videography and how he has honed his discipline.
I wanna begin with the idea of the relationship between a filmer and skater. The theory of trust plays a heavy role here. I feel like you and Joey both trust each other. How long have you known Joe and how did the relationship develop?
Oh shit, I’ve known Joey since like 2005. We grew up in neighboring neighborhoods. But it wasn’t until around 2010 that we really began skating together and became good friends. We always seemed to have similar opinions regarding skating. We liked the same pros, the same tricks, the same edits. I think we both trusted each other’s taste, and that’s been a big factor in developing our relationship.
I’m sure. So how did you get yourself into video?
I think it was 2005, about the same time I started getting into skating, I received a small video camera for Christmas. It came packaged with this software called Digital Blue, and the camera and software were only useable together. I used them to record and edit the skating that my friends and I were doing around the neighborhood. I never felt like I was particularly good at skating, or enjoyable to watch rather. Especially when when I was younger, I felt more comfortable documenting what my friends were doing. They were always way better than me, and I was often discouraged by this. But filming was like this whole other dimension to skating, where I could be involved without necessarily having to be “good.” That sounds really lame as I write it out now haha, and my opinions on what “good” means have changed quite a bit since then, but looking back I think that’s the real. reason why I took to filming.
Oh dude I couldn’t agree more. I am an awful skater and always felt that way too. I feel like for me, photography is a way to compensate for my short comings with blading…
Anyhow, I know you’ve developed a taste for what you like and don’t like with filming, with edits, with one’s presentation…How does your workflow go with filming? Do you have certain rules that you adhere to? For me, like, I can’t use a photo where a limb is cut off, or you can’t see the landing of the spot in full, you know?
I used to clam up at sessions and not skate because I was so embarrassed to suck. I guess as I’ve gotten older, the desire for others to think I’m good has faded. I still hate getting clips of myself though haha.
As far as my workflow goes, I always feel like I need to lace the filming just like a skater needs to lace the trick. The skater and myself both have our own set of standards that we need to meet in order for the clip to be acceptable. But I really like when there is an overlap between the skater and the filmer. Where the skater lets me have an opinion on the trick and their performance, and I let the skater have an input on the filming and my performance. Working with Joey is like that, and that’s where that idea of trust comes up. We trust each others opinions. If he doesn’t like the angle, he’ll tell me. And if I don’t like the trick, I’ll tell him.
There were a few times in Vancouver where I fucked up the filming while he nailed the trick, or I laced the filming while he didn’t quite land like he wanted to, and we had to try again. But we understand that both of our own personal standards need to be met in order the make the clip acceptable. So I really like when the skater and myself can have a discussion about the clip as a whole and how it should be executed. For me that’s what makes the experience of filming most enjoyable, and that’s how you get the best results.
I think that’s a very healthy relationship to have, especially the aspect of honesty and trusting that honesty. I feel like that can be hard sometimes. So Joey told me that you guys spent 16 days out there. Let me ask, how did the idea of going to Vancouver come about?
So every Summer from 2010 to 2016, Joey and I would make a Summer edit here on Long Island (excluding 2015 due to Joey’s ACL injury). But then Joey moved to California in late 2016, and we didn’t get to make anything substantial last year. So this year we decided to take a trip to a city that neither of us have every been to, so we could make a full piece. We were stuck between Phoenix, AZ, El Paso, TX, and Vancouver, BC. Then we heard that Vancouver had great public transportation so we decided that was the best bet.
How was filming in Vancouver compared to LI?
It was sick. It was nice to just be in a new environment, skating spots that were new to us. The best part was that we barely got kicked out of any spots. I don’t know if we just got lucky, or if they’re just more chill out there, or what. But in the 16 days were were there, we only got kicked out of maybe 3 or 4 spots. We didn’t have a car either, so the public transportation was very helpful with getting around. There was a sense of urgency too. We both knew we only had two weeks, and we had to make every day count. It was very easy to be productive.
That’s amazing. I can only imagine going into that and not knowing if the variables are going to work. But i mean shit, y’all laced! So let me ask, cause i feel like this is equally as important in your as filming is , can you tell me a bit about your process with editing? Is that something that you go into having some sort of idea of structure? Like i know some dudes may have a song in mind, or certain visual…or do you usually go in with a blank canvas?
I feel like all the stuff I make is pretty generic. I don’t usually have any interesting visuals, I rarely have any Broll or lifestyle shots to cut to, I’m not big on using slow-motion. I guess I try to let the skating speak for itself, but maybe that’s more of an after thought rather than an active decision I make. I don’t really focus on telling a story or evoking an emotion of some kind either. Maybe if I worked on a bigger project I would focus more on that, but I really just try to make sure the clips line up well with the song, and that all of my cuts are on a beat. I rarely have a song in mind before I start a project, but the filming always seems to go smoother when I do. I’m particular about what clips are next to each other in the timeline. Like, I won’t put two topsoul clips next to each other if I can help it. Or too many ledge clips next to each other. Or too many right footed tricks. I like when a video is well rounded, and putting too many similar tricks together can get boring and repetitive, so I try to avoid things like that if I can.
I love hearing that because I share a similar mentality when shooting a story or feature. So I guess we can finish this off with a simple one, what’s next for you?
I’d like to get more involved with the NYC scene. I need to make more of an effort to come out to sessions and events. I’m going to try and prioritize that moving forward.
Vansterdam, featuring Joey Lunger filmed by Zeke Kubinski, is now available for purchase here.