Joe Navran is without a doubt one of the most influential videographers in the history of the sport, and through both the tricks & characters featured in his flicks, he single-handedly changed blading and the lifestyle associated with it forever. With some of the most insane stunts ever caught on tape, many incredible personalities, and milestones like the release of USD‘s first team video Coup De Tat, Joe’s contribution to blading has greatly helped shape it into what it is today.
Starting with One Nation on which he worked alongside Dave Temple, Joe Navran has been responsible for some of the most memorable videos ever produced. With Millenium and Amateur, he established himself as one of the most respected videographers in the game, and with every new release he made sure to blow everyone’s mind. The team videos he produced for USD (Coup De Tat, USD Tour & Legacy) and Senate (Project Mayhem), along with the heavy hitting Fruitbooter, incredible F.O.R. series and revolutionary What Do You Believe In? movie were all welcomed by enthusiastic viewers and are still held in high regards to this day.
On screen and behind the scenes, Joe and his Future Prospects crew consistently destroyed spots and crashed countless parties for well over a decade, and their legacy still lives on today. That’s why we caught up with the man to hear what he has been up to since the demise of Franco Shade, and asked a few of his friends to share their insight on Mr. Navran. So sit down comfortably and get ready for another solid piece of blade history, in the words of Mark Korte, Billy Prislin, Carlos Pianowski, Josh Petty, Vinny Minton, Erick Rodriguez, and of course Joe himself!
Words: Freddy White
Hey there Joe, thanks for taking the time to check in with us! It’s been a while since we last heard of you in the blading world, what are you up to these days? What do you do for a living?
In 2004 I kind of bit the poker bug like many people around that time. I was lucky enough to get acquainted with some world-class players and started trying to do it professionally. I struggled for about year before I started really making progress. I can say that the game has treated me well but it has also taken its toll at times emotionally and mentally. In 2011 I began getting burnt out and did the unthinkable and finished college. It was really weird going back at the age of 30 and being around kids much younger who were pretty clueless about what they wanted to do and life in general. I finished my Political Science degree last year and started attending Law School this fall.
I also started a film production company a few years ago called Cinema Mirage and we do mostly event/wedding films and music video projects. As I am putting that and poker on hold for a bit I am lucky to have Erick Rodriguez (9to5) and Rachard Johnson to kind of take things over for me on current and future gigs.
You were involved with street wear and fashion for some years, are you still connected to that since Franco Shade stopped?
No I’m not, it became too much too handle and just not a profitable business for me personally. Towards the end I really lost the passion for clothing as well, so it was an easy thing to disconnect from.
You’re also married, and a happy father now, how is it being a dad? What were the major changes it brought to your life?
It’s been an amazing change. I am super fortunate to have a wife that is insanely understanding of my craziness and trusts me to do my thing. My son is 2 years old and is the happiest kid you could probably ever meet. He has taught me a lot about patience and as is common for most new parents, motivates me to try my hardest day and night to succeed so that he can have a good life. Definitely not as easy to just get up and travel like I used to, or stay out until 4 am, but it’s honestly worth it and I still get to go out and go crazy every once in a while.
After being massively involved with blading for many years, are you still following what’s going on with the sport? Are you still in touch with some of the blade heads?
I am in touch with a few of the guys, mostly Rachard and Erick though. I talk to Arlo quite often and he’s like a big brother to me still to this day. Brandon Campbell is my barber so that’s always nice seeing him, I am bald though so I’m not really going to him for my hair but more for the chance to catch up with him ha!
You’re arguably one of the most influent videographers in blading ever. Was your career in video something you planned, or simply something that happened one step after the other? What are some of the best memories you have from that time in your life?
That’s really nice of you to say. I never imagined when I started that people would honestly ever buy my films. The fact that I still have people contact me to this day telling me that my movies changed their lives is a REALLY crazy thing.
My greatest memories would have to be the USD tours in Europe and Brazil and the last tour we did in America. It’s hard to really put into words what we saw, did, and experienced. It was bordering on pure recklessness but yet it was structured enough that we made it to all of our stops and the riders always came through for all the fans that came out to see them skate. I was such a different person there. You have these large companies offer to fly you and 10 of your closest friends to exotic and historic places and you get paid to go out do what you love, party till the sun comes up and when you wake up you pack your bags and hop on a train or plane and go to a different country. It’s something that I will obviously never again be able to replicate or come close to doing again. It’s sad to think that its actually gone but thats life, I’m just super lucky that it ever happened in the first place.
Which one would you say is the favorite video you made, and why?
Hard to pick! They’re like my babies. Honestly I would probably say the USD Tour film, which is funny because I think it got the most negative feedback of all of my projects, but I loved how it showed the skaters in their true light. When I was coming up as a skater and a fan of the sport, I loved Bryan Bell and Brian Smith‘s videos because they showed more than just the tricks. It seemed like there was a large portion of our industry being pressured by certain media like Daily Bread to focus always on the “underground” guy and keeping the sport more grassroots. I never understood that because it made me think of underground hip hop and that whole scene. Those rappers were loved by a small niche group but they never were able to be comfortable and live off of their dreams. We see today it hasn’t faired much better for that industry and for many of the pros in skating of my time the same unfortunately happened. I definitely blame a lot of that on those people and that mindset.
Are you ever planning on making another one some day?
I always think about it and always want to but it’s tough because what made my videos special was the rapport that I had with the people in them. I always swore that I would never be that 35 year old guy still in skating when all of his friends are gone, following around a group of 18-22 year olds that weren’t my friends and acting like I was “down” with them. If I had a chance to make something with the guys I actually know or knew I would love to do something. We’ll see, who knows.
What’s your opinion on the current videos and edits being made in blading? What’s your take on the latest online “pay-per-view” video trend?
I have seen a couple of the Valo videos and think they’re really well done but mostly I just watch Erod’s stuff. His style and vision is most closely to what I always enjoyed and wanted in my own flicks. I have unfortunately come across some other stuff that I wasn’t that hyped on. I am told that there is a growing trend in skating to shoot with like really old shitty digital cameras? Not because they can’t afford decent quality stuff but because they think it gives their projects a more… Grungy look? I dunno, regardless of the reason it’s fucking absurd. That’s the exact same type of thing I am talking about when it comes to the elitist/hessian mindset of some that are really dangerous to the growth of the sport. The reason why we used to use some old cameras was because you would get a super old Super 8 or even 16mm camera and get some really different textures and classic feels. When you bust out a Sony HVX in 2014 and think you are an artist you probably need to take a step back, realize how dumb you are and take a shower.
Legend has it that you were once offered a well known fast food franchise ownership as a birthday present. Myth or reality?
Myth, my parents own a few restaurants, I wish they had given me one, that would be awesome! I did get a sweet car for my birthday once though.
Speaking of which, how come, back in the FP days, you were always the one driving the nicest cars?
Probably because I was the dumb one who would spend all of his money on nice cars while I lived in an apartment.
Please share a memorable FP story with us, blade/party/traveling/all around craziness?
We were in the south of France for an event. The night following the contest we went to some weird local casino and met these girls who were with this older guy. He spoke absolutely NO English but he did often look at us and say “FUCK YOU” and then smile. We were all wasted and thought it was funny. At about 4 am the girls invited us back to his house and said that he would call a limo for us. We took about 4 seconds and agreed to go. When we got to his house he had some crazy guards waiting out front. They took us inside and there was like a butler or someone living there who made us all sandwiches. As were eating our sandwiches the guy and the girls come out of this room completely naked and act as if it’s totally normal. The girls ask us if we are ok and tell us that we should all stay the night. We are like 22 years old, all single, in Europe, completely wasted… we oblige.
They ask us if we want to go swimming and take us to the back where there is this weir skinny pool. We think it would be rude if we didn’t also get naked with them. I think it was like myself, Josh Petty, and Shayne Skower. So now were all naked 4 guys total and 3 girls (a new girl has showed up at this point). The old French man says to the girls that he wants to set off fireworks, he is getting really angry because they dont have any. After he yells at his butler for about 5 minutes he leaves and comes back roughly an hour later with a box of fireworks. At this point the sun is coming up and it doesnt even seem that cool to set fireworks off but he’s adamant and so we go along with it. Josh has found some stash of really old scotch or bourbon, I’m not sure which. He is swimming in the pool floating on some raft like thing in the shape of a tiger. He gets out of the pool and starts trying to set off the fireworks with the old man. Being a brilliant person like Josh is he starts creating some super bottle rocket invention, tying a few to each other because setting off just one was not exciting enough.
Unfortunately one of them shoots off in a really bad angle and flies into the old mans guest house a few feet away. Within 10 seconds the carpet is engulfed fully on fire. The man is now running around hysterically yelling shit in French. His butler is throwing buckets of water from the pool onto the carpet but nothign is happening its only getting worse. I realize that there could possibly no better time than that very moment to get up and get the fuck out of that place. I tell Shayne to grab Josh. We are throwing our clothes on and about to leave and the old man comes at us with a machete. The butler tells us we can’t leave until the police come. We aren’t about to wait for that to happen, we started to slowly attempt to get out of there. As the old man is distracted Josh starts to take off for the front door, no heads up or anything he just bolts. We decide to follow and we are now running basically naked with most of our clothes in our hands through this guy’s house trying to find the exit. This isn’t your typical house where it’s obvious to find the front door. Luckily Shayne remembers his way and we run out onto the street where we find a cab and take off back to the hotel. The cab driver didn’t want to take us because we looked insane being out in the street naked at 7 am but we just started throwing money at him begging him to go and finally he did.
Whoaa, that’s quite the perfect story to wrap this all up! Now, what’s next for Joe Navran? Any specific projects or ideas you’d wanna share with us?
Now I just try to finish Law School and see where that takes me. No idea if I will even ultimately practice law but I could see it as a possibility. I have a second son on the way that will be here in January. Other than that I just want to enjoy life and my family. Spend some time with my parents because I put them through a lot of shit over the years.
Thanks a whole lot for doing this with Be-Mag Joe, all the best to you and your family!