A Look Inside "Spaceman" with Mac Berg
The TOA Underground Network returns! This time we visit my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah and catch up with film maker Mac Berg about his new edit "Spaceman" featuring Kaleb Hadlock (video below). We learn about Mac's drive to create independent skate videos, the importance of his local shop, other local skate inspirations and much more.
- Jovi Bathemess
So how did you end up becoming the official filmer for BC Sandy? I believe that all happened about a year after I moved out of Utah.
Yeah, I believe we kind of overlapped regarding our time in Utah. I was in San Diego going to college, and had just barely started filming out there. I moved back to Utah in 2016 probably right around when you left. BC Sandy had been my go-to skate shop in Utah for a long time, and then I think some of the shop guys started to notice my videos (thanks, Kyle Vincent). Then the man in charge, Josh Helbling, reached out about becoming the shop filmer. That was an easy decision.
What does it mean to you to have the community support from a shop like BC Sandy?
It means the world to me. It feels like a nod of confidence from people I’ve always really respected. You know how it is — a shop is only as good as the people holding it down, and Josh (and Ricky at the time) made me feel so welcome there. It was the first shop where I was allowed behind the counter — a big rite of passage to a kid. I still remember what Josh told me when I started filming for BC. It was basically along the lines of “just keep doing exactly what you’re doing.” He didn’t want me to change anything and that meant a lot to me.
Mac and Kaleb / Photo: Keisha Finai
How did you and Kaleb first link up and start skating and filming together
Kaleb and I were introduced through a mutual friend. Kaleb was a bit jaded about filming because of previous relationships with other filmers. Let’s just say he had a lot of footage that never saw the light of day. Filming was this new passion of mine and it was pretty much my only focus at the time, so I would capture his footage and send it to him like the following day. He was super surprised. That’s how it all started. That was like 6 years ago. We’ve spent so much time filming together now, it’s wild. It’s cool because he and I just get along really well and we pretty much became best friends through the process. We lived together for a few years too, so it was just like wake up and go skate, then come home and have some beers and capture footage.
I know you guys have worked together on several projects? Do you have a favorite clip you guys have captured together? The no-compy tailslide to boardslide was always a favorite of mine.
That’s cool you remember that. That might be my favorite clip too. I spent a lot of time convincing Kaleb that it was even possible. Then the spot required several days worth of work. The ledge was like stucco on bottom with rocks embedded on top. We had to chisel the rocks out and rub the ledge down, then bondo the cracks we made in the process. Kaleb rolled his ankle really badly like 10 tries before the make — like so badly I couldn’t believe he was walking — then still got the clip. That was a super cool one, and I don’t think many people, if any, had done that trick at that point in time. An honorable mention would be the “Snow Day” video we made — it’s not a single clip, but that was all filmed in one day and I love how it came together.
Kaleb Hadlock: No-Comply Tailslide to Boardslide / Photo: Keisha Finai
And what do you think when he drags you to some of those wild rail spots
He has definitely hit some crazy spots, but Kaleb is really good about looking at a spot and immediately knowing if it’s possible or not. If it is, it’s going down in a few tries. And if it’s not, he’s walking away unbothered looking for the next spot. Watching him skate in person is unbelievable. But the rails don’t scare me (or him), it’s the ditch spots and hill bombs that make me sweat.
Tell me a little bit about the concept behind this new video project?
The short answer is: fun. Kaleb found this song and we started throwing ideas around about all these different directions we could go with it, but we always knew it was going to be a lighthearted, fun video. I’m a big nerd about outer space (I wanted to be an astronaut as a kid) and I love editing skate videos to really dynamic songs that have various fast and slow segments. But it grew to have a deeper meaning for me too. If you listen to the lyrics, it’s about a guy who wants to go to space, and then misses earth. So we depict Kaleb as wanting to go back to space again. It’s like an ongoing oscillation between these two extremes. It’s about how the grass is always greener on the other side, and how sometimes we get exactly what we want and it doesn’t quite satisfy us. Those themes have a lot of parallels with skateboarding for me — like how the journey of a skateboarder might bounce between taking things really seriously and wanting to put out a really good video part, and conversely just having fun and enjoying skateboarding in its simplest form. The grass is always greener so… now that we’ve done this “fun” video, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kaleb wants to put out an even gnarlier one next.
Did you guys experience any weird interactions when Kaleb was holding up those signs with his space helmet on?
Nothing too crazy, just a lot of people honking and waving. People thought it was fun, for sure. I can tell you are super dedicated filmer and are constantly putting out rad new projects.
Kaleb Hadlock: BS 180 Nosegrind w/Mac close by / Photo: Keisha Finai
How did you first get into making skate videos and how did the VX become your camera of choice?
I was in college in San Diego and I ended up tearing my meniscus. I got really bummed on skateboarding at that point. I didn’t really have anybody to film, but I thought getting a camera might rejuvenate my passion for skateboarding if I was able to film, and still be involved with skateboarding somehow. That’s pretty much exactly what happened. As anyone who has photographed or filmed skateboarding knows, it’s a whole new world to immerse yourself in and there’s just as much to learn, hone, and be passionate about as skateboarding itself. Filming is the only thing I love almost as much as skating. And I chose the VX because it was what I grew up watching. The way skateboarding was initially presented to me was through the lens of a VX. I had literally never seen a VX until I owned one, but I knew that the nostalgic sound, color, aspect ratio, and fisheye was all I would ever want to film with. I remember getting like a shitty flip camera when I was younger and being confused about why it didn’t look like all those skate videos I grew up on…
Any local skate inspirations? Growing up my friends and I all really looked up to the DH48 crew and they really inspired us to make our own videos and search out new spots.
See, that crew was before my time. I grew up on the videos from Technique skate shop. Those videos were just like these traditional early-2000s VX videos. No frills,
good music, just super solid videos with local legends like Sam Hubble and Colin Brophy. I never really knew any of those guys, but that’s what’s cool about skateboarding and skate videos — you could be influencing the next generation without even being aware of it. I hope that more kids pick up a camera because of my videos. That’s what it’s all about.
Kaleb Hadlock: Suski at my remodeled high school / Photo: Keisha Finai
What is Olympus Mons?
Olympus Mons is just a name I came up with for my skate video projects. It’s the Latin name of Mount Olympus. We have a Mount Olympus here in Salt Lake City, and it’s one of the most prominent mountains on the Wasatch Front. It’s
also the name of the tallest mountain in our solar system — the Olympus Mons volcano on Mars. So that’s cool.
What's next? Any plans of dropping another full length?
No plans for a full-length at the moment. I released three full-lengths in three years, and it was one of the most exciting and memorable times of my life, but it’s a lot of work. Right now I’m enjoying working on smaller video projects with some of my closest friends and keeping things tight.
Kaleb Hadlock: Ollie / Photo: Keisha Finai
Thanks Mac! Anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you for making this happen, Jovi! It’s a huge honor for me. We love Theories here in Utah. Thanks to Kaleb for trusting me to film, thanks to BC Sandy for supporting my videos, thanks to my girlfriend Keisha for tagging along on all these skate missions and adding animations to our videos, and thank you skateboarding!
Now watch and enjoy "Spaceman"