Photos by Marcus Manoogian
Do you feel let down by spring this year? Are 29 degree April days getting you down? Well, Hopps is here to save the day and turn that skate frown upside down. It seems like it's been ages since we were blessed with an inspiring new Hopps video piece but you need to wait no longer my friends. That's right, the Hopps crew is back with an awesome new short piece to help get your weekend started early. The "Saturday" project is here as a TOA exclusive and it's ready for your winter-weary eyes.
Hopps was nice enough to let TOA be the exclusive host of their new video piece so we took the opportunity to catch up with the creative team responsible for bringing the video to fruition; Jahmal Williams, Marcus Manoogian and Josh Stewart. So kick back, press play and enjoy the ride.....then come back and read a little about the making of this piece in the little interviews below.
The "Saturday" video piece was a collaborative effort between Jahmal Williams, Marcus Manoogian and Josh Stewart. Filmed during different spurts across 2015 the video piece was completed just in time to play at the first US premiere of the Polar video in NYC in February. Now that the project is officially live for the rest of the world to enjoy we got the creative team together to ask them each a few questions about the process of bringing this idea to a reality.
This is, I believe, the 4th project you've done for Hopps...considering that you have a full time job, what makes you want to take on so much extra work with a project like this Hopps piece?
It's true, I work in video production full time and it can be very taxing. As cheesy as it sounds, skating is my roots and it always feels great to create something for the community that I respect the most. Skateboarding is a fickle culture...you can't fake your way in there so if the skate community is happy with what I make it feels the best. Also, there are no rules to the game. My daily work often involves a bunch of guidelines and with skate videos anything goes. The majority of the commercial world wants to shoot glorious footage on some Red camera but these days everyone has an awesome camera and I just don't give a shit. It's fresher to do something else.
Where do you typically find inspiration for your ideas with projects like the Hopps commercials you've done?
It depends. A lot of the time it begins with the music. I'll hear a song and imagery will pop in my head and I'll get sucked into this elaborate edit in my brain until I figure it out. Sometimes I write it down and sit on it for years until the right moment pops up to make it. That was the case with this guy. I think I remember Josh had the same inspiration so it was fate mi amigo.
Pretty much every Hopps commercial has been quite unique from each previous commercial. What did you try to do differently with this one?
Thanks! For this commercial I thought it would be cool to do something really graphical. But really I don't set out to do something different. Whatever feels right, I run with it and hope for the best!
You're pretty much always busy....so what made you decide to take this project on?
Hopps has a certain fun and inspiring energy that I haven't really felt anywhere else. I think both Marcus and myself both get a spark of creativity and inspiration from Jahmal and what he's done with Hopps. So I can't really help myself when the chance to work on something with these guys arises, it's too much fun.
Considering all of the different Hopps pieces that have proceeded this one, was there anything different you wanted to achieve with this one?
I think one thing we specifically wanted to do was to get the faces and personalities of the whole team captured and on the screen for everyone to see. Hopps has such a rad crew of personalities which I think adds a lot to what makes their skating stand out so much. So, getting people more familiar with them was one of our main goals.
Was it at all difficult to direct your friends while shooting this thing?
Haha....well, neither of us are real directors just like none of the skaters are real actors. We shot this in my apartment where I live with 4 other roommates and, as expected, it went really late. We were trying our best to wrap it up and not keep the roomies awake. It was definitely messy directing our friends all night long and staying on task. But when it got to be Joel's turn in the chair it just got ridiculous. Trying to direct Joel is difficult enough....but he was sitting there in a poncho, a Mexican sombrero and no shirt on and we had him spinning around in circles until he very nearly threw up. At one point he was doing the exact opposite of what we were directing him to do and we finally realized we needed to just call it a night and let us all go home before we all lost our minds. It was amazing.
Hopps commercials always look like they were a blast to create and film. Is the process as fun behind the camera as it looks on the screen?
To me the fun factor should always be priority. At times it can become stressful when things don't go as planned but it's important to keep it all in perspective. If you're not having fun or enjoying the process in some shape, form or fashion its not going to be worth it in the end. I feel very passionate about the projects I put my time and energy into. The HOPPS Crew doesn't put out projects a lot so its important to me that we all have fun as much as possible when we do get the opportunity. I try to look at the creative process like skating....you can tell if a person is having fun skating or not. To me when a person is having fun skating, it's enjoyable to watch. Our model has always been about "Enjoying the Ride". That applies to all the creative aspects of filming and developing a piece as well.
You created a very strong and unique look and feel with Hopps. How do you manage to maintain that vibe when collaborating with other artists like you did with Marcus and Josh on this piece?
Thank you. It's a collective of individuals who make a lot of this stuff happen. Steve Brandi played a key roll on this project as well. Thanks Steve! It's really been a blessing to have had the opportunity to work with such talented individuals like Marcus and Josh. They are both highly professional and really fun to work with. The 3 of us have been working together a lot over the past 7 years on different projects. We're all pretty good friends and chill together on and off the board so the synergy is awesome. We usually talk about projects pretty heavily and take our time to develop things until it feels right. Sometimes we don't see eye to eye on ideas but collectively we keep it moving. I wear the hat of creative director of HOPPS most of the time but I had to learn how to step back and let the two of them have creative freedom to pursue their own ideas. I trust Marcus and Josh a lot. I know they understand HOPPS and the direction we roll.
What was the biggest challenge with this new project?
For me personally..... it was a huge challenge producing skate footy for this project. I was out for 8 months with an injury which is the longest time I've ever had off my board. It was a dark time for me and I pretty much lost my ability to skate. It was tough getting everyone together for sessions and being in the mix with an injury was frustrating. I would try to skate regardless of the pain just to be out with everyone. When you have a family of skaters that you need to take care of and flow with, you gotta be in the streets with them. When I was hurt it was really hard to make things happen together as a Crew. I'm stoked to be back on my board these days and enjoying every bit of it....it's the best feeling.
The Hopps crew is already getting back to work filming for a future project. But for now go back and give the "Saturday" project a few more watches and then check out the Hopps Youtube page to see all of the past projects and commercials they've brought to life. Thanks to Jahmal, Marcus and Josh for their time and to Hopps for letting us host this awesome piece.
Article and interviews by Pat Stiener