Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. This is not a “skate” movie. If you are expecting a skate movie you are in the wrong place. This is a “Behind the Man” movie. This is a look at Paul Rodriguez Jr., P-Rod, and where he came from, where he is and where he wants to go.
So yeah…not a “skate” movie.
On Wednesday March 4th The Path Unseen premiered at Saint Archer Brewery’s Tasting Room in San Diego. Big screens were set up above the merch table, beer was flowing and skate lovers, beer lovers, pro skaters and those who want to be near pro skaters were in abundance (looking at you mini-skirt). Rumor was Paul was going to be tending bar, but sampling was as close as I saw him get. Atiba & Koston on the other hand were KILLING IT! They may not have a future behind the bar but that was an honest few hours work for sure. We started a tab and got a round of Hoppy Pils (the Girl Skate collaboration) & some Barrel Aged Scottish Ale samplers. They were both lovely and receive high marks. Yiga & Kim, Director of Brewing Ops & Head Brewer respectively, have really stepped up the beer quality and styles since coming on-board.
The Path Unseen was filmed by Saint Archer President Josh Landan (Paul Rodriguez is also one of the owners of St. Archer), and premiered to the world on twskate.com this morning (Thursday, March 5th, 2015). We went back and watched it hopped up on nothing but coffee today. It is a 12:43 second film shot mostly in the valley, and includes a lot of Paul as a man and a short selection of P-Rod tricks. It’s ridiculous how easy he makes it look.
Shot entirely in black and white it begins with overheads of LA and slow, ominous, thumping music that is either building to something epic or the Apocolypse. There is a lot of Paul walking away from the camera slowly. From there it follows him to the places of his youth while Paul narrates over the top. At 3:03 there is some tricks, then more exposition and then more tricks around the 4:50 mark. The film gets pretty personal for Paul, and I wonder if it was awkward to watch in a brewery with his peers, friends and fans. From his early family life, career and reflection on himself as a father it feels a little like he’s compressed his life into 12 minutes and is putting it out there for you. That takes some balls, and even for someone successful or famous has to be a little gut-wrenching. Kudos to him for taking the risk. There are also some serious glamour shots for Nike & Saint Archer, but someone’s got to pay the bills for this film right?
Despite not being a trick movie, the film feels a little incomplete without a longer trick session. The music keeps building, ebbing, then building again but the payoffs are nostalgic or sentimental moments that leave you hanging, wanting more. Maybe I’m not ready to give up on the blow your load of tricks skate film yet. As a film it was well shot. It feels right that it is black and white. Life has so many shades of grey that that choice helps narrow our focus on the important things. Many of the images feel as if they would make a great photo still on the wall. Paul’s narration feels honest. I believe him when he talks about his goals and motivations. It definitely is a a different look at the life of a skateboarder, and it might be time for sea-change in the way skate films are shot. Check it out on twskate.com.
And as a venue the Saint Archer tasting room is pretty sweet place. All movie premieres should be in breweries from now on. Let’s make that a thing. Also, check out other films from Saint Archer.
Also available and worth watching is the Behind the Scenes footage below. Footage and on-camera with Director Josh Landan. An interesting take on the relationship between director and documentary subject considering they are friends and business partners as well.