FRESH EYES: SNEEP'S 'MEMORYSCREEN'
WORDS: Stu Gomez
Back in 2013, The Berrics hosted a video from the Netherlands-based crew, Bombaklats. We aired a new part from the video each day, and nestled right in the middle was filmer/co-editor Jan Maarten Sneep's unique outside-the-box edit, full of enough pretzel whip variations to give one whiplash. It's hard to express how Bombaklats affected everyone in the Berrics office—the editing, vibe, and music of the video were all on point. Clearly, Sneep and his co-editor Sami el Hassani were very gifted. The only question was: What would they come up with next?
Later that summer, Bombaklats were the winners of SKATE48, a European video contest, and Sneep was named "Best Editor." The follow-up to Bombaklats—The Bombaklats Video—was just as cleverly edited and energetic as the previous release. And, aside from his filming and editing work for several brands, he launched a retrospective video remix series called "MemoryScreen."
Video remixes are perhaps the deepest act of devotion for a skate obsessive. Apart from being time-consuming projects—a 3-minute re-edit represents a tiny fraction of the actual time spent poring over archival footage—remixes can also be emotionally taxing. It's an act of love that can bury you in nostalgia; as you research your subject, you tend to dig a little more dirt out of the rabbit hole. That is, if you're doing it right.
Revisionist history for those who know all the parts by heart.
Sneep's MemoryScreen is no exception. His remixes aren't "greatest hits" collages; these aren't bloated 10-minute opuses. He doesn't dwell on highlight reels. His re-edits are "memory screens" in the truest sense: he relies on his own recollections of videos past, making connections that later generations of skate nerds would miss. At times, you feel like Sneep is trying to gaslight you (his "HalfCab" remix is an example of this), but then you realize that he simply did a better job at mentally processing the videos you love. The effect is unique—revisionist history for those who know all the parts by heart. (Peep Sneep's masterful Geoff Rowley remix, scored to that one song that Heath Kirchart skated to, and you'll get the idea.)
The most recent MemoryScreen is a megamix that celebrates the life of Mark Gonzales. It's a long labor of love, but there's essentially no extraneous footage. We're talking about a history-making skateboarder with an epic back-catalog here. And MemoryScreen does him justice. We caught up with Sneep to get a little insight into how he develops his remixes, and the idea behind his "perfect trick" philosophy. Follow his Vimeo and Youtube channels, and marvel at how he can make the old new again.
When did you first get the idea for MemoryScreen and how do you choose your subjects?
I started MemoryScreen around 2014, when I discovered the skate.ly library (@skatelyposse), which is an awesome online skate video archive. I remember trying to figure out all their different Youtube accounts and downloading all their clips to my computer. Then, I would just try and watch them all and write down all the things that stood out to me. It started out mostly by memorable tricks, now I’m looking for everything that could help an edit. Now I have collected timelines full of footage of my favorite skaters; I've switched to ripping DVDs, too, for extra crispy quality.
After watching your remixes I started to wonder why you've chosen to use certain clips and only partial lines. Are there certain criteria or rules you adhere to when editing?
I’ve been skating since ’98, and have been watching skate videos religiously ever since. Around the time I started skating, I had just moved from a very small village to a slightly bigger town, where there were actually some skaters, who had skate videos. I remember borrowing this 4-hour dubbed VHS tape and watching it over and over again. It had a bunch of 411s and [Girl's] Mouse. From that point on I was hooked, and I guess it’s safe to say the selection process for MemoryScreen started right there.
Since I’ve been skating for 20 years, and making my own skate videos pretty much since I can remember, I guess I’m hypercritical when it comes to using certain clips.
You know that feeling of doing a trick the best you could possibly do it? Well, it shows on video when this is the case, and I guess I’ve taught myself to recognize that “feeling," by over-analyzing all the videos I would watch. So sometimes, for example in a line, this “perfect” trick happens but the rest of the line is a little long or a bit sketchy, then I’ll just use the one perfect trick.
Has there been a remix edit that proved to be more of a challenge?
Actually, this Gonz edit has been the most challenging one to make, since his skating isn’t all about certain tricks, but more about style and flow. Him cruising downhill punching the air could be just as stylish as this huge double-kink boardslide. So I had to make a lot of decisions on what to use and what not to use. I’m pretty sure everyone has their favorite Gonz clip, and I hope most of those made it in the edit, and if not, there’s enough Gonz footage to get lost in.
What makes Mark Gonzales special?
Even though Gonz was a little bit before my time, I learned to appreciate his skating by watching Video Days. Even though this video was pretty old when I first saw it—probably around 2000—it was pretty mind blowing to see him skate. It just feels so natural: like seeing him do a 180 on flat after he ollies down Wallenberg is pretty special.
Is there a trick or video part that Gonz has done that has had more of an impact on you?
Even though his Video Days part is really really special, I guess it is more in all the little snippets spread over his whole carreer. Also letting his personality shine through, clips of him talking, everything. I just saw a new clip of him today, for his Jansport collabo, where he nosepicks in a wooden bowl, it was epic.
Is Bombaklats still going strong?
Bombaklats is still going! We’ve released a video in 2016 called The Bombaklats, which you watch in it’s entirely at Bombaklats.com! Since then we’ve been filming for a new project, which I should probably get to editing soon! We took some trips, to Berlin, Barcelona, Vigo, Porto and Athens. And, of course, we’ve filmed a lot of stuff in Rotterdam. Everyone’s getting a little older, so it’s not always priority #1 right now, but we definitely keep it going!
What are some other projects you have coming up?
Besides Bombaklats, I have some more MemoryScreen edits coming up. I have already edited a lot for parts of Arto Saari, Marc Johnson, Danny Garcia, Josh Kalis, John Cardiel, and Karl Watson. So keep an eye on that!
Follow MemoryScreen on Instagram.