GET TO KNOW OUR FILMERS
TEXT: STUART GOMEZ
Sometimes, companies release tour videos or commercials but they won't include any filmer credits. You like what you see, but you don't really know who's behind the vision. All those little choices—song, order, b-roll—that add up to a video that you want to immediately rewatch? They're usually engineered by one person. And, when the job is done right, it can give you goosebumps. It can seem like the editor is speaking directly to you.
If you don't know Alan Hannon's name now, you definitely know his work. His outstanding videos for Supra are examples of the kind of marketing that makes you actually, you know, buy stuff. Alan started his filming career in Sacramento, as a sort of apprentice for Chris Ray. This early experience with Ray (assisting with some Sac-heavy Transworld filming) eventually paved the way for many more opportunities, ultimately resulting in an introduction to Berra and a job at The Berrics.
Alan has always been a fan of the PUSH series, and he hatched a proposal to feature his longtime friend, Miles Silvas, in the next season. This was an obvious must-have scenario: one of the best skaters paired with his good friend for the filming of his next great part. It was a done deal.
PUSH is just the latest project for Alan. Since he was hired in February, he's been responsible for roughly 30 edits, and they've all had that coveted goosebump quality. We talked to Alan about how he met Miles, what it was like getting used to the RED, and what the hell FOFA actually means. Get to know the guy behind the lens…
adidas "Final Days"
How'd you get involved with skating?
I've been skating for close to twelve or thirteen years. My older brother skated, and I always just saw skating as this thing that wasn't even possible; I just thought it was something that only professionals did. But then me and a friend got skateboards in sixth grade and we just started skating. Just your normal little group of friends skating—we had a flat bar—and I just got more and more into it.
When did you first pick up a camera?
Probably about a year after I started skating, so I've always been filming for as long as I've been skating. My mom had an old Hi8 camera, and I would just go out with my friends and we would film each other. At first, it wasn't like, "This is what I wanna do! I wanna be a filmer." Me and my friends had Welcome to Hell, Fulfill the Dream, and some old Transworld videos, and that was what we loved to watch, you know? That was all we did, so we wanted to try to emulate those skate videos. We went out and filmed each other, figured out how to do tape-to-tape editing; we would squeeze a song in there, and make our own little edits. We all filmed each other for a good five or six years. I was skating seriously and I wanted to be filmed; my friends wanted to be filmed.
Once I got my license, I was kind of taking the role of driver as well as filming. That's when I started taking the filmer role more seriously. I'm already driving around and I'm more motivated to go to spots than anyone else. That's kind of when it started. I got my first real camera, a VX2100. That was my first real skate camera, and from there I was filming all the time.
When you started to drive and take on that role, were you organizing the missions and motivating everybody else?
For sure. As long as I've been skating in Sacramento, we've had the influence of Brandon Biebel, John Cardiel, and Stefan Janoski. Through certain people that we knew, even at a young age, we were almost connected to those people. Mike Rafter was a big filmer in Sacramento at the time—he was pro for Santa Cruz, he filmed for Thrasher, and he made Santa Cruz videos and a bunch of other stuff.
We were so motivated to be like them, and go skate and film and light up spots, so we all kind of had the same motivation. It wasn't just me, it was our whole group of friends. But maybe I just took it a little more seriously on the video side of things. I did start to organize missions. Taking trips to San Francisco: we'd go to the Bay Area a lot to skate and all these surrounding cities outside of Sacramento.
When you got your license, were you sixteen? Eighteen?
I think I was around seventeen, ‘cause I remember being like, "I don't need my license, I'm just gonna skate!" That turned into "I need my license." [laughs] I wanna go skate more spots, I didn't wanna rely on someone to give me a ride to go skate.
How long was it until you started to get recognition for filming? Were you making sponsor-me tapes of your friends or anything?
You know, I never filmed skating to be like "I'm gonna get paid to film"—that was never a goal of mine. I loved skate videos and I just wanted to recreate those—I didn't care if I was spending money out of my own pocket or whatever. I wasn't sending tapes to companies, I never thought it was a serious possibility to be a filmer for a company, or get paid and make a job out of it.
Around the time when I was really seriously filming, like, making a spot book and everything—this was after high school—I went to community college for a little bit and I couldn't get into it, all I wanted to do was skate. At this point, me and my friends are already Bondoing things, knocking curbs out, making all these spots in Sacramento. Then Chris Ray moved to Sacramento, and he was the Lakai filmer at the time. I found out that Chris Ray is living in Sac—I think Fully Flared had just come out—and then he became the Transworld filmer, and I'm thinking, "What is the Transworld filmer doing living in Sacramento?" So I just went out on a limb and messaged him on Facebook, like, "Hey, just letting you know, I'm a filmer and I live in Sacramento. I know a bunch of spots, and I think you'd be psyched." He literally hit me right back and said, "Perfect. Come skate with us tomorrow." I was trippin'! You know, I had seen Biebel around, or Omar or Stefan… but I had never really skated with Pros before. I skated with Chris the next day, and we were with Daryl Angel and some San Jose skaters.
Chris was hyped because I was helping him a bunch—I was giving him spots and helping him film double angles. I got to help film a lot of stuff in the Transworld videos like Hallelujah, that was the first one. For all those videos that he did for Transworld I was kind of helping him with spots and whenever it was cool he would bring me out to skate. So that's when I started meeting Pros and realizing that maybe something could happen through this. I got my first clip in a video, got my name in a video, and that was something that I never thought was possible. So Chris Ray was really the reason why I was able to meet Pros and get my name out there.
Primitive Canada Tour
So it was during your time working with Chris Ray when something switched in your perception, when you thought, "Oh maybe I can do this for a living, maybe I should focus on it as a career”?
For sure. Seeing the way Chris did his thing, it motivated me a lot because he was so organized and so on top of things. Having someone who was so professional that close to me definitely switched my mind, like, "Shit, he's living in Sacramento, doing the same thing I'm doing.” Obviously on a professional level, but I felt like I was so close to doing what he was doing at that point. I don't wanna sound like I felt I was on the same level as him, because I wasn't, but I was filming Pros and I was just so close to what was happening. This was going on for maybe a year or so. I'm working with all these different people—it got to the point where Chris was so busy. Because of Chris Ray, all these people were coming to Sacramento to film, since he worked for Transworld. Chris was so busy that if he didn't have time he would pass them off to me. So I'd show the KR3W team around, or Ipath, or whoever it was, it didn't matter. Although I did end up showing the KR3W team around on one mission that led to me getting a job at Supra a couple years later.
So were you a kind of co-director for Chris, or assistant director, in a way?
Maybe not that much, but he knew that I could film, I knew spots, and I was free and able to show people around.
Looking back now, how much do you think his trust in you to handle that responsibility changed things?
It was huge! I owe a lot to Chris, because if I hadn't met him, I wouldn't have met a lot of the Pros. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Chris, for sure. But, it's funny that what led to me getting a job in skateboarding wasn't related to Chris at all, which is kind of ironic. At this time all my friends are getting really good at skating as well, so I'm still filming with them a bunch. We start working on a local Sacramento homie video, and around that time Chris hooked me up with a job filming a Gatorade contest at the skatepark in Sacramento. At that contest I met Miles Silvas, who was a little tiny kid, maybe thirteen or fourteen years old. Helmet, braces, the whole deal: total little kid. And he was ripping the park. I had seen Miles around because we're from the same hometown and we skated the same park, but I was with my friends, and we were much older—we were doing our own thing. But when I saw him at the contest, he was killing it. I think he got second; I still have the footage. I went up to him, like, "Yo dude, you're killing it! We should skate some time." Miles was hyped because he knew of our crew, so he was super down. So that contest was kind of when me and Miles started skating. I think it was 2009?
How old were you ?
I was around 21. I started skating with Miles a bunch, because he lived super close to me in the same neighborhood. He was seriously the best kid to skate with ever, because I could pick him up and take him to any spot, and he would get tricks everywhere in Sacramento. It was fun, and it was crazy because—even though he was so much younger than all of us—he fit right in with all of our friends. I introduced him to everyone I skated with, and everyone loved him right off the bat. Everyone saw how good he was, and he was so little at the time. Even though he was six or seven years younger than all of us, he was so mature and he could sit in the car and have conversations with everybody.
We just skated for the next year, year and a half, going on missions. I took him all around, I took him on his first real skate trip, to LA. I took him on night missions with generators and lights, staying out until 2:00 a.m. on school nights. His parents—I don't think they hated me, but they weren't happy with me! I was in college at the time, I was doing whatever I wanted. He was in seventh or eighth grade... it got to be pretty bad. Looking back it's kind of crazy that his parents trusted me that much without even really knowing me, but I think they saw that I was serious about filming, and they knew the potential Miles had for skating, so they kind of let it slide… to a degree. 2:00 a.m. on school nights didn't go over so well, but most of the time they were cool with me taking him to San Francisco for the weekend.
We did some LA trips: I took him to a Transworld premiere in LA and we made a filming trip out of it, stuff like that. Miles was skating really good; he was doing contests a bunch at the time. This is a cool part of me and Miles's story: he was skating a contest in the Bay Area, and Karl Watson was there. Karl saw him and was tripping off his skating. Karl loved him, and so he approached him after the contest like, "Dude, I would love to hook you up with some boards. Do you have a sponsor-me video or anything?" Miles was like, "Yeah, actually. I have a bunch of footage with my friend Alan, I'll have him give it to you.” So Miles hit me up and I made a little sponsor-me tape with all the stuff we had filmed and I sent it to Kayo. Because of that sponsor-me tape—they were already so hyped on Miles, they wanted to put him on—but they were really impressed with all the filming on the tape. They basically offered me a job filming at Kayo and put Miles on Organika as an Am at the same time!
Was it a package deal or did it just happen that way?
In a way, yeah, for them it was kind of a package deal.
So you've pretty much been with him for every step of his career, huh?
Yeah. That's why this PUSH project is super special. It's more than just us skating and filming. The fact that we’re getting to do a project like this that kind of tells our story is really cool.
Supra "Dispatched" London
So how did you officially come on board here at The Berrics?
I got the job at Kayo and I mainly worked at Expedition for about three years. I had to move to Carlsbad for that job. Miles and all my friends were still back in Sacramento and I tried to film with them as much as I could, but I started this new job and new life; it was my first real big break, getting a job filming. Things got a little crazy at Kayo, and I wanted to see if I could move on. I was still in contact with Dennis Martin from when I showed the KR3W guys around in Sacramento, and he offered me a job at Supra. So, from there I worked at Supra for three years. That was an insane time, because I got in at Supra right at the height of what they were doing. I did all these tours all over the world. They hit me up like, "We want you to do all our tour videos." So it was tour video after tour video: Asia, Europe, South America, traveling for three years straight. That was a dream come true, I got to travel a lot with Supra.
What was the adjustment like to suddenly be globetrotting?
Well, I did some stuff with Expedition. We did a China trip, which was super cool, but it was nowhere near what Supra was. I got hired at Supra, and two weeks later I was on my first Europe trip. It was nonstop, but it wasn't much of an adjustment because, for as long as I'd been filming, that was my dream. I just thought it was the coolest thing to travel and see Europe or something, just for filming skating. I was just super excited. I was willing and able to go on every trip, film as much as I could. Film, film, film, you know? I did that at Supra for three years, and then it was the same sort of thing—I got in at Supra at their peak, but then they got bought out by K-Swiss, and a lot of changes happened, things got a lot different. It kind of went full circle—going back to Chris Ray—I hit up Chris, like, "Yo dude, things are getting kinda crazy over here, are you guys looking for any filmers at DC?" And he was like "No, we're good at DC, but I know the Berrics is looking for filmers." I was like, "Yeah, I'm not opposed to that at all." Chris sent me Steve Berra’s email, I emailed Steve, and hit me back instantly. Steve was like, “Come in for a meeting.” So through Chris I got connected with Steve and an interview at The Berrics.
"Off The Grid" with Boo Johnson and Dane Vaughn
Was Miles's PUSH part was already in motion?
No. I was super into PUSH. I loved the PUSH episodes; I watched every single one. I was still working at Supra, and I remember telling Grant at Supra: "You gotta watch these PUSH episodes, we gotta do something like this." Then I hit up Miles, like, "Yo, would you be down? I'll hit up Steve and see if we could do a PUSH." Miles was like, "Hell yeah, that would be sick."
So I just hit up Steve on a whim. I was like, "Yo, I don't know if you guys are doing another PUSH series, but I just wanna let you know I could do one with Miles, and I think we have a cool story to tell. Miles is the best, I think it would be great." And he said, “Yeah, we're gonna do PUSH again and we'd love to have Miles in it." So I was hyped, and me and Steve were talking a little bit through emails, and he was like, "Hey, can you come in tomorrow and talk about it?" I just thought we were gonna talk about the logistics of how long we had to film, how much they were gonna pay, RED cameras, you know… all that stuff. Steve was like, "You know, you should just come work full time at The Berrics and do Miles's PUSH part as well as everything else." So basically, me proposing Miles's PUSH part turned into me working full-time at The Berrics.
Your story is just chock full of serendipitous chance things happening.
I got lucky, definitely. There's this whole other thing I left out, too. I got this opportunity with Ty Evans and I ended up living with him for a summer. I filmed a lot of stuff with Girl and Chocolate, but that's a whole other thing.
I thought you were gonna say, "We are Blood was my idea." [laughs]
Nah, not that far. But it was just a lot of me putting myself out there, not being afraid to say, "Hey, do you need this?" or "We should do this…" or "Do you need help?”
Do you think that's a quality that just comes easy for you, or do you think that's something every filmer needs to cultivate?
I don't know. I've never really been one to put myself out there. I think it's just the confidence I have in filming, and just being able to go to someone and say "Hey, I can do this for you,” and knowing that I can do it, when it comes to making a video or something. I think that's something that every filmer should have. The skateboard industry is a tough industry—it's competitive, it's hard to get chances—so you really have to put yourself out there and take the chances.
Part of it would be portraying confidence, but being able to deliver on everything you're promising, right?
Yeah, definitely. That's the main part. You have to be very patient as a filmer, you're on skateboarder's time. And a lot of companies aren't as legit as you think. When you're a kid you see skateboarding as this dream industry, but it's not as legit as you think it is. I think, through the years, I've just let my work do the talking for me. I think that's what's helped me.
J Scott Handsdown "Dream Chasin'"
What else, besides Miles, have you been working on with PUSH ?
The first project I did at the Berrics I did with Hansu. I was lucky to work close with Hansu because he's like, a legend. He's one of the best editors I've ever seen, and I've learned so much from working with Hansu, just in the last six months. He's kind of taken me in. Grant Schubert is doing the doc stuff with Hansu for PUSH, but whenever Grant's not around, I'm doing the doc stuff for PUSH. I'm filming Miles's skate part—strictly skating—and then I'm helping Hansu with doc stuff. Yesterday we filmed episode 1 of Tommy Fynn's PUSH thing... I'm doing all the behind the scenes, basically.
For every rider?
Not every one, but whenever Hansu needs help, and I'm not busy filming Miles or doing another project, then I'm helping Hansu with doc stuff.
How much do you still have to shoot for Miles’s PUSH part?
Right now we're at about 3 1/2 minutes of footage and we're stoked. Luckily we've been able to do a lot of traveling for this part, with the backing of adidas. We went to Brazil at the beginning of the year. That was an adidas filming trip, but it still ties into PUSH, ‘cause it’s part of one of his episodes.
There's no problems with you, you know, keeping some footage?
There's some stuff that I filmed on the RED that they ended up not using in their video, so I'm gonna use some of that stuff. We went to Brazil, we did the PUSH Barcelona mission that basically everyone went on, which wasn't the best trip for Miles because he had Street League, so we'd just try to squeeze in a couple trips when we could.
A month later, he had Street League in Germany, so I hit him up like, "Yo, we should do a filming trip around your Germany Street League,” and we went to Munich, did Street League for a couple days, and then because adidas is from Germany we had all the connections we needed in Germany; we went to Stuggart, we went to the adidas headquarters. We got a rental car, drove on the Autobahn, and then we went to Berlin for a week. It was me, Miles, Rodrigo TX, and Jeff Landi shooting photos. So that was a sick filming trip we got to do. Then just recently, a bunch of our homies did a homie trip to Barcelona, and it was like the dream trip that you would want to do with all your friends. It was pretty crazy how we organized this, we got ten of our close friends to book tickets and Miles went too. I felt that it was an opportunity I couldn't miss to film with Miles, because that's when he skates his best: when he's with friends and it's just natural, there's no plan? We did those trips, and then other than that, just Sacramento. I'm pretty proud to say that we haven't filmed one trick in Southern California for this part. And we're not going to either!
You also did your One Day In Skateboarding [The Skateboard Mag issue #153] in Germany, right?
Yeah, and we were already about ten days into a filming trip, and we were pretty burnt. It wasn't like we were out at 12:00 a.m. and we were gonna be getting tricks. It was just natural.
So, right now, where we're at with Miles's part is we have all this cool footage. We filmed in Germany, Brazil, and Barcelona. We filmed all over the Bay area and Sacramento—like I said, this is like a dream project for me. Even though I've stayed close friends with Miles through all these years of me working in the industry and him doing his thing, we haven't been able to skate and film much. This is a project where we've been able to come together, skate, hang out, and film, so I'm super hyped on everything we have. As of now, I feel like these last two months are gonna be focused on getting his last tricks. We have a plan for about three or four more tricks, and that's about it.
That's pretty impressive for someone who doesn't really live near here.
Yeah, it's crazy. With the short amount of time we have, he handles what he needs to do. I think a lot of people think Miles is just, like, a robot who can do whatever tricks he wants to do. But through his episodes, people will be able to see that he tries really hard for his stuff. I hope we can do some sort of B-sides edit or something, after these PUSH edits come out, because I'd like people to see the work that he puts in to get his tricks.
Yeah, when people watch him the typical reaction is: "Oh, he was born to ride a skateboard." Everything looks like it just fits, but it's important that people know how much of a struggle it is for everybody.
I mean, obviously sometimes he gets things easy, but a lot of times he has to work for his shit. You'll see that in his episodes, you'll see him battling… it hasn't been a walk in the park. Miles puts himself at a high level, and he wants every part that he comes out with to be better than the last. He's not looking at this part like, "Oh, I'm just gonna film a couple minutes of footage."He's trying to make this the best part he's ever had.
That's exciting because I think a lot of people are wondering what his post-LRG output is gonna be like. How much pressure is that for you?
It’s a lot of pressure, because some people have said to me: "I heard this is gonna be the best part Miles have ever had." It's pressure, but I feel confident that we're doing a good job and people are gonna be stoked! The editing process is the next challenge.
How many hours of footage are you trimming down?
We have so much stuff, but when I cut down to just the skating, we have around 3 1/2 or 4 minutes. You can have all this great footage of the sickest skater in the world, but it doesn't even matter unless you edit it right. That's gonna be the biggest challenge: finding the right song, piecing everything together, and making it a standout part.
So, you're not even at that stage yet… setting the mood and everything?
Well, they've asked for previews of his footage, so I've laid it out in the kind of order that I'd like to see, but I haven't picked a song or done anything else yet.
Were already familiar with using a RED?
No, this was my first time filming with the RED. That was a challenge for me, because before working at the Berrics, I'd never even touched a RED camera before. It's a whole different style of filming than the cameras I used to film with, as far as the ring zoom, and the fisheye is different.
Were you a bit panicky about any residual friendly fire from Miles or anything like that?
No, but I was more worried about not filming a trick how I normally would. The first filming mission we did for PUSH, I went to Sacramento and I told him, "I kinda wanna get used to the camera,” because long lens was especially difficult for me since I was used to filming with the different zoom. And that was the mission where he backside overcrooked the eighteen-stair rail. I wanted a mellow mission. I was thinking, Film some fisheye stuff and kind of get used to the camera. But that's not how Miles does it. He always wants to make it worth it, so I was pretty nervous then. That clip ended up going to Away Days, but that was the only time when I didn't feel fully confident filming yet with that camera. I had filmed a couple behind the scenes things, but that was my first time filming skating with the RED camera, we're at this rail, and he backside overcrooked it first try! [laughs] I said he works for his shit, but with something like that you're either gonna get it first try, or you're gonna get broke off.
So there're challenges with the RED camera, but it just took a couple of filming missions and I got comfortable filming with it. And I'm super happy with how all the footage looks. It looks way different than how it would look if I filmed with my HPX or any other camera.
You also made videos that aired on the Berrics besides PUSH, right?
Yeah, I did a bunch of stuff I'm super hyped on. We did that adidas trip to Brazil, and I proposed to The Berrics that I could go to Brazil with Miles on this adidas trip, film a PUSH episode out of it, and film a behind the scenes edit for The Berrics. It was called the adidas “Final Days” edit. It gave you a little insight as to what we did in Brazil, the struggles that Miles, TX, and Klaus Bohms went through. That was one I was really happy with. I also did the Primitive Canada tour, which was a lot of fun. That was like going back to my Supra days, doing tour videos. I helped with a lot of Battle At The Berrics stuff. I did the FOFAlona edit, which was our homie mission to Barcelona.
That's a Sacramento crew, right?
Yeah. That’s crew that I was skating with when Miles was first introduced to the scene as a little kid, so it was cool to get that same crew together that we skated with seven years ago, and go to Barcelona. Miles has some gnarly stuff in it that we aren't even using for PUSH. We also did an Off the Grid, to coincide with that edit, but FOFAlona was basically a Barcelona montage. FOFA is our old skate crew from Sacramento.
Is FOFA also a hardware company?
Yeah. I made this video called The FOFA Video when we were super young—I hadn't even skated with Miles at that time—and as of recently a few of my homies have turned it into sort of hardware and accessories company.
Is it an acronym for something?
Yeah, but it's super embarrassing. [laughs] I always try to swerve that question… it stands for Fair Oaks Fuck Arounders. We made it when we were super young, Fair Oaks is where we're all from.
So you pretty much just hit the ground running when you came here? It seems like you didn’t even have time to ease into your filming position!
My friend explained it the best: The Berrics is filming and editing boot camp, in a good way. You get access to the best equipment, you get thrown into all these projects, and it was a whole different style from what I did working at Supra and Expedition and other companies that were more skateboard filming-based. Here at The Berrics I've learned so much more—cutting interviews, telling stories—especially working with Hansu.
Yeah, Hansu said he's worked on like 600 videos here!
I've worked at The Berrics since February, and I've done about 30 edits. I don't think I did that much in my years at Supra and Expedition combined.
So the workload is okay for you?
Yeah, I like it. I love having all these projects. I'm always working with a different skater, it's a lot of fun.
Alan's "Fight Night" edit featuring Diego Najera
Have you had a “proudest moment,” in your whole career as a filmer so far?
I think my proudest moment is just seeing Miles keep getting better and better… it's all kind of Miles-related, but I think this PUSH project I'm doing with him is the proudest moment of my career. Given our history, working with Miles for this PUSH project is probably one of the coolest projects I've ever had a chance to do.
Just the story of you meeting this kid at a Gatorade contest…
…to what we're doing now, yeah. We've been to China together, we've been to Brazil, Spain, Germany… so going from skating together in Fair Oaks, our hometown, to going to all these countries has been pretty rad. I don't think either of us thought it would ever happen.