It’s a weird world to be sure. Back in 1986, over the course of one day, I made a short film called Skate Witches. Tonight it appears on MTV. Never in a million years would I have predicted that.
The film was inspired by my friend Dana. She had skated a bit and wanted to bring her board to Ann Arbor as a way to get around town. But since she was a girl, she figured she’d get hassled by the boy skateboarders. Jokingly, I suggested she start a female skateboard gang as a way to address that problem. Within minutes our friend Karen, who claimed to be a good skater, joined up, as did our friend Jenny, who openly admitted to never having skated. A gang was formed, a movie script was plotted, and the back of a leather jacket was emblazoned with SKATE WITCHES in white spray paint.
When we started shooting, Karen, for some reason, refused to skate. We worked that into the script. During the shoot, we found a couple of friends skating. They were recruited to be hapless boy victims, being shoved off their skateboards and having their boards stolen by Jenny. I think because she was the most novice skater, it was decided that she would be the tough. All of our pet rats appeared as well. Mr. Ig Wigg, Maggie, and a rat whose name I can not remember.
The film was shot in an afternoon and one evening. We shot a night scene where Karen skated at night, backing up her claim in the film that she “only skates at midnight.” That was lit by the car lights of a 1982 brown Horizon. That footage was unusable.
We finished the film and essentially no one cared. It did screen at the Ann Arbor Super 8 Fest in 1986 or 1987. I remember being irritated because they had a prize for best Michigan Film. I’m not saying I deserved to win, but they did give that award to a filmmaker from Ohio that year.
Underground films like this were a tough sell in 1986 and not until the 90s with the founding of NY and Chicago Underground Film Fests did this kind of work even gain traction. Skate Witches got a couple of nice screenings throughout the 90s as Skate Film Festivals (esp. Cut & Paste) started coming to the fore.
But then the internet. Skate Witches has been a hit with the youth on YouTube. It’s funny. And now MTV.
The film, “discovered on YouTube”, is going to be featured, and I believe made fun of, on a show called DJ and The Fro. Kind of like Bevis and Butthead, but featuring guys in cubicles sharing viral videos. We’ll see. It appears on an episode called Substitute Boss. It’s set to air Friday, July 3, 12:30 am. Set your TIVOS and check your local listings for repeat airings.
And for what it’s worth, Dana still has the jacket. Let the eBay bidding wars commence!
Watch it below with out the smarmy MTV comments. Also, it's available on my Warts & All DVD.