When we were in New Zealand I missed an opportunity to film some local skaters and ever since I’d want to find a collaborative project for my high-speed camera. Shortly after we got to Bali I started researching and I stumbled on the facebook page for Motion Skateboards. On the page I read something about “supporting the local Indonesian skate scene” - perfect. I got in touch with Afandy Dharma, founder of Motion Skateboards, and we arranged to meet at the skate park in a few days to film. Fresh off a flight from NYC our cousin Kelsey (really just Evie’s cousin) joined us in Bali and came along for the adventure.
To find the skatepark, Afandy had instructed me to find a driver
and then pass the cell phone to him, as the directions were difficult. Nearing the
park, our driver went down a dirt road and we found ourselves in a field. We turned around and headed down another
bumpy dirt road, finding Motion Skatepark at the end. The building looks like an
industrial warehouse with corrugated metal roofing to keep the beating Bali sun
at bay. Afandy greeted us at the entrance and introduced himself as the
owner. He looked to be in his
early 20’s, although I find guessing Indonesian age a difficult task. We then
met the rest of the crew, which included 2 skaters: Putu Yogi, a constantly smiling
super nice guy and Indra Leonardo a cool character with some dope tats. The two
of them seemed a bit like opposites, but they both seemed excited to shoot some
As soon as we had arrived I was nervous about that roof. As with any high-speed camera, the ts3cine needs a lot of light. A quick camera test proved it was borderline, barely enough light. I am not sure how many foot-candles it was but I realized an outside location would work much better. Afandy said he knew of a cool spot so we drove there with him while the rest of the crew went by motorbike. Just before we walked into the park where we’d shoot, Afandy went over to a small shack/shop to buy water. An old lady walked out topless like it was nothing. Her attitude was like: it’s damn hot, why bother cover up this late in life? It was a pretty funny, surreal moment.
Still smiling we walked into this crazy abandoned Balinese amusement park, which had been closed for ages. It looked like the set of an Armageddon zombie film, totally post apocalyptic. We explored the empty, overgrown park while waiting for everyone else. Once the rest of the crew arrived, we started shooting at a 5 stair. On Indra's first go, his board flew straight out on landing and missed me by a few inches. Yogi quickly landed some kickflips and a backside variable flip (I think that’s what its called these days, it’s been a while for me) Indra was working hard to stick a 360 flip. I had suggested that we move on to some different spots as I wanted to get a variety of shots, but both guys were determined to stick their tricks. At one point after Yogi barely missed a frontside 180 flip he went by and said “sorry James”. I was really impressed by how determined and committed both skaters were. They were passionate about their sport.
We changed up spots to another set of sketchy stairs on a series of platforms. Good thing they brought a broom to sweep away broken glass and wheel-stopping rocks everywhere. There was barely room before or after the obstacle, but it didn’t take long before Indra stuck a few good kickflips over the cement handrail. I felt bad that the place was so sketchy for the skaters but as far as filming, it looked pretty cool. While we were there group of kids showed up to play paintball, decked out in fatigues and battle-ready. At one point Kelsey was crossing a large open area and shouts of “civilian, hold your fire” rang out. These guys took it pretty seriously; rolling and tumbling throughout the crazy maze of graffiti covered walls.
One of the people that came out to the amusement park was a 19-year old skater named Sophie. Evie and Kelsey spent a fair bit of time getting to know to her while watching the shoot. Sophie moved to Bali at 17 by herself from Australia. She works as an English language teacher, making more than enough to cover her rent and necessities. Kelsey was especially impressed with this young woman who was courageous enough to embark in life on her own in a foreign country at such a young age, clearly choosing a different path from the norm.
With a full on paintball war taking over, we headed back to the skate park. Both car rides gave us a chance to get to know Afandy. He was very interested in animation and 3d so I shared my some of experience working in the industry. Afandy works incredibly hard to promote the skate scene in Bali. The skating bug bit him a long time ago. I gather that he got help from his parents and opened a skate shop. With the success of the shop he used the money to build a skate park so Bali skaters would have a place to practice and improve. Afandy promotes the scene with lots videos and stills. He took some great shots at the amusement park that afternoon. He’s very driven to promote and build upon what he loves.
Back at the skate park the sun was low enough to shine in through the spaces between the ramps and the ceiling. We got a few more shots, but it was definitely challenging. Afandy coordinated the shots by directing kids on what trick to hit and where to go. He would let me know where to be and I would set up the camera, working around the shifting light as the sun went down. I really wanted to get some dynamic shots so I hopped on a board and tried to skate along side the skaters. Never having done this before I quickly realized that keeping good framing and focus requires more skill than I could learn in a few minutes. I got a few shots but wasn’t easy. Early on I played back a clip for some of the kids, from then on they would stop and gather around after each landed trick for playback. It became pretty funny to have them all rushing over to get an instant playback. They seemed pretty stoked to see themselves in epic slow motion.
One of the kids at the park was 11-year-old Sanggoe, who comes to the skate park everyday after school. He had just come back from a contest in Jakarta where he placed 1st against kids 5 years older. Sanggoe pretty much stuck everything on the first try, he totally had the park wired. It’s apparent that with Afandy’s mentoring young Sanngoe will have a bright future in skating. It was awesome to see such a positive environment created to allow these kids to reap the rewards of what sports can provide. It almost felt like Afandy was a soccer or football coach leading his team to victory.
After just two hours the sun was gone and shooting was finished. We said goodbye to our new friends and headed back to Seminyak. We had such a good time meeting such great people and having the chance to be apart of an authentic, non-touristy scene of Bali.
It’s been 2 weeks since we left Bali and I am finally posting this video. Afandy and I tried to coordinate a follow up shoot at night with special lights that don’t flicker at the 720fps frame rate (most all lights look crazy at any high speed frame rate) but it proved to be difficult getting a hold of the equipment. I really wish I could have gotten some better footage of the skaters in their element back at the park with solid lighting. However I hope despite having only 1 day in less than ideal conditions this video gives a small glimpse into the growing Bali skate scene, an experience I won’t forget.