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Calzone

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Calzone

Village Psychic

Go figure - two of our favorite recent videos from New Jersey, Sable and Cashmere, were made by the same guy. We tracked down that guy, Matt Velez, and talked to him about his new video Calzone, which premieres this Thursday in Brooklyn.

 

Matt Velez

Matt Velez

Let’s start with the basics. Where did you grow up?

I was born on Staten Island, but moved to Barnegat, New Jersey, which is 30-35 minutes north of Atlantic City, when I was 9. That's where I started skating. In terms of spots, you usually have to head to New York or head to Philly, or you really have to have a trick in mind for something around there.

Speaking of spots, your videos consistently have a good mix of them. There are cellar door type spots alongside more suburban looking ones, combined with well known NYC and Philly spots. Where do you film the most?

Before I moved to the city, I skated a lot in the suburbs. Especially early on, we’d find a lot of spots in the area just through my friend Mark (Humienik) sitting on his laptop on Google Maps and going through the streets. Anything we thought would be interesting, we’d just go that way and see what we found, even if it was an hour and a half away.

 

Mark Humienik, backside tailslide in Boston.

Mark Humienik, backside tailslide in Boston.

How’d you get into filming?

After I got done with college at Stockton University, no one around here was really filming. I bought a DSLR, a Canon Rebel XSI. I had all DSLR HD footage and as I would capture it, I could tell it really wasn’t what I was looking for.

So, I traded my DSLR for a VX2100. It was horrible. The camera was in such bad cosmetic condition and it glitched. I got a Mark 1 lens with it as well, which had been dropped on the concrete repeatedly. It was so scratched, but I loved it. The vignetting just matched what I had in my head, all I watched growing up were videos shot on VX.

Mark actually taught me how to use all my cameras - how to set colors, shutter speed, all these things. He would always have a VHS camera with him, so he was a big influence on me in terms of learning about cameras, which is surprising because of how good he is on a skateboard.

 

Dylan Wisniewski, ollie.

Dylan Wisniewski, ollie.

Was Cashmere your first full length video?

Yeah, I have a series of clips on YouTube called Doggy Bag which started before that. And it's funny, The entire Cashmere video isn’t even online. Brian Costadina’s part is up, and there’s a montage up as well. I have a full part in that one as well, which is probably what made me keep the entire thing off the internet. I like myself behind the lens.

 

Mark Humienik

Mark Humienik

Did you film Mark Humienik's footage for Bleach?

I filmed like 65% / 35% with Paul Young. That was a fun time. The reason I bought a VX1000 was to film Mark for Bleach. I was so hyped on the camera that I wanted to put out my own video, so I filmed Sable in six months while I was still filming Mark for Bleach. His part in Sable was pretty much his Bleach leftovers combined with a couple things he filmed for me. 

Shout out to Paul Young, he really put me on. 

Do you and Paul go out to film together?

In those days we went out a lot together. I mean, that was only like, two years ago (laughs.) We still do now, but now we go out and film HD together. These days Paul is filming for Quasi, and I’ll come out and get second angles.

 

Brian Costadina, Frontside 5-0. Photo: Joey Jordan.

Brian Costadina, Frontside 5-0. Photo: Joey Jordan.

Let’s talk about the first song in your next video, Sable. ‘Oh Girl’ by the Chi-Lites. It’s a song that doesn’t seem like it should be be in a skate video, but it really works. What made you choose that song?

I binge watch The Sopranos. I kind of feel weird giving that away, but I remembered one of my favorite scenes, Tony Soprano is singing that song. I had it on one day while I was uploading stuff, and was just like…'Hey’.

For Sable, were you filming primarily in New Jersey?

We were pretty much only in Jersey for that video. The only times we would go to the city would be on the weekends. When we’d go, we’d just sleep on JP (Blair)’s floor. We’d stay the weekend, then go back home and come back the next weekend.

Another thing that stands out about your footage from Sable and Bleach are the spots. A lot of them aren’t spots we’re familiar with.

Well, in terms of spots, we always felt that Philly was kind of untapped, just because everyone there would stay at Muni or Love. There’s a spot in Mark’s Bleach part that was a Google Maps spot. After that vid came out, this BMXer was DMing Mark about it - like, ‘Where is this spot?’ We wound up telling him.
 

Ian McGraw, backside heelflip.

Ian McGraw, backside heelflip.

So, there’s a random Braydon Szafranski clip in Sable. How’d that happen?

I knew you were going to ask. It was my first time out in LA, and we really wanted to check out Lockwood. I could see that there was only one person in there skating, but as I got closer I saw two dudes in there filming with drones. After that we didn’t really want to go in, but we went in anyway.

Right away I saw that the guy skating was Braydon. Brian (Costadina) had his camera out, and Braydon came up and asked him to get a photo. Meanwhile, I was just filming Mark do back smiths on the bench. Braydon then came over asked me 'Hey man, could you get an angle of this?' I asked the dudes with the drones if it was cool and they were all like 'Yeah, we don’t care.' I mean, they saw me with this ancient camera and they were filming with Xbox controllers.

So I filmed him do it and he liked how I filmed it. He was just like 'Could you email that to me? I want to send it to Beagle.' I was just like ‘Whoah. Yeah I can definitely do that.’ After he landed it we smoked a joint together. The entire time I was thinking about his ‘weed saves lives’ clip.

 

Joey Boulianne and JP Blair

Joey Boulianne and JP Blair

Let’s get to your upcoming video, Calzone. Is the name a nod to New Jersey?

Actually, all my video titles are subtle references to Seinfeld. There’s the episode where George had to get calzones for George Steinbrenner. Sable was in reference to the big hat George bought. Cashmere made an appearance in the episode with the sweater with the red dot, and there’s scene where they’re in the diner and they make a big deal about getting the doggy bag. Mark and I would watch that show all the time.

 

Nick Ferro

Nick Ferro

Who can we look forward to seeing in Calzone?

We’ve got Ian McGraw, who’s flow for 5Boro. He lives in Jersey, and he’s awesome to watch on a skateboard.

There’s Mark Wetzel, skating with him has been breath of fresh air. He’s got a part in the Traffic video Via, which is one of my favorite videos. My homie Dylan Wisniewski also has a part.

Of course Mark Humienik has a part. We hit a lot of bumps filming for this one. Mark got hurt for an entire year - he broke his leg while I was out in LA. I felt lost at the time, we always skate together and are always going on trips together.

But he’s better than ever now. That trip to Barcelona with Bronze, that was his first time filming after being injured, and you saw how well that turned out. Nick Ferro, who I’ve been skating with Nick since the first time I met Paul in 2014. I didn’t start filming him for Calzone until this July, but his footage is amazing. NJ legend Joey Boulianne is going to have everybody’s favorite part. Brian Costadina is in it as well. He’s next up.

 

Matt Velez, Nick Napolitano, Eddie Kuus, Tyler Dudas, Mike Velez and Dylan Wisniewski

Matt Velez, Nick Napolitano, Eddie Kuus, Tyler Dudas, Mike Velez and Dylan Wisniewski

It’s cool that you have a legit space for the the premiere. Is anyone helping you out?

Luckily I have companies down to help me get a space - Bronze 56k, Quasi, Paterson - much respect to German, Zoo York, Theories, and NJ Skateshop (the home!).


Calzone premieres this Thursday, November 30th in Brooklyn.