Kevin Horn is Back From Hiatus
Kevin Horn hasn't made a skate video since 2009. Since then he's become a successful director of movies and commercials, seemingly taking a step away from skateboarding. When we began seeing hints of a new skate project called Hiatus on Instagram(If you're in Minneapolis, come to the premiere this Saturday), we were puzzled. Don't skate filmers get into directing after they're sick of making skate videos? We knew we had to see what was up, so we reached out to Kevin for an interview:
You’ve been making TV commercials and movies for a while now – why make a skate video?
I stopped skating between 2012-2015 to focus on my cinematography career and I got really depressed. I didn’t exactly plan on quitting, but it just sort of happened that way. Most of the guys I filmed in New Flavors moved away and the crew kind of got split up, so I kind of saw it as an opportunity to take a break and focus on work. I suddenly had a huge void in my life that was otherwise filled with skating. I’ve been skating for 15 years, and making skate videos since the beginning, so when I stopped doing that I became pretty unhappy. I love what I do for a living, but nothing compares to cruising the streets with a crew with nothing but a VX and a fisheye in your bag. It took me a few years to reconnect with the skate community and recognize that it was something that I both wanted and needed in my life, and then I bought a vx1000 in 2015 and hoped for the best.
Explain the significance of the title Hiatus?
The title Hiatus is a reference to not only my 7 year absence from making skate videos, but also a reference to a number of guys in the video. Max Mateikis, aka Wheelbite grew up making skate videos in Minneapolis around the same time I did, and we both took a pretty similar break from it. Dom hasn’t had a part in a video since Flow Trash (2010), and I also hadn’t really stayed in touch with him for a long time until we started filming for the video.
During your time away were you still following skateboarding in MN?
I was following it a little bit, and I still went to some premieres, but I felt like an outsider. It was really bizarre and I felt kind of intimidated to get back into it. I went to the Debris and Debri2 premieres but I don’t think I really talked to anybody.
What’s been your schedule while making the video?
My schedule was out of control while making Hiatus. Everyone in the crew had completely different schedules, and I had to somehow make it all work on top of an already crazy work schedule. I’d work 10-12 hour days on set, and then go night skating with the night owls after. Then I’d be up and out skating at 10:30am the next day because TJ (Moran) and Jan (Jacobson) are crazy morning people. In the summer I’d work 40-50 hours a week, and be out filming for Hiatus 25-30 hours a week. I don’t know if I want to ever do that again.
Do you approach making a skate video the same way you make a commercial?
I like to separate work from skate videos. I use a lot of high end equipment and work with large crews while shooting commercials, and that can be really great. But I would never want to approach skating like a big budget commercial, because that’s not what skating is about to me. I don’t want to lug around dollies, jibs, and expensive camera equipment. I like to get close with the camera, so I don’t need to risk a camera hit with a RED Epic or something silly like that. I pack my bag with a VX1000+MK1, Super 8 camera, and my Mamiya 6 for photos.
You made a video called New Flavors in 2009 - has making this video felt the same as when you made New Flavors?
It’s way different making a skate video as a grown adult versus being 19 or 20. Managing schedules was the biggest headache making Hiatus. When you’re a kid, skating is usually the only priority you have outside of school and maybe a part time job. It’s also weird getting yelled at by security guards that work at buildings that I’ve had film shoots at. I do love the feeling of having a core group of dudes to call up to skate or go to the bar with. That was something that I felt was missing from my life when I wasn’t making skate videos.
Most of the skaters in Hiatus are guys we’ve seen in the past that we've wanted to see more from. How did you select the skaters for the video?
I didn’t really select the line-up, it kind of just formed naturally. When I bought my vx1000 in 2015, I decided that I wasn’t going to force a crew or force a video. I wanted to see it unfold naturally and skate with whoever was down. Jan was the first person to hit me up. We’d never skated before, and hardly even knew each other. Hiatus started out as Jan and I filming for a solo part that we were going to release on the internet, and it slowly became what it is now. People saw us out doing our thing and the dudes who made it in the final line-up are the ones that committed to it.
How did you start filming with Erik Blomberg? What can you tell us about him?
Erik is from Appleton, Wisconsin, and I met him through Hani Shamat. Hani went to college in Appleton and ended up meeting Erik that way. Erik moved to Minneapolis to study at Augsburg college, and Hani introduced me to him at Front skatepark one day. We eventually went out street skating a few times in 2015 and I realized that Erik was one of the most creative skaters I’d ever seen, so I was very excited to have him in the crew. Erik approaches spots like no one else and almost every single clip in his part was extremely difficult for me to film. I like to get really close when I film Erik, and I ended up filming a lot of his lines while running instead of riding a board because either the spot, or the line itself didn’t really allow for me to ride my board.
How did you manage to pull Dom Randazzo out of retirement?
Dom pulled himself out of retirement. I think he just felt like he didn’t really have a filmer that wanted to go out with him anymore, so that made it hard for him to stay on the radar. He’s back though, and he’s killing it. I’ve known Dom since he was 10, and this is the first time he’s had a part in one of my videos. Every clip I’ve ever filmed of him has gone to other videos (Boondoggle, The Familia Video, Flow Trash), so it’s nice to finally have a Dom part of my own. I’ve essentially filmed 3 other Dom parts over the years, but this is the first time I get to use the footage. I’m really proud of what he accomplished in Hiatus.
What have you learned about making skate videos since New Flavors?
I’ve learned that there are more trends in skate videos than ever. I need to keep my head down and do what I think is best and create the kind of video that I would want to watch. Instagram and YouTube have had a huge influence on the way people view and consume skateboarding media these days, but I still believe in the power of the full length video. Skateboarding doesn’t need extra frills to be cool; it already is. I made a deliberate choice to not use any slow-mo in Hiatus because I have noticed it being abused and used in bizarre trendy ways that I don’t really like.
What is your fondest memory from making Hiatus?
At the beginning of filming for the video, I was one of the only dudes in the crew who was actively shooting photos, specifically on film. I process and print everything in my home darkroom. Slowly over the course of filming for the video, every single dude in the crew was shooting black and white film. Almost every Sunday, after a long week of filming and shooting photos, I’d have the crew over to process film and watch skate videos. I’d order two large pizzas from Lucé and I’d process everyone’s film while they listened to records, flipped through photo books, or watched videos. I made a limited edition DVD case that’s a 60 page, hardcover photo book comprised of photos that the crew and I shot while making the video. It’s important to me that skaters stay creative outside of skateboarding too, because most of the dudes I skate with are extremely talented when it comes to photography. It was really great that we could all bond over it and make a book together.
Should we expect your next skate video in 2023?
I doubt it, but if it happens, I want it to be shot entirely on 16mm.