X Games Austin 2015: Chat With ‘We Are Blood’ Star Paul Rodriguez
Paul Rodriguez is one of skateboarding’s busiest men – and if this summer’s schedule is any indication, the 30-year-old California native won’t be slowing down any time soon.
The Mountain Dew sponsored street skateboarder continues to work on his company, Primitive Skateboards, while preparing for both Dew Tour and X Games later this month. However, something even bigger is on the horizon.
In August, a skateboarding film unlike any other will be released starring Rodriguez. Titled We Are Blood, co-produced by Mtn Dew Green Label Films and Brain Farm and directed by Ty Evans, the highly-anticipated film shows some of the sport’s best athletes traveling the world, pushing the limits of a board while celebrating the unifying passion and bond skateboarding creates.
We recently got a chance to chat with the four-time X Games gold medalist to find out all about the film and what it took to get it made, along with the topic of comparing Dew Tour and X Games.
CraveOnline: Can you talk a little about We Are Blood and what fans can expect from the film?
Paul Rodriguez: Yeah, man. Myself, Ty Evans and Brain Farm came together to make a skateboard film that was a lot different than anything that had been done before. Of course, we’re going to have a lot of amazing skateboarding in there, for sure. But we wanted something a little more than just flashy tricks.
We wanted to get more of a, I guess, message across or a representation of the culture as far as why we are skaters from all different types of backgrounds from anywhere across the world and what it is we fell in love and we share that bond, no matter where you’re from or what you’re background is – how this one thing brings us all together and you forget everything else and no matter who you are, you have that bond and that connection. So, we kind of wanted to go with that aspect as well.
Crave: So, essentially, it is kind of a love affair of skateboarding?
Rodriguez: Yes – more or less, man.
Crave: What kind of style does Ty bring to the film?
Rodriguez: I wouldn’t even know how to put that into words. I mean, just all kinds, like insane passion. He’s had this movie playing in his mind for the past couple of years – like he already had it envisioned. And his style is just, I guess, the message, like the way he films it and the kind of equipment we had was like nothing that’s ever been seen in our world before.
We had access to the most expensive and amazing cameras, equipment, drones and other things like that, so visually, it’s like nothing that’s ever been done in our world. And story wise, Ty has it all maxed out and I couldn’t explain his style, man. It’s going to strike a chord with anybody watching it – like an emotional chord. Not in the sense of like sad, but it will resonate within and really inspire people to go out and be that passionate about whatever it is, if it’s skateboarding or not, and apply that same inner drive to whatever it is their dreams are. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Crave: Did Ty approach you about this project when he was coming up with this film – did he have you specifically in mind?
Rodriguez: Yeah, he approached me. I received a call from him, I don’t know, like two or two and a half years ago now. I got a random call from him. He asked me to come down to his house because he wanted to talk to me about something. I went over there and he had this full storyboard plastered on the wall in his office and he walked me through every bit of it – and, I don’t know, it was rad.
It was just the thing I was looking for, because I was feeling a little bored with, you know, ‘Alright, film another video part, cool, keep skating, film another video part, cool, keep skating.’ And, I don’t know, it just felt boring. I wanted something that was just going to switch up the monotony.
Crave: Had the two of you worked together prior to that?
Rodriguez: I worked with Ty a couple of times, but mainly on a film we did 12 years ago called Yeah Right! that was a skateboard video – I was probably like 18 when it came out. It was like my debut pro part and Ty has always been known in our world to be the most – I always call him the ‘Steel Bird’ of skateboarding, because he’s the most prominent filmmaker in our world.
GoPros + Skateboarding
Crave: I want to go back and touch on technology. You mentioned the best technology – drones and GoPros and such. How much has that impacted and changed skateboarding?
Rodriguez: I don’t know, as far as the tricks themselves and the actual sport itself, I couldn’t really tell you how much has changed there. But, I mean, by the way people view it and the way people see it, it really glamorizes [skateboarding] a lot more – not that it’s not already glamorous. [Technology] just adds another dimension that makes it just that much more enticing and gets you a lot closer to like being there in person and experiencing it. And with the slow-motion and, I don’t know, the 4k HD [laughs] – I don’t really know much about cameras – it blows my mind. It motivates us to want to keep pushing ourselves to see that trick that you have in your mind, filmed by some high level stuff.
Crave: You have done a lot over your career. You’ve won a lot of contest, medals – all that kind of stuff. Is this a film that you’ll look back on years from now and be the most proud of?
Rodriguez: It’s hard to say, because I still feel like I still have a lot left to give and a lot left to do. But as far as right now, yeah, it’s huge for my career and I think a perfect objective for the career I’m in. If I were to say it’s my end-all and be-all, I don’t want to pack myself up just yet [laughs].
Crave: I can understand that, you’re only 30-years-old.
Rodriguez: I’m here to stay!
15 vs. 30
Crave: Now, I recently interviewed Tom Schaar. You know all about him – Big Air champion, first to land the 1080 – so when you see a young guy that good hit the scene, are you a little intimidated?
Rodriguez: No, because that was me – that’s when I hit the scene, you know. I was around the same age when I started getting recognition, so you know, it just kind of reminds me of my life and of my past – it’s nostalgic man, because you realize just how fast time goes.
Crave: Believe me, I know what you mean. So, with these younger skateboarders, do you essentially see a little bit of yourself in each and every one of them?
Rodriguez: Not all of them, you know. Tom Schaar – I know him, I’ve met him in passing and at the X Games but we have two completely different styles and paths that we’ve taken in our world. And just the fact of his youth and when he started to get recognized reminds me of when I started getting in there. There’s a few guys out there that I want to see what is going on with them and I’m like, ‘I remember those days. I remember that point in my career, when things started firing!’
X Games vs. Dew Tour
Crave: Now, this time of year, you’re a busy man. You’ve got both Dew Tour and X Games coming up. Can you kind of compare the two and what it is about each you like?
Rodriguez: Well, the Dew Tour is a little different because it’s like – it’s a tour [laughs], a series of events. They’ve narrowed it down now to where my event is just at one stop but, you know, they have BMX, I think they still do motocross, they do vert and they kind of just break it up into different events and different cities and that, to me, is what really differentiates them.
X Games is the one that’s been here the longest and is probably the most well known by people, I guess – I don’t know. They’re both extremely tough events and have really high level of competition. Some of the same riders are at both, but there’s a lot of other guys that are in one or the other, so you get a lot of competitors, I guess, so it switches up the level of competition.
Crave: Will you be competing at Dew Tour Chicago?
Rodriguez: Yes, yes I am.
Crave: What’s it like to return there, since it’s been several years since the city has held a Dew Tour event? Are you looking forward to getting back to Chi-Town?
Rodriguez: Yeah, man. Chicago is a great city, especially during the summer. I always enjoy it there, not only the contest, of course, because the crowd and the people are awesome, but I enjoy the in-between days too – the food, the restaurants, sightseeing. I just get to be a tourist and it’s a fun place.
Crave: There’s definitely no shortage of stuff to do in Chicago, that’s for sure.
Rodriguez: Yeah, yeah.
Crave: Now, what about Austin? Last year, did you really get a chance to check out the city?
Rodriguez: I’ve been to Austin a lot of times already. Last year, I ended up getting sick leading up to the competition, so I pretty much stayed cooped up in my room for the few days I was there. But normally, when I’m feeling fine, I like going around – they have tons of restaurants and food and all kinds of awesome things going on there.
Austin is a super-exploding place right now, so it’ll be something I enjoy. It’s hard sometimes when you go to certain cities and you’re going to be there for three or four day and there’s really not much exciting and you just end up staying in your room or nearby the hotel. It gets a little boring and lonely – but cities like Chicago and Austin, you never have a dull moment.
X Games’ 20th birthday
Crave: Speaking of moments, X Games turns 20 this year. What stands out for you as the pinnacle of X Games – what have you enjoyed over the course of your time competing?
Rodriguez: For me, there’s kind of a selfish answer. I’ve been fortunate enough to do well at some of the X Games, so for me, my pinnacles and best memories are when I’ve been lucky enough to win.
Crave: That’s always a good memory. But is there a specific run or trick that stands out and really pops into your head right away?
Rodriguez: There was one year, I think it was 2009, where I was down to my last trick and I had to make it in order to have a chance to win. It was our version, our sport’s version, of the buzzer beater and I was able to make it happen. That felt good to me because it was an iffy situation and fortunately I was able to hold it together and pull off the landing and, you know, get that win. So, that was a brilliant moment – those kinds of moments are always very exciting.
Photos courtesy of Mountain Dew Green Label Films