Back Story: Van Homan Little Devil Ad
We caught up with Van Homan to get some information about this old Little Devil ad that was produced during the filming of Criminal Mischief. There's also a bonus interview with the photographer who shot the sequence, Adam Wallacavage.
So the ad we are talking about is a Little Devil ad and it was shot during the filming of Criminal Mischief?
How far along were you in filming when you shot this ad?
To be honest, I don't remember at all. I think it might have been fairly early, but I'm kind of guessing. I don't really remember. It was 2000, twelve years ago, so kind of hard to remember.
Where would this fit in with your rail grinding evolution?
What does that mean?
Had you done a gap to second stage ice pick before?
Pretty sure I had. I mean, I can't remember exactly what one. I'm sure I had done one even if it was a smaller one. I remember that day pretty specifically, well, I remember the first day I rode that rail pretty specifically. I was just hanging out at the Little Devil shop, and then we just went out cruising and our friend Josh Tyson lived in the area and just happened to be at the shop, and we went out riding and we had the camera with us. Back then I wasn't afraid to bro cam it at all, like nowadays videos expect a certain quality, I dunno, but back then I didn't really give a shit who filmed what, so we'd just go out. All the footage that's in the video is from we went out and I did all three, like gap to double, gap to ice and gap to manual all back to back and Josh filmed them. Then we actually went back with Adam and shot the gap to ice again for the ad.
Were you just riding around, did you know that spot existed or were you cruising around and found it?
Nah, that day just cruising around and came across it, told Josh I was going to do it. I dunno, just did all three, just got super psyched and did one and kept getting pumped.
Had you shot with Adam before?
Yeah, Adam was cool. We had shot a couple times at FDR and maybe a couple other times. He was boys with Derek so he would come out and help out, and he was interested in shooting BMX and it seemed like he had a good time doing it.
If you were doing something scary today you wouldn't just feel comfortable with just some random dude shooting photos?
I dunno, I guess there's people I'm comfortable shooting with and working with, but again, maybe I was a little more liberal back then and cared a little less. I liked shooting with Adam, like I said, I had shot with him before and I knew him. Sometimes I don't care anyway because sometimes I like having footage in my video parts that someone hasn't already seen the photo. Sometimes I don't even care if there's a camera around. A couple clips I already have stashed away for my next video project, some of my best clips there wasn't even a photographer for it. That doesn't bother me because I'd just as soon there not be photos of it, so that not every single thing is a photo. It gets redundant and boring, so it's nice when some of your clips aren't photos too.
How differently do you approach filming a full part now compared to then? Back then were you thinking, did you know how many clips you had, what your goal was? Did you have a vision for your part?
Yeah, I think I did. Especially for Criminal Mischief because we had already done Seek and Destroy, so I kind of had an idea and definitely standards in my head, at least as far as the riding quality goes anyway, maybe not so much with standards as far as the filming and whatnot, but I knew as a rider what I wanted to do and what I wanted to see in my part and I didn't want to water it down.
As far as filming today, really the only difference is you're more conscious of who's filming and how it's being filmed because you're riding at pretty much the same level realistically.
Yeah, I think that'd be totally accurate. Yeah, I think the only thing that has changed maybe it's a little more frustrating because then I didn't really care who filmed what so you could just go out whenever you were feeling something and let them point a camera, but nowadays whoever is making the video is going to want the footage at a certain quality, and if it's not at that quality, they're just not going to use it. In that case you kind of want to make sure you have someone around that you know is going to film it in a way that you know it's going to be usable. I don't even feel like my riding has changed truthfully that much, obviously I've progressed and learned new things, but I feel like just the way I ride in general, the stuff that I was psyched on even for Criminal Mischief, half of that stuff I'd still be just as pumped to have in my part today. I think that's just kind of the way my style is. I kind of keep my riding simple, but just try to take it to bigger stuff. I don't if I sound pretentious, but I feel it's kind of a timeless type of style.
If you look at this sequence, take away the three inch top and down tube and the slightly baggy pants, if you did this today, if this was a clip in your upcoming section, it would fit right in.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think I have clips like that for my next part already, big gap to ice picks. Like I said, I'm just as psyched on doing them and just as psyched on having them in my part now as I was then. There's some stuff I'd like to think is always good to see and always fun to do, and I'd like to think people don't get tired of that stuff. It doesn't get old.
Christopher Gabello Photo
How did you meet Derek and Van? You have a skate photo background, was Van the first BMXer you shot photos of?
I was riding bikes in the early 1980s because I was a skater but there weren't any skaters around the area besides at the beach in the Summer and BMX was the closest thing to the scene I liked back then. I've known Derek for a really long time, since he had really long blonde hair, probably mid 80s. I met Van when he was around seventeen or eighteen I think. I shot a photo of him in a dunce hat with some girl for a "Hot for Teacher" ad.
This ad was made during the filming of Criminal Mischief, which turned out to be the seminal street edit, did you have a sense he was doing insane shit?
I was a skateboard photographer, but I loved shooting Van because he was just so good and I never saw anything like what he was doing. Also, back then I was shooting sequences with film and it was expensive, but Van landed almost everything unlike the skaters I was shooting at the time.
Do you remember where this was shot and how you got involved? How did Van explain to you what he was doing so you could get the proper shot?
I knew how to shoot it since it's not that much different than a skateboard trick in the sense of the speed and movement and composition. This was shot at some college in the Philly area. I'm a big fan of architecture so I had concerns with him messing up the railings, but it was worth the shot.
I contacted Van and told him you shot the sequence for the ad and I was going to ask you a few questions about it as well, he texted back with this: "Adam shot that ad? That would be rad, Adam is a big deal in the art world these days." I'd have to agree, the chandeliers you create are amazing and your house is an art exhibit unto itself. Briefly explain the environment where you dwell?
I bought a big old brownstone in South Philadelphia and have been customizing it and adding to it over the past twelve years. It's something of a Victorian fun house with some rather ornate rooms and weird stuff. I started making these octopus chandeliers for it and then that led to making more and more until it became a full time job for me and now I show these things in art galleries and museums all around the world. I don't think I'm a big deal, Van is. I saw him being filmed once for the Gravity Games down at FDR and they had him standing on a dirt hill with big lights and gigantic sparklers all flaring up behind him. That's a big deal.
Thanks for answering these, and lastly, what do you remember about Van from back then?
I never saw anyone go as big as him at FDR. Watching him ride there was so much fun. Watching him ride anywhere was so much fun and he was always so humble almost to the point that it made his tricks look easy. I was like, if this dude could do a trick that insane and effortless looking and act like nothing happened and it didn't effect his ego then it must be easy or something.
Go to Adam's site to check out more of his work, from chandeliers to photos, all awesome action: Adam Wallacavage