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Dogtown and Z-Boys
 
Directed by Stacy Peralta
Produced by Agi Orsi
Daniel Ostroff
Stephen Nemeth
Written by Stacy Peralta
Craig Stecyk
Starring Jay Adams
Tony Alva
Bob Biniak
Chris Cahill
Paul Constantineau
Skip Engblom
Jeff Ho
Shogo Kubo
Jim Muir
Michael Ramsey (voice)
Peggy Oki
Stacy Peralta
Nathan Pratt
Wentzle Ruml IV
Allen Sarlo
Craig Stecyk
Glen E. Friedman
Narrated by Sean Penn
Cinematography Peter Pilafian
Edited by Paul Crowder
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • January 19, 2001
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $400,000

Dogtown and Z-Boys is an award winning 2001 documentary film directed by Stacy Peralta. The documentary explores the pioneering of the Zephyr skateboard team in the 1970s (of which Peralta was a member) and the evolving sport of skateboarding. Using a mix of film of the Zephyr skateboard team (Z-Boys) shot in the 1970s by Craig Stecyk, along with contemporary interviews, the documentary tells the story of a group of teenage surfer/skateboarders and their influence on the history of skateboarding (and to a lesser extent surfing) culture.

Synopsis

Dogtown and Z-Boys, narrated by Sean Penn, begins with the history of skateboarding in Southern California and how it had been strongly influenced by the surf culture in the surrounding areas of Santa Monica and Venice, nicknamed Dogtown.Surf shop owners Jeff Ho, Skip Engblom, and Craig Stecyk established the Zephyr Skateboard Team with local teenagers from broken homes.The sport of skateboarding continued to evolve as the Z-Boys continued to bring edgy moves influenced by surfing. During one of California's record-breaking droughts, local backyard pools were emptied and became hotspots for these young skateboarders looking for places to skateboard. The members of the Zephyr team gained notability and national attention when they competed in skateboard championships and started to receive media attention for their skills as young athletes. Testimonials and commentary provided by the members and founders of the Zephyr team combined with the rock-and-roll soundtrack and vintage footage all come together in this documentary about the history and lives of the original Z-Boys and skateboarding subculture of California.

Production

The documentary features vintage video footage and photos of the Zephyr skateboard team from the 1970s, along with contemporary interviews from the original members of the Z-Boys group.The film combines the 8-mm and 16-mm vintage footage with modern editing and a soundtrack crafted from music of the 1970s era.

Dogtown and Z-Boys was directed by Stacy Peralta, an original member of the Zephyr team, and written by Peralta and Craig Stecyk, a leading surf and skateboard film producer and photojournalist.

The film operated on a budget of $400,000 financed by Vans, Inc.Stecyk and photojournalist Glen E. Friedman, were the film's co-writer and co-producer, respectively, Daniel Ostroff and Stephen Nemeth were also co-producers, and Debra MacCulloch and Christine Triano were associate producers involved with the film.

Cast

The documentary includes footage, commentary, and interviews from eleven of the original members of the Z-Boys team, along with the team's co-founders, skateboarding champions, and other relevant skateboarding figures, journalists, and musicians from the era.

  • Sean Penn as the narrator
  • Jay Adams (Zephyr Skate Team member) as himself
  • Tony Alva (Zephyr Skate Team member) as himself
  • Stacy Peralta (Zephyr Skate Team member) as himself
  • Jeff Ament as himself
  • Steve Caballero as himself
  • Skip Engblom (Zephyr Co-Founder) as himself
  • Craig Stecyk (Zephyr Co-Founder) as himself
  • Tony Hawk as himself
  • Henry Rollins as himself
  • Tom Sims as himself
  • Peggy Oki (Zephyr Skate Team member) as herself
  • Jeff Ho (Zephyr Co-Founder) as himself

Reception

The documentary initially gained notability after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival where it won several awards. The film was well received by many critics, noted by Wall Street Journal reporter Steve McKee who stated that the documentary had opened with "boffo reviews" from around the country The film received a rating of 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a generally favorable rating of 76 on Metacritic.Stephen Holden of the New York Times said the film was a "giddy, thrilling, rock 'n' roll-saturated history of skateboarding in Southern California."

On the opening weekend of April 2002, Dogtown and Z-Boys made $103,355. By August 2002, the film had grossed $1,293,295 in the United States.]According to Peralta in a 2004 interview, "Dogtown has sold over a million DVDs and more than 700,000 VHS."

Awards and recognition

Dogtown and Z-Boys was entered in the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and won two awards: the Audience Award and Directing Award] The film also won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary in 2001.

 

Reviews From imdb.com

When skateboarding became more than nose wheelies and handstands.


Author: Pepper Anne from Orlando, Florida
9 April 2004

Anyone looking to learn more about the development of skateboarding should find Dogtown and Z-Boys adequate research material. This is not to be confused with Lords of Dogtown, that sorry Hollywood attempt to cash in on the success of the original Dogtown revival.

Directed by Stacey Peralta, a former Z-Boys himself as well as pro skater and mastermind behind the 80s Bones Brigade, and co-written with skateboarding photojournalist Craig Stecyk, this documentary traces how a group of surfing kids from Southern California's mean streets (known as Dogtown) who formed the Z-Boys skateboard team (actually there was one girl--Peggy Oki) revolutionized skateboarding. The film contains interviews from nearly all of the Z-Boys (Chris Cahill's whereabouts are unknown) with the most noteable being bad ass Tony Alva and the youngest, Jay Adams, who's talents (along with Perlata) seemed to transcend the rest of the teams. There are interviews of the team's (and the Dogtown shop) founders, surfboard designer Jeff Ho, Skip Engbloom, and Craig Stecyk. There are also interviews of folks like Tony Hawk (obviously), Ian McKaye (Fugazi), and Henry Rollins, who were young kids in the 70s when Dogtown was making it's influence on skateboarding (skateboarding was a whole other context in previous years as the documentary explains).

It really shows you not only who the Dogtown team was and how they formed, but why their style changed not only skateboarding tricks (pool skating became immensley popular, and thus gave way to vert skating), but also facilitated the sport (though not into the extreme commercialism it is today) as more than just the fleeting fad it had been earlier as these surfing kids who's waves ran out in the early morning needed ways to spend their time and eventually got into skateboarding. The days of Russ Howell and Alan Gelfand were long over as the Dogtown, at least through the publicity of their skate team, paved the way for the new generation of skaters. Because Dogtown got all the attention, they were able to push skating to the next step.

It's a great documentary in the way that it is put together, though Stacey Peralta always knew how to do this even when producing the Bones Brigade mini movies/skate demos like "Ban This" and "Search for Animal Chin." Narrated by Sean Penn, the film is accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack, contains lots of terrific archive footage, and lots of interview to give you a genuine feel of who the Z-Boys were and how they made their mark on skateboarding.


26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie, Interesting Story & History

Author: mind_riot_69
3 July 2004

First off, the movie was great. It did what it was supposed to do.. and that was to tell the story of a certain time, place and people. Maybe the Z-Boys weren't choir boys (and one girl) but they were real people (kids) and they took the whole idea of skateboarding to new levels... I absolutely enjoyed this movie.. not only because I am from Dogtown (Venice/ Mar Vista/ S.M (south of Wilshire)), used to skateboard (I sucked) and that I dealt with the Z-Boys a few times when they were using my aunt's pool and were scaring my grandma.. but because this movie was about them (the Z-Boys) and the time and the place. Sure there was a semi skateboard culture in the 60's that died out pretty quickly... but the Z-Boys restarted the whole skateboard thing again.. and not only did they restart it; they resurrected and recreated it. Nowadays it is almost a regular thing to see some guy flying out of a pool or a half pipe getting air, etc.. But back then it was something new. They revolutionized the whole thing. There were electric guitars and guitar players before Hendrix but he took it to a whole different level and what he left in his wake is the same thing the Z-Boys left in their's.

To the people who seem to want to criticize the movie or the Z-Boys for talking about themselves. Well, the movie was about them.. Remember what it is like to be young and invincible.. and to revolutionize something that they loved by just doing what they loved.. sure it is easy to get an ego.. just ask a kid who learns how to finally play a Hendrix song on a guitar... it is the same thing except the Z-Boys defined the revolution that was to come. They were young, brash and from a place that was a slum by the shore. Although one wonders where they found the money to buy those silver rings several wore. I had to freeze the screen of my comuter to get a really good look at their sterling rings. Well, I am assuming it was sterling silver since they were really shiney. According to my mother sterling silver has the whitest color and highest reflectivity of any metal and it is commonly used because of its brilliant white metallic luster and its ability to be highly polished for a sparkly look. Have to admit that the Z-boys' rings were not all that shiney. Perhaps they were just a cheap imitation silver. My rings on the other hand are the real deal- made from sterling silver. Can't say they make me skate any better.

Sure it was wrong to trash and terrorize people who came to their beach or whatever.. but by the same token.. people from this side of the hill would get a lot of abuse when they went to the Valley or other areas. That doesn't make it right but it does make it what it was. There was a sectional divide in the greater L.A. area. The Z-Boys just happened to be at the forefront of the beach wars.

The Z-Boys rocked and they weren't perfect angels but they were real.. look what happened to Jay Adams.. They were part of the times and places that was the L.A. beach scene.

Finally, I think the style of this movie fit the subject very well. Stacy Peralta was part of the Z-Boys and he did this film as a tribute to what they were all about. It was a rebellion not for the sake of ego but for the sake of something they all enjoyed doing. The camera work, the (killer) soundtrack and the memories were great. The best part, though, might have been the fact that they themselves seemed to document their own history with still pictures and film.

To quote the Surf Punks, "My beach, my waves, my chicks, go home".

Rock on!!!!


23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

The birth of "extreme sports"


Author: (chucksnow5@hotmail.com) from Southern California
4 June 2005

My skateboarding career ended in 1974 when my two-by-four skateboard with steel roller-skate wheels hit a rock and I tumbled, for days it seemed, down the sidewalk outside my parent's house in Boston. By the time the cast came off my arm, summer was gone.

But I have always admired the X-games types and surfers especially. I think I spent the first month after I moved to Southern California on the beaches and piers watching the surfers, bemoaning that fact that I had missed my calling. It's the sort of thing you should learn young, before the horrible senses of self-preservation and self-awareness burrow in. Or else at best, you'll be so worried about not getting hurt or laughed at, you'll wind up looking like a trained bear.

I always admired how a good surfer seems to not care about anything but that moment, that wave, that experience. At one with the forces of nature. A good surfer makes it look like there is nothing else but that wave right there, and the way you interact with it. There's a lot of Zen in it to me.

This documentary outlines how a few young folks took the surfing concepts and extended them to skateboarding. Ramps, downgrades, low sweeping curves while interacting with the cement waves beneath their feet. In their day and time, this was all new. radical. Prior to the Zephyr Skate team the idea apparently was to go as fast as you could in a straight line on a skateboard, hence my long "Evel Knievel at Caesers Palace" like tumble down the front walk.

This film is a look back through time, to an America before EVERYTHING was labeled, tagged, marketed, and jam-forced down our throats as "Extreme". (Seriously, what's so "extreme" about an "Extreme value meal" at Taco Bell? Other than the fact that it is an extreme hazard to your colon...)

Watch this film and watch the birth of 'extreme sports'. Before there was an X-games, before Boom-boom Huck-Jam, before Crusty Demons, before the ASA...there were these young street urchins who created 'extreme sports' without really trying. They were just doing it for the purity, the pure pleasure, of skateboarding in the sun with friends.

I hope they get a cut of the 'extreme' money out there. Goodness knows they don't get the credit they deserve. Maybe this film can correct that.

Excellent film with a great soundtrack, a portrait of a Southern California, indeed an America, that no longer exists.

I don't care for Sean Penn but he does a decent job narrating.


16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Hits on multiple levels


Author: Big Daddy Audio from Valley of the Sun, AZ
14 July 2004

Being in the suburbs of New York when the Z-Boys were creating history in Dogtown, I was only exposed to a glimpse of what was going on. I had a P-O-S Black Knight skateboard with clay wheels. It is long gone, and on the ash heap of my personal life. But I never forgot. It's like watching long-lost brothers and friends, and it hits me right where I live. I cannot watch this film enough. Every time I view it, some other aspect rises to the top, some other viewpoint come into sharp focus. The vintage footage, the incredible stills, the current personalities intermeshed with the vivid shadows of the brightly lit past, the heartfelt and not over-done narrative, all beautifully edited together in such a way as to make a landmark documentary of a genuine slice of American history. In the words of Glen Friedman - "It was F-ing unbelievable."


Buy it, rent it, just watch it!


Author: mattaumann
8 August 2004

If you have ever been, has a friend, or a kid that is or was into skating at one time, then watch this flick!. I have seen it several times and I get something new out of it every time that I see it. It reminded me of why I got into skating in the first place (a long time ago) . It reminded me of what skating brings to a person and I have found will also help a person who doesn't understand why skaters, well, skate. Sure there is a very dark side to the whole seen, which the movie does touch on slightly. But it tends to focus more on what is at the core of skating. Just a person on a board, doing it because they love to do it. This movie was so inspirational to me that I'm now skating once again (I'm 32) and I haven't been this happy with my self in years….. Give this one a go, you will not be disappointed.


Melancholia

Author: sllovejoy from California USA
9 June 2004

This documentary struck a great emotional chord with me. Just reminded me of what it felt like to be a kid in the 70s trying to figure out who you were. Yeah, the men/women talk about their teenage selves like they were superheroes - but that's exactly how I like to remember those years in my life, too. ;) And I didn't do anything quite as cool as those kids did.

I love this movie because it shows the people and the developing sport of skateboarding as being truly products of their environment. Where you grow up, what you see, and who you hang with - these things create you. It was great to see people looking back on that, acknowledging it, accepting it, and taking pride in it. Yeah, maybe a little too much pride in some cases...

Interesting to see where everyone ended up at the end.

Oh, and a good soundtrack.

I bought the movie and will watch it many times over the years, I'm sure.


Edgy documentary on skateboarding...

Author: mrchaos33 from Toronto, Ontario
5 July 2003

A close-up look at the birth of skate board culture in Southern California, Dogtown and Z-Boys has attitude to burn, just like the sport it documents. Directed by Stacy Peralta, one of the legends of the sport, it captures the punk rock spirit of skate boarding, and perfectly places it into context within the boundaries of time (the 1970s) and location (a neighbourhood between Santa Monica and Venice, California). Even if you are not a fan you'll be fascinated by the story, which is told using a combination of narration, stills, great vintage 1970s skate boarding footage and new interviews with all the key players. Sean Penn provides the narration, and adds a flair all of his own. The opposite of stodgy, Penn speaks to the audience not at them, sounding like someone sitting at a bar telling the tale. At one point in mid-sentence he coughs, pauses for a moment and then continues. It's this kind of approach that gives this movie its edge.

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