Filmmaker Dan Buyanovsky Captures Skateboarder Samarria Brevard’s 2020 Olympics Bid
Director: Dan Buyanovsky Director of Photography: Mikul Eriksson Editor: Andrew Moorehead First AC: Celeste Barbosa Production Company: lowkey Starring: Samarria Brevard
If you grew up in the ‘90s, you grew up on skate videos. Watching a new class of athletes—no longer the subculture— doing unthinkable things with little more than a board, rail and a willingness to risk it all. The aesthetic of videos was pure and recognizable. Grainy footage captured on handheld camcorders. Fish-eye lenses chasing manic stunts. Inside jokes and youthful riot. Raw energy set to a soundtrack of punk and hip-hop songs of the moment. But skateboarding became a globalized sport with millions pumped into it by international sponsors (and high-end cameras became more attainable), the art of the skate film has rightfully evolved with the sport. Sometimes, new skate films are abstract and honest, capturing the grace of the subjects within them. Sometimes, they’re perfectly-made callbacks to a bygone era, repurposing old camera tricks for a nostalgia-hungry audience. Sometimes they’re entirely new ideas that embrace the fun of it all.
As a filmmaker, I always wanted to make a skate film that captured the elements of documentary filmmaking I most appreciate: vérité lighting, poetic movement and fluid camera work. I also wanted to capture feelings I wasn’t seeing much of in other skate films: thoughtfulness, not aloofness; hard, ugly work, not just raw talent; the sacrifice that it takes to achieve personal freedom.
When I was introduced to Samarria Brevard, I found a subject who seemed perfect for the task. Samarria is, first, incredible at what she does: she’s known to be the best street skater among a crop of new and bold American women skaters; she’s been sponsored by Enjoi and released a handful of signature boards; and was recently the first black woman to medal at the X Games. But most importantly, she’s still as earnest as she is great. At 25, she has experienced early success and prompt disappointments, and isn’t as ego-driven as to believe that success is a birthright. She is constantly willing to do the work to reach her goals, whether it’s living a healthier life or filming a new skate part or eventually opening her own vegan restaurant. Her current goal? To make it onto the US Olympic Skate Team and compete in the Tokyo2020 Olympics, the first Games to host competition in the sport.
I was lucky enough to film with Samarria over three days in March at her home in Riverside, California, as she balanced family life with extreme training—two, several-hour sessions per day—before the Olympic qualifiers began. The result is this seven minute film which I hope shows an athlete who was given no handouts, who continues to be hyper-focused in her pursuit and who is actively showing girls like her that they can push to heights they never before imagined possible. Samarria’s agent, Yulin Olliver, a former semi-pro snowboarder, was kind enough to say this about the film: “Often the gritty life of a self-made skateboarder is anything but graceful or easy but Dan does a masterful job at transforming that rawness into the poetic, rich and heart-warming love-filled life that’s truly there if you open your eyes and listen with curiosity.”