Longboard Girls Crew presents OPEN[wptouch target=”mobile”]
by Ishtar Bäcklund & Marisa Nunez
The excitement had already started rising earlier this summer, invitations were out, and dates for the arrivals to Tel Aviv were being set. The lineup of girls attending this trip held the opportunity of some next level skating.
In 2011 Longboard Girls Crew was introduced to the world through the very successful series “Endless Roads” by director Juan Rayos. For the following three years LGC has helped support and inspire women in boardsports all over the globe. By sharing the responsibility to ambassadors in more than 40 countries, the community has grown close, breaking borders with the progression of skating in women.
The next natural move has been to raise the bar and aim for a bigger and more collaborative project. Introducing a new mind, director Daniel Etura; head of directors of the Madrid Film Festival, and former nominee of a Latin Grammy award. He has extensive experience in skate videos, music videos and short films. With a greater focus on post-production aspects, Daniel is a boss when it comes to special effects and creative cinematography. Daniel, along with another well renowned film producer in Israel, Tom Goldwasser, and extraordinary skater, filmer, and video producer Matthew Kienzle have all come together to film and create a documentary-style all girl skate film in Israel. The project is called “OPEN”. Its purpose is to show a beautiful and history-rich country that not many people have had the pleasure to experience, along with the non-profit organization Longboarding for Peace, which will show how recreational activities such as skateboarding can bring joy and camaraderie to a place that may be high in political, religious, and social feuds.
Unexplored ground (as far as longboarding goes) is always attractive when planning a new skate trip, this is why Israel was considered as a possible location.
The scene in Israel is just kicking off and with much help from our brothers at Da Silva Boards from Tel Aviv, the plan started shaping when the boys began exploring their home grounds for skateable spots. Not long after, it was decided that Israel would be the next target for a documented skate-venture.
Israel, as many know, has an eventful history, being a “hot spot” in the world of politics and religion which creates an energetic atmosphere around it. But there is always more than one side to a story, and that’s why this location was so attractive when the urge for exploring a new region came to place. Keeping an OPEN mind entering this project with a passionate reason for skateboarding, together with some of the most stoked girls, brings hope that the passion we share will shine as another side to the story of this country.
The OPEN riders consists of 14 talented girls from all over the world:
Jenna Russo (Australia), Cristina Mandarina (Spain), Eider Walls (Basque country), Cindy Zhou (Canada), Katie Neilson (Canada), Jacky Madenfrost (Venezuela), Marisa Nunez (Peru), Gina Mendez (Panama), Ishtar Bäcklund (Sweden), Cami Best (USA), Amanda Powell (USA), Micaela Wilson (USA), Gador Salis (Spain), Valeria Kechichian (Argentina).
The champion production team (Monica, Alon, Ben, Ido, Chus, Jacky and Valeria from the core LGC crew) had all been deprived of their sleep, driving back and forth from the airport fetching girls that arrived at spread out hours from all over the world. Both Marisa and I arrived earlier than the sun had risen, barely remembering how we got to the ancient house that was beautifully located on top of a hill in the outskirts of Jerusalem. After sleeping for nearly twelve hours straight, (even though our jet lag consisted of barely two hours time difference) we woke up to the familiar sounds of loud stoke. Our hearts filled with joy when we stepped out of the room to find our sisters from all corners of the world all munching on goodies in the big kitchen area.
“Producing OPEN has been a real challenge for the production team. Twenty-two people, fourteen riders, two huge vans, forty-something degrees Celsius, the backdrop of a possible war in Syria… definitely wasn’t easy. However I’m utterly satisfied with the results. Teamwork, passion, and true belief for the project was our engine. This has been a lifetime experience for everybody. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to do this, to count on the trust of my team… they inspired me to keep going!”
As everyone started waking up out of the jet lag haze and the final arrivals had entered the house, the first group meeting took place. Monica, our public relations coordinator, AKA “Mama Mon” introduced the whole production team, and explained how the following ten days were going to be played out. We all got handed out the plan for each day and we were surprised with all that we had in store for us over the next week. “Camel back ride”, “Desert downhill” and “Bedouin dinner” were only a few of the many highlights that awaited us.
The variety of skaters gathered in this house all had their parts at different locations planned. Filming all fourteen girls at once was going to be more than anyone could handle, so the “buddy” system came into play. The different categories were “downhillers”, “freeriders”, and “freestylers”. Knowing everyone’s passions in their field guaranteed some inspiring and boundary breaking sessions to be shared with our new “buddies”.
The size of Israel is not big, but the change of terrain varies from the green north to the deserty south. Da Silva Boards crew had found spots located all over the country.
The vans were packed to go as the production team divided up to bring various girls to their locations. As the groups split up, the curiosity about where we were being taken grew. The feeling of not being in control over what was going on and having total trust in the professionalism of LGC gave a sensation of great adventure.
Every spot has its own story. These were stories that we’ve all heard of at some point in our lives, which adds an extra dimension to the skateboarding adventure. As we would rock up to a new spot, a story would follow, like: “Today we’re skating down the road that leads to the sea of Galilee, also known as the water Jesus was said to walk over” or, “These are the desserts that Moses brought his people through during their long walk from Egypt, and this is the road that we’ll be filming on which runs right through it!” The spots we got to skate met all of our individual hopes, from windy long beautiful roads, fast technical spots, steep buttery paved paths, to rooftops overlooking ancient cities. We filmed downhill and freeriding in Jerusalem, dancing in Nazareth, downhill in the north by the sea of Galilee, freestyle and cruising in Tel Aviv, dancing in Sde Boker (middle of the southern desert), we filmed in Massada, we went to swim and film lifestyle at the Dead Sea, we had dinner with Bedouins (traveling desert gypsy groups) followed by camel rides, and finally, we did a Longboarding for Peace event in Tel Aviv, where we taught a group of kids to ride boards and we were interviewed by the local news channel.
Sometimes we all got to session together and everyone had something to bring. As we watched each other give it our best for the cameras, motivations grew to try something new. Just to hear the words, “You got this,” from your sisters was enough to try it. To see the style and level of skating from all these girls was mind-blowing. It was like watching a live Youtube movie, with actual sound effects, and not to forget the other senses like sweaty smell effects. Trust us, girls can be smelly too! Playing around with the slow motion camera was fun, the stuff we came up with has probably given Daniel enough material to bring “lifestyle” to whole other level. Matt and Tom also did a great job throwing down to the best of their ability for this film. They all worked together and got every single shot from any which angle they wanted. As we all know, Matt is very familiar with filming skateboarding, as he has been doing it for about five years now. Shooting follow runs with him was the most comfortable feeling you could possibly imagine. Tom is a professional cameraman and has done many types of filming for movies, and music videos. His equipment was the best of the best and he brought a higher level of quality to the table. We were very lucky to have the three of them!
Time felt as if it did not exist, we all were living so much in the moment of this adventure. We vibed so well, and even though our days were filled with so many happenings, they seemed to go by faster than any of us wished. The experience we were treated with, combined with the friendships that grew on this trip, are memories that we share and will remain forever. As a somewhat spontaneous souvenir of it all, many of us decided that we wanted this marked in our skin for the rest of our lives. In other words, we all got drunk and got matching tattoos the last night at the party! YEAH!
The OPEN adventure has been a wild, unimaginably fun ride so far, and it’s only the beginning. The next step is to show it to the world. Before the trip took place, Longboard Girls Crew started an Indiegogo campaign to help with the funds of the production costs. It was unfortunate that sponsors couldn’t cover all of our expenses, as this trip was quite pricey. Our production team worked for free and even had to pay out of their own pockets to make things happen. Our goal is to raise €18k and right now we’re only standing at about €3k with only 5 days left before the campaign is closed for good. We kindly ask for a contribution. With every amount, you get something in return. Check out our Indiegogo page and see what you can get out of it. Lots of goodies to give away with every contribution! Any little bit helps and we’d be deeply grateful to every single one of you.
“I love Israel, I think that is one of the most wonderful countries you can go to, it has a special charm! The people who live there are amazing! Never forget the sunset on the beach of Galilee, and the sting of wounds in the Dead Sea! It’s been great to share this experience with the best riders in the world! I love you girls! See you soon.” -Cristina Mandarina
“Israel, que bonito es Israel… it was an amazing trip that i will never forget. Across the country we encountered beautiful places, different religions and ideologies coexisting together, we met wonderful people and we had a lots of skating. My travel companions were the best. I love you all.” -Eider Walls
Personally this is a dream to be a part of, the amount of good energy this holds has the potential to make a good impact on minds that might hold doubt or fear for what could be possible. We all are just normal girls, from all sides of the world who met through the same passion that we share: skateboarding. Thanks to the dedication from everyone involved, we have the opportunity to take this thing one step above and hopefully help OPEN the eyes and minds of all those who watch this video. Stay tuned for a release date, and from all of us, we hope you enjoy it! Shalom!
Ishtar and Marisa are sponsored by: