This January, Stacy Peralta returns to Park City to premiere his fourth Sundance documentary, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography. Peralta made his Sundance debut back in 2001 when he premiered Dogtown and Z-Boys, a documentary comprised of ‘70s skate footage that covered the rise and fall of the Zephyr team (of which he was a member) and was eventually adapted into the Hollywood film Lords of Dogtown. The Zephyr team put skating back on the map in the mid ‘70s and became the roots of today’s skateboarding industry. Peralta returned to Sundance two more times after that with documentaries outside the world of skateboarding—in 2004 with Riding Giants, a film about big wave surfing, and then in 2008 with Crips & Bloods: Made in America. This year, Peralta brings another skate documentary to the festival with some friendly faces in tow.
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography documents the lives of the original Bones Brigade crew that included Tommy Guerrero, Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Mike McGill, Steve Caballero and Rodney Mullen. The film tracks how the Bones Brigade influenced the most pivotal moments in skateboard history. During their reign, this handful of skaters started the transformation from slalom skating into modern street art. Mullen had already taken the ollie to new heights, and soon an influx of newly invented tricks were coming at an astouning speed from the minds of the Bones team riders. The kickflip, boardslide and even the 900 (although not during this era) can all be credited to the Bones team. They also revolutionized product and ramp design, and the entire present day industry through business ventures. Most of today’s top brands can be traced back to a member of the Bones Brigade. The film chronologically documents these progressions through actual archived contest and stock footage, mixed with present day interviews. None of this would have happened if it weren’t for Peralta’s personal experience as an early pioneer of the sport.
A child of the ‘60s, Stacy Peralta began skating when such things didn’t even exist. “There were no shops, there were no contests, there were no magazines, there were no places where you could buy boards,” he says. Skateboarding was a pastime, something developed by California surfers when the seas turned flat. Basically, if you wanted one you had to build it yourself. These homemade rolling planks were developed to cruise the streets, to resemble the feeling of making turns on God’s great ocean. But in the early ‘70s, as more and more kids began to participate, and with the introduction of the urethane wheel, the skateboarding industry began to boom. Magazines, skateparks and shops began to pop up in increasing numbers. “When it became popular I had been doing it for so long that I was, in a sense, in the front of the line,” says Peralta. Soon after, as a part of the Zephyr Team, Peralta began to compete as an amateur before turning pro in 1976. Boasting the highest influential team on the competitive circuit, Peralta recalls these days as “one of the richest experiences of my life.” However, the team was only together for about a year and a half before disbanding.
In order to sustain his occupation in skateboarding, Peralta went into business with engineer George Powell. Powell became interested in skateboards through his son and began tinkering with homemade designs. With Powell’s knowledge and backing, Powell-Peralta came to life in 1978. “I was coming to the end of my professional career and I didn’t want to leave skateboarding. The only way I could think to do that was to start my own company,” says Peralta. After juggling both a professional career and the upstart company, time proved too constrained and he decided to focus his energy solely on his business. With the Zephyr days fresh in mind, however, Peralta yearned to once again be part of a team. “If I couldn’t be on the world’s best team, then I wanted to create it,” he says. This was the idea behind the Bones Brigade.