Electrifying Late-20s Skateboarding: The Bolts of Thunder Story

Dave McDonald paying the video part piper. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder

Bolts of Thunder Gone Wild is an upcoming skateboard video due to premier August 12.  This video is a little different than what you would expect to see from most professional and local videos. It’s not filmed in HD and there probably aren’t any names you will recognize from local or national videos.  What this video does have is a bunch of skateboard “lifers.”  People who have grown up skateboarding and moved on to having real jobs, going to college, getting married and all the adult stuff we all loathe and fear.  However, everyone in this video is still skating hard and having a lot of fun doing it.  Most of you whippersnappers out there better hope you’re skating half as hard at the age of most of these guys. I interviewed  Jon and Matt Hart, the two brothers behind this video to get the inside scoop on Bolts of Thunder.

: Who or what is Bolts of Thunder?
Jon: To answer this, we will refer you to the purpose statement on the Bolts of Thunder blog: “Bolts of Thunder is an underground movement of skaters, posers and wannabes that have come together to make skate videos, wreak havoc on the man and the war machine, and contribute nothing to the general populous of the world. But we have fun doing it.” Bolts of Thunder is kind of like fantasy football leagues, only for skaters. We provide that magical outlet that the average working class American is so desperately searching for.

SLUG: In this day and age of large scale skate productions mostly filmed in HD, what inspires a bunch of mid-to-late twenties college students to make a full-length skate video?
Jon: We’ve all grown up skating, and we love to do it. Making Bolts of Thunder videos is no different than when we used to use our friend’s dad’s VHS video camera from the ‘80s and made “Level 8” on our VCR. It’s all about being with your friends and having fun. In our opinion, a lot of skate videos are losing the fun of it when they focus way too much on the art aspect of filming, editing and time-lapses of worms crawling on the sidewalk. Of course, people can make cool videos, but we never saw skate videos turning into these overly dramatic art projects. We’d much rather watch people skating and having fun than watch vibrating toys and cars driving on freeways in skate videos. Bolts of Thunder keeps its videos at the fun level and stays out of the artsy realm of skating.

SLUG: Who exactly is in the video ?
Jon: The five people from the first Bolts of Thunder video all have full parts: Nick Edwards (Nedward Skillet-fingers), Dan Shaw (Danny Boy), Dave McDonald (Dave is Gnar), Matt Hart (Hartattack) and Jon Hart (Hartbreaker). We have since recruited other friends, and David Law (no nickname, only David Law), Brian Hart (Captain Ahab), Weston Colton (Father ThunderBolt), Sam Milianta (Slappy Sam), and Garrett Taylor (Ultimate Garry) will all have parts as well. There will also be footage of other Thunder Bolts (friends of Bolts of Thunder) that couldn’t get enough footage for a full part, like Tyson Cantrell (T-Diddy), Brandon Miller (Alcohol-Free Miller Time) and Tyler Braithwaite. Word on the streets is Ammon Thompson will make another appearance.

SLUG: Matt, I know you have done some insane grass rides ... what would you say is the gnarliest one to date?
Matt: Maybe this one that I did a little while ago in Lindon.  It’s like a 45-degree angle hill and it’s pretty tall, and at the bottom of it you have to weave between these benches or else you’re a goner.  And the cement feels pretty hard at the bottom when you slam.  So that’s probably the scariest one, but I’ve got future plans for the hill.

SLUG: I know you took Bolts of Thunder international recently and filmed some stuff in France.  Tell us briefly about your living conditions and experiences in Paris.
Jon: France was awesome, and we were super lucky to have good friends over there we could stay with. For Paris standards, we had a good-sized apartment for the seven of us to stay in, so that was rad. However, the little wiener dog that lived there thought it’d take advantage of having visitors, and it began to systematically psychologically break us down. It especially detected a vulnerable target in Garrett and went after him, pissing and farting on him. It eventually drove Garrett mad and he spent the last couple days with a bottle of Febreze in his hands, compulsively spraying anything that had been outside that day. He’s since fully recovered, and we’re all on good terms with the dog now.

SLUG: Can you tell the story about getting in a fight with some kids in Paris?
Matt: It’s the classic tale of East versus West, and the West won. This is how the West was won. These three gypsy kids tried taking Dan’s stuff when we were at the Eiffel Tower. We were checking out this rail that’s there, and they started grabbing at Dan’s board and stuff. They were in their late teens, so they were big enough to think they were pretty tough. Of all the tourists there, I don’t know why they chose to mess with us, but they apparently saw us as easy targets for theft or something. I pushed them away when they tried taking Dan’s stuff. Then they came back a minute later and were mad that we flipped them off earlier, so they started talking real tough and getting up in our faces. Jon and Dave speak French, so they were telling them in French to get out of there, we didn’t want to fight. Then one of the kids, the smallest one there, tried grabbing Jon by the neck. I didn’t hesitate in retaliating, and before the kid could even get his hands on Jon’s neck, I grabbed him by the neck, carried him about six feet away, choked him, and slammed him on the ground. Then Jon and Dave hit one of the other kids with their boards. We could have really messed them up, but we stopped there. A cop ended up coming and beat up one of the gypsy kids. We got off with no trouble at all.

SLUG: This is the second Bolts of Thunder video. Can we expect it to be an epic trilogy?  Is there a possibility that it will end up being a six-part series after the prequels are released twenty years down the road like Star Wars?
Jon: Yeah, expect to see more Bolts of Thunder videos in the future. We’ll make them as long as our wives let us, which should be for several more years. We’ve always contemplated the possibility of making and releasing the prequels to the first Bolts of Thunder video. They are based in Yugoslavia in the ’70s during the reign of Tito the Dictator, and they are a three-part series. They’re called Survival of the Thunder Bolt, Crazy Bread and the Thunder Bolt Thief and Thunder Bolt Rapids. When our budget is big enough and the technology exists to put our vision onto the silver screen, we’ll make them.

SLUG: Who is coming up in Bolts of Thunder?  Any hot amateurs in the video we should be keeping our eyes on?
Matt: There are really no up and comers, we’re pretty much all on our way out. The average age of Bolts of Thunder riders is 29. We’re trying to recruit a younger generation so that Bolts of Thunder will live on for years to come.

: How many hours of bonus footage can we expect on the DVD?
Jon: A lot. We’ll have all our trailers on there, tons of other footage and whatever other random stuff we can think of. We don’t put it on YouTube because we’re too lazy to do that. But we put the bonus stuff on the DVD, and it’s fun to watch. If you get a copy, watch the bonus features. If you want a copy, request it on our blog under the “merchandise” section.

: Will Bolts of Thunder Gone Wild ever be released in Blu-Ray?
Matt: I don’t even know what Blu-Ray is, so we probably won’t. We’ll give a copy to Chris Ray (former Transworld and current DC filmer), if that’s what you’re talking about.
SLUG: Who do you think will have a part that will wow the audience in the new video?
Matt: Dan Shaw. Whether or not you know him now, you will know him after you see his part. Also, Dave McDonald is straight up insane. He filmed his entire part in just over two weeks. Our hat goes off to him because he just gave it everything he had for two solid weeks in Paris and killed it. David Law’s part is amazing. He’s such an amazing skater, he can do more tricks switch than any of us can even do regular. The only problem for us is trying to show how good he really is when we film him. His part does a pretty good job of showing how good he is. 

Dave McDonald paying the video  part piper. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder Dave McDonald, long 5050. Paris. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder Dan Shaw, Dave McDonald and Matt Hart in Paris. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder Dan Shaw, rock fakie in Paris. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder Dave McDonald paying the video  part piper. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder Jon's Hands. Photo: Lauren McDonald Matt Hart shredding at Creteil. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder Brian and Matt Hart. Brotherly grass ride. Photo courtesy of Bolts of Thunder