Tag Archives: magic

The Adventures of Clay Shank

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.40.59 AMI have said many words about Clay, but there is so much that is undefinable. He is the kind of guy that checks in to say he had begun a new journey and had traveled 200 miles with no motor, instead relying on his skateboard.  I know a lot of people that love skateboarding to death, but Clay’s love for skating is on another level and his work has consistently intrigued me in a way no other form of skate media has.

There are a lot of fancy tricks out there, but traveling for hundreds of miles on a skateboard is as pure as it gets.  Thanks for being a true skateboarder Clay, we need you.  Check out his first interview here, and definitely scope his website clayshank.com

Since “Journey to Skate Boulder” it looks like you have been very busy. Where all have you been in the last year?
-Up and down California mostly, but with a few exciting jaunts out to the magical land of Skate Boulder, which I think has been renamed Hike Boulder thanks to the Big Bust.

What was your video editing experience before “Challenge Yourself at the Skatepark”?
-Shooting with an old dad cam when I was in sixth or seventh grade my friend Kirby and I would make films exploring the human condition. We pioneered an affect where we set a camera on a tripod, filmed a person in frame then stopped filming and had the person step out of frame before filming again. This would create the heart-stopping visual experience of watching the character completely disappear.

Are you more excited by the filming process or the editing process?
-Yin and yang. Creative, receptive. Male and female make a baby. Yeah? Both parts are enjoyable in their own way. There’s definitely something fun about getting mad zooted and leaning into your computer for hours on end to create a product you can share with people, but I prefer the filming days for sure, not so much for holding the camera and calling out shots and all that, but just to be out on an adventure doing something worth filming.

How did you get Kenny Anderson and Rick McCrank in “Coastal Native”?
-By the time I got to LA I was hyper-alert to anything worth pointing a camera at, and evidence shows that those gentlemen are worth pointing a camera at. Even though I don’t usually like approaching celebrities, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t ask them to be a part of the video, so I mustered the courage to approach them and explained what I was doing, noting it was similar to those videos where Kenny nose wheelies between LA and Vegas. They were super nice and obliging and sat down while their friend filmed the clip you see in the video, but I was too starstruck and confused to get an email address or anything. They asked me where they could see the video and I had no idea, so I don’t know if they have. If any of you reading this know how to get in touch with either of those guys, please let them know about Coastal Native and tell them I’m deeply thankful for their contribution.
IMG_20130802_105445_HagridSo you ended up getting hunted down as a result of “Journey to Skate Boulder”. Do you want to talk about how that went down?
-Turns out a skateboard is an off road vehicle after all, and off road vehicles are illegal in the part of the world where the most epic of all skateable rock formations exist. There’s some heavy history out in that part of Wyoming as well and people were concerned that our video was going to encourage hooligan skaters to come mess up the area, which is a totally understandable concern that I share with them. One morning in May I was hanging out in my friend’s kitchen back in the Skate Boulder region when a ranger knocked on the door. He took me outside and beat me senseless, making me promise to never come back. I definitely won’t and you shouldn’t either. (Some of the above information is fictional.)

Due to crazy coincidences you actually thought I defaced one of the main spots in “Journey to Skate Boulder”. Hell, it even freaks me out. I think it is a unique skate-spot story, would you be cool with sharing what happened?
-Well. A few months after we filmed our little video, I went back to see if we’d left any lasting marks on the rock. I was thrilled to see that all skate tracks had been washed away during monsoon season, but deeply disturbed to find the letters BG carved crudely into the roll-in wall I skated in the video. Those happen to be your initials and I hadn’t noticed them when we were skating there, so I was very suspicious and confused to the point that I wondered if ghosts were trying to scare me away from sacred territory. I’m still puzzled by it.

It looks like you have been bombing some San Francisco hills. Has that felt natural to you?

Your body was mutilated the last time I saw you. Have you healed up or incurred more battle wounds?

What do you enjoy more, going up or going down?


Do you feel like you have a daily routine of any sorts? What is it?
-I’m lucky I don’t have one, though most days start with coffee.

Boxers, briefs, or commando?
-Its funny you should ask this because I have recently discovered Exofficio boxers and they’re so rad. If you’re like me and find yourself soaked in sweat as soon as you see a skateboard, you’re probably tired of wearing wet cotton boxers all the time. Exofficio advertises their super-wicking awesome shorts by saying, “17 countries, one pair of underwear.” They dry fast and get clean with a little stream-side scrubbing, so I’m rocking them daily.

You just sent me a message that you skated from the Ocean in San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, and it sounded like you weren’t finished. What are you up to now?!
-I’m in Yosemite Lodge clearing memory cards and dealing with computer business before heading into the wilderness for the second part of this excellent adventure.

Did you envision this route for yourself a year ago?
-In a way, yes. This time last year I was in Santa Barbara dreaming up a similar type of self-propelled journey from the coast to the Sierra, but ending in SF rather than starting there. Unfortunately the toe situation showcased in Journey to Skate Boulder made me miss the window of opportunity and only now could I head off on this super duper epic 700 mile mission of self-propulsion.

What advice do you have for the people out there that fear the kind of adventurous lifestyle you live?

-Who “fear” it? I would say think logically about what you really need to survive. It’s nice to have a tent and an inflatable mattress and a designated campsite with a fire pit and all the nice luxurious gear, but consider that if you lay down in a sleeping bag with your hip in a dip in the dirt beside a freeway, you’re going to fall asleep eventually and maybe sleep better than if you were in some crowded “campground” with boozers and boomboxes rocking into the night. I’d recommend reading Thoreau and Emerson and Muir and taking small steps that test your limits bit by bit. I think it’s good to remember it takes a lot to die these days, and starving to death is pretty rare in America. If you go out a-walking from SF to Yosemite, you might not know every bush you’re going to sleep in on the way, but try to remain calm and trust you will find one. Walker Emerson taught me that the less you carry the faster you go, Seamus Rozycki taught me you really don’t really need much sleep to function, and I guess John Muir and personal experience taught me that there’s nothing more healthy than a little wild suffering. I’d recommend getting rid of things like hair products and deodorant, and just ask yourself what you want your life to look like and whether comfort is really that good for you. I could say a lot about this, but I think I’ll close by saying, whatever adventure you dream of taking, you should push to make it happen. Whatever little excuses you’re coming up with are weak in comparison to what you have to gain by embarking, and once its over and done you won’t regret a thing.

What is the next project we can expect from you?
-Once I’m done with the current mission I’m going to have a lot of video footage to edit. I’ve been filming landscapes and interviewing people, and with my own journey as the backbone of the story, I intend to paint a modern portrait of California. I’ve also got a lot of journals and written work I need to get around to sharing, so once this trip is over I’m going to go into edit mode and see what kind of goodies I can put out for the people of the world.

Love you Clay, any last words?
-Thanks to anyone who’s reading this. Thanks to those who’ve supported me in any way, either with a couch or a meal or a back yard or a half eaten bag of chips. Thanks to Pigeonhole Skateboards for giving me a deck a few years back before I disappeared from Boulder, Colorado without saying goodbye. Thanks to the Culberston version of Calavera for the hookups in AZ. Thanks to Vans. Thanks to the video makers who make the internet such a lovely place, and thanks forever to all the skaters in the streets and the parks pushing hard. You’re the biggest inspiration of all and make me proud to be a part of this. I’m really lucky to live the life I do and hope to inspire and share the joys with whoever I can. I’ve got a website slowly growing at clayshank.com which you may find interesting. I’m pretty shy when it comes to self-promotion so I appreciate your interest Bud, and I’m grateful for anyone who turns a homey onto a video or says a nice thing about me behind my back. I owe you a lot, world! So just know I’m out here on the highway with you on my mind, doing the best I can to keep it hyped! Holler!



Filed under Interviews, Uncategorized

Clay Shank

Clay ShankI am a diehard skate nerd, and I have seen a lot of photographs and footage of skateboarders utilizing objects derived from nature.  In my 12+ years of skating I have carefully studied these rare occurrences because it always makes me stoked!  I know how well skaters have been able to adapt to natural terrain, and all the best pros seem to have struggled.  Clay Shank however had a bunch of boulders in front of him and he did bewildering things on a skateboard.  I saw it in person and I am still in complete awe.

The first time I met Clay we were at the Skatepark practically alone.  I did an all switch line and after I was done he yelled, “Was that switch?!”, to which I replied feeling cool and slick, “Yeah.”  After that I watched him skate and felt completely dwarfed by his tranny skills, trick selection, and haunting style.  To this day I have to say that he is my favorite person to watch skate Prescott’s Mike Fann Skatepark (close call with Eddie).

The things I saw Clay do during “Journey to Skate Boulder” was in many ways the best skateboarding I have ever seen in my life.  Personally I am a fan of technical skating, and sure there isn’t a single flip trick from Clay, but what I saw him do seriously changed the way I look at skateboarding forever.  Now get some deeper insight from the man, the myth, Clay Shank.

Journey to Skate Boulder from Samuel Coodley on Vimeo.

I know you have been all over the place Clay, where would you say is your point of origin and where do you call “home” now?
-I was born in San Francisco and grew up with a parent on each end of the Golden Gate Bridge. I travel a lot, but all trips start and end on the California coast.

Do you remember what made you start skating?  What made you keep skating?
– I started skating because my neighbors had boards and my dad would let me ride around on the hardwood floor of our living room. At four years old it was pretty obvious that the kids in huge pants who could magically ride their boards up the ledges at the square had the best thing going on in Mill Valley, so I put a lot of dents in our walls trying to learn how to ollie. I was real bad at skating for about a decade, but my friend Matt Paladino taught me how to butt board around my mom’s house on Potrero Hill, and we would explore the neighborhood bombing hills and sanding off the bottoms of our shoes. Once I got to high school and actually made friends with some of the teenagers who could ollie I got to wear a cast for a few weeks because I thought skating was all about trying to heelflip a five stair for three hours. Luckily the Dogtown and Z Boys documentary came out and saved me from that. Hippy jumps and power carves in the Sausalito night. My friend Simon Fitting and I got all longboarded out. We cut our own plywood decks and bombed big hills. Then I dropped into my first quarter pipe and was fully consumed. I went to college in Portland because I’d heard of the Burnside skate park, but I ended up in Prescott, Arizona and got to shred with the likes of Ed Nemeth, Lanny Kearns, Randy Colvin, Alejandro Walton, Ryan Cedro and others, and found that to be a fine education. The reason I keep skating is because skating doesn’t have a logical end. There is always something more to be done. Another trick, another hill. I’ve learned a lot from falling on the sidewalks of the world. And now I’m finding places I can fall in the wilderness. Who could ask for more?

Along with skating and filmmaking I know you write and sing self written songs. What were your first forms of self expression? Are any of your current forms more dominant than others, or does it all flow?
-My first forms of self expression were writing and drawing and talking back to my teachers. I’ve always dabbled with different art forms and hobbies, but skateboarding is dominant beyond fitting into these categories. I write a lot, I like cameras and spitting raps, but nothing flows like a lucky line at a skate park.

How did you and Sam meet and how did you guys start talking about film projects?
-Like everyone who arrived at Prescott College in 2008, I was aware there was a movie fanatic on campus, but I didn’t have a chance to know Sam personally until we took a screen writing class with Melanie Bishop. Sam is known for his enthusiasm, and we were both hyped on the class. We workshopped each other’s screenplays but didn’t fully collaborate on a project until this year.

What was your favorite part about your first short film with Sam, “Challenging Yourself at the Skatepark”?
-I like the cameos from the homies at the park. Sean Davis snuck that front board in there, so steezy, and you can recognize kids like Ryder Colvin and Kelty McCabe and all your favorite scooter boys as they watch me wondering why I keep changing clothes and shouting half conversations at no one.

Would you mind sharing the serious love and respect you have for those spots?
Sorry, but we’re in an exclusive relationship.

Were there any direct influences that sparked the conception of “Journey to Skate Boulder”?
-The original idea was to make it a Kickstarter as a kind of joke that might make money. I was living in a tiny town without much to skate, and some people wanted to build a ramp. I have always loved the wilderness of the Southwest for canyoneering and rafting and everything, but this year I was obsessive about finding skate spots in the rocks. Once I did, we kids still wanted a ramp, so I thought it would be funny to have a Kickstarter explaining the situation and saying we need money for a ramp because all we have to skate are these rocks, but of course the imagery would be epic and no one would ever feel sorry for us. But the ramp was built before Sam arrived.

Did you know Sam was moving when you asked him to film it?
-I asked him to film it long before he was moving. It wasn’t until he was moving that he could come through.

I know you scripted it out in your head and on paper thoroughly.  How much did the final project diverge from your plan?
-So much. I don’t remember who Dennis Hopper was quoting when he was talking about Easy Rider, but he said that 98% of the creative process is making your accidents work. I wasn’t planning on slamming so much, nor were we planning on rain and flash floods, but those things and others left us with all these epic shots we had to incorporate into the script. We cut a lot of stuff that didn’t work, and just by rolling with what happened the movie shaped itself.

Your body was pretty mangled when I last saw and heard from you, how well have you healed up?
-I’m just thankful that all my slams were caught on film and incorporated into the movie. My toe nail eventually fell off, but it’s growing back nicely. Thanks.  (I was supportive and suggestive about his toe.)

What was your favorite part of the entire experience?
-We charged it! We filmed for three days, edited for three days, and Sam was gone.

What did that final roll-in down the rock wall feel like?
-It felt great. That was the first time I’ve ever rolled down something I couldn’t climb up, and you know, it was an un-skated piece of rock that I hunted down in the wilderness, which was interesting. It took me a while to find the line down from the top, but I felt confident as I went over the edge. Then I felt like I was going faster than expected and flying towards a cliff. I bailed and didn’t ride it out the way I wanted to, but I knew the shot would work and was stoked to get on to the next.

Would you mind sharing the serious love and respect you have for those spots?
-Sorry, but we’re in an exclusive relationship.

Thank you so much for sharing your magnificent vision of skateboarding with us Clay.  Anything you want to say to finish off?
-Just thank you to anyone who took the time to watch the movie or show it to a friend. Special thanks goes to Jo Edmondson for providing her basement as our editing room and to Bill Muse for his tractor. Marisha, thanks for letting me me tie your boyfriend to the roof of my car and driving it. And Bud, thanks for your help on the shoot and for doing this interview. Until next time.

What was your favorite part of the entire experience?
-We charged it! We filmed for three days, edited for three days, and Sam was gone.

This video showcases many illegal activities. Since making it public, law enforcement officers have tracked me down and confirmed that I broke many laws during its creation, including the use of an off-road vehicle on protected lands. Skateboarding is illegal on the rocks shown in this film and punishable with severe fines. Some of these locations are sacred historic sites, and all are pristine locations of otherworldly beauty. Skateboarding can be damaging to these areas and offensive to both lovers of wilderness and certain religious groups. When considering skateboarding off-road please take the time to consider the laws of the area, the sentimental value of the location, and the damage you may be doing. As always, when traveling in wilderness areas, please practice Leave No Trace principles and remember to respect both those who came before you and those who will come after. -Clay Shank


Filed under Interviews, Uncategorized