Filmmaker Stacy Peralta has been many things in his life. First, he was a professional skateboarder, getting worldwide acclaim for his freestyle and pool riding as one of the Z-Boys. In the '80s, he became a visionary, co-founding Powell Peralta Skateboards and changing the face of the industry with the introduction of skate videos, advertising and the sport's first great team, the Bones Brigade.
After leaving the industry in the early '90s, Peralta spent the better part of two decades as a documentarian, gaining critical acclaim for Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001), big-wave surfing flick Riding Giants (2004) and his portrayal of the southern Los Angeles gang wars in Crips and Bloods: Made in America (2008).
But during that time, the Bones Brigade never left his mind. Around 2003, years after the release of Dogtown, members of the now defunct Brigade---which included Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain and Tommy Guerrero---came to Peralta in the hopes of getting him to document the team's legacy. His response: "I didn't want to make this film." After playing the role of dual character and director in the Z-Boys documentary, he wasn't ready to put himself at the forefront again.
"Finally two years ago they came back to me and said, 'Look, as a group we are now older than you were when you made Dogtown,' and I said, "OK,'" he says, sighing. "'I'll do it!'"
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography is the personal retelling of the world's most famous skateboard team by the skaters that made it happen.
Work began in October 2010, but at that time Peralta still wasn't sold on the scope of the film.
"I thought it was going to be a small film that would just go straight to DVD with very little hoopla and no festivals whatsoever," he says. "But when we started shooting the film and the guys came in and started talking about the difficulties and obstacles they faced...all of a sudden I found myself as a filmmaker going, 'Wow, this is a much more resonant film than I ever expected it to be.' So at that point I started to take it a bit more seriously."
Working with the tightest budget of his career, Peralta had to get creative when acquiring rights to archival footage for the film. But by October 2011, the film had been submitted to Sundance and interest began to grow, with an online trailer exposing the deep, emotional angle of the film, exploring the crews' feelings of inadequacy and lack of acceptance from their family, the skateboard world and the Bones Brigade themselves.
"As we started to talk about these subjects and explore them more, it really filled the film out and give it a sense of direction, story and drama," Peralta says. "It took it away from skateboarding, which is the ultimate move we wanted to do."