Shoot all skaters

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


SKATEBOARDING in Cebu has evolved over the years. The contemporary situation is definitely a lot better than it was back in the day. A wave of kids everywhere, as in everywhere, are now picking up boards (some almost as tall as them), shredding wherever they can, whenever they can.

There used to be only one skate park and it was all the way in the south (in Talisay). Now, there are three more around with one being the government-sponsored facility in Lapu-Lapu City. They’re not the best skate parks, but they’re better than nothing.

It was supposed to be for a clothing company and making skate videos was part of the marketing plan. In the end, there was so much fun that the apparel brand concept was shelved off to focus on filming. Thus, Qila Klips was born as an independent film outfit dedicated to documenting the local skateboarding scene.

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Perhaps in the skateboarding industry, photographers, videographers and such wear the coolest occupations. Why, because it’s not like everyone who digs the rad sport would just want to sweat it all out off the record. Most would probably wish their display of “gnarls” be filmed, taped and circulated in and outside the circle. Good thing, the guys of Qila Klips skate and a whole lot too! Needless to say, they met each other through skating.

Qila Klips are filmers Dani Bautista and Cliff Rigor. That’s the basic definition; the amateurs in their young skinny frames and sometimes, twisted filming positions, darting video cameras at the scene. But everyone who’s part of the videos is also included—skaters, contributors, composers. The focus is on skateboarding before anything else.

Dani is the founder. He’s been skating since age eight, and filming since 2010. Born in Manila but grew up in Hong Kong, the 21-year-old talent came to Cebu for his studies. He’s now a senior at the University of San Carlos (USC), taking up Fine Arts, majoring in Cinema. He and his girlfriend Sam Despi came up with the name “Qila” in 2012.

After the release of Dani’s documentary “Tagad: Skateboarding sa Cebu” where Cliff is one of the subjects, the ripper of Tuburan, Cebu zeroed in on skating and filming. Cliff, 23, is a pharmacy graduate, also from USC but he’s been skating since 2004. Let’s leave it at that.

Tools of the trade for Dani are Panasonic Lumix GH2, 25mm 1.4 Panasonic Lens, Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye and Eazyhandle while Cliff operates with Panasonic GH2, 14-28 mm Panasonic Lens and 50mm 1.4 Canon FD Lens.

“Qila,” obviously, is a play of spelling. It would have been the slang “Killa” but Killa, Killer, all right. Quite negative.
“We thought of “Qila,” looked it up and learned it also meant ‘castle’ in Persian. A eureka moment. We’re going to build our kingdom! (laughs). They always tell you to dream big and that’s what we’re doing. Dreaming big, working hard,” Sam piped in.

Pushing through with all the ideas takes a lot of prodding, patience and encouragement. For Qila Klips, mediocre work isn’t tolerated. It’s a double-edged sword. Because of the standards, a single trick can take hours if the skater doesn’t land it correctly right away, so imagine a video with a dozen tricks in it. Then, there’s editing, which means working extended hours, late into the night even, to piece everything together perfectly. Let alone, personal schedules, fresh concepts, good skate spots and the weather.

But you know what they always say: Do what you love doing the most; you’ll do it well.

Last 2012, national director Paul Soriano promoted the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival to USC and encouraged the students to join the student competition. Dani got stoked and it was only natural for his entry to be about skateboarding. “Tagad: Skateboarding sa Cebu” was crafted for two months and won the Jury Prize, which meant that the judges cherry picked the output as a favorite. The public vote had no effect on it.

Recently, Qila Klips joined the Rotary Documentary Film Challenge and bagged third prize. It wasn’t about skateboarding but was still under the same crew. A short documentary was made about a woman named Belen who lived in one of the poorest areas of her barangay and scavenges through garbage to survive. The humanitarian piece will be shown in this year’s Cebu International Documentary Film Festival.

All throughout the existence of Qila Klips, quality skate videos have made it viral online. Maybe films hype kids up to roll. Then, when they do, shredders can’t stop because skateboarding isn’t like a video game or a toy that you can get tired of. If your heart beats for it, you’ll just want to skate all the time and get involved in all its aspects.

But there are clichés: Skate or die. Punks not dead. Skaters are troublemakers.

“We all have that rebellious streak. It’s necessary when skating. But we don’t go looking for riots. Skateboarding actually has a very constructive culture,” Dani and Cliff asserted.

What else? More than just a pastime, skateboarding unites. Step into a skate park and you’ll see people from all walks of life.

“Cut all the drama. This is the truth and we want this positive energy to flow out to other people,” the tandem continued.

Qila Klips aims to help raise the bar for skate videos in the Philippines, but more importantly, for other countries to know that there is a scene down here. Plus, it’s growing.
“We may not have the same advantages, but we’re getting out there; putting the Filipino skate scene on the map, all for skateboarding, where all of this is rooted. At the end of the day, we’re just homies making skate videos,” the boys underlined.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 10, 2014.

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