Brian Shima discusses SSM’s The 666 Series and explains his reasoning behind what many are calling an overpriced online video.
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Brian Shima is one of the most iconic skaters of all time. He emerged from a small but dedicated scene in Redwood City, California, otherwise known as the Bomb Squad, to become one of the most recognisable figures in blading. At a time when everyone was trying to extend their legs are far as possible on rocket fishbrains and skating at a snail’s pace up to handrails, Shima was charging Mach 10 at everything, doing 360s off roof drops into metal slides, performing some of the first obstacle-to-obstacle grind transfers and generally raising the bar for what was possible on inline skates.
Over the years he has formed part of some truly legendary teams, including the original USD line-up, and his rapidly rising star status helped make Razors the industry kingpin it is today. Not content with being a skate brand’s most valuable asset, he formed Rat Tail Distribution with Jon Elliot and Jan Welch, establishing 4X4 Wheels, Vicious Bearings and Nimh Skates. It is fairly safe to say that he has established a legacy that will never be diminished within our culture.
However, the past few years have been turbulent to say the least for the pro skater and company owner. Shima parted company with Elliot and Welch to form Shima Skate Manufacturing from the ashes of Nimh, which resulted in rumours spreading like wildfire that he had actually taken the inventory from underneath his business partners without their consent. More accusations were levelled at him when SSM poster boy Montre Livingston left the team in a haze of confusion to join USD, prompting suggestions that Shima had not paid the North Carolina native any royalties from his two pro skates.
Regardless of what may have transpired before, SSM have hit the ground running in 2014 with the release of their latest skate, The Bloodline 2, and last week they announced a forthcoming pay-to-view online video collection entitled The 666 Series. The premise is simple; six edits, each six minutes long, at the cost of $6 per edit. The series will feature five members of the First Blood team – Brian Shima, Marc Moreno, Gabriel Hyden, John Bolino and Joey Chase – with the sixth section announcing an as yet unnamed new member of the First Blood team. 50% of the takings from each edit will go directly to the skater and the other 50% will cover production costs.
When the trailer appeared online last week it raised many questions. Why such a high price tag? What will the videos consist of exactly? How many of the sections have actually been filmed so far? What happens if, for whatever reason, they are unable to complete the project? Is John Bolino back on the team? Who is the sixth skater going to be?
Of course, $36 is a lofty price tag. In fact, it is the highest amount that has been charged for an online video to date. After all, EL_CHVYPO, KCMO and The Shredweiser Tour Video all came in at less than $15. However, when you consider that every purchase is actually putting money into a pro skater’s pocket – a very rare occurrence these days – giving someone you respect $3 for their talent and months of hard work seems like an absolute steal.
You only have to look at Create Originals to see a perfect example of how such an online series can be a success. They have released four instalments of their exceptional Originals series, which so far includes Sean Kelso, Austin Paz, John Bolino and Alex Broskow, and the overwhelming response it has generated suggests that many people would have been more than happy to pay for witnessing such a high level of blading and video production.
Who knows? Maybe Shima has stumbled upon something here. Sure it is only right that we pay our best skaters for the physical sacrifices they make in order to provide us with entertainment and inspiration? Could it be that the internet has simply created a generation of spoiled brat bladers that don’t believe they should pay for blading media? Plus, isn’t Shima’s first full street section since his Create Originals introduction back in 2011 worth playing for?
In order to establish a better idea of what to expect when the first section drops on April 6th, we spoke with legendary skater and SSM’s namesake Brian Shima and he provided a detailed insight into the concept of the series, his justification for the price to download it, and hinted at future SSM releases. One thing he wasn’t willing to comment on was John Bolino’s current status within the team. Oh, well. Can’t win them all!
Wheel Scene: Where did the idea for The 666 Series come from?
Brian Shima: The idea for this series came about from blading’s current status. I came up with this idea and brought it to the team, where we all worked on it to bring it to life. With the internet flooded with content daily, the fact that the top skaters are now skating pushing the limits of what we can do on skates for pretty much nothing seems crazy to us. Don’t get me wrong, we believe in free content. It keeps a good healthy flow of videos for people to watch and get hyped before they go skate, which is great. We will still be putting out free content as much as possible for everyone to enjoy. However, this series is different. With the way we set up The 666 Series, we can now put our all into our edits and bring some value back into skating. This is also a new way for people to support their favourite skater directly.
Are the videos going to be individual section of each skater or montages?
The 666 Series will be individual sections from each rider. This seemed like the easiest way to do it with 50% going direct to the rider. This will also push us to create our best sections yet because everyone has to carry their own weight.
Which filmers are involved in the series?
Well, all of us on the team have been in the game long enough and we all know how to use a camera, so it’s been a real in-house production so far. But we will take any help we can get. Some people who aren’t on the team have helped film for us as well.
How many of the sections have been filmed so far?
Three sections are almost done and will only improve until their release. Everyone has been filming for this series with everything they’ve got and, well, they have a reason to film now, don’t they?
Will you have a complete section?
I will have a full section. Just around the New Year, I got back from a one-year tour skating mega ramp shows with Dave Lang. We skated every day, which was actually insane. Now, I am back on the streets with a new mindset. It’s been a while since I put out a full section and I really wanted to challenge myself, being so deep in the game, to come out with something worth it. I’ve been involved with and have had sections in some of the best videos. This one is a personal challenge for me considering I will be 33 this year.
Are you worried that, due to injuries and other unforeseen circumstances, one or more of the skaters may not be able to complete their section?
We set everything spread apart enough to deal with this if it happens. We hope nothing will happen during the filming, but we all know the risks. Considering how hard everyone has been working already, I don’t foresee an injury bad enough to throw us off. We can still rearrange the ending sections.
Can you advise who is going to have the first section?
When we came up with the idea, everyone thought I should be the first to set the standard. I was fine with this and it also meant that it would give everyone else more time to film even though it only left me three months to film for my section. I also cannot ask someone to do something I can’t do myself, so I will have the first episode in The 666 Series.
Many believe the price tag for buying all six videos is quite high. What do you say to those people?
The price tag on all six edits is what we all voted on. With being able to purchase each edit separate, we felt $6 was what it should be, with 50% going straight to the rider and 50% going into keeping this project going. After fees from PayPal, Vimeo, rights for music and unexpected shit, we figure we are talking about splitting $5 two ways. We feel that we know what $6 is worth and we have no doubt we can make it worth the money. We are also working with some really good bands on the soundtrack of the series with 100% music rights, so you won’t be stuck hearing some shitty ass music that makes no sense to the sections. The series will be $36 for all of them, or $6 each, with an option to rent for 24 hours for 99 cents. All options to purchase or rent will be available on the 6th of April.
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