Bones Brigade: An Autobiography – Interview with Stacy Peralta

Stacy Peralta is an icon in skateboarding. As a key influencer within skate culture, Peralta first started out as a pro – growing up in Southern California, where the epicenter of skate and surf scenes existed. He, along with skaters of the day like Tony Alva set new benchmarks as Z-Boys on the Zepher Team, based in Venice Beach during the early to mid-70s. Further in life, Peralta segued into filmmaking, to eventually direct the critically acclaimed documentary films, Dogtown and Z-Boys and Riding Giants.

Some would argue though, the most prolific period of Peralta’s life was the advent of skate brand Powell Peralta in 1978, which he co-founded – and team of skaters he personally selected…names like Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Rodney Mullen, Mike McGill, Steve Caballero, and Tommy Guerrero, calling themselves The Bones Brigade.



This month Peralta released his highly anticipated documentary film, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography. The Active Team had the privilege to view an advanced screening and interview Mr. Stacy Peralta himself. (We’ve been geeking-out over this very factor for days….Stacy Peralta!) In his own words, here is what he had to share…

When did you know you wanted to do this documentary? How did the ideas first arise?

What I knew is that I didn’t want to make it. Tony and the other five Bones Brigade members asked me if I would consider making it about eight years ago. They had seen Dogtown & Z-Boys, were impressed by it and felt that they too had an important legacy. I agreed with them that the Bones Brigade had the ingredients for a compelling documentary film but I was not prepared to play the duel role again, that of director and character in the film like I had in Dogtown. They keep at me over the years until Lance finally said to me; “we are now older than you were when you made Dogtown.”  That was it.  Hearing that changed my mind.

There was a great feeling of camaraderie again when interviewing everyone. Can you share a bit about your journey through the interviews with the group?

We all met for lunch about four months before production began to discuss the film and what we were hoping it would become. At that meeting I knew that Rodney was going to emerge in the film – during lunch he spoke with such articulation and intimacy that I just knew he was going to be explosive on camera. We premiered the film this past January at the Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah. We all shared a large log cabin – we never wanted to sleep, we stayed up every night telling stories and laughing our guts out. It was as if no time had never passed. That was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.


The Bones crew were not only innovators of skating, but also in their style from a fashion perspective…setting the tone and benchmark for future generations of skaters. What was it like to see it all first go down and how, skaters of today, still look to their style for inspiration?

I’m not sure we will ever see a skateboard team of this significance again.  Remember, these six individuals grew up together on that team, they were all hand picked starting at the age of 13 years old and they stayed together for 13 years – they essentially grew up together, competed together, innovated with each other side by side. Tony and Rodney alone are probably responsible for having invented over 200 original maneuvers. As a group they probably had the most blank canvas that any skaters of any generation will ever have again.

The thing I’m most proud of though, is that they were the most successful skateboarders of their generation and none of them ended up in rehab. They all made it and they are all today still living that same ludicrous dream of becoming a professional skateboarder that began when they were 13 years old.

We really liked how you captured the trends of skating and documented when the masses began to not care and it went back to grassroots. Skating today is also going through changes…where do you think it’s headed?

The current skateboard industry has beaten street skating to death – it has produced hundreds of pornographic skate videos that feature only one kind of skating which is extreme street stunts. Essentially, they have presented skateboarding as something that is done only one way that is not fun. All of the major companies should be given an “F” for imagination.

What was it like to show the documentary at Sundance? How was it received by the film community?

Sundance is the greatest film festival on earth. Taking Bones Brigade was my fourth trip there with a film and probably the best – although every Sundance trip is the best. We received five standing ovations out of six screenings. There were more tears at our Q&As after each film than I ever could have expected. We knew at Sundance that we had a special film.

Moving forward, do you have any plans for future documentaries or films? Do you have anything currently in the works?

I just finished another documentary film as a producer – the Eddie Aikau story. This film will be released sometime in 2013 and it’s another film I’m very proud of.

-Jessica Kaplan


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