Director Alexander Garcia: On Skateboards and Film

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You might say that film director Alexander Garcia is skating to the top. His upcoming project, Paved New World is his second film relating to the world of skateboarding along with his recently completed Skate God.

While the two are very different films, both have a shared passion for the sport.

“What attracted me to Paved New World was that when I first read the script, I felt each character had such a strong humanity and they were much different from other archetypes; they were characters we seldom see in other films,” he explains. Another attraction: “The script comes from the amazing writing duo Scott Marcano and Kip Koneig, who wrote Bio Dome,” Garcia explains. “The whole coming of age story is something that I feel will never go out of style. If I were to go back to films such as Stand By Me and films out of John Hughes’ library like Sixteen Candles, or Pretty in Pink, all those films have one thing in common – they’ve become a part of a timeless pop-culture.  Films of today do not have that elasticity.” At least until now. According to the director, Paved New World has all the makings to become a classic.

Garcia feels that the audience for the project is both general and niche. “It caters to the skateboarding subculture and will evoke what Lords of Dogtown did for the 40-something crowd, especially since the story takes place during the 90s,” he says, but notes that the project will appeal to a broad cross-section of mainstream viewers.

Garcia is working with star Daniel Pinder who plays Slim in the movie, an actor he worked with before in Skate God.  Pinder, well known for his role as Michael on Chicago PD – and for his love of skate boarding, seemed a perfect fit. Garcia was drawn to the actor for the pivotal role.

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“It would be disingenuous for me to say that Daniel is the embodiment of the Slim character.  That would be selling his acting ability short. Daniel is innately one of the most gifted performers out there today,” Garcia asserts. “He has the range to delve into any character by injecting himself into any role he takes on, which helps keep the realism intact. Your best actors are the ones that tap into their own inner being, becoming one with the character and playing off of their own idiosyncrasies.”

The chemistry between Pinder and actress Claudia Lee (Kick Ass 2) who plays his love interest, Jayce, in the film, was another part of the appeal, Garcia says. “Viewers will love his relationship with her.”

With Paved New World being the second project for Garcia involving skateboarding, the question had to be asked: what role did skateboarding play in his decision to make the film?

“I started skateboarding in the 80s when skateboarding hadn’t quiet found its footing yet. I continuously skated into the 90s…I turned professional in ’93, when skateboarding was on a downward slide because there were no monies to be doled out. It really came down to the artistry back then more than anything, which I feel is missing from today’s skating.”

Of course that changed again in the late 90s with a new incarnation of skateboarding including skateboard star Tony Hawk’s entrance into video gaming. “That’s when skateboarding really became a permanent mainstay in the extreme sports family,” Garcia says. He continued to skate professionally until 2007, and still uses his pro-model skateboard. While he no longer participates in contests, he carves out the time to skate at least once a week. Garcia was inducted into the freestyle skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2008.

He feels strongly that skateboarding exemplifies the idea of being an original and going against the grain, which he says has always been his personal mantra. “That’s why skateboarding was so attractive to me. When I started skating, there were no skateparks in existence so you had to skate in parking lots, underground parking structures, and you had to try to find your own safe haven. Mine happened to be my garage,” he laughs.

Gracia made the transition from pro skateboarder into filmmaker due to his long-standing love for cinema.

“That stems from when I was 6-years-old, going to the movies with my Mom in my hometown of Lakewood, Calif.,” he says.  “I would see films in every genre ranging from romantic comedies to thrillers to action, which in the end made me into a multi-genre storyteller. Horror films have always been my passion,” he adds.

His love of filmmaking took a back seat to professional skateboarding after high school, and he never attended film school. As a self-taught filmmaker, he says  “I have always leaned more toward being self-taught and less reliant on schooling and that comes directly from skateboarding.  I created my own personal style, I didn’t emulate anyone else, and it didn’t come from any book.”

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Currently, Garcia is working on a wide array of film projects in multiple genres along with his producing partners Anne Stimac and Stuart Arbury.

“One of the projects was derived from a children’s short story that I penned when I was 12 years old titled Libby’s Dreams. It deals with a detached, over-imaginative little girl with the ability to enter different worlds through her dreams. That helps her to fit into the world she comes from.  The Florida Project’s Valeria Cotto is set to star in the film as Libby. I’m also working on a mystery thriller, Gallatin 6, staring Tilky Jones and Daniela Bobadilla, and Apparency, which I like to describe as a supernatural love story centered on reincarnation — with consequences. And of course, there’s Skate God which is going to be a game changer in the sci-fi/dystopian genre.”

With projects like this in Garcia’s quiver, Paved New World is just the start of a brave new career.

  • Genie Davis