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Jet Black Crayon: The Spaces Between

Jet Black Crayon’s music is a metaphor for watching the veteran skater glide down Valencia Street on a Sunday at sunset. It’s not about the craziest tricks, the most extreme endurance, or partying ’til you puke; just the smooth ebb and flow of wheels on concrete, punctuated by the intensity of traffic or slight hills. The San Francisco-based trio–consisting of skater/musician Tommy Guerrero, DJ Gadget, and recording engineer Monte Vallier, plus attendant collaborators–has continuously served up jam sessions that meander through post-rock, funk, and downtempo. Their new album, In the Interim, is more of the same hazy groove, and comes with a DVD, wherein JBC’s talented filmmaker friends offer visual accompaniment to various songs. We caught up with six of them, and asked them where inspiration’s been hiding.

Jet Black Crayon’s In the Interim is out now on Function 8.

"Monday"
“I’m obsessed with lines and the song sounds, to me, like someone drawing lines,” says SF-based Andrew Paynter, 34, of his meditative black-and-white video of flashing pavement and L.A. street scenes (shot from a skater’s perspective while in motion).

XLR8R: What’s your advice for aspiring filmmakers?

AP: Follow through with your ideas and don’t let exterior things influence you too much.

What’s the toughest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?

Nothing in life is permanent. Enjoy things while you have them, as at some point they’ll all dissolve away.

What are you working on?

A mural in San Francisco in conjunction with Juice Design, an ongoing book project with Geoff McFetridge, and a colab with Dr. Romanelli and Lupe Fiasco.

“8 Bad Years”
Skate videographer Greg Hunt’s clip pays homage to skate films of the mid-’80s. “I shot the whole video on an old Quasar VHS camera and tried to keep everything historically accurate: board, clothes, tricks, filming, and editing,” says L.A.-based Hunt. “It was a lot of fun for me and a lot of work for Kevin, who was the skater. He had to learn all those old school tricks and then do all kinds of modern tricks on a 1985 setup!”

XLR8R: What’s the toughest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?

Greg Hunt: When returning from a month-long trip never take your eyes off the shoebox full of shot footage. That is, unless you feel like laying in bed for a week staring at the ceiling.

What are you working on?

Alien Workshop’s Mind Field video.

“Lost in the Fog”
The murals of San Francisco’s Mission District make up most of the backdrop to this flick starring the JBC members drinking Tecate, buying diapers, and stealing each other’s bikes. It’s shot by 33-year-old SF local Dan Wolfe, who’s best known for his work on the Eastern Exposure skate videos and his recent clip (with artist Jeremy Fish) for Aesop Rock’s “Pigs.”

XLR8R: What’s the toughest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?

Dan Wolfe: Don’t rack up credit-card debt buying cameras and computers.

What are you working on?

Various short projects with Juice Design/Adidas Skateboarding, internet video stuff, and an HD skate movie.

“Post Meridian”
Parisian Christophe Beaucourt’s piece is a commentary on man versus nature–“an industrial poem,” he calls it. Via grainy ski resort footage, this lover of backcountry freeriding explores the way ski lifts, electric pylons, and warning signs clash with the pristine mountain snow, all set to a backdrop of smoky, meditative loops and ominous piano.

XLR8R: What’s your advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Christophe Beaucourt: Accept critics’ points of view as constructive and not as defiance to your ego. Many directors sweat scorn.

What’s the toughest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?

During too many years, I experienced alternative businesses getting successful and then behaving as “real” businesses. They earned a lot of money but I never got paid.

What are you working on?

Since 2006, I have been the writer, director, artistic designer, and main producer on a sci-fi short movie. This year, I found a production deal so the movie will live on its own through festivals. It’s called Sombrero; it’s about creativity and the fact that, whether you deserve it or not, you can’t make a masterpiece on demand. Watch the trailer on YouTube.

“Brighter Days”
New York photographer and filmmaker Cheryl Dunn has an impressive back catalog that includes the movie/book Bicycle Gangs of New York, documenting Espo and Twist’s Street Market show and Mark Gonzales’ 1999 skateboard ballet, and the artist-driven documentary Sped. For this DVD, she juxtaposes children playing with footage of mosh pits and anti-war protests. “The feeling of the music was solemn yet confrontational at times. I just wanted to comment on what was happening in the streets.”

XLR8R: What’s your advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Cheryl Dunn: Don’t be afraid to not know things. Experiment and explore the medium and don’t let others intimidate you. Just make things.

What’s the toughest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?

That opportunity and success, more times than not, has to do with who you know rather than what you know.

“My Fair Romans”
Jet Black Crayon member Monte Vallier soundtracks this song, based around spoken-word from Pete Simonelli, with found footage and super 8 images that have to do with “the pursuit of pleasure and depravity loosely based around the fall of the Roman Empire... uh, San Francisco.” Vallier, a 44-year-old music producer and recording/mixing engineer, wanted to see the band push their more cinematic side, and edited many of the films on the DVD.

XLR8R: What’s your advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Monte Vallier: Don’t get bogged down with the overwhelming scope of a project. Just concentrate on one thing at a time.

What’s the toughest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?

Nothing is guaranteed. Just because you’ve had a success on a project, you still have to prove yourself every time. You are only as good as your last project.

What projects have you got coming up?

My wife Victoria and I are commencing work on a short film based on a dream that she had, I’m starting to write material for the next Jet Black Crayon record, and I’m working on an album with a band called The Japanese Motors.

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