Matt Bublitz is not only one of our most-trusted, most-talented skateboarding filmmakers, his dedication to his crew and to his own skating leaves many of us double-checking our Thrasher credentials. Where do you go when you’ve already board slid El Toro at 14? Luckily for us, the answer for Matt is working for the Mag. On the occasion of his latest video part, we take a rare peek behind the curtain to find out about Matt’s storied HB childhood, his video heroes and insider tips for filming success (spoiler–don’t be a kook!) Congrats, Bubz. And thank you for all that you do.
Watch our guy go off in his proper new part
What got you really sparked on skating as a kid?
I think I saw my neighbor Nick do it. He lived across the street; he was kind of like a punk and into music and stuff and he had a skateboard, so I think just paddling around with him got me stoked on it. But I started really young. In my kindergarten or first grade yearbook photo I have a scrape on my nose. I scraped it trying to roll down the driveway on my chest, so I have photographic proof of that.
Hall of Meat: the kindergarten years. Matt’s been bleeding for this shit since day one
So you’re not some kid that had to fight your way to California. You were born straight into it—Skateboard City USA, Huntington Beach, right?
Yeah, they gotta rename it Skate City instead of Surf City. But yeah, it was sick having Huntington park. I probably missed the actual heyday of it, but seeing pros around was still really sick and semi-normal for me. At that time it was a lot of the Flip dudes. Bastien and Rowley would be there skating, so seeing them at the park and all the other dudes that would come there, that was really sick.
Stuffin’ a fat stack at the Santa Ana park, school clothes be damned
When was the first time that you crossed paths with dudes gettin’ it done in the wild?
Oh, like actual street skating? I think I just saw the older kids at the skatepark or I’d hear about them doing it, but I never really saw them actually doing it. I was just watching videos and stuff. I kinda put two and two together like, You just go out with your friends and you have a little camcorder and then just try and get it done. So we started by going to the skatepark. I would borrow my parents’ crappy, old Hi8 camera and we’d find little three stairs around the skatepark or the neighborhood or we’d just film at the park. That’s kind of how it got started. I was probably in sixth grade when I started to film stuff and started to document that way.
Do you have any stories of awkward, surprising or funny interactions with the stars of skating as a kid?
Oh, man, one of the sickest things that I’ll always remember is I was skating Huntington Park on a Saturday morning. I was probably 11 or 12 years old. I think my parents dropped me off and I was there really early, like 8:30 AM. So I was just skating and listening to my iPod with a bunch of skate music on it. It was just me and Bastien Salabanzi. I was trying to learn how to fake flip off the little one-foot drop and I couldn’t quite figure it out—it’d always go rocket and I’d credit card it and Bastien gave me a tip. He’s like, “What you have to do is you don’t look at the obstacle. You roll fakie towards it, look down and you count one, two, three and then pop. But just try and get your timing right. Anticipate when it’s gonna be three seconds from the obstacle but don’t look at anything else besides your board—just look straight down.” It worked, so Bastien taught me how to fakie flip stuff which was super sick. But I was honestly really intimidated by the older guys ‘cause I was really young so I would just try and be mellow and as much of a wallflower as possible and just kinda watch Ed Templeton and stuff from afar.
Did he ever take pictures of you in the wild as art?
No. I wish he did though. Maybe if I was a teenage smoker or had some bad tattoos.
Jammed up in 2021 Photo: Darwen
Who are the kids from your class of skateboarding?
Obviously Tom K. We’re the closest now but I didn’t immediately start skating with him. I kinda started skating with the McClungs. They were pretty popular. Trevor is one year younger than me and Taylor is one year older, but we all went to Edison High School. But I had a bunch of friends that didn’t end up getting sponsored but they’re still super good, even now. But as far as my class of skateboarding it would probably be the McClungs and then they introduced me to Tom and he’s two years older than me. He lived in Fountain Valley. Then I’d see Collin and Figgy. They’d go to this skate-church thing nearby. At that time you kinda just went to anything that had a skatepark at it. So I remember when I was in my early teenage years seeing Figgy at these church things where you had to sit through a sermon just to be able to skate the park. So kinda like those Irvine Sucks-type dudes.
Did you work your way up the sponsorship ladder for a little while?
Kind of. I rode for this shop in Huntington on Warner that was really really small. It was called El Skate Shop. They gave me shop boards and stuff. And like every other kid in Southern California, I rode for Destructo flow. But nothing serious, really. I don’t really know what I was trying to do but it was cool to get shop boards and free trucks and stuff. Then I rode for Active Ride Shop, which obviously isn’t super cool, but we thought it was pretty cool ‘cause they hooked us up with 100 bucks of product every month, so I would just get four shop boards a month. Tom and I would do that and I think Figgy and those dudes rode for Active at that time as well.
Never rode Destructos, heard good things though. Kickflip back lip, likely on some Aces Photo: Mullins
Was there a distinct moment where you were like, I’m probably not gonna be pro. I wanna do something else? Was there a moment of reckoning like that?
Probably when I was about 16 or 17—I was okay at skating but my friends started getting really, really good. They were switch 360 flipping five flat fives and doing insane handrails and stuff. And I never really wanted to do that or I just didn’t have a natural talent for that. But I had always been the kid that had the video camera, too, ever since sixth or seventh grade. So that progression was kind of going parallel to my skating. I upgraded from the Hi8 camera; I got a VX1000 and I kinda saw more of a future in that and I really liked doing it. There was never a huge injury or anything like that. Things just kinda naturally fell into place like, Okay, filming seems like it’s working out more successfully than actually trying to get on a board company.
You say you didn’t do the big stuff, but didn’t you skate El Toro?
Yeah. I mean, that was when I was a little bit younger. I was 14 when I did that. That was probably more of a I-just-wanna-skate-hard-and-see-where-it-takes-me type of thing. But yeah, I was definitely a SoCal-type grom with my dad driving me to El Toro and boardsliding it with a helmet.
It was a California childhood. Bullfighting, age 14
We’re gonna need that clip.
I’m down. I got it. I remember sending that to the owner of El Skate Shop and he was really hyped. I kinda don’t want to say this ‘cause it’s super embarrassing, but I think he said, “Dude, I think you might be the next Ryan Sheckler,” or something like that. So yeah, there was a time when I was younger when I was like, Okay, to be a sponsored skateboarder you have to go really big. So yeah, I just got motivated to do that, I guess.
In your formative years, who did you and your friends idolize?
We really liked all the classic videos like Sorry. This Is Skateboarding was probably the biggest one, so all the Emerica dudes. Andrew Reynolds was huge. He was probably my first skate idol. Ed Templeton, obviously. When we were super young we didn’t quite understand it ‘cause at that time we’d see him around and he was kind of older and obviously not Andrew Reynolds, but we still liked him ‘cause we’d see him around and stuff. So the Flip team, everyone in This Is Skateboarding and the Toy Machine dudes, too, ‘cause they had a big Huntington influence and they were always at the park. Seeing Austin Stephens was super sick. Honestly, I kind of liked the flow dudes who were on Toy Machine at that time a lot—like Grant Hatfield, seeing him at the park, and Rob Strasser. Those are probably my biggest influences at that time where I was like, Damn, these dudes are super cool, super stylish, rad skaters. They dress cool, like cool music and they aren’t pro skaters so they aren’t as unattainable to talk to.
Bublitz bluntslides your next tattoo down ol’ San Pedro way Photo: Mullins
How’d you get the job at Thrasher?
I don’t know—a couple of events and probably a bit of luck? I made a couple of skate videos, so I was already a filmer, editor and I was skating with Tom K so he had the big parts in some of my earlier videos. Then he actually got on Zero so then I starting rubbing shoulders with those dudes at Blackbox. I filmed some stuff for the Cold War video of him and Nick Boserio and maybe some Jamie tricks. I got to meet Mike Gilbert and then I think when Gilbert got the job at Thrasher he was trying to build a team of younger dudes who could film and edit. He probably just knew me as a kid that would send in footage of Tom, but he hit me up and I took the job. I worked at The Skateboard Mag for maybe two years and that was really sick and that was my first real job in skateboarding. When Gilbert hit me up it was around the time when The Skateboard Mag got bought by the Berrics, so I was like, Okay, this is probably a good time to sever ties. Thrasher’s hitting me up and The Skateboard Mag’s going in a pretty wack direction. So it seemed like a no-brainer to me.
What’s it like to work at Thrasher?
It’s awesome. I mean, just by virtue of saying you work at Thrasher it opens up a whole world of skaters and opportunities that I’d probably never have otherwise. I’ve gotten to film, skate and hang out with my favorite pros and learn a bunch of stuff. I get to interview people and go on insane trips that are paid for. So it’s kind of been the best thing ever. It’s just been really cool. It’s like a dream job I never thought I would get, but it just luckily fell in my lap through luck and random acquaintances. So I’m kinda just trying to hang on for as long as I can, honestly.
What have been your favorite projects you’ve worked on for Thrasher?
The one that I always reference is that Jamie Foy SOTY trip. That was a really fun one just ‘cause I’d never been on a Skater of the Year trip and it was to Australia, which was super exotic and foreign to me. It was a really sick crew, too—you, Mason, Beagle, Jamie Foy, Pedro Delfino and more. We all stayed in this really cool Victorian Airbnb. I’d been on trips before but for some reason that one—it was just like, Damn, this is insane. I’m waking up and making breakfast with Torey Pudwill, then watching YouTube videos with Beagle and drinking beers with some other sick skaters. That was a really cool one and I liked how the edit turned out. I like the Am Scramble trips; those are always really fun, especially the first one. We didn’t really know what to expect as far as what the guys would do and it was kind of a new venture for Thrasher. But obviously that first one was just insane and seeing all of that stuff in real time was incredible. And that was also semi early on in my work for Thrasher. It was really crazy to see a lot of that stuff in person. Honestly, it’s just been cool to meet people and kind of hang out with them. You go to someone’s house like Jon Miner or Ed Templeton to interview them but then slowly it’s like you have their phone number and you’re kind of hanging out before and after the interview and those moments are priceless for someone like me.
Clawed up on the Scramble while Breezy pulls the old finger-in-the-belly-button-trick Photo: Burnett
You’ve never done a King of the Road, correct?
I don’t know if it counts but that was actually the first thing I ever did for Thrasher. I think it was August 2014. It was the year before Vice got involved. I think Gilbert was trying to make a sick edit, so there was a lot of B-roll filmers on each of the teams and I got assigned to go along with Flip.
I forgot you went on that.
Yeah, I wasn’t like the filmer on the trip; it was more like filming the interviews and establishing shots for B-roll and stuff like that. I was definitely out until the wee hours of the morning but it wasn’t like I was the main filmer on the trip, like getting filmed myself or anything.
Can you Hellride? Do you think you’re cut out for Hellriding?
Maybe? But it’s intimidating to be honest. I’ve always had a complex of being like, Am I Thrasher? ‘Cause when you think of Thrasher—especially when you’re on the outside of it—you just think it’s the gnarliest. You see all the P-Stone videos and the Hellride trips and you’re just like, Oh my God, dude, can I keep up with this? I’ve had nothing but good experiences and they haven’t been too intense. There’s definitely been a lot of beer drinking and stuff like that but nothing too reckless.
Game recognize game … and burrito. Matt and the Phelper yuck it up behind the Orange Curtain, 2018 Photo: Burnett
What was your relationship with the Phelper like?
I always admired him because he was such a good figurehead for the magazine and he really walked the walk of being a true skater and telling it how it is. But we’re definitely on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to personality. So I kinda had a hard time connecting with him at certain times ‘cause he was one of those guys where people are like, Oh, you gotta talk shit to him or you gotta give it right back to him. But I’m like, I don’t know. I’m pretty nice. I’m not gonna talk shit to Jake Phelps, you know? So for that reason he probably thought I was maybe a wuss or something. But we connected on a couple of things. I remember having some cool one-on-one conversations with him but it definitely took some guts to go up to him and be like, Okay, I’m about to try to talk to Jake Phelps. I hope he doesn’t just ignore me or blow me off. But when I got to talking to him he was always really genuine and he’d say something pretty profound.
Opposites attract – Bubz and Doobie, Born to Blew Photo: Burnett
Speaking of opposites attracting, you really connected with Doobie on our Germany trip.
Oh yeah. I’ll reference that trip, too—the Born to Blew Volcom Germany trip. I love Doobie. I’m not afraid of that gypsy or whatever he would identify as.
I know now, so much of making a skate video is just dealing with the pain in the ass of music stuff. How important is music in making killer skate videos?
I mean, it’s everything to me. ’Cause back in the day that’s what really attracts you to it when you’re a kid watching these really cool skate videos like the Zero videos, Toy Machine videos and Mind Field. It’s the songs that draw you in and you’re like, Damn, I’ve never heard this and it’s really sick. It just creates a vibe which is ultimately the most important thing. Editing is creating a certain vibe so a lot of times the music you want—sometimes you get lucky and find a cool band or a song or a smaller artist or a new artist where it’ll work, but a lot of times the music that you would dream about is really expensive or hard to get. Especially now where we really do it by the book when it comes to licensing, it can get pretty tough to actually get the songs. But I don’t think back in the day people ran it like that. I think the deals were different or maybe they just didn’t even get the deals and just waited for a cease and desist. So it’s definitely a new age but I think if you look hard enough there are ways to find some gems. I still think there’s good music coming out today.
Over the top and always on trend, Matt gaps to flatground lipslide Photo: Burkhardt
Who are the filmmakers you really admire?
I’d say Greg Hunt is probably number one, ‘cause when Mind Field came out I’d made a couple of crappy skate videos, but that’s when I was really trying to tune in to being like, Okay, what makes a sick skate video? That one just really hit me hard in a good way. I remember going to the premiere and almost throwing up from excitement because of how epic and sick it was gonna be. So Greg Hunt, including all the stuff he’s done for Vans, too. Propeller was really solid. And Jon Miner is really sick ‘cause This Is Skateboarding was probably my first skate-video obsession. So Greg and Jon are at the top. If I had to choose three I’d probably add Benny Maglinao. But I feel like he’s kind of the obvious choice. If you ask any skate videographer they’re gonna say Benny is close to being number one. But even though he’s made really sick stuff he’s still semi underrated. The average skater probably wouldn’t know Benny Maglinao makes some of the sickest stuff.
What’s your take on the Cherry effect?
I think it’s cool. It definitely became a trend, but I’d rather see that trend happen than the trend of overly-cinematic drone shots with a gimbal and a million roll-up shots. At least the Strobeck stuff is really tight. It’s really action packed and surprising which always makes for a good skate video. And, again, with the music he was able to choose some insane songs. I’m sure Supreme paid a lot of money to make that video happen. But yeah, I kind of see it for what it is. I think it’s really cool when Supreme does it and I’ll even film a guy like that from time to time ‘cause it just gives it that exciting, fast look. But I think if you overdo it you could easily lose your own style in that. So I’ll only do it for certain tricks that might need it or just from time to time. But if your whole skate video were to look like that, it wouldn’t necessarily be original, but whatever—the skating will look sick so that’s what counts, I guess.
Up-slide from the Felix Arguelles School of Color Coordination
What are some skate video clichés you try to avoid?
There was a time when roll-up shots became a really big thing. I think with videographers getting nicer cameras they felt more like they were cinematographers and then it was like every skate trick needed a roll up or two. If I see a skate video and every shot has an unnecessary roll up that I obviously can tell is fake, I don’t like that. So I try to minimize that unless you need it with a part in the song or you need to emphasize that it’s a skinny roll up or something.
Is there an epidemic of too much hugging?
I mean, there can be. But I’m not necessarily against it. But again, use it sparingly. If it’s every single clip or there’s a lot throughout the video you’d start to be like, Okay, what are we watching here? But if you can tell that it’s genuine hype or shock, that’s what’s important.
Meet your idols––Bublitz and Schlager at Bust or Bail, Atlanta Photo: Burnett
I know you roll with the creative skaters. Is there any creative skating that’s become too cliché? What do you think about all this bluntsliding the ground on the edge of a planter on the floor or whatever? Should you ever wax the ground?
Do whatever you need to make whatever possible. But yeah, I would say the people I skate with—probably Tom and Jordan—are definitely creative-type skaters when it comes to spots and tricks and stuff. But I don’t think they’re on the level of like Magenta powerslide-type stuff. I don’t know if this is a PC answer but I’m being honest—skating has a place for everyone. So it’s kind of cool to see that. But when you start to get get super, super creative, like with a lot of the powerslide stuff, it’s like it becomes a different thing. ‘Cause you’re almost relying on super tight VX filming to make it look sick. But if you were to just see it in real life you’d be like, That looks like nothing. But I think they just care about the artifact of the skate video and making sick skate videos. I back it; it’s cool.
What makes you keep going so hard on the board? Would you skate this hard if you weren’t filming yourself for the next video part? Like, you skate real hard. You’re putting out video parts; you’re working on a video part all the time. Me and Hammeke, we weren’t working on video parts. What makes you go this hard? Is the video making the main motivator?
I like skating skateparks, too, and having fun but I think the process of making skate video parts throughout the years, I’ve kind of just stuck with it for whatever reason. I just really like the process of it, honestly. I obviously like making skate videos and editing them myself and I’ve been a skater forever. I personally like the process of finding a spot, learning a trick and putting everything together, then eventually putting everything into your part. I just like the challenge of it. I don’t consciously think about it, it’s just what I genuinely like to do. Like when I’m not filming I like to think of tricks to try and film and just push myself in that way. I definitely like going to the skatepark and having fun, but if I wasn’t on film I wouldn’t be pushing myself as hard. I think if you’re filming video parts you always want to do your best just so it has something new to offer the viewers.
Since you filmed everything since you were a kid, what’s the best trick you’ve ever done?
I would say the one I’m most proud of is I have the last trick in the second skate video I made.
He got a major in Economics and a minor in fuckin’ shit up! Slide to slide at UC Berkeley
The slide to slide?
Yeah, the boardslide to boardslide just ‘cause it was at the school I was going to in Berkeley. It was at the dorms so I’d always see it. My friends would come up from time to time and we’d film stuff and I had that on my mind for a couple of months and then when they came up things fell into place for me to try it. I wanna say it took four or five hours of just trying that, but it eventually worked out. I took some weird slams where I was kind of sacking it and falling into the bush. That’s the one I’m probably most proud of.
Would you say it was your war?
Definitely. It was My War, for sure. I gotta find the tape ‘cause that was before B-sides and stuff and I’d only upload the make for some reason, which is super dumb. But I gotta find the tape and actually see how long it took to land that.
Speaking of slams, what’s been your worst injury?
For sure the broken ankle. I don’t know if it’s technically a broken ankle or broken leg, but it was a dislocated ankle and a compound fracture in my fibula. I was told that the bone came out of my ankle but I never actually looked at it. I just intuitively knew it was really bad and I’m kinda squeamish when it comes to stuff like that so I was just like, Okay, I’ll just wait for the ambulance to get here and wait to be put under.
We saw his bones. Chicago, ER. Summer, 2017 Photo: Burnett
That was the grossest thing I’ve ever seen.
That’s a pretty hefty title.
But I got used to it ‘cause I was with you for at least three hours before they put your bones back in.
Oh my gosh.
Healed up and locked in, Bublitz checks out early on a front board Photo: Freitas
So I got used to looking at your bones. And then you know the story about me and the emergency room, right?
What was that again?
We were in downtown Chicago and I still had my camera around my neck, right? I’d been with you in the ER and I guess this was a hospital that served a lot of unhoused people maybe? Or maybe it was the one where you didn’t have to have insurance? So the waiting room was packed and there was a guy in a wheelchair. I walk out and I’m standing there waiting for somebody and this guy sees me and he goes, “Yo, don’t be snapping no pictures!” And I’m like, What? I’m looking around like, Is he talking to me? And he names some organization he was with and then he ended up with a, “I’ll kill you, you white bitch!”
Oh my God, that’s a timeless story.
I got out of there quick but I was laughing while I was doing it, ‘cause I appreciated the ridiculousness of it even in that situation.
Yeah, that’s insane. They didn’t want you snitching or whatever.
Yeah, no snitching. So you’re a grown up and you’re married. How does your wife deal with these shenanigans?
She’s used to it by now. When we first started dating I kind of prepared her for it. I was like “Okay, I skate a lot.” She’s like, “Oh, cool. Yeah, you’ve got a hobby.” And I was like, “No, I skate a lot a lot. I’m gonna be going on trips. I’m gonna be out every weekend—at the minimum.” I don’t know if she knew the extent of it at the time but she’s gotten used to it and she’s a good sport about it. If I was in her shoes, I would be kind of stoked if someone I loved had something that they’re passionate about. She’s passionate about making movies and stuff like that so I love that. But I don’t think that’s as physically demanding as skating. But yeah, she always nurses me back to health. Like with the broken ankle, she was pushing me around in a wheelchair on the pier and making me breakfast in bed and stuff. So yeah, she’s been the best.
What’s your dream project? If you could work on any project in skateboarding, what would you like to make?
Probably take all my favorite skaters and go on a trip where we just just go to a city that seems cool and find either insanely cutty spots or cool spots and make a little edit out of it. That would be like taking AVE, Gilbert Crockett, Tom, Jordan and Nick Boserio. What it would lead with would be doing something with all the skaters I really love. And I also like going to spots that look really cool—and new stuff. So something that combines all of that, so if there’s a way to package that.
It sounds doable to me.
That would probably be the dream one that would combine all the interests.
Make a one sheet on it; we’ll figure it out. Here’s a popular question in hip-hop, social media and the consumerist world in general: how does someone get to where you are?
I think just doing it regardless—just having a passion and doing it regardless of whether it’s working out in the moment. I’ve heard you say, “Showing up is 80 percent of the job.” I think just being consistently active and doing whatever passion you have is important. In my case it’s making skate videos and skating. So just really sticking with it and grinding it out. Most everyone that works in skateboarding—I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of overnight successes. But I don’t think you would grind it out unless you really loved it. So just find something you really like and just keep doing it. There’s also the element of luck—there’s probably a Venn diagram of having a passion, consistently having luck somewhat involved, meeting the right people and being positive and nice. Oh, that’d probably be another one too—being easy to deal with and easy to work with. ‘Cause there’s plenty of talented people that could have had a future but they might have blown it by being a kook or something. So just try and be reasonable in your demeanor and I guess have basic manners and stuff.
Well, you’ve definitely got those. Thank you, Matt!
When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Matt Bublitz knows. Taildrop grind and then grab the camera Photo: Darwen