Sk8er Girl in Z-Boy Land

Director Catherine Hardwicke on being the Lady of Dogtown

And randomly, because I didn't know anybody here, I looked in L.A.Weeklyand found out about some club to go to, and I was dancing like crazy, and this producer of that movie Thrashin'came up and asked me to production-design that movie, because I used to be an architect. So I production-designed Thrashin',a skateboard movie. It was really bad, really bad, but it was fun and I got to build all the ramps and Tony was in it. You know, I got right into the culture and skaters lived at my house and I loved the energy. I'd be driving actors to the set and we'd stop at a gas station and I'd be filling up my car with gas and they'd be skating up the gas tanks, acid drops off the roof of the gas station, and, like, I love it! It was really exciting to me.

A little while later, I moved to Venice . . . I learned to surf and met Jim [Muir—one of the original Z-Boys] out there in the waves and kept in touch with Stacy.

I kept hearing about David Fincher doing Dogtown.Of course, I saw the documentary [Dogtown andZ-Boys]and loved it. A lot of my friends in the art department were doing the Fincher version, and they were telling me all about it, and I was getting really jealous and I was really pissed, because I'm not a production designer anymore and couldn't work on it, but I was like, Ishouldbeonthatproject,and then Fincher and the studio fell apart . . . So, when that fell away I guess it was all dead again after the fourth director bombed out, and then Stacy saw Thirteenand was like, well, "You should do it." And when I got half a chance, I just went in there armed with photos and skateboards and everything.

HowfamiliarwereyouwiththehistoryandlegendoftheZ-Boys?

Well, I was kind of familiar because I'd known a lot of the people already through the years. And, of course, [I saw] the documentary and the book and a lot of articles, and I'd get Thrasher,and I researched a lot of stuff. But also, as soon as I got the job, I just went down to Oceanside and hung out with Tony and his sister, and we looked through scrapbooks and talked about a lot of stuff.

And then I jumped on a plane and went over to Hawaii to stay three days with Jay and went surfing with him and his girlfriend and just diving into it as deep as Jay would go, which, you know, he doesn't always want to open up that much, but after three days you get a little bit deep into it.

WhatwasJay'sattitudetowardthewholething?

He seemed pretty into it, pretty excited that people were committed to something, but worried, nervous, trepidatious. I would be, too.

I gave him Stacy's script, you know, before I rewrote it, and I just went out and surfed while he read it, and I was all like—ahhhh—I couldn't concentrate on anything. Is he gonna freak, is he gonna run away, is he going to kill me? But I said, let's talk about it, that's what I'm working on—how to get it better, what bugs you? That was a real interesting experience.

Jayastheemotionalfocusofthestory,wasthattheoriginalintentofStacy'sscriptordiditemergethatway?

Well, in the original script, there was no stepfather, and that was one of the things that stood out, when Jay started talking about him and his stepfather and his mother and how they split up and all, and that's something I wanted to put in. I thought that was quite important.

I think it more emerged when I talked to Jay. I think adding the stepfather and him leaving, that's one of the first scenes in the movie where you go [Puts herhandtochest],where you kind of feel something. And I think the casting of Emile [Hirsch] . . . A lot of people that know him really well have felt a lot of Jay on the screen . . . the whole thing kind of took it to Jay.

I'minterestedintheintentionsofStacyinwritingthescript.Obviously,there'salotofwaterunderthebridge.ItseemslikeStacy'sstillworkingthingsoutwiththeseguys.

I did notice that. I think Stacy respects them and respects their attitudes and how hardcore they are, and we had many, many fascinating moments on the set. Incredible things happened on a lot of levels, like exactly what you're talking about. I was just observing so many things.

There was a lot of diplomacy, fence-mending, ego-management kind of things that I kind of did, you know, in a way. And certain people did have to apologize to each other before things could move on with the film.

ItsoundslikeagiantAAmeeting.

Yeah. [Laughs.] It was cool, though. There were a lot of heavy moments.

Ithinkthatcomesthroughalot,andthat'sagoodthing.Itseemslikeamovieaboutadysfunctionalfamilyinalotofways.

Yeah, a fucked-up family that tries to find a way back together. In a lot of ways the documentary did some of that mending, and some more hurt came from the documentary. And we tried to take this one more step, to do another set of mendings. If you talk to Tony, he really changed during the filming of this movie. He had a huge leap of consciousness and other things, you know. You know, all of us did.

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