From the producers of ‘Step into Liquid‘, comes ‘Waiting For Lightning‘, the story of visionary skateboarder Danny Way. Danny Way is a living legend in the skateboard community and arguably has done more than anyone for the evolution of the sport. Directed by Jacob Rosenberg, ‘Waiting for Lightning‘ delves into Danny’s life story and the progression of the sport that he has been an integral part of for more than 25 years.
Danny is a lot of things to a lot of people. Father, brother, son, snowboarder, Guinness World Record holder, surfer, MX rider, musician, sponsored athlete, friend and inspiration but when all is said an done, he is a skateboarder to the very core of his soul. He has dropped into a ramp from a helicopter, styled a 360 over the Great Wall of China and bomb-dropped from 82-feet above the Vegas Strip. He has literally changed the sport of skateboarding and set the bar for all other skaters who will follow him.
Danny has been skateboarding since the age of 6 and won his first contest at the age of 11. This movie covers all aspects of his life and is sure to inspire a whole new generation of young skaters around the world. The film will premier at the SXSW film festival this month in Austin, Texas.
Before you watch the full trailer, watch this quick teaser as friends, family and athletes try to describe Danny Way in “One Word“. You will see it’s not as easy as you think.
Filmmaker Jacob Rosenberg did a recent interview with ESPN discussing the film. Here is what he had to say about his latest project.
ESPN: You’ve known Way for a long time. When did you realize that you were in the presence of somebody who was more than just a really good skateboarder?
Rosenberg: The first time I met Danny and filmed him back in 1991 I was instantly aware that he was cut from a different cloth. He wasn’t fearless, but he didn’t have the normal blinders that most skaters had when measuring tricks. Danny was always motivated by who he was skating with and by making sure he was the best he could be. So once we started filming together on a regular basis, I knew I was gonna get something that hadn’t been done before. He, of course, shifted the paradigm after his neck injury and took skateboarding to a different stratosphere in terms of scope, vision, and scale.
The film explores that angle very clearly so I don’t want to spoil it too much. But to put it in context, Danny broke his neck surfing in 1994 after [Plan B Skateboards co-founder] Mike Ternasky died [in a car accident], and everything he is known for mainstream-wise — Super Ramp, Point X, China, X Games — came after that. So there was something in him that changed after [these] tragedies. How he dug deep into himself to go beyond his own abilities is where his genius comes from.
Remind you of any other skateboarders?
It’s the same feeling you get around [freestyle and street skate pioneer] Rodney Mullen, which is that of a unique and uncontrollable spark inside this person. In the case of Danny, the scale is different than Rodney, but the need for expression and source of inspiration is nearly the same. I was fortunate enough to have seen Danny through the eyes of my mentor, Ternasky, who always saw Danny’s potential clearly, even through the rough patches and distractions of youth. I think everyone who saw “The DC Video” wasn’t surprised per se, because at a certain point you expect it from Danny. But what Danny did in that video was make something look so beautiful in a way that no one had ever dreamed.
How did “Waiting for Lightning” develop?
Danny and I reconnected in 2007. Danny heard about the film [I worked on] “Dusty to Glory” [during which I met the people who are now my business partners], and he had it in the back of his mind to do a retrospective documentary for 2009. He approached me about making it because I had the backing of my new company [Bandito Brothers] and we just started mapping out a plan.
Then X Games 14 happened in the summer of 2008. I was very sick with a cold, the film hadn’t been funded, but I really wanted to be at X Games with Danny to film him behind the scenes in his element at this huge event that he pioneered. I ended up capturing a moment in his career that was on the surface very riveting and compelling to everyone who watched it. But beyond that, [it was] deeply personal to Danny and to the [skate] community that was in awe as to how much Danny gave of himself to skateboarding that night. I was showing one of my partners the footage late that night and it became clear to me that there was much more to a documentary than a simple retrospective. I did not want to approach a film about Danny by recapping his prolific 20-year career beat by beat. I wanted to actually explore how he was molded into the man and skateboarder that he came to be. In doing that deep digging into his character and history, there is a greater context given to [his] career and accomplishments. From there the true story emerges.
We filmed on and off through injuries the next two years. Then in August of 2010 we started the project in earnest and have since completed all the interviews and are working on something special to finish the film with.
Can you elaborate on that?
All I can say is that it’s been a dream of Danny’s to build a new type of skate structure on his property in Hawaii. He’s recently broken ground on that structure, and now, 20 years after Danny and I filmed for “Questionable,” we’ll be filming something new for “Waiting for Lighting.”
Sounds like the movie covers a lot of ground.
This deep dive was made a bit less challenging, not only because of the ripe material in Danny’s life but because I assembled an incredibly talented team with my editor Carol Martori and my writer Bret Anthony Johnston. Both Carol and Bret contributed insight, ideas and a creative challenge to making sure we told a narratively satisfying story that contained stuff people knew about and a lot of stuff people didn’t know about. It is important that the documentary feels as fluid and as driving as possible so that it has the proper type of roller coaster ride that Danny himself has gone through. I owe a lot to my team for keeping the story and the film on its toes. I also owe them a lot because it’s been a long journey, and they hung in there, through it all.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I would add that I never wanted to make a cookie cutter skate doc that was a glorified highlight film only for skaters. I wanted to make a film about an extraordinary human being who found a way to express himself and escape the difficulties in his life through this beautiful and highly personal sport that I happen to love. The truly unique thing about Danny is that while he escapes with skating, it is also what drives him, so he has this fascinating cycle of trying to get a release but then trying to keep himself challenged and rarely is there a sport where you can actually create or build on the sport to fulfill this inner angst and desire. [In mainstream sports], it’s usually win a trophy or a championship, but with skating it is self-expression to your skate community. The Mega Ramp is Danny’s statement to skateboarding but also a statement to the scale of the pacifier for his constant drive . . . and now he wants to build on that! Go figure.
There is an idea that Johnston and I talk about: “To know me is to watch me skate.” For me, the film will be a success when someone who never much cared for skating sees the film and walks past a skater on the street and for once considers that skaters skate for a reason that is personal and meaningful. When that happens, that person no longer sees that skater as a punk kid, but as a person. And then maybe they will sit and watch that kid tell them who they are. And in a perfect world, that pedestrian will be stoked for the kid when he lands that trick his was trying for the last two hours!
I remember watching Danny in The DC Video at ASR back in 2003. DC held a screening of the movie and after Danny’s part on the now infamous Mega-Ramp, the place erupted and almost had a riot. People were standing on chairs, throwing beers and screaming at the top of their lungs because they couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. Watch the full trailer below and leave your feedback or favorite “Danny” moments in the comments section below.