Behind the Scenes: Filming "Solace" with the Loaded Tarab II
It's been over three years since I got to hang out with Loaded Ambassador (and mega-homie) Lotfi Lamaali. The last time I saw him we were shooting a grueling desert-based video for the Bhangra V2 back in 2019. It was only fitting that we stick to our routine and do it all again for the new and improved Tarab II.
We spent the first week of the trip reconnecting and catching up on everything that had happened over the past three years. While we regularly chat over text, there is nothing quite like hanging out with your far-away friends through good old-fashioned face-to-face interactions.
After a few days of doing the usual California things like skydiving, getting into a small car accident, and throwing a local event for the dancing community, we had to start working on what we wanted to do for the Tarab II release video.
Our vision was to visually convey the connection we feel when doing something we love. That feeling of being so totally immersed in the task at hand that the rest of the world seems to fade away into the background. There is a particular state of flow we often find ourselves in when we are so focused on our interactions with our boards that they simply become an extension of ourselves.
We also wanted to explore the recent trend of people finding a new passion to occupy the copious amounts of time they had to spend by themselves during the pandemic. There was a huge uptick in interest in longboarding as people had found themselves with nothing but time and an abundance of boredom, so we wanted to find a way to incorporate that into the video one way or another.
Our video "Solace" was the end product of these two ideas. A solitary person discovering the art of longboarding to bring a sense of purpose to themself in their isolation.
The video begins with a claustrophobic perspective on our subject. Tightly filmed and cropped to really bring a sense of being trapped and closed off from the world. It is only after encountering the Tarab II does the world open up, giving our subject room for exploration and self-expression despite his isolation.
We made sure to center our shooting schedule around the blue and golden hours of light to help visually reflect the changes our subject was going through. The choice of music and use of ambient sounds helped communicate these changes as well. Single piano notes ring out against the gentle howl of wind and symphony of crickets in the background that later transition to the sound of birds and a world full of music.
Our intro sequence was shot just prior to sunrise to capture the cold natural light of the world to help convey the subjects loneliness. We relied heavily on the use of shadows to obscure the scene and create an aimless sense of direction, making sure we never clearly see the road or much of the scenery.
It isn't until our subject encounters the Tarab II that the sun begins to rise and the warmth of the light grows in intensity. The shots become wider, showing more of the world around him as he is no longer alone. The first moments of light are spent feeling the flex and response of the board and wheels on the pavement, digging deep into his carves and slowly finding a direction to move towards.
The light further grows in intensity and dancing is incorporated. Our shots become wider to show the amount of space our subject can now explore. The music begins to swell and the sounds of the real world fade away, leaving our subject and his board in a world all his own.
As the music intensifies further, we begin to showcase combo trick lines that incorporate both dancing and sliding. It's at this moment in the video that our subject has found the true potential of his newfound passion and how it drastically changes the way he interacts with the world around him.
With the help of our good friend and drone pilot Randon Moore (star of "Release the Bolsa"), we were able to capture the immensity of the Santa Monica mountains and how they contrast against the tiny footprint we as longboarders leave in the world.
Filming "Solace" was a labor of love for Lotfi and me. The entire production took place over the course of 12 hours with only four of those hours dedicated to sleep before we had to return for our last shoot session. Despite the sleep deprivation, the shoot went off without a hitch. The pavement was perfect, the weather was ideal, and the landscape was incredible. Even though we shot this video slightly from the hip, we had a clear goal in mind and were able to pull something together that makes both of us proud.
There was one brief moment where we thought we heard a cougar rustling in the bushes behind us just before dawn, but it thankfully turned out to be some eager chipmunks getting an early start to the day. We then realized that all the cougars were peacefully asleep in the hilltop mansion just above the cloud line.
For many, longboarding is more than just a casual hobby. It's a lifestyle and means of escape from our day-to-day routines, giving us a fresh change of perspective on how we interact with the world around us. Living life on a board is a connection that has brought countless people together over the years and creates friendships that can last a lifetime.
For Lotfi and me, we have lived and breathed longboarding for well over a decade. We've seen the trends come and go, the industry ebb and flow, and new faces become household names or fade into obscurity. The one thing that has remained consistent is the medium. Our boards never change, even if we do. This simple piece of wood has become a vessel to channel ourselves through, condensing our life's ups and downs into a focused lens to help us find solace through self expression. We hope our video can help you find that same connection we did with our longboards so many years ago.