Patrick O’Dell is the man behind perhaps some of the most authentic and relevant skateboard documentaries ever produced via his series “Epicly Later’d” on the Vice network. Patrick’s low key, humble vibe and his sincere interview style has revealed many otherwise unknown perspectives from some of skateboarding’s most intriguing personalities. With more episodes in the works, Mr. O’Dell’s plans surely include delivering more quality content as he catches up with new subjects of note. I was able to track him down to answer some questions about the show and his experiences interviewing pro skaters for a living.
Interview / Intro by Dustin Umberger | Photo By Kynan Tait
Dustin: Prior to the debut of Epicly Later’d, you were known for skating. Were you on a path towards sponsorship and skating full-time? What were the circumstances leading up to your decision to pursue what became Epicly Later’d?
Patrick: I was never in any kind of running to be a sponsored skater. I got flowed Acme boards through Donny Humes/ Dodge skatepark in Ohio at one point when I was 15, but that was kind of a fluke. Sometime during high school, I went full time in pursuit of photography and skateboarding as more of a hobby.
Dustin: The show has featured a lot of skaters who shined in the 90′s, and as a result Epicly Later’d has developed a large following of older skaters. Was this something you intended in developing the show? Do you think that younger skaters are interested in learning about skateboarding’s history?
Patrick: I think it’s just that younger skaters don’t have as much of a story to tell because they are writing it. Older pros can have 10-20 years of skate tales, and the ability to reflect on it. I have done enough 80′s pros, but I’m working on it.
Dustin: The format of your interviews is very loose and gives the impression of a fan getting to know their favorite pros. Before the show, were you acquainted with many of the pros you later interviewed? Which pro were you most excited to meet?
Patrick: I am good friends with a lot of the people in the early episodes, and branched out. I was very excited to meet Cardiel and Julien.
Dustin: Following these interviews, do you maintain contact with your subjects? Have any close friendships resulted from your experiences interviewing pro skaters?
Patrick: I don’t know, I think I have the same friends I’ve always had, but I keep in touch with a lot of the skaters.
Dustin: When you were negotiating with the Vice network, did you get the impression that they were knowledgable about skateboard culture? Are there many skaters on their staff?
Patrick: We didn’t really negotiate. The owners of Vice aren’t really skaters, but they are very skate-connected. But a lot of skaters do work there. Spike Jonze is the Creative Director and he’s as skate as they come.
Dustin: Some of your recent episodes have a bittersweet feel, especially the recent Ricky Oyola and Menace episodes. It seems to serve as a reminder that skateboarding can be kind to some and harsh to others. What is your take on the prospects of becoming a pro skater today?
Patrick: I think skateboarding gives you what you put into it. I would tell a kid turning pro that you should figure out what you want to do after skating and prepare for it. Save money and mentally brace yourself for the come down.
Dustin: The Menace episodes have really resonated with viewers, and I think they were some of the best of the series. Has there been any word or reaction from Kareem since they’ve premiered? Kareem’s absence from the episodes was a disappointment, but like all of your interviews the result is all about timing and opportunity. Do you plan to contact Kareem in the future?
Patrick: I don’t know what Kareem’s deal is, but I would love to do an episode with him. He doesn’t live in LA and I think he has his hands in other pots. Not sure what though.
Dustin: Surely you get a lot of suggestions for future episodes. Are you willing to give away any projects in the works? Is Vice planning to support additional seasons of the show?
Patrick: I have one with Arto filmed and one with Elissa mostly filmed. A lot more people have said ‘yes’ to doing them so I’m working steady on getting them done. Vice seems like they want to keep putting them out.
Dustin: Have you been able to sustain yourself financially based on Epicly Later’d? What does your daily schedule consist of?
Patrick: Well, I used to do the show as my main full-time thing, but now I also help out with Altamont Apparel. I help find collaborators and artists to work with, do the photography and videos… so I spend half my time doing that, and then the other half chasing down interviews.
Dustin: What has been your favorite episode so far in the series? What are your ultimate goals for Epicly Later’d, and what advice can you offer to aspiring documentary filmmakers, both within and outside of skateboarding?
Patrick: My favorite was Cardiel’s, hands down. The Gonz/Hosoi one is another favorite because it was a turning point in the theme of the show. I think someday I want to take all the raw tapes and re-edit them into a super huge 40-hour history of skateboarding DVD box set. Instead of editing them by skater, it will be by year. Haha, look for that in 2025. My only advice is rather cliché; love what you do and you won’t mind being broke doing it.