I met Stephen Marino at a friend of a friend's birthday party in the east village of New York City last summer. After a few margaritas and a bunch of great stories, I realized Stephen actually gets out of the city. He reminisced of past road trips and excitedly shared his plans for upcoming cross country adventures. He never mentioned a big name client, skater, or company he was working for and that struck me as odd, especially in a city like New York where it's all about who you know or who you work for. I was intrigued to see if Stephen was just another kid with a GoPro or someone with real talent. I didn't realize exactly how good he was until I pulled up a Google search finding Square Films, his website and blog, which features some incredible documentation from trips filled with skating, hiking, camping, and all of the moments in between. Check it out. Stephen Marino is talented for sure and there is something about his filmmaking that will inspire others to drop everything, jump in the Jeep and get lost for a few days.
1. Can you give us some background about yourself; what you do, where you’re based, and how you became a photographer?
I am freelance cinematographer and editor based in New York City. I believe one of the reasons was my brother, he always had a little camera and he was big movie buff as a kid. I am guessing it just really rubbed off. I started just filming my friends and I, skating my little launch ramp in front of my house, and it grew from there.
2. Which did you start first: skating or photography?
I definitely picked up a skateboard way before shooting anything. My brother used to skate with me and than I think he picked up a camera after he wasn't really interested in skating.
3. First camera? First skateboard?
My first camera was some Panasonic handy-cam that was one of those advertisements in the penny saver during Christmas. My first skateboard was from some sporting good store in Florida where I first saw skating. My cousin lived there and he had been skating. As soon as I saw that thing I was hooked and made my Dad buy a board the next day. My first skateboard that I bought in a skate shop was an ATM board.
4. Did you go to school for filmmaking? Or were you self-taught?
After high school, I didn't really know what I wanted to do so I just followed what I liked and I ended up at a film school. It taught me some things, but I feel like it didn't teach me everything I wanted, either. Some things just can't be learned to the fullest in a classroom. It gave me the ability to develop my skills and grow as a person before jumping into the field.
5. Are you planning to drop any new videos or webisodes this season? If so, where can we find them?
There are a bunch of videos I am working on for different clients but I'm unsure where or when they are coming out. They are still in the pre-production stage. I also am working on two personal film projects that both involve skateboarding and the outdoors.
6. A lot of your work has a very distinct look and feel to it, do you prefer analog or digital for your creative process? Why?
I will always love FILM, but you can never get anyone to commit to something like that these days. It's just a waste of money unless someone really says, "we need to shoot film." I give it to Rick and Buddy out in LA for trying to shoot every project they do on film. I think they have shot less and less lately but still they got me really really into doing it. I think the look and feel of film is just more my style. The under or overexposed gritty rough look. I think it's just something I am drawn too.
7. What gear do you usually bring on a shoot?
The go-to gear is usually my Panasonic HVX200 and Canon 60D packages. When I'm really feeling like I might go on a fun adventure, I will bring my H16 Bolex.
8. If you could take one camera and one lens with you around the world what would it be?
H16 Bolex with my Angenieux Zoom lens.
9. Which photographers and filmmakers inspire you?
Anything with French Fred's name on it, Joe Brook, Greg Hunt, Thomas Campbell, and Rick and Buddy films.
10. What skateboarder of days past do you wish you could shoot?
That's way too hard...I love shooting style. Anyone with style on a board.
11. What are your favorite skate publications, blogs, or websites?
I've been looking at a lot of adventure/outdoors blogs these days, http://fuckyeahtents.tumblr.com/ is really good, Thrasher MAG, Skateboarder, Skatedaily, http://www.dutchman-photos.com/blog is killer, and I have been following http://www.arestlesstransplant.com/for a couple years.
12. A lot of kids that want to be skateboard photographers think that they will get to skate all the time…. How often do you get to put down the camera and just skate with your friends?
Usually I skate all the time, whether it's pushing down the street to the car, filming a line, or dorking around in between sessions. Then usually I break away, possibly two days out of the week to session something solo. I skate a lot during the summer months for sure!
13. We heard you’re going down to the Dominican Republic for a Red Bull shoot next week? Can you tell us a little more about that?
I'm shooting a couple little web videos with Luis Tolentino - about going back to his country of birth and exploring, and helping kids who are less fortunate see skateboarding like we do here.
14. Do you think you'll always want to shoot skateboarding or are you interested in other areas of film making?
I am slowly exploring other avenues, but I'm not going to just stop shooting skateboarding. I love merging all the things I love to do. That's the ultimate goal I guess. It's a blessing and a curse as they say.
15. Any shout outs to your sponsors, friends, family?
Thanks to everyone who has helped me out along the way, my folks, my family, Hank, 2ntr, Rodney Torres, Bruno Musso, anyone that has been a good friend that put up with my shit and let me sleep on your couch. Thanks!
—Interview by Randy Elles