Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 16, 2011.

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Fathers & sons will document pre-high school, coast-to-coast RV road trip to US skate parks via blog, videos, documentary, music & book

OVERVIEW:

My two sons and I, weeks before the eldest starts high school, will drive across America to visit skate parks. I'll write a book about the journey, which will also explore skate history and culture, and will serve as a guide to America's best skate parks and spots. We'll be joined along the way by a rotating, tag-team cast of skate dads and sons who are also verging on high school. The boys, all amateur videographers (see links below), will film and record their travels, their visits to skate parks & interactions with other skaters via blog, videos, and, ultimately, a 30-minute video documentary.

Our transcontinental journey will last 2-3 weeks, starting in NJ, DC, or FLA. We'll visit dozens of cities, angling south and west, ending up in Southern California, then hugging the coast up to Seattle. The boys will choose and research destination cities and skate parks, assisting with mapping and navigation. We may even bring Mickey the dog.

The primary dads include myself and my longtime, guitar-pickin' buddy, Lou. Primary sons include mine - Sean, 14, and Leo, 13 - and Lou's son Niall, 14. The three boys have known each other since birth but now live on opposite coasts (DC & Seattle). Other dad-and-son teams plan to meet up with us and join segments of the trip, including one or two of Sean's eighth-grade classmates and their fathers.

Funds will be used to rent an RV, which will cost about $4500. Any extra funding will go toward gas (at least $1000) and food. If we get lucky and donations exceed $5000 we may rent a bigger RV and invite more skaters and skate dads along.

One purpose of the trip is to expose the boys to new people and places at this crucial, transitional moment in their lives. Beyond providing a memorable adventure we hope to coach these aspiring filmmakers and help them create something lasting - a blog, a collection of videos, a documentary - before they embark on the next phase of life in public high school. We intend for the trip to give them new perspectives on geography and urban America, on entrepreneurship (i.e. Kickstarter), on social consciousness (we'll do trash pickup at skate parks), on teamwork and collaborative creativity. 

All this will result in a lasting body of work that includes a website/blog, a collection of videos, a final DVD, some music - and the book about it all by Neal. (see below) 

BACKGROUND:

My sons belong to an unconventional sub-culture of teen boys - independent, averse to team sports, wary of authority, and passionate about skating. Their interest began around 2007 and exploded when we moved from Asheville, NC to Seattle a year later. (Niall's explosion happened around the same time). At first it had been my job as skate dad to drive them and their friends to and from skate parks - a twist on the role of soccer dad. Lately, they've become more independent, exploring greater Seattle's skate parks and unofficial skate spots via public transportation. They've created dozens of YouTube videos chronicling their urban travels. Their passion has infused our family lifestyle. Vacations now require that the boards come along and we hit off-the-beaten-track parks and skate locales. So far, they've skated in a dozen states, including less-than-touristy spots in Honolulu, Portland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Our family goal is to skate every state before the boys head to college.

RESULTS:

-Neal: Within a year of the trip I intend to complete a book that's equal parts travelogue, history of skating, study of skate culture, and guide to skate parks and skate spots. It will also explore the father-and-son bonding I've gained in my role as 'skate dad.' 

-The boys: They'll create and maintain a blog (Sk8 the St8s, on Tumblr), update it daily with written observations and videos. They'll research cities and skate parks and learn to navigate across the US. Along the way they'll collaborate and divvy up duties - camera work, script, editing, etc. - and compile their footage and interviews into a 30-minute 'Sk8 the St8s' documentary video, to be completed within six months of the trip.  

-Lou: With his guitar and computer, he'll write a few songs about the journey.

LINKS:

A sampling of videos... Sean and Leo (and friends) in Vancouver, Portland, Honolulu. An older video of Sean, Leo, and Niall in DC. Me building a backyard skate ramp.

Leo videos: "basement," "Tha Edit," "RIP Joseph," "montage"

Sean videos: "Sunday Funday," "Sean Thompson," "Skating Today

Niall videos: "Skate Giant," "Mix N' match rumpus," "Firing Line"

Here's Niall's 2010 visit to Seattle. And check out the impressive work of Sean and Leo skate pals Nate (destined for Hollywood) and Max (founder of his own skate company).

And please visit our Sk8 the St8s Facebook page and 'like' us.

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  • Pledge $2 or more
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    3 backers

    daily email hello from the road, with personalized link to that day’s video or blog post

  • Pledge $9 or more
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    3 backers

    daily emails + three personalized postcards from the road, signed by the skater boys + a bar of Ledgelovas skate wax (small-batch 'artisinal' wax handmade by Max W., Sean & Leo's skate pal and a budding entrepreneur )

  • Pledge $19 or more
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    3 backers

    emails, postcards, wax + two DVDs: a compilation DVD of all road trip videos (minimum of 20 short videos) and the final 30-minute documentary DVD

  • Pledge $29 or more
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    16 backers

    Signed copy of book by Neal + 1 DVD. [Note: if the story becomes a magazine article and not a book, you'll get a signed copy of that PLUS a copy of one of his previous books. More info on those at www.NealThompson.com]

  • Pledge $39 or more
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    3 backers

    Two copies of Neal's book + one DVD. Also: a bar of Ledgelovas handmade skate wax.

  • Pledge $75 or more
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    4 backers

    You get a special shout out, by name, in the 'acknowledgements' of Neal's book + both DVDs + two signed copies of the book. And wax.

  • Pledge $150 or more
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    3 backers

    ALL of the above + one-of-a-kind skateboard deck designed and signed by the boys. You also get a personalized thank you letter from each father and son.

  • Pledge $200 or more
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    6 backers Limited (2 left of 8)

    ALL of the above, including your name mentioned in the 'acknowledgements' of Neal's book + Lou and Neal write a "thank you" song about you during the trip. They'll use that song as a soundtrack to exclusive, behind-the-scenes videos to be posted to YouTube.

  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    All of the above + we will visit you in your home town - the boys will give a one-hour skate demo, and the dads will sing your "thank you" song, all of it recorded and posted on You Tube

Funding period

- (30 days)