Interview by Mike A. CohenMC
“Sundays” Directer and Producer by Lije Sarki, LS
Screen Grabbed Photos by Co Director Mike Leary
The act of skateboarding is amazing and it’s just as rewarding as it is painful…very similar to our daily lives. We struggle with learning and landing tricks and when everything clicks it is a truly harmonious experience. I think that’s why skateboarding can also save us when life gets overwhelming with destructive habits and bad choices that create long term damage to loved ones, our community and most of all ourselves. Personally I had to overcome situations in my life that have changed me for the better. Through a loving family and my soulmate I was able to navigate these circumstances. For many others we don’t have this support system and that’s where The Skateboard Family comes into play.
So I was introduced to Pierce Craven through family friends last year because of our shared love for skateboarding. He had just finished this movie, called “Concrete Kids” that he executive produced. Pierce also sent me this 1 min teaser that his Director Lije Sarki was working on called “Sundays”, a story about a group of skates in recovery coming together and it was extremely impactful idea and concept. I had showed this 1 min clip to a bunch of my friends in the Sk8 movie Industry and they thought it was Rad, shot well and most importantly a great story that need to be shared and brought to life.
So when Pierce sent me the final 12 min clip a month ago, that was on Vimeo’s Staff Pick right away, I asked him to link me up with the director Lije to congratulate him. We chatted for hours and immediately became friends. Almost as if we were the only kids on the block who skated. We talked about how we grew up in skateboarding and how it shaped our lives. I immediately ask him if I can share his story and help his Sunday skate documentary reach out to the New York Skateboarding community.
MC: How long have you been skateboarding and how do did you get introduced to skateboarding?
At the beginning of the 7th grade.  That would have made me 12 years old.  My parents split up when I was young and I moved from my dad’s to my mom’s at the beginning of the 7th grade.  I was a lonely fucking kid up until that point and I was determined to reinvent myself.  There was a kid named Marshall that lived in an apartment next to my mom’s and he skated.  I convinced my grandma to throw down for a board and it was on. I feel like it took me a year to learn to ollie.  I remember practicing in front of my house on the street for days on end.  My sister knew a group of skaters ( the ones that sort of ripped at the time) at school and introduced me to them.  That was just the group of guys I gravitated towards.  Felt welcoming.  Nothing else did at the time. Over the next few years it was really me and two best friends that progressed in the small Michigan town I am from.  Then I went to college, started drinking heavily, and left skateboarding for a while.  The SUNDAYS crew is what brought up it all back for me.  I dabbled but stopped really being serious with it for a lot of years.
MC: Similar question regarding sobriety and how did you enter a life of sobriety or do you even face these issues. If not what drew you towards this project?
I grew up in Michigan and there was not much to be attracted to in the sobriety I was originally around.  My dad got sober when I was young so I remember going to meetings and knowing there was a solution.  Problem was, I was so afraid of trying to navigate the world without alcohol that I dragged the decision to get sober out for a very long time.  I was terrified to stop.  How would I meet a girl, or watch a game, or hang out with other people?  Then, it just becomes too much to handle anymore.  It’s progressive and it just gets worse over time.  And the consuming gets worse and the hangovers are worse and the decisions are bad, sometimes life risking for me and other people I love.  I knew where to find an AA meeting but it still wasn’t a new fun adventure.  Took me a couple tries until I finally started meeting people I connected with.  The skate meeting was a diamond of a discovery.  A Michigan pal who I skated with moved to  LA and intro’d me to some of the sober guys that skated I started going to the meeting.  It was only a few guys when I started but it changed the idea that sobriety could be fun.  Like minded people that understood me and came from similar places.  It really catapulted me into a new way of thinking and feeling about life and doing life sober.
MC: How many skaters participate or go to these Skate Session meetings and do you notice the skate sessions growing?
Like I said earlier, it started really small, only a few guys.  But now, 6 or 7 years later, it has grown to 40 plus.  I mean probably more if you count all the ins and outs and guys that come only every so often.  But the core group is still smaller that skates the streets together but always growing.  The meeting and fellowship continues to grow though.
MC: From your vast resume in films like full length, commercial and other projects what’s your favorite and why?
Not one favorite.  Especially of the last 4 or 5 projects, each one of them touches a different place for me.  CONCRETE KIDS was a little adventure movie that we made with no crew and non actors (actually young skaters) as the leads and now it streams on HULU, Prime, and VOD everywhere.  Then PEANUT BUTTER FALCON has movie stars in it and stars a young man with Down syndrome named Zack who plays a young man with Down syndrome.  That’s never been done like this, starring someone with real disabilities, and being successful.  And it’s close to $20MM in the theater box office.  And PUSH, that I did with the Berrics, brought me back to my idols growing up.  And now SUNDAYS that tugs on some real emotional life-saving heart strings for me and the other guys and gals involved.  They are all important and favorites for different reasons.  I plan to keep making stuff that matters and tries to say something without actually saying that something. 
MC: Who’s your favorite skater to work with and any of them surprise with their presence in cinemas especially knowing they have skateboard video experiences?
All the PUSH guys were great.  Luan Oliveira’s story blew my mind.  Seeing where he came from and his presence on camera when he really got honest.  And how stoked he is on his life and grateful.  But I love all go those guys and girl.  They were all super special.  Ishod has a powerful presence.  He appears effortless in everything he does, and has a great family.
MC: Who inspires you in the Skateboard cinema world?
Spike Jonze.  Idol.  Can’t wait for everything and anything that guy does.  
MC: What skateboard projects are you working on next?
I have a real big one (for me).  But I can’t quite say what it is yet.  Circle back in a month.  It’s a movie though.
MC: Do you work with or participate with any non profits in skateboarding?
Not yet.  I guess SUNDAYS is sort of that, no?  I want to take it a lot further than we already have.
MC: What comments or reviews have stood out to you aside from the Nine Club Shoot out and the Vimeo Staff Picks?
Nothing super specific but more general is, I am around  lot of sober people that are not skaters that have seen the piece and really were attracted by the family aspect.  I also showed my pal Brandon Novak and he said “I want to be a part of this man.  Let me know how I can”.  He’s an east coast guy and I would love to find a group of skaters in NY that are doing something similar or maybe want to start doing something similar.  We could do a piece on that!
MC: Thanks again for doing this interview and what you do in skateboarding. Any last words?
I would say that if anyone wants to get involved in starting one of these crews or has a story to tell, they can reach out via email at [email protected] or hit me up on insta at @fat_lije.