You might have heard that there is a documentary out there for a while now already about Oskar Rozenberg but you probably haven’t seen it. Especially if you live outside of Sweden, because the documentary has only been shown on Swedish television so far. If you want to watch it outside of Sweden, you theoretically can, if you pay for it. We didn’t want to pay but were still interested in the documentary – since not many skaters get a feature like that on free tv – so we called up Jonathan Lomar, who filmed and directed it, as well as Oski himself to ask them some questions about it. Since the documentary shows Oski’s way to the Olympics we especially were interested what his experience there was. And in the end we even got Lomar to give us some exclusive behind the scenes clips, about skating a waterpark, getting Oski’s Olympic helmet designed and slamming on a warship.
It began when I was still in film school, always thinking about films I could do, and then heard that skateboarding was gonna be in the Olympics. The first idea I had was to follow all the nordic teams. So I made some calls but as time went by I realized the selection of the riders was not like I thought it would be. I had thought there would be riders from every country. Then I wanted to do a more like “Planet Earth” David Attenbourough thing with a narrator and observing the skaters in a sort of savanna-like fashion. At some point I went down to Malmö to film for another project and I had one day off and Oski was available so I filmed with him and used this to apply for funding. But I just got a lot of no’s or “What is this?” – and I can honestly say that it didn’t make much sense to me either. After I finished film school in 2020 I started to film tutorials for a construction market on how to oil kitchen benches for six months. It was pretty much as far away as possible from the excitement I thought documentary filmmaking would be like. Then all of a sudden I got a call from a sportsdocumentary producer who told me that they wanted to do a documentary about Oski, because of him being in the Olympics, and Oski had told them that he’s already filming one with me. That was nice of him cause he could’ve gone with any other filmer. We started in April 2021. The Olympics originally were planned for July 2021, which would’ve been a really short time to finish a documentary. I went down to Malmö in a van and lived pretty close to Oski’s place, like a little creep hanging around with a camera in a van outside his house.
There’s two ways of doing it. Some people like to spend a lot of time with the people they want to film and then they start filming and just film the stuff they think they need. Other people think it’s better to start filming from the first day so the filming is not an on and off thing and the persons get used to it and they don’t act in front of the camera. I’m not sure what is the best option, but for this project we just kept filming a lot – probably because I had zero experience and felt like I didn’t know what I was doing half the time.
He was really open to talk about the conflict about the Olympics and the core skateboard scene. That was something he was thinking a lot about. It was harder to just talk about him and not skateboarding. The person who gets filmed needs to trust you and know that we film a lot but there’s also a lot of editing and not everything that is said will be in the film.
At skateparks definitely, especially when he was on Swedish television before the Olympics. One day we went to a skatepark in Stockholm and kids gathered around him and it was 30 minutes of just talking to kids and taking photos. We went to another park and the same thing happened. I was filming from far away and people were standing next to me, talking to each other: “Isn’t that the guy, the Olympic guy? Yeah, fucking hell, it’s him!”
"It’s hard for them to understand skating but at the same time their job is to win medals for Sweden."
Oski told me that in Sweden they don’t say anything even if they recognize him and that it’s the other way round in the US, where they say hello even if they barely know you. But he said for him it’s way better like this, cause if you know that people are watching you and don’t say anything it’s a bit of a paranoid feeling, just getting observed by people.
I’ve never been a big fan of competitions, I’m obviously a film nerd and liked the skate videos because watching a crew skate around can almost be like an antidepressant. It turns the everyday-tutorialmaking-reality into an amusement park, where the group is the main character, rather than the individual. I guess it’s a nice form of escapism. [laughs] Anyway, competitions are obviously something different. The park (bowl) stuff can be pretty entertaining because the format just works better organically, but the street event feels pretty alienated. I mean the Street League / Olympic format – not the Dime glory challenge format which is hilarious. I guess it’s too early to see the impact, and to be honest I think stuff like instagram and social media played a much bigger role in that change rather than the Olympics. Somehow it feels like if you tell the skateboarding culture to do or be something, it just pivots 180 degrees and does the complete opposite.
It was fun. We first had a meeting with the Swedish Olympic commitee in Stockholm and they talked a lot about the skateboard problem and you could realize that they were humble of not getting it. It’s hard for them to understand skating but at the same time their job is to win medals for Sweden. So they try to figure out how to get as much points as possible and the first thing for this is to have the body in shape. We then went to this fitness centre in Bosön and Oski is like: “Ah fuck, I didn’t even bring running shoes or training clothes”. He wanted to skate, he wanted to be in shape and didn’t have time to for fitness tests. So John Magnusson, the coach, suggested he could be limping a little bit so he doesn’t have to do all the tests. Then there was the running test and after two laps – he was supposed to do fifteen – he started limping and was laying down, while saying to the camera ironically: “What a disaster”.
They didn’t really say anything and Oski is pretty fit anyway. Skateboarding is building some muscles, even you don’t think about it. He does other stuff that he likes to do. He has a personal trainer who does massages and acupuncture. And he liked to do mental training to not get to nervous.
We tried to do a documentary that works for skaters but also non-skaters. So the producers said they need this one special weapon where they could build up a dramaturgy. I thought it was a bit ridiculous but then we had some testscreenings and the skaters were like: “What’s up with the 540?” but people who didn’t skate were like: “That’s my favorite part!”. So I gave in on that one. And Oski wanted to get the trick to be able to score some extra points in his run if needed.
It really was and it was kinda fun cause Hampus [Winberg], the other guy in the team, can do them like it’s nothing and he showed up after Oski was trying them for a while and was doing one right in front of him.
The reactions have been positive. People like that Oski is really open and talks about other stuff than just skateboarding as well. It’s more like a normal documentary where skateboarding happens to be in it. I haven’t checked the Slap forum if there are some negative comments. I’ll check it right now. [Is scrolling through a thread on Slap. Most comments are positive. One is mentioning “Sky’s Limit”, a mockumentary that also has a 540 in it.] It’s not many comments. I think not many people outside of Sweden have seen it so far. But my parents told me that they had a dinner with neighbours and they were talking about the documentary and one guy was mentioning that it had too much skating for him but then Margerita, who’s 80 years old, was standing up, telling him: “You don’t get it, it’s not about the skating, it’s about a young person trying to make the right decisions in life when everybody is trying to put him in a box!”. I was stoked that she binge watched the episodes. I heard it a lot that some skater friends of mine have seen parts of it but their parents have been watching the whole thing.
"Margerita, who’s 80 years old, was standing up, telling him: “You don’t get it, it’s not about the skating, it’s about a young person trying to make the right decisions in life”"
When the Olympics came about, there have been more documentaries, like “Pushing for Gold”. I wanted to do a Trojan horse that could be in the same catalogue as the other documentaries but is a bit more nuanced and explaining the conflict between core skating and the Olympics, instead of just being a classic sports documentary.
Yeah, it would’ve been magic to go to Tokyo with a little camera, walk around and infiltrate the Olympic village. That would’ve given it an even more inside look.
Talking to people who watched it, it seems like I got the point that I wanted. I really enjoy the scenes with Oski and his father and think I did a good job portraying his relationships with his family. I’m happy that I did the documentary, but I was terrified when it was done and it was ready for release. It’s probably the never-ending self-punishment of chasing perfection and tone, but I guess I ended up saying to myself “it could have been 10 times better but also 100 times worse.”
The television sent me an overview of views and from their point of view it’s some sort of success cause they have a hard time reaching out to a younger audience in the documentary genre. For worldwide distribution it’s on vimeo on demand at the moment.
I’m doing a project now for Swedish television that is supposed to be out in fall 2023 and it’s about an old snakerun in Falkenberg, the village I grew up. I started digging in the history of it and realized that it’s one of the oldest skateparks in the world that still exists. They’re about to tear it down and I wanted to find out more about it. Mostly the documentary is asking what a historical monument is and what not – So it’s also a lot about other things than just skating.
It was pretty cool but also weird. Every person in there was basically crazy fit and strong, everywhere you looked you just saw optimized bodies and buildings with all kinds of different flags on them. It was really cool to see that manny people from all over the world in one place. The vibe was good and I was happy to be there and get to experience it. It was confusing because the Olympics is such a big baller type of event, you’d think we would be staying in a crazy hotel, at least in my mind, but we where sharing tiny rooms living together with six people in the same apartment sharing bathrooms sleeping on stiff cardboard beds. The whole time we where there it was around 110 fahrenheit / 43 celsius. Insanely warm. I was taking cold showers and meditating a lot because it was really stressful. When I’m under a lot of pressure I prefer having a lot of space and I did not really have that there. I couldn’t even walk outside without wearing the correct uniform. The course was a disaster – in my opinion. That was my biggest concern. I had placed 2nd in the very last contest before the Olympics, and I know I can do well at contests sometimes, so I was ready for it. Ready to grab the gold basically, but then as soon as I skated the course for the first time I was like, oh fuck. I might be getting last place. It was basically a Vert bowl they had built, I don’t have anything against Vert, but I thought it was a bit odd because all of the qualifying contests where regular, normal sized skatepark bowls. Kinda felt like as if you’d been preparing for a 100 Meter sprint and then you pull up to the Olympics and they changed the course to a 500 meter sprint, and you’re just like, damn I’m fucked now. Luckily I’m a skateboarder so I didn’t have to worry too much about it, it was manageable in the way that I could remind myself of that it’s just a contest. My livelihood wasn’t on the line like it was for some of the athletes in the other sports. There where some good moments like the food court visits, meeting Mondo the night before he won gold at pole vault jumping, discussing the Blind t-shirts he was wearing when he was a skater kid, and so on. But there was also a lot of stress and pressure while I was there during those 10 days. I think I would be lying if I said that it was an enjoyable experience, but I can say that it did make me stronger mentally and I learned a lot from it. Skaters care more about having the right image on instagram than olympic results so it didn’t really matter for me.
"I couldn’t even walk outside without wearing the correct uniform. The course was a disaster – in my opinion."
In one way, I thought it would be fun to put myself in a position where I was forced to think about skateboarding a different way and explore a new kind of approach to it. A more stale approach. I thought that it could be worth seeing what that would be like since skateboarding usually is the opposite of stale. I’ve been skating since I was nine and for all of these years there has always been so much freedom to it. Which is a good thing of course. It is one of the reasons that sets skateboarding apart from alot of other things. That being said, I’m pretty curious and open minded as a person, and I’m drawn to trying and learning new ways of doing things so when I saw that I had the opportunity to compete in the Olympics and try this weird, almost wack way of approaching riding a board, I felt that it was too different and too unique of an opportunity for me to pass it up. Even though I wasn’t necessarily that into it. I knew I would regret not trying it and missing out on that experience if I where to pass it up. Life’s too short. Then they wanted to make a documentary about it all too, and again I knew I wanted the experience as opposed to having the regret of wondering what it would have been like, even though a part of me felt it was’t necessarily the cool thing to do. Or perhaps It was cool and I was just scared of what people would think. Either way I’m happy that I’ve tried out things in my life that may not always look like the most comfortable thing to do. I think you learn a lot from doing that every now and then. It makes it easyer to navigate where you want to go next.