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Skateboarders converge for film project in Chula Vista Paul Martinez | Fri, Aug 02 2013 04:19 PM

Local skateboarders had a chance to witness and, in some cases, participate in a movie shoot last weekend at the Chula Vista Skate Park.

The film, featuring Stephanie Person, is a documentary based on a real-life encounter in her teens with white supremacists in Nashville, Tenn. Person, regarded as the first professional black female vert-ramp skater, hopes the documentary can carry its anti-bullying message to teens and schools.

The filming comes at an especially pertinent time, considering the recent George Zimmerman case. “The film calls attention to the subject,” Person said. “People don’t take the time to learn or understand each other, and that’s why there’s so much racial contention.”

Person, 46, who was born and lives in Los Angeles, had traveled to Nashville to visit her mother, who had moved back shortly beforehand. While there, Person visited a local skate park to tune up her vert ramp skills, which include aerials off the 12-foot height.

A series of encounters ran the gamut from harassment and condescension to outright racism, which Person handled with skill. She carried this story with her for 21 years before the opportunity to tell it came about.

Having quit professional skateboarding due to an injury, she took up photography and then personal training, and the topic of making the film came up when training a client, Sarah Reeves, a producer.

The project, which is filmed as a 20-minute short with the intent to make a feature, came together rather quickly. After six months of screenwriting, casting and location searches, filming began at the Boys and Girls Club on Oleander on July 12.

“Sarah and I looked all around for the right vert ramp,” Person said. “It had to be a classic wooden ramp to match the story. We looked at Encinitas and Clairemont, spotless parks, but the landscape and surroundings were less than ideal. We then found the Chula Vista park — it was ideal, except the ramp was run down.

“The park was trying to sell the ramp, so we struck a deal where we would buy it, fix it up and then donate it back to the park.”

For the filming, which ran through July 15, local skaters were invited to appear in background roles, performing tricks and doing what young people do at skate parks for the camera.

With photography completed, the finished 20-minute film will be submitted to film festivals where interested producers look for projects that can be brought to the silver screen.

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