- Keith Hamm, Action Sports
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Arguably one of the strongest and most stylish skaters of his era, Dylan Rieder, 23, has been very much on point lately. "Dylan's an amazing skater and has a really great work ethic," says Russell Houghton, who has been working on Rieder's one-minute entry into this year's X Games Real Street video contest for the past six months. The duo brought back keepers from a trip to Australia, but most of the segment was shot in Los Angeles and is set to a soundtrack by the band Dirt Dress.
Despite the constraints of trying to cram Rieder's deep trick bag into a 60-second contest video, Houghton says Real Street "is an awesome concept because it's judged on true street skating. It isn't judged solely on what tricks you do, but also on how you do them, where you do them, and how they are portrayed in the final video."
In that respect, Rieder's done this before. His now-famous Web-exclusive short film "dylan." had a huge impact when it was released by Gravis last year.
"Dylan did raise the bar quite high, and then impossibled over it," says teammate Arto Saari. "I think that part is the start of his career being lifted up to legend status."
Rieder's progression into the territory where legends are made started way back in grade school. Born and raised in Westminster, near Huntington Beach in Southern California, his surfer dad got him in the water early on. With surfing came skateboarding, which soon took over. "Skating was so much more accessible," Rieder remembers. "With surfing you've got to get up early, find waves, suit up. Skating is just something you can do whenever. I wanted to do my own thing and skating is perfect for that."
He devoured a steady diet of rails and parks, and by the time he was 15, he was sharing a video part with Diego Bucchieri in Osiris's "Subject to Change." A year later, he won the Damn Am, riding for Quiksilver. And in 2006, his breakout part in TransWorld SKATEboarding's "A Time to Shine" pushed Rieder from top grom to top am. That year, as well, The Skateboard Mag dubbed him "Year's Best Am." Early skate trips with Quiksilver and Osiris put him in the van with top pros of the day. Reese Forbes, Donny Barely, Jerry Hsu, and Louie Barletta, among others, would influence the shy brace-face, giving him a wisdom beyond his years, both on his board and off.
Wisdom, though, can be a fleeting thing. The next few years of his life were the stuff of dreams. He joined the Alien Workshop team alongside skaters he had long admired, then he traveled the world with them. But Rieder nearly squandered his good fortune as the grip of drug addiction took hold.
"Dylan was definitely making stupid decisions. That happens when you're young sometimes," says filmer Greg Hunt, who made Rieder's Gravis short film and his 2009 part in Workshop's "Mind Field," a video part that he filmed while he was in the middle of a pill problem. "I think that Dylan felt he could have done better [in "Mind Field"], and that he let a lot of people down. We're all really good friends, and when someone you know isn't heathy, of course you're worried about him. And when people you know are having problems like that, you can't really do much except just talk to them when the time is right and offer to help them. But that's all you can really do. The rest is up to them."
"I'm not gonna talk about that s**t," says Rieder now. "Let's just say I got rid of the crutch."
Faced with losing sponsors and perhaps friends, he worked hard to stop the downward spiral he was in. "Right away you could see the difference," remembers Hunt. "As the months went on, he just got healthier and stronger."
As Rieder returned to form, Hunt starting filming the Analog crew for a team video, but production was delayed by a string of injuries. Except for Rieder. "He said, 'I'm gonna get my s**t together,' and he did and really starting pushing himself," says Hunt. "And his abilities grew as his footage grew. It seemed like he had never really skated on that level before and he wanted to see how far he could take it." That's when the team shoot morphed into the "dylan." short film.
"It's not that I hated my Workshop part and needed to do another one, pronto," says Rieder. "It's just that some stuff wasn't working out [on the team project] and me and Greg had accumulated some footage and it turned into its own thing. And I realized I had to buckle down. So I did."
The result speaks for itself, and loudly: The edit has already stood the test of time in the short-attention-span realm of the Internet, where free and easy skate clips typically get forgotten overnight. With Real Street right around the corner, how can Rieder top that?
"The way I do things in general, with skating and filming," Rieder explains, "is that I have an idea in mind, and if it works out, it works out. I'm not going about [Real Street] differently than filming any other video part. Of course, with any part, you want to better yourself. But [the Real Street video] is just one minute, so you can only do so much."
The world will see just how much when Rieder and Houghton's submission goes up against 15 other top-level pros for a shot at the overall win or fan favorite.
In the meantime, Rieder says he'll just be skating around L.A., doing his thing. "And I'm trying to get on a surf trip to Mexico. That's my next adventure."
22hEthan Sherwood Strauss