William Strobeck is an instinctual type of film maker. His work is raw, uninhibited and engaging. The distance between the observation and reality is minimal. The authenticity is clearly visible. Strobeck is well known for his work within the realm of skateboarding but recently he has been presenting his personal version of events via his own channels.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up in a small town called Cicero that is 15 miles outside of Syracuse New York . It was nice because I lived on the lake with my grandmother and mother. I've always said I’m from Syracuse though.
WHAT DID YOU GET UP TO AS A KID?
As a kid I got up to a lot of shit, kid shit, causing trouble. I was attracted to kids that were problem children. Even if I wasn't the one doing crazy shit i'd be there to watch them do it. I always got kicked out of school and stuff. I didn't have a father so there was no one to reprimand me when I did bad stuff. It was something I did to entertain myself, I don’t regret anything.
WHEN DID YOU START WATCHING FILMS?
Well, I started watching films when I was old enough to understand what a TV was. I mean I don’t know an age, but it was when I was old enough to understand television.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE FIRST FILMS, DOCUMENTARIES YOU REMEMBER?
The first films I remember were Flash Gordon and Popeye, the one with Robin Williams in it. I saw it in a theatre. I don’t know any documentaries that I can remember from that time. I liked unsolved mysteries, especially the music in them, they used to scare the shit out of me. When I was a teen I liked the HBO specials 'Bangin’ in Little Rock' and 'Paradise Lost'.
ARE YOU MORE INTO DOCUMENTARIES OR FICTIONAL FILMS THESE DAYS?
I’d much rather see a documentary than watch something fictional. I love stuff that happened in the 70’s and the early 80’s in New York City.The hip hop in the the late 80’s to mid 90’s for me was heavy.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE FILMS YOUVE SEEN RECENTLY THAT YOU LIKED?
I watch a lot of older stuff in general as opposed to any films that come out these days. Although this last year I did like Harmony Korine’s 'Trash Humpers.' It was a great film to see in the theatre. The Basquiat documentary “The Radiant Child” wasn’t bad either.
WHEN DID YOU PICK UP A CAMERA?
I first picked up a camera at my cousins house, he had a big VHS camera that was my Uncles. We used to film each other making fake commercials and do skits and stuff like that. Basically being goofballs. It was fun! I still have the tapes somewhere. Then a few years later my grandmother bought me a cheap 8mm for Christmas, I got a fisheye the next day and went down in the city of Syracuse to film my friend Goose.
WHAT WERE YOU FIRST TRYING TO DO WHEN YOU STARTED MAKING FILMS?
I wasn’t trying to do anything more than just document my friends and go home and watch it. It wasn’t a film to me, I wasn’t making a movie, I was just simply recording what happened that day and bringing it home.
HOW HAS THAT CHANGED?
Nothings changed that much other than I get paid for it and can support myself from it. Oh and I get to travel, which is a plus.
YOUR WORK HAS A SENSE OF FRACTURE TO IT WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS TO?
I had a really nutty upbringing and I think something has to be stronger(feeling wise or visually) than the things that have happened in my life or it will just be dull to me. I pick things that trigger something in my head as funny, visually strong, scary, beautiful or an inside joke. Again its my intuition in all of it. If a girl looks at the camera and there is a quick light flash in her eye and she smiles, i'll edit that in and i'll think that’s pretty. But you might think that’s stupid and that’s why its mine to show. make sense?
HOW DOES MUSIC INFLUENCE WHAT YOU DO?
Music is a huge influence on my life as a whole. I have music that I listen to over and over that inspires me. Without music there is no me.
YOU'VE MADE SEVERAL MUSIC VIDEOS. HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS PROCESS?
I call someone up and I ask them “Would you like to 'Hula Hoop' for me?” they say “Yes - what time?” I then say “Hows 1:30 in Chinatown?” they say “Ok, sounds good Billy.” I then say “Cool, I’ll buy the 'Hula Hoop' and meet you there then.” Just like that.
A LOT OF THE FILMS YOU MAKE COULD BE DESCRIBED AS DOCUMENTARY BECAUSE YOU DONT DIRECT ANYONE IN THEM?
If I was directing them then it wouldn’t be them, it’d be me. The people I choose to film are naturals. They don’t need direction, they are unknowing and the ones I’m curious about. I find them full of surprises. I think I’ve had a good crew.
DO YOU FEEL YOU FIND OUT MORE THROUGH THE ACTUAL FILMING OF SOMEONE OR LATER WHEN YOU GO BACK OVER THE FOOTAGE/EDIT?
I know and am friends/acquaintances with the people I use in my films. I don't really learn that much, I make them look like how i'm thinking at that moment. Thats the only way I can explain it.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE EDITING PROCESS TO WHAT YOUR DOING?
Editing is the most important thing. It's what makes the film what it is. Whether you cut it or leave it whole, it's your thing. There is a lot of good footage that wasn’t used in the films I've worked on. Some of it is probably better than what was used at the time. I'll have to go through the footage again
Strobeck's Youtube Channel - here