The history of skateboarding has been chronicled through countless skate videos and documentaries, from the earliest trick films to big-budget Hollywood productions.
If you’re passionate about the sport and skate culture in general, these skate documentaries are not to be missed.
Seven of The Best Skateboard Documentaries
A skate documentary can teach you more about the sport and its participants.
It can inspire, entertain, and inform.
It’s also a great way of killing a couple of hours!
Take a look at the list below to see some of our personal favorite skateboard films.
Dogtown and Z Boys
Dogtown and Z Boys is the first documentary on our list because it is one of the most iconic skate films, bar none.
Stacy Peralta directed Dogtown and Z Boys back in 2001.
It follows the history of skateboarding throughout the Santa Monica and Venice area, and is a must-watch for any fan of skateboarding.
The name comes from the Venice/Santa Monica area, known as “Dogtown”, and the Zephyr Skate Team, known as the “Z Boys”.
If you want to catch a glimpse of one of skating’s most important eras and its most influential skaters, make sure you stream this documentary.
Blind Video Days
Blind Video Days had a huge impact on the skateboarding community and inspired many teenagers to take up the sport.
This documentary features Jason Lee, who followed Spike Jonze into Hollywood and featured in several iconic films, and Guy Mariano.
Skateboard Kings is one of the oldest skateboarding films on this list, as it dates back to 1978.
It appeared during season 5 of The World About Us, a series of documentary shows that lasted for a couple of decades.
Skateboard Kings depicts several top skaters during the 1970s, giving you some insight into the early years of skateboarding and featuring future superstars such as Stacy Peralta, Ray Flores, and Tony Alva.
Skateboard Kings is available on YouTube, where you can watch the full hour-long episode for free.
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography is the third time that Stacy Peralta appears on this list, showing you just how important he has been for the skateboarding industry.
Peralta directed this two-hour-long documentary back in 2012, showcasing the history of the Bones Brigade, often said to be one of the best skateboarding teams in the world.
It covers the rise of skateboarding in the 1980s, along with its near destruction as authorities began clamping down on the sport and sending skaters into the shadows.
Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen, Mike McGill, and Tony Hawk all feature in this film.
It’s long, but it’s worth watching for anyone keen to learn more about the skateboarding world and its troubled history.
We Are Skateboarders
A documentary directed by Ben Duffy and released in 2012, We Are Skateboarders chronicles the changing face of skateboarding as it moved from illegal street skating and vert skating in empty swimming pools to a major international sport.
It’s a discussion about the heart and soul of the sport and it raises some interesting points.
Christian Hosoi, Rob Dyrdek, Peter Smolik, and Greg Lutzka all make an appearance in this skateboarding documentary.
Waiting for Lightning
Another 2012 release, Waiting for Lightning follows Danny Way as he prepares to jump the Great Wall of China.
It was an impressive feat that required a lot of preparation, and you can watch it all unfold in this classic film.
There’s over 1.5 hours of content in total, and it keeps things interesting by going into detail about Danny’s life, following him from his difficult childhood (including the death of his father and a mother who struggled with substance abuse) to his famous jump.
Danny is one of the world’s most influential skaters and his story is a must-watch.
The Devil’s Toy
The Devils’ Toy trumps Skateboard Kings as the oldest documentary on this list.
It was released back in 1966 and while it lasted for just 15 minutes, it had a massive impact on the sport and is still remembered fondly to this day.
Devils’ Toy was the first-ever Canadian documentary about the sport of skateboarding, and it was filmed at a time when skating was hated, skateboards were pretty basic, and skaters were considered to be minor criminals.
It’s a fun and beautifully shot film.
It’s also an important piece of skateboarding history.
More of the Best Skate Films (Tony Hawk, Peralta, and More)
The above list is a great place to start if you’re looking to learn more about the history and culture of skateboarding, but it’s just a snippet of the many great films that have been produced over the years.
If you want to see more of Tony Hawk, from his days as a young skater to when he had established himself as a legend, take a look at Tic Tac 2 Heelflip, the Bones Brigade Video Show, The Contest, OP King of Skate, and Rodney Mullen: From the Ground Up, as well as the Hollywood films Thrasin’ and Gleaming the Cube.
For more from Stacy Peralta, check out Riding Giants (a surfing documentary) and Lords of Dogtown, which is based on the aforementioned Dogtown and Z-Boys.
Other great films and documentary shows include Nothing Meaner: The Story of Dean Lane Skatepark, Daewon, The Motivation, Freeling, and Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy.