Words by NINAH KOPEL
All This Mayhem delivers a thrillingly real insight into the crazy lives of Australian skateboarding icons Tas and Ben Pappas. The brothers from Melbourne conquered the world, skated to the top of the charts and defeated the great Tony Hawk. Now, award-winning director Eddie Martin has taken on their story.
Tas and Bens’ journeys were already well documented by their peers and fellow skaters, which provided Martin with a goldmine of footage. While much of the documentary relies on these amateur videos, its storyline and its overriding message are well constructed. In fact, Martin’s recreation of what it was like to be young in the late 80’s is unapologetically honest. As the film progresses, it is reminiscent of a traditional coming-of-age narrative, reflecting the brothers’ rise to professionalism through the increasing use of professional footage, filmed at large skating competitions that seemed to get bigger for the brothers.
The story of Melbourne kids coming from nothing and making it big reveals a sense of Australian pride that has trickled through to subsequent generations. It is also an exposé of skateboarding culture, as one rooted in both youthful exhilaration and grown-up delinquency. It explores the shadow that drugs and alcohol can cast over Australian youth, and poses questions about their decisions. After all – much like partying hard and skateboarding – substance use is an aspect of Australian-ness that prevails today.
All This Mayhem is a true story; so don’t expect a happy ending. But approach it with an open mind and you will be surprised at the stories these skaters can tell. As Tas reminds us, “There’s three sides to every story. My side, your side and the truth.”
All This Mayhem was screened at the Sydney Film Festival and will now be released July 10 exclusively to the Dendy Newtown, Sydney.