How new indie film Skate Kitchen took a documentary approach to drama
Director crystal Moselle broke through with documentary The Wolfpack, but for her second feature she has blended reality and fiction to unusual effect. she spent over a year just hanging out with the skater girls who star in Skate Kitchen before writing and shooting the film, developing the script with her cast, like an american Mike leigh.
“i bumped into them on the train,” Moselle explains. “to see young women with a skateboard in their hand is unusual.” she suggested a film project and they were enthusiastic — but she didn’t want to shoot another documentary. “Documentaries almost feel like they restrain me, because i want to interact with my characters.”
instead, after making a short film for Miu Miu with the girls, Moselle wrote a film script based on the gang and then workshopped those scenes with them. “it’s a series of moments, when everything changes, told from the perspective of a girl on a skateboard.” the loosely strung-together story focuses on camille (rachelle Vinberg), who finds her tribe in the skate group despite the disapproval of her mother (elizabeth rodriguez).
Moselle shot over six weeks in New york city on the girls’ summer break, creating a uniquely pop-coloured, grittily themed slice of life. “i just wanted to show them,” she shrugs. “like, you never see girls talking about their periods in films because guys don’t want to hear about that. [But] when we were at sundance london, this boy in the audience said, ‘this is the only film i’ve ever seen that made me want to be a girl.’ that’s really cool!”
currently at work on another documentary, Moselle’s not sure yet if she’ll use the same approach again. “i want to tell good stories, and however they get told, that just depends on what the story is.” But with considerable critical acclaim already for her festival showings, don’t be surprised if we see this blend of fact and fiction again.
Skate kitchen is in cinemas from 28 september
Top to bottom: Kurt (Nina Moran) with some of her skate gang; Hanging out in the local park; Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) falls for a mysterious skateboarder (Jaden Smith).
Empire spoke to director Crystal Moselle on the phone from LA on 19 July.