Girls on Wheels
Julian Bleecker is one of the premier photographers of female skaters -- take a look. Gallery
Skateboarding demands your attention, and if you find that you can't look away, it commands you to get on a board. That's what happened to 12-year-old Amelia Brodka when she witnessed the Women's Vert demo at the 2002 X Games in Philadelphia.
"I was about 12 years old. There was something about seeing other girls, especially Lyn-Z [Adams Hawkins], who was the same age, skate in that way that made it seem accessible. Seeing that demo made me feel like I could aspire to skate the way that they do and that it would -- one day -- be possible," said Brodka, recalling her initial reaction when she saw the girls skate the ramp.
Confessing that she's been "obsessed" ever since, Brodka's passion for skateboarding has led her onto vert ramps and into backyard pools, sponsorships and skating alongside the women who inspired her. Brodka's undeniable talent and sheer enthusiasm led to a coveted slot in X Games Women's Vert, but her chance fell through -- you've got to watch the movie!
Perhaps it was getting so close to her dream only to see it crumble that led Brodka to make her first film, a documentary on girls' skateboarding. "Underexposed" is about the differences in the perception of men's and women's skateboarding, the challenges facing women in the skate industry and ultimately about getting proactive.
Now 23 years old and a recent graduate of the prestigious University of Southern California, Brodka said her motivation to make the film centered on perception versus opportunity.
"I was confused as to why at a time when girls' involvement in skateboarding seemed to be at an all-time high, the opportunities for female skaters were diminishing. I wanted a way to show people that women's skateboarding is a rapidly growing scene, with girls pushing the level of their skating every day. With that said, I wondered what it was about the way the skate industry works that kept companies from seeing this as an opportunity to tap into a growing market," Brodka said.
Through "Underexposed," Brodka hopes to shine some light on the undeveloped girls' market as well as the marginalized female skaters.
"I want people to become aware of the breadth of women's skateboarding. I'd like it if it could make people within the industry see that supporting women's skateboarding would not only benefit the girls who are out there pushing themselves but also that it could be a great benefit to the companies who choose to step in. I'd also like people to consider the impact that media representation can have on the world around them. In this case, you can either step up and inspire a young girl to get into skateboarding or make her feel like her only value lies in how well she can suggestively pose in front of a camera," Brodka said.
Screening the film to a private audience of skate industry attendees during the Agenda Tradeshow in Long Beach, Calif., Brodka was pleasantly surprised by how well it was received.
"People laughed, cried, learned, stayed for the Q&A and even continued talking about it after the theater kicked us out. After having seen it on such a micro level for so long, I had absolutely no idea what people would take from it or how they would read it. I even had dreams that everyone just fell asleep," she said.
Professional skateboarder Mimi Knoop, who is featured in "Underexposed" and has skated with Brodka for years, was in attendance at the screening. Knoop remembers when she first became involved with the film.
"The main interview that I did with her was at least two years ago, and, at the time, it was just a project for her school. None of us knew it was going to be this 'movie.' I saw it at Agenda and I think she did a really great job; it's really well made. She told the story from her path of trying to become a professional skateboarder and brought in some of the other pieces along the way and it's a window into that world," Knoop said.
As a sponsored skateboarder, recent graduate of USC, intern for both red Bull and DC Shoes, filmmaker and a fierce competitor who won fourth place at the Rock Mountain rampage earlier this month, Amelia Brodka's an inspiration to both men and women.To stay up to date with "Underexposed" and Brodka's exploits on board and behind the lens visit ameliabrodka.com.