Last week, rollerblading lost one of its most influential filmmakers, Brandon Jesus Negrete.
Negrete had been making rollerblading videos from before he could drive, and the skaters he featured in his videos became household names, or at least the houses that held bladers.
While Brandon’s death stunned our global family, his memory is sure one that will never fade.
For the last week, everyone has been sharing stories of Brandon, making us all realize not only how well known he was, but how many people loved him so deeply.
In case you’re new and not familiar enough with Brandon, this was one of his latest works before his untimely death:
Like all of his creative works, it doesn’t rely on the hip, trendy movement of what is cool for the next ten minutes—he told you what was cool for the next coming year.
Prior to this edit, Brandon Negrete has been making blading look good for the last few decades.Negrete helped make blading—and those in it—what it is today.
What Negrete produced—from Us to Regardless, and all in between—dictated what was cool. No other filmmaker in rollerblading could be credited with such an influence, outside the likes of Dave Paine.
Here is Regardless, his last full-length blading film, which I gladly gave Video of the Year designation back in 2011.
Rewatching it again, for the 87th time, I still can’t help but notice one thing: the guy had the balls to put Haffey as an opener. One of the best filmmakers ever takes hands down one of the best rollerbladers ever (in top form, mind you), and puts him in front, making you question—as we all did at the Regardless/Shred ‘Til You’re Dead II premiere—who the fuck closes a video that Haffey opens?
Obviously, it was Bolino. And, as you watch the progression of the video, it makes complete sense. Negrete made a damn good call, which is why I find Regardless to be one of the best blade videos ever made.
Here’s the man himself, chilling during the premiere:
Negrete put Regardless online nine months ago. There’s only so much a video can last before it’s left to the piranhas. And in a brief conversation, years ago, Brandon had something to say about people taking his work and uploading it to YouTube:
“I mean it sucks but I dont even care. People in europe had ripped that shit the day after it came out.”
Negrete and I had numerous conversations about the artistic side of life, but also dealing with the realities of the allure of immediate money that comes with a day job. Brandon had been working at a creative agency while still producing rollerblading videos.
“I was just tired of putting everything in life on hold for a video that people are just gonna talk shit on and upload anyway”
He attracted the best characters because, in his heart, he knew the real story that needed to be told. You can watch all of his videos and assume you know what he was saying, but like all great talents, even he didn’t fully understand the complete message himself because he felt he was never done telling it.
Here’s one example of how his work helped people: the artwork for Regardless was Austin Barrett’s first commissioned piece. He’s now living exclusively off his art.
Like all good blade filmmakers, his influence didn’t rely on tricks or gimmicks, but a reliance on listening to those he filmed and allowing what he saw through the lens dictate the final product. While that seems obvious, Negrete made it seamless in his work, giving off a sense of creative freedom, all including shaky follow cams powered by his vintage hunter orange Oxygens.
Negrete’s videos weren’t just about what was going on right then, but what was going to be going on for a while. He captured trends as they started and cemented them into history, just like any good filmmaker should.
His videos had their impact mainly because it brought skaters, as individuals, into their natural elements, whether Stockwell in an abandoned pool or the technical complexities John Bolino can work out on an architectural masterpiece.
And all these attempts I’ve done to assign adjectives and adverbs to a living, breathing human being who relentlessly beamed through the majority of the bullshit are for nothing because Brandon Jesus Negrete was the dude.
Ivan Narez and Negrete go back almost too far and Ivan had some good words on how to look back at Brandon:
“I just think that judging him by the friends he left and the influence that he had should be the way people look at life, not necessarily worrying about making all this money and being deemed successful in American standards. He died unfortunately, but I think he will definitely live forever, and that’s more than most people could say in their current situations. He did it the way it should be done, and I will remember him for that for sure.” — Ivan Narez
Blading owes Brandon more that we could ever calculate. That’s why you should absolutely go to BrandonJesusNegrete.com and donate to help pay for his burial expenses.
Best wishes, Brandon. You absolutely were the dude.