With consistent swells and beautiful beaches, Montauk is well known as an East Coast surfing mecca, but a few diehard locals are proving The End is also home to some pretty epic skateboarding, if you’re creative enough. Beyond the sand and sun, or even the local skatepark, the Burnt Wheels crew can be found shredding craggy parking lots, concrete remnants, docks and anything else worth trying all over town—and they’ve highlighted the best moments in a new, aptly titled video called Dead Last.
Filmed and edited by skater and videographer Bartholomew Schwarz over nearly three years, and featuring a rogues’ gallery of East End talent, the video is an ode to Montauk skateboarding and the guys dedicated to elevating their sport on the hamlet’s less than ideal terrain. It’s a testament to what can happen when artistry, motivation and a can-do ethos converge. And the tricks are pretty damn incredible, too.
“We wanted to make Dead Last a message in a bottle and put it on the internet, which is like the sea,” says Patrick Lane, one of the film’s premier skaters and the most outspoken member of the Burnt Wheels crew. “In the future, we want people to look at it as THE Montauk [skate] video.”
The nearly 14-minute video is split into multiple parts, each representing the best sessions from the core members of their group, including Lane, a 32-year-old artist and Head Concierge at Montauk Manor; Tohmi Shiroyama, a soft-spoken 29-year-old Sag Harborite who regularly skates in Japan; lifelong Montauker Lenny Giannantoni, 29, who Lane describes as “a local hero” who everyone knows and likes; and Schwarz, a freelance videographer and, at 36, the oldest Burnt Wheels skater. It also has several “friend” parts with talented visitors and pals, mostly performing single stunts or skating one location.
Dead Last stands out among other amateur skate videos for its consistent innovation on decidedly rough topography and features. Scenes in the Montauk Skatepark, for instance, are few, while the guys instead choose unexpected spots, such as box truck bumpers, rocky walls, grassy hills at Camp Hero, beach boulders, train tracks and sandy construction sites. “You’ve got to be a lot more creative to make something out of nothing,” Schwarz says over pints of Guinness and burgers with Lane, Shiroyama and fellow Dead Last skater Christian Westergard at Shagwong in downtown Montauk.
“Finding that rough terrain, docks and rocks, just shows the dedication, it’s just gnarlier,” Lane adds, noting that East Coast skateboarding is typically “a lot more crusty” than states like California, where streets are much newer. “The searching for spots and the isolation is one of the main themes of the video…If you love skating, you skate what’s around,” he continues, pointing out that the Dead Last title refers to Montauk, “the terminus of Long Island.”
With an ambient, groovy soundtrack by hip hop record producer and composer Harry Fraud—which Schwarz says would have cost them $10,000 if Fraud wasn’t a local surfing buddy—the video is set against the gloomy backdrop of Montauk in the desolate offseason. This was the easiest time to film without getting shooed off by police and property owners, or hit by an errant luxury car while attempting difficult stunts.
In one of Dead Last’s most jaw-dropping scenes, Burnt Wheels friend “Drunk Mike” Bodor kickflips off a tiered wall, sailing about eight feet over grass before landing on the road below. It’s a big, impressive trick, but the film’s true magic lies in its local color: Shiroyama kickflips atop a massive rock surrounded by ocean, and ollies over water from one wooden dock to another. Giannantoni skates barefoot and in flip-flops, and rides a broken board on two wheels (called a “manual”) for an incredible distance. Lane jumps off his board and runs up the Montauk Fire Department wall, onto a standpipe and then lands back on his board.
This tight-knit group has been skating together for years, and their camaraderie is evident throughout Dead Last. “Out here it’s a small community, when you meet someone [who skates], it’s an instant brotherhood,” Lane says, noting he met Shiroyama while skating in Mastic and was thrilled to learn his new friend lived in Sag Harbor.
Filming certain stunts would’ve been quite difficult without this trust. “I’m going down hills just as he’s going, with a camera, trying to keep everything in frame,” Schwarz says, describing the dangers of shooting. “He could fall at any moment and his board could end up in my face.” Still, Dead Last has plenty of hilarious wipeouts. “You can’t have a video without a couple of good bails,” Lane adds.
The guys hope to screen their new video at venues around Montauk this summer, but they’re already well on their way to finishing the next one—a more lighthearted look at local skate culture and lifestyle, called Fresh Seafood. It’s just one of many projects keeping this creative bunch busy and engaged in a town that’s near empty for more than half the year. As Lane says, “The isolation is make or break, kind of like skating—it’s you versus yourself all the time.” And clearly, with Dead Last, the Burnt Wheels crew is coming in first.