Few Super 8 films have captured local hearts and minds like Danny Plotnick's 1986 classic, Skate Witches. The 2 minute short was shot on the Diag in a single day while Danny was a student at U of M. It features a gang of female skateboarders, the Skate Witches, who terrorize male skateboarders. Also the Skate Witches have rats. Despite the films brevity, it really captures the zeitgeist for the mid 80s alt scene. I reached out to Danny, who is now the Director of Film Studies at the University of San Francisco, recently and he agreed to answer a few questions about Skate Witches for me. Below is our email interview.
Damn Arbor: Could you tell me a little about what inspired Skate Witches, or what lead to its filming?
Danny Plotnick: Dana, the witch in the Misfits t-shirt, had talked about wanting to get her old skateboard from her family home and bring it with her back to Ann Arbor. Obviously, Ann Arbor spreads out, and she thought a skateboard would be a great way to get around town a lot quicker. However, she felt she would get hassled by all the boy skateboarders in town. I don’t know if any women were skateboarding in Ann Arbor at that point. If they were, they were few and far between. Dana mentioned this when we were all hanging out. Karen, the queen witch, mentioned she used to skate when she lived in Grand Rapids. I joked that they should form a gang called The Skate Witches. Jenny, the witch that keeps pushing guys off their skateboards, said she didn’t skate, but she’d be happy to join the gang. Dana and Karen never really did get their boards. I liked the notion of them forming a gang in real life, but when it seemed like that wasn’t going to happen, I was convinced that, regardless, we needed to make a movie. So I wrote the movie, they got their skateboards, and the rest is history.
DA: How did you find the actors? Do you still stay in touch with the Witches? Did they really all own rats?