It’s safe to say that The Uprising, a show about skateboarding and evangelical Christianity, is unlike anything else on television. For instance, In Episode 3, “Brian vs. Goliath” the skaters (including skate legend Christian Hosoi) visit Jason Lambert, the Ultimate Fighting Champion, at his training facility. The show concludes with a prayer circle on a gym mat. “I pray Lord,” a skater intones, “that you will reach out to the ultimate fighting community. There are lost people in that scene, Lord.”
What would it be like to work on a show of this kind? What is a typical day on The Uprising? Is the synthesis of two subcultures—skateboarding and evangelical Christianity—always smooth? For perspectives on this, and other questions, we spoke with Lukas Korver, the show’s 28-year-old Director of Photography. Mr. Korver grew up in Oxford, New York—a town of only about 2,000 residents. He attended Syracuse University where he majored in Television and Film production. He has worked on a number of reality television programs and his favorite film is the basketball documentary, Hoop Dreams.
Q: Did you have a background with the skateboarding or evangelical community?
LUKAS KORVER: I’d shot some stuff with Wee Man of Jackass for a documentary about little people in Hollywood. We spent a day with him and filmed him skating and stuff. So I had a little skateboard background, but nothing in faith-based programming at all.
Q: Did you have any preconceptions about working with passionate evangelical skateboarders would be like?
LK: My only exposure to that was from the media—you know, hands in air, and jumping in circles. The first meeting everyone has their Bibles out and they’re praying. So, coming from my experience with other Hollywood reality shows, that was new to me. But once you get past all your preconceived notions you see these are amazing guys. There’s no ulterior motive. They’re here to save souls. And that’s all they care about. There’s no façade. They’re 100% genuine.
Without personally knowing the people involved I think people could perceive the evangelical movement as fanatical and kind of crazy. I haven’t found that to be the case. I see people who are absolutely driven, but everyone’s intentions are benign.
Q: And less ego then in more mainstream reality television shows?
LK: These guys will do anything for the show. If you’re like, “Hey, can you hit this jump again?” you have a 100% commitment out of them, which as a cameraman is a really important thing to have.
Other shows you’re following the story. This one we don’t do a lot of preproduction. They’re just like well, “Let’s just let God guide this episode.” So it’s funny how things fall together. Things always work out. It’s not like other reality shows where we have to set up conflict, and set up characters. It’s interesting how that plays a role in production process.
The big theme is always, “Is it coincidence or is it a divine appointment?” Some people will call it a coincidence that we bump into this person or that person. Others call it a divine appointment.
It’s been nice to think about something bigger then myself. Especially in this industry, being a working professional in Hollywood, you’re always thinking of ways to promote yourself. This is a way to see a bigger picture. They haven’t pushed anything on me, though.
Q: You’re in a heavily evangelical environment. But it sounds like they’re not constantly asking you to accept Christ.
LK: We’ll go to a skate park in East LA, in heavily controlled gang territory, or we’ll go to Skid Row and know we’re putting ourselves on the line. They’ll say, “Let’s say a little prayer, especially if they’re some people who aren’t saved.” I never know if they’re referring to me. I don’t go to church or anything.
Q: What’s been the most unusual show so far?
LK: We were in Liverpool, England. Liverpool is Brian’s hometown and he warned us that there are these kids. They call them “scallys.” He said, “They’re going to mess with us and you’re going to have to fight with them. They’re going to try to steal your camera.” We were all prepared to have to fight for our equipment.
No one tried to steal our camera. But there was a time where we were filming Brian’s parents in a park and we ran into trouble. We had the shot all set up. Nice shot. Everyone was all miked up. Everything is perfect and these kids are all throwing bottles at us. Brian’s parents don’t blink an eye. And they’re throwing tennis balls and bottles at us. We’re just trying not to get hit. I hadn’t seen that before.
Q: Did Christian Hosoi and others end up ministering to them?
LK: We had the kids all pose. We knew Brian wanted to talk about the scally kids in this episode. So we wanted to film them. So we said, “Listen, stop throwing stuff at us. We’ll get you on TV, just wait until after this interview is over.” “Ok cool. Ok cool,” they said. They still threw stuff at us. Afterward we had them all stand up on this water fountain for a shot. We were going to have them all say on the count of 3 … I have no idea … probably, “1, 2, 3 Jesus!” or something. It was something benign. So it goes "1, 2, 3 and they all yell, “Screw you!” And they flipped off the camera.
Q: You did not get to use the shot?
LK: We used the close up.
Q: Do you feel God is guiding the show on a day-to-day basis?
LK: Well that’s kind of the duality that I was talking about. I think about it all the time. There’s evidence for both sides. I am kind of open. I could see it just being luck. I could also see it as a divine intervention. I wouldn’t be surprised either way. That’s a loaded question.