“Waiting for Lightning”
An Inspiring Documentary
Danny Way, the pro skateboarder, rose above his rough childhood and went on to become the most famous skateboarder in the world. He brought new contributions to the sport and he inspired others as he changed the sport forever. He had goals and dreams and was determined to fulfill them, no matter what. He shows us that with willpower and determination even our most difficult goals can be achieved. Obstacles are only obstacles and we can deal with them and he shows us that we must get up from every fall we take with renewed strength. This is not a film about skateboarding; it is a film about achieving goals and learning how to overcome problems. However, this is a film for skateboarders as well and it shows us what the sort is all about. I would say that it is something of a microcosm of life; about getting up after falling down, about character and discipline and it is about the spirit.
Skateboarders agree that “Waiting for Lightning” is the first documentary to really capture the sport and those that participate in it. Danny Way has achieved iconic status about skateboarders and his career is what legends are made of. Watching the film footage from China when Danny made his Great Wall jump shows just how amazing an athlete that he is and we see what he went through to make that happen.
I have never tried to skateboard yet I can appreciate every moment of this film simply because it deals with achieving greatness and it is a great story about a great athlete. We really never get too much inspiration in our lives so there is always room for more. We know that our dreams and goals are parts of what make us human but it is always good to be reminded of that and to be reminded by someone who has not let it all go to his head. Danny is a renegade and a man who has broken more world records than anyone else. Jacob Rosenberg decided that Danny would be an ideal subject for a documentary and we learn so much about what he had to overcome and how he has become an icon. His name is one of the three names engraved on the Great Wall of China and we watch as he prepares for 183 days for that jump in 1995. It was that jump that has come to define his career. Aside from that, Danny’s career has been long with more ups than downs. He has had some monumental moments and he has had heartbreak. “His father was hung in prison when he was young, his mother became strung out on drugs, and his beloved stepfather, Tim O’Dea, left his mom due to her long bout with deep depression. During his rise as one of skateboarding’s best, his friend and mentor Mike Ternasky passed away, along with O’Dea, who was Way’s skateboarding backbone as a kid. Way has been surrounded by tragedy” but he has learned to use those tragedies to make himself stronger and he pushed himself as much as he could. Rosenberg gives us a beautiful film that makes use of archival material as well as current footage and commentary from such people as skateboarding daredevils Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Rob Dyrdek, and Ty Evans (to name a few), BMX greats, Supercross champions, and surf martyrs, along with filmographers, peers, and friends, to tell the story. This is the most captivating way to make a documentary.
This is a feel good film—the story of an underdog who succeeded and it doing so showed us that we can do the same.
Rosenberg has succeeded in putting together a compelling story of a man, who through many defeats, has always managed to rise to success. Told through the aforementioned interviews and also via a massive collection of footage from Way’s childhood, this is an inspiring tale that captures the heartbreak Danny has had to repeatedly deal with in his personal life; a close call with a career ending injury and many unfortunate deaths that have ultimately paved the way for who Danny is today. The story has appeal beyond the fans of the genre, but one that is also quite eye opening for those same people to see just how difficult the skateboarding world can be and how much these athletes have accomplished. It’s a human tale and one you can tell is very personal to Jacob Rosenberg.