“Danger Dave” is a documentary that follows French skateboarder David Martelleur during the final years of his professional skateboarding career. Though struggling with addiction and aging, Martelleur has no desire to call it quits. Producer Emma Lepers alongside director Philippe Petit developed a relationship with Martelleur over the five years of filming. Lepers talked to Variety about the process of forging the friendship and taking viewers into the world of skateboarding.
The film will screen at the San Sebastian Festival in its Savage Cinema section on Sept. 21.
Why take viewers into the skateboarding world?
We also knew about this world because we’re from France and skateboarding is big here. We also had a really good choice of the character [in David] and knew we could get interesting scenes from the competitions.
How did you go about identifying Dave as the subject of this film?
When we talked to skateboarders everybody talked about a guy who had been skating since he was a teenager and became a pro-skater. They mentioned David. He was a pro-skater for 15 years and everybody knew that he had to quit. But he didn’t want to quit. That was actually the movie Phillipe wanted to do.
Was David open to the idea of the film? Or did he have to be convinced?
He had to be convinced a little bit. First he said yes and what I think he didn’t realize exactly was that he would be followed by the director every day of his life.
Can you speak to the relationship you both forged with David during the filming?
I think David said it best, “I don’t know how the movie will be, but thanks to the movie I have a new friend.” That was a nice conclusion.
The viewer sees Dave go through a lot of different moments in his life, both up and down, such as dealing with aging and addiction. What adjective would you use to describe this film?
I would say it’s uplifting. David doesn’t want to see the end of his career, but he knows skateboarding will always be in his life but in a different way. So it’s really not the end of anything for him. The end of the film shows a new path in his life.