A new documentary by local photographer and director Nick Amrhein, One Way Ticket, follows the story of Professional Skateboarder Greg Lutzka with the tagline, “A Kid. A Board. A Dream.” Ironically, that tag could apply to Amrhein’s life story as well.
A native of Maumee, Amrhein grew up skateboarding and, from age 10, Nick wanted to skate as well as capture on camera what it felt like to skate. The early 90s did not have the GoPro and body cam devices that exist today. Now those cameras are often used by extreme sports aficionados to document their daredevil antics.
“Typically with skateboarding you film each other, and I remember the first camera I picked up was one of those big video cameras that [was propped] on your shoulder,” Amrhein recalls. “From the moment I saw the footage I was hooked. I still loved skateboarding, but [at that point] I wanted to film it.”
From Skateboarder to Filmmaker
That obsession for filming skateboarding excitement took over Nick’s teen years and Amrhein saved up every dime he made working at a pizza shop to buy his first professional camera. In high school people took notice of Nick’s passion for cameras and filming. At 16 he began to get requests to shoot videos — for DJs in clubs, weddings, school portraits and everything in between.
Amrhein eschewed an expensive arts school, instead taking photography courses at Owens Community College. A brush with a health scare (he was eventually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes) and trips to an emergency clinic led Amrhein to decide that life is too short not to do what he loved.
“I knew what I wanted to do, and the experience woke me up,” he said. “So I got in my car and drove to California to find out what I needed to do to keep shooting. I interned at an agency where I assisted celebrity photographers. I learned what I needed to learn but, after three years, I was burnt out and headed back home.”
The Lutzka Connection
During his time in LA, Amrhein shot video for Harley Davidson, which was where he met Greg Lutzka, the subject of his documentary. “I told him if you ever have anything you want to work on, let me know,” Amrhein said. “So, when I was in LA, we would get together and do shoots for fun. On one of my trips, he told me he was getting to the end of his career as a skateboarder. He was 38, had made a big name for himself, and really wanted to make a documentary about his career. I said I’d love to be a part of that.”
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Lutzka worked with Amrhein, allowing him to shoot, direct and edit. Together they decided the elements and areas of emphasis for the documentary, who to interview and what questions to ask. Like Amrhein, Lutzka grew up in the Midwest and went to LA when he was 16 to pursue skating. Amrhein explains that the title of the documentary, One Way Ticket came from Lutzka’s courage, to gamble everything for his dream and histo pursue his talent.
Amrhein spent eight months creating the two-hour documentary. After sitting on the completed project for several months, Lutzka researched possible film festivals, looking for the right one to showcase the film. They chose the Newport Beach Film Festival and submitted the film in the Action/Sports Documentary category. The festival was the film’s official premier, the screenings sold out and the film won the category.
Next Gen and Fuel TV
At that time, Lutzka was already working on his next big idea, a show about skateboarding for Fuel TV: an action/sports-based streaming platform. Based on their work together, Lutzka asked Amrhein to produce the show with him. “Fuel TV trusted us to create the show and to turn it over to them for streaming,” Amrhein explains. “It’s a competition show where twelve skateboarders are eliminated through different challenges.”
The show is called Next Gen, and the concept is to find the next generation of great skateboarders and to give them the opportunity to grab the “one way ticket” both Amrhein and Lutzka were brave enough to reach for.
Join a local Next Gen premier party at Switchboard Nov. 26 at 6 pm.