Illegal Civ‘s Mikey Alfred got his first taste of the film industry as a producer on Jonah Hill‘s Mid90s, a point of pride for the 24-year-old loves skateboarding. Almost immediately after that movie’s premiere Alfred set out to create his own documentation of the local skate scene, culminating in North Hollywood.
North Hollywood isn’t a documentary, though; it’s a fully-realized story-driven drama set against the backdrop of a coming of age story. Like any good skate-adjacent film, there are cameos from some pros; North Hollywood features folks like Jason Dill, Tyshawn Jones and even Vince Vaughn (who plays the father of Ryder McLaughlin, the lead and a Mid90s vet). Despite the star power and authenticity of Alfred’s directorial debut, however, Hollywood has yet to align with the vision.
Alfred shared a rejection letter (in the Instagram gallery above) from a distributor who came to an earlyNorth Hollywoodscreening; incredibly, he rejected Alfred’s creation on the grounds that it “was too small” and “too specific,” thus it “didn’t feel like a fit for any of the release platforms” or even wide release. Despite the far-reaching influence of skate culture — from luxury fashion to blockbuster video games—North Hollywoodhas been pigeonholed by movie biz as a niche production unlikely to find favor with a general audience.
In response, a bevy of supporters have taken up the mantle for Alfred’s film. “[North Hollywood is] a tale of dismissing the cautious course in pursuit of a dream,” Thrasher reflected. “A viewer doesn’t need to know the difference between a nollie flip and nollie heel to follow along and appreciate Ryder’s dilemma.”
Tony Hawk and Pharrell Williams concur. Hawk filmed a candid clip to back Illegal Civ (seen above) while the “Happy” singer actually visited Alfred and friends at their local skatepark, talking about his experience growing up as a Black skater and appreciation for North Hollywood. “I just love the story,” Pharrell explains. “It takes place with skateboarding as the background,” insinuating that the movie is by no means inaccessible for the public at large.