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No More Mr. Nice Guy

Aaron Chilen rolls his new skateboarding video Thursday.


Aaron Chilen, a 20-year-old skateboard videographer, knows how to pick a winner.

Since last August, Chilen's steady hand has been recording the booze-addled, testosterone-fueled antics of Kansas City skaters for his newest video, Through Being Nice, the hotly anticipated sequel to The Nicey Nice Nice Project. What separates this effort from Nicey is that besides local talent, Chilen is including some well-connected friends who are getting national attention.

Less than a year ago, when he started filming Montana skater Sierra Fellers, Chilen couldn't have known that Fellers would school the competition at the 2004 Tampa Am (the annual amateur contest that crowns the Next Big Thing in skateboarding). As Tampa Am champ and Best Trick winner, the previously unknown Fellers now has his pick of sponsors, guaranteeing free products, magazine spreads and cash.

The same goes for Chilen's friend Ernie Torres, a Mexican-born skater who now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Torres racked up a majority of the points that the Deluxe skateboard team needed to win Thrasher Magazine's King of the Road contest last year. That was him under the "Who's Hot?" header on last month.

"They're the stars of the video, if you want to look at it that way," Chilen says of Fellers and Torres. "If the video sells nationally, they're the names that kids will recognize on the box. For the most part, the other kids in the video are kids we were skating with when Nicey came out."

Demure, with hair that's often described as Jesuslike, Chilen is responsible for filming a group that is decidedly irresponsible. Between classes at the University of Kansas (he studies English and creative writing), he found time to edit footage and add music, a crucial ingredient in any skate video.

"I try to keep it pretty diverse," Chilen says. "I don't want two songs on it from the same band." Chilen's friend Dan Askew, an owner of the local label Second Nature Records, is letting Chilen use music from the Second Nature roster free of charge. "It's a small label. He's excited for the coverage," Chilen explains.

To shoot sequences at skate-world-famous locations in Beverly Hills and Hollywood, Chilen road-tripped with skaters to California. Torres came in from Tulsa, and Fellers made the trek from Whitefish, Montana, to film here. Through also promises glimpses of local spots, including a handrail located dangerously close to Lawrence's City Hall and police station.

Tangling with local law enforcement is just one of the hassles intrinsic to making skate videos. "The two biggest busts for filming are the KU campus and downtown Kansas City. Downtown, there's all kinds of stuff you want to film, but you can't just go practice 100 times on it and then do it," Chilen says. Aside from the ever-changing weather, skaters have to deal with angry pedestrians, lurking security guards and the long arm of the law. Chilen says he's seen the same security guard at Barney Allis Plaza for the past three years. "He's pretty much sick of me."

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