CCAD Stories: Josh Smukal brings scootering to the world

When he graduates from Columbus College of Art & Design in 2019, Josh Smukal (Film & Video) will be the first person in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Originally, Smukal didn’t plan to go to college, but he and his family were overjoyed when he was admitted to — and awarded a scholarship from — CCAD.

“It was a really big thing,” he said. “I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

Now in his junior year, Smukal works at the award-winning CCAD Student Agency, where he puts his videography skills to work on a variety of projects.

But, in June 2017, Smukal took a leave of absence from the agency to pursue something … different.

Josh Smukal CCAD student

Photo credit to Chris Martin.

“From late June until early August, I lived out of a bus,” he said. “Literally. It was an old school bus converted into something like a tiny home.”

He had a good reason: Smukal had been invited to join the team of Tilt Scooters, a Michigan-based scooter company, on their annual cross-country road trip. Similar to the simple scooters kids play with, Tilt scooters are used by adults to perform extreme stunts. Over summer 2017, Smukal filmed the group’s every jump, scoot, and trick to produce a documentary on the culture and sport of scootering.

“It’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever worked on,” he said.

It might also be the longest road trip he’s been on. The bus, outfitted with bunk beds to hold Smukal and the Tilt team, departed the company’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and made it as far south as Nashville, Tennessee, and as far west as Portland, Oregon. By the time he made it back to Ohio in August, Smukal had recorded more than one terabyte of film.

Smukal was able to tackle this project head on because his time at CCAD had prepared him well. From the technical aspects of lighting and sound to the analytical considerations of narrative, Smukal’s CCAD career has shaped him into a competent cinematographer. Smukal said he owes a great deal to the faculty of the Film & Video department — Adam Kadar, Liz Roberts, and (formerly) Phil Garrett, among others — for the lessons they’ve taught him, both inside and out of the classroom.

“CCAD has definitely prepared me to be a well-rounded filmmaker,” he said.

The finished documentary will be about 45 minutes long, Smukal said. He hopes to release it in 2018.

A fan of scootering himself, Smukal hopes the story he tells resonates with audiences and encourages new people to explore the sport — and Smukal is excited to share a work that is completely, uniquely his.

“CCAD has helped me find my vision and stick to it.”


Read more in our series CCAD Stories.


Learn more about CCAD's Film & Video program or apply here.