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Love and Skateboarding

A local filmmaker pays tribute to N-Men in a new documentary.

Documentary filmmaker James Sweigert grew up skateboarding in Sacramento. He looked up to the N-Men, a group of skateboarders who met underneath Interstate 5 in Old Sac. In his film “N-Men: The Untold Story,” Sweigert uncovers an unknown side of Sacramento, and reveals how the N-Men influenced the global reach of skateboarding. Photo by Wes Davis.

Although it took some time, skateboarding has finally been recognized for the sport it is. The X Games debuted on ESPN in 1995, and skateboarding was added to the Olympics in 2021, establishing the art form as more of a sport than a hobby.

But did you know that a ragtag team of skateboarders from Sacramento nicknamed the N-Men had a hand in both of those revolutionary steps? Dating back to 1975, when the diverse group met underneath Interstate 5 in Old Sacramento, the global impact they would eventually have on the world of skateboarding was unknown. Now it’s coming to light with the debut of “N-Men: The Untold Story,” a documentary on the movement and its ties to the local community, created by James Sweigert, a documentarian and fifth generation Sacramentan. The movie played at the Crest on June 2 at 7:30 p.m. (sold out) and June 3 at 3 p.m.

The movie has already made a name for itself, winning best sports feature from the Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival, and special jury winner and honorable mention for a feature documentary from the Los Angeles Film Awards, where it was also nominated for best picture.

“I was inspired to make this movie because I have always loved documentaries, and I once heard, ‘If you want to be a filmmaker, tell a story only you can tell,’” Sweigert recalls. “In Sacramento, I grew up skateboarding and always looked up to the N-Men, who were formed as a result of their resentment of SoCal’s Z-Boys.”

Tony Hawk and James Sweigert

When Sweigert saw Stacy Peralta’s skateboard documentary featuring Dogtown and Z Boys, Sweigert knew Peralta had missed part of the story—the part that encompassed the N-Men he had looked up to in Northern California but who had remained largely underground, receiving less attention than their SoCal counterparts. “Some of them had gone on to do great things, and I was inspired to tell their story,” Sweigert says.

Aaron Leong, James Sweigert and Jimmy Bell

It took 11 years for the documentary to come to fruition. “This film reveals an unknown side of Sacramento—the underground, hardcore skate tribe and several of the characters, young and old, who still carry on the inclusive, radical spirit of the original N-Men crew,” Sweigert explains. “I want to make Sacramento proud of my friends who have flown under the radar, and I hope to help put Sacramento on the map as a significant contributor to the global skateboarding community.”


N-Men world champ Jamie Hart

N-Men co-founder Doug Jones

N-Men co-founder John O’Shei


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