Stacy Peralta was just a teenager in the early '70s, when he and the rest of the "Z-Boys"--a group of skaters that included Jay Adams and Tony Alva--more or less invented modern skateboarding. Shortly afterward, Peralta showed his business savvy, first co-founding the Powell-Peralta skate gear company, then moving on to direct skate videos and Dogtown and Z-Boys. Z-Boys inspired Peralta to write a dramatization, Lords of Dogtown, which opens this Friday. Here's a crash course on some of his best work:

The Search for Animal Chin (1987) This classic skate video is largely responsible for introducing the world to the Bones Brigade--the revolutionary crew that included Steve Caballero, Tommy Guerrero, and an adorable l'il whelp named Tony Hawk. Historical significance aside, the film's a blast on its own: The neon-colored, low-tech, and lighthearted flick has the Brigade looking for "Animal Chin," the original skater from the Confucian era. But the plot's just an excuse to get to the skate footage--which, to this day, is amazing.

Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) A favorite at Sundance, Z-Boys gave Peralta an excuse to wrangle together his estranged skating buddies to reminisce about being the first guys to skate vert and take advantage of both empty swimming pools and urethane wheels. Peralta has some annoying directorial tactics, and in his interviews, he comes across as a smarmy goody two-shoes--but the reason to watch Dogtown is the astonishing skate footage and the fascinating interviews with ex-superstar Alva and the burned-out Adams.

Riding Giants (2004) Peralta's best film isn't even about skating--instead, it focuses on ballsy big wave surfers. Another Sundance pick, Giants follows surfing from its spiritual roots to the daredevil style of Laird Hamilton, and it has some of the most amazing imagery ever caught on film. If you're not slack-jawed in awe at the size of these waves, wide-eyed at the suicidal nerve of these surfers, and tripping off of the contagious adrenalin rush, then you're probably dead. Or you might as well be. ERIK HENRIKSEN