How did you manage to get Tom Penny involved in Liam Teague’s section? Is TP ‘first try’ when it comes to acting, or did he need to re-do it a few times?
This was also random. Liam had asked if I could help organize Ian Deacon to get the Flip riders to sign some boards for the skatepark crowdfunder in Brighton. One evening Ian called me and said, “I’ve got Tom here, could you film him signing it for Liam?” and knowing Tom was Liam’s favorite skater I thought it would be perfect. I showed him Liam’s slamming ability, which he was impressed with so he only took a few takes with that kind of visual inspiration. I think Liam’s a bit bored of the “slam man” comments now, but it’s not every day that Tom Penny dubs you with a nickname, so hopefully on the sly he’s stoked.
The ‘slam man’ thing, although it’s obviously an exaggeration for the sake of comedy, has more than a kernel of truth to it. What was the worst one you saw him take whilst you were filming? Were you there when he had a fit at the double set?
I’d really like to say it was an exaggeration but I don’t know if that’s entirely true. Liam really does put himself on the line. His disregard for his own safety means sometimes he does really “pay to play”. It’s impressive to see him push so far out of his comfort zone. He has hands-down skated some of the gnarliest stuff around Brighton. Stuff that a lot of big name sponsored skaters looked at and went, “he did what!?” He can just will himself to try anything it seems with a lot of success. Being willing to take a slam is a big part of that success but sometimes it can get a bit much: Chris Johnson still talks about “The switch flip” like it’s a Vietnam war story. I guess he and I have seen a lot of skate battles over the years but this was really something else. Having switch flipped the double set once, Chris then asked Liam if he could do one more. That’s when it all started to go wrong.
He proceeded to take 30 or more of the hardest slams I’ve ever seen a human take; it started to rain, pigeons were looking anxious, but Liam kept trying. Finally, Chris got a good enough photo and he stopped only to lose his ability to speak and started to shake rather strangely. It turns out Liam has a rare form of temporal lobe epilepsy and the slam trauma had possibly set off his fit. Happily he calmed down eventually and went off home but it was a gnarly scary thing to watch.
Was there ever a point in the filming of Liam’s Just in Time part where you felt like you need to intervene to stop him dying?
Yes during the switch flip…it was intense.
Alex Hallford – space cadet or idiot savant?
Alex is both of those things simultaneously if that’s possible. The first time I went to film him (and the first time I’d ever met him) he had lost his wallet and was stranded in London with no money. He asked if I could possibly lend him some money when I came up to film him. I remember thinking, ‘now this could either be a disaster or the catalyst of something very fun’ and I’m glad I decided to go and meet him as he is a 100 percent dude, a genuine one-off and has a spontaneous skate ability that one could only dream of having. He really is so eclectic – you never knew what he was going to do from one moment to the next. It’s a magical skate quality.
How much of Mike Wright’s footage in Just in Time was first try?
He’s another magician. In fact Mike must have studied at Hogwarts School of Skate because in a rough count nearly 60 percent of the tricks in his section were first go. I have a great memory of calling out tricks on a quarter pipe at The Works in Leeds and him doing every one I requested. It was bonkers, almost like playing a computer game with a real human character.
How long did you film with Mike for and how many of the tricks you filmed had you ever seen anyone else do?
I think probably for that section it was about 8 or 9 session’s worth of filming. I just wanted him to skate what he wanted to really, I find that’s when Mike really shines. There are tons of tricks he’s done that I hadn’t seen in real life before: 540 flip fakie, frontside shuv to blunt late body varial out, bs nollie flip to tail 360 revert out…the list goes on. Mike still remains probably the most unbelievable skater I have ever filmed for so many different reasons. I might be OTT’ing the praise but he is truly a bit of skate magic.
You’re giving this DVD away for free and aside from a little bit of sponsorship help, it’s basically all self-funded with no chance of actually making any money back – why is it worth the effort to make a full-length video, complete with green-screen skits and a running narrative in the Instagram age of 2017?
You have to wonder don’t you? Well if you’re in it for the money then you have definitely chosen the wrong industry, particularly in the UK. I guess the answer is that it’s worth it for me for the experience of making it alone. It’s such good fun and the interaction with the fantastic people I get to hang out with/watch skate when I do it is something that you really can’t commodify. This could get very wistful pretty quickly but I genuinely think it’s simply about creating some very good times in this funny mixed up world. Making a silly skate video is just a great vessel to travel through skate life in and if people enjoy watching it and have a few laughs too then that’s a very pleasing thing to have contributed towards as I remember just how much I appreciated those things myself.
What kind of reaction have you had to Just in Time now that it’s out there in the ether?
It seems to have been pretty positive and I’ve noticed how different areas of the country will laugh at different things, which is interesting. People still seem a little confused that it’s free but hopefully they will have fun seeking the DVD out at skate shops. It feels much better to give it away; it was always my least favourite part of making videos – the selling of them – hopefully some SOS shops will get a bit more custom off the back of it too, which was another underlying intention.
Whose videos do you enjoy watching in terms of contemporary skate videos? What was the last DVD/video you actually bought with money yourself?
I think the last DVD I bought was one of the Get Lesta ones. I really am impressed with the amount off effort Callun puts into those and the skating is of a really, really high standard and he focuses on loads of skaters that I like. As far as other things go, the Internet is the place you go to watch skate stuff now but it is very over-saturated. I do enjoy a crazy Cody Mac clip and I often find myself watching the comp coverage as live skating has always been something I’ve been most impressed by. The Internet means we have a wider window to things like that where I can watch Bucky Lasek impossible tail grab round the corner on the other side of the world from my sofa live. That’s pretty awesome.
Where do you see skate media headed in the future Andy? Maybe tapestry lines might not be out of the question after all now that video is so throwaway eh?
I mean that is a really good question. With so much access to making media there are definitely Yins and Yangs. I guess what you’re getting at is that the Internet has made it way more disposable and it’s much harder to produce anything iconic as it gets lost in a sea of HD montages. I think it might end up on the Hollywood big screens a bit more in the future as it charges into the mainstream. People do tend to get bored with things after a while though so I trust that skateboarding will find its own natural path somehow.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I think I’ve left the cooker on…