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Sidewalk Store Wars – Most Creative Concept

Alongside the Most Outstanding Individuals prize, (awarded to Josh Gislingham and Dan Reynolds of The Level Skateshop yesterday), we also have a £1000 prize for Sidewalk Store Wars (in association with Mountain Dew) ‘Most Creative Concept’ this year.

By a unanimous vote – we picked The House Skatepark’s ‘Street Trampolining’ clip from Round 1 that currently stands at a whopping 135, 753 views.

We grabbed House Skatepark heads Rob Bannister and Nathan Black to chat virality, skater-owned skateparks and dragging trampolines around Sheffield.

So then boys – this is your second year of competing in Store Wars, entering it in a strong position as finalists from Year 1. How did your experiences from 2015 influence the way you went about making your videos this year?

We did have a look back at what went well for us last year, but it didn’t really influence us that much, as that’s the kind of thing we do anyway. We don’t tend to have a game plan as such; we just like going out and trying to do something that’ll amuse us but which also features some solid skating.

It’s so hard to know if you’ve got the balance right until it goes live.

Round 1 of Store Wars is very much a case of trying to log as many views as possible to get through to Round 2 where you can go with more a traditional skate edit. You seemed to have a good awareness of what does and doesn’t work on Facebook in terms of ‘going viral’ – where did you look to for inspiration and was it from outside of skateboarding?

Nathan does shows with bikers, footballers, dancers and other performers so he gets to see some pretty odd stuff and brings that to the table. While we never try to be too ‘out there’ because that can come across as contrived, I think we like to experiment, and while it wasn’t our biggest hit, I really enjoyed making the Street Magic clip because it brought together two different types of public performance, (and let us in on a few magical secrets).

Here at The House, we’ve been making films for quite a long time – the first one came out on VHS it was that long ago – and if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to have fun while you’re filming, as it’ll come across in the finished edit.

We picked your Street Trampolining clip as the winner of the ‘Most Creative Concept’ category – it currently has 135k views, which I’d say counts as ‘viral’. Talk us through the idea – where it came from, what it was influenced by, etc.

When we found out we had been asked to do Store Wars again – thanks for asking us by the way – we sat in the office at The House and shouted stupid ideas at each other until things started to stick.

That particular one went something like: “Lets buy a trampoline and go skate town”, “How’s that meant to work?”, “Dunno, we’ll figure it out when we get there”, “Er okay…”

How did you go about actually filming it?

Basically, on the hottest day of the year we dragged a trampoline round the centre of Sheffield and made it up as we went along. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how kind the public were to us: we even drew a crowd filming a few of the tricks. That front flip from Ash Mercer was one of the last things we filmed – as it was finally cool enough to do it. By the time he got the make, we had a decent sized crowd cheering him on. I still have no idea how he got away with not breaking his board.

Were you surprised that it was your most viewed clip?

I did figure it was probably the one out of all of ours that had the best potential for outside-skating appeal. The Internet loves clowning, unless they’re scary clowns.

Which of the other shop’s Round 1 clips impressed or surprised you in terms of crazy view counts, and what did you think it was about them that grabbed the public’s attention in the way they did?

You can’t fail to be impressed by anything with over a million views really, can you? Skate Warehouse came up with a wonderfully simple concept with their surfing clip, and produced it really well, and it had a good vibe about it.

I imagine it was a long and sweaty day getting that one together.

I also enjoyed Endemic’s golfing film for much the same reasons.

The difference in viewing numbers between the two clips shows how random the Internet can be too, as concept-wise there were similarities. I think Note deserve a mention too, for getting more views from a clip filmed at The House than we managed to rack up. The shame of it…

From the point of view of being an independent skater-owned business like The House – what kind of benefits are there to participating in a contest like this one?

Fun mostly. I guess I could go on about exposure and stuff like that too, which is always valuable for small businesses like The House. But truth be told, I don’t get much time to just go out to skate and film these days, so having an excuse is always good.

You didn’t make it through to Round 2 this year so you had a fairly unique perspective on the second stage as a 2015 finalist – whose final clips impressed you and what do you think it was about them that worked or didn’t?

My personal favourite was Lost Art’s, as it had the vibe of a classic skate road trip: slum it and skate it. I also liked the way that Legacy used the opportunity to create something permanent for their scene, and their clip has Ben Broyd in it: Always a winner for me.

In 2016 – any business worth its salt is going to need to utilise Social Media in one way or another – how do you use it generally, and has anything about your use of it been influenced by being involved in Store Wars both years?

I try to use it sparingly because if you bombard people they tune out. I only (mostly) put up things I actually like, rather than just reposting whatever is big that day. I’d much rather put out less content and make it ourselves. Also, Sheffield has a great and varied scene, so we try to make our media output properly social, sharing local events, footage from local skaters and filmers -stuff like that – rather than making it all about us.

What are you going to use your prize money for? Bigger trampolines?

We kinda already spent that last month…before we even knew we were getting it. Such is life.

What’s next on the agenda for The House in 2017? You just successfully pulled off the first ever live-cast of a independent UK skate contest – is that something you’re looking to expand on moving forwards?

That is next year’s big project. With all the Olympic and corporate buzz around skating at the moment we figured it was time to get cracking on something we’d been contemplating for years. If we’re going to have some sort of official championships for skateboarding thrust upon us, let’s get in first so skaters are at the centre of it and the money ends up going to the people who care for and support skateboarding. I’ve always been a big believer in supporting skater-owned, and it’s got us this far, so why give up now?

Is there anything else that you’d like to say?

Thanks to Sidewalk and Mountain Dew for having us and we hope the rail song didn’t annoy you too much.

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