This year’s Sidewalk Store Wars (in association with Mountain Dew) overall winners are Skate Warehouse who racked up just under 1.7 million views overall with their Round 1 & 2 clips, along with the £4000 first place prize.
We sat down with Skate Warehouse’s very own Adam Keats and the man behind the camera Peter Pickford to discuss indoor surfing, giving away free skateboards to strangers and accidentally becoming famous.
So, you won Sidewalk Store Wars (in association with Mountain Dew) 2016 – congratulations! Obviously you came out swinging and worked super hard, but was it still a surprise? How are you feeling about it now you know it's happened?
ADAM: Yeah it was a bit of a surprise, there were a few big dogs involved in the final that have a strong following so we knew it’d be difficult to take them on but we’re stoked on taking the win! I’m definitely pretty relieved that it’s done now too, going to take a break from Facebook for a bit.
PETE: Yes, we are so stoked! After our videos were received really well in the 1st round we had confidence, but you never know what other shops were going to pull out of the bag!
We didn't fully know how the round 2 edit would be received in all honesty. Everyone involved and everyone that we showed it to beforehand was super stoked on the idea, but you never know how the harshest critics of social media will respond! After seeing the response though, which was all incredibly positive, we were very relieved. I think choosing something a little different was what put the pressure on our selves.
I spoke to you a few times during both rounds Adam and you mentioned how much time and effort goes into the promotion side of things after you've done all the initial work of filming/editing. Did that surprise you and have you learned anything specific from the whole process?
ADAM: I’ve been involved in a few other projects where you need views or votes to win so it wasn’t a massive surprise, but the scale of this was much bigger! This was our first year in Store Wars so we didn’t know what to expect; Round 1 wasn’t so bad as it was 5 videos in 1 week so it was somewhat fast paced. It was Round 2 that took a bit more patience and you had to play the long game! It made me realise that we’ve got some rad friends and followers!
You obviously came into this with a plan and the secret weapon of Peter's filming/editing/After Effects skills - how tactical were you in Round 1 where it's obviously all about view counts and 'going viral'? Did you sit down and come up with ideas specifically because you thought they'd appeal to both skaters and non-skaters?
ADAM: Pete was definitely our secret weapon - he smashed it. Pete has always loved producing unique videos; he’s got an eye for that sort of thing so we basically plucked ideas out of his head.
PETE: Thanks Keats. At the time, I don't think we really thought about being tactical but that was certainly a big contribution to its success. All of our videos contained an aspect that would appeal to people that weren't into skateboarding and that helped the secondary reach of the posts, but at the end of the day we just went out and had fun filming!
You have the single most viewed clip from the entirety of Store Wars - the 'Surf's Up' one - currently sitting at over a million views, which by anyone's perspective is pretty insane. Talk us through the making of that one and where the idea came from please.
ADAM: I know this is a bit of a touchy subject for Pete, this is probably the video he spent the least amount of time producing but I’ll let him talk through this one.
PETE: I'm sure there is going to be a bit of arguing about who is taking credit for this one but I think it all came about at the start of the summer. Keats, Gurney, Will and myself were all at Skate Warehouse when a rep arrived with a bunch of carver skateboards. We all had a go cruising around the carpark and inside the warehouse, which was great fun in itself. I'm pretty certain I suggested trying to find a tarpaulin and to make a wave, but I'm sure the boys may remember it differently! We found a couple of small old green tarps and had to cable tie them together to make them big enough, but it worked! I think we made a little video that day, but the idea was truly planted.
The actual making of the Store Wars video was a lot of fun, and one of those moments where you have to remind yourself, "I'm actually at work at the moment!"
We were kindly given use of the local leisure centre, and Keats and Will were let loose on eBay to buy some props with the production budget that we got from Mountain Dew, and then a friend of Will’s donated a giant tarp. Gurney was wearing his 5/4 winter wetsuit, so some of the moisture you can see glistening on the wave isn't CGI. We ended up filming about 20 minutes of footage, so it was tough to cut it down to 45 seconds.
I'm sure a longer version of the video will be created at some point!
Have either you ever been involved in something going viral like that before? Or were you as dumb-founded as we were as it started going up by 10k views every 5 minutes?
ADAM: Nothing like that on Facebook no, I’ve fluked a couple videos on Instagram but this was ridiculous. Old school friends, family, people I’d met once were tagging me and sharing the video, which was pretty crazy!
PETE: Yeah it's pretty insane! I think the most views we've had on a video have been under 50k so it was all a new experience for us to. Since that we've had all sorts of request from Viral Facebook pages and YouTube accounts to do videos for them!
Do you have any funny anecdotes from the period where it was blowing up on Facebook?
PETE: When the Surfs Up video was first posted, a few of us were out in Amsterdam at the time for the Mountain Dew AmSeries event, with Internet access onlt when we were back in the hotel. I would keep heading back to the hotel at about hourly intervals to see how much the views had grown and give a report to the guys.
We were going crazy when it went over 100k views! After that it just snowballed and I think by the end of the trip it was over half a million.
A couple of weeks later I definitely found myself sitting on my couch just clicking refresh every second to watch it go over the 1 million mark!
It's pretty crazy though, to contemplate just how many people have seen it! I was on a train to London and some guys were talking about it in the row ahead of me. I've never had that happen!
ADAM: For a while after, and even now if I go out for a drink locally I don’t think I can get through a conversation with someone without them mentioning ‘that surf video’.
From your own perspective - what are the benefits to skate stores getting involved in an event like this?
PETE: Skating is all about community and skate stores should be the hub of that community.
Kids and skaters love filming, love seeing videos, love interacting in the scene, and it pushes them on to go out and film and progress! When I was younger, (pre social media and YouTube) skate mags were all we had to get stoked on skateboarding! Watching The Day in the City, and the Big Push DVDs before heading out to skate was what kept us trying to progress and trying to make videos our selves.
All skate stores want is for people to be stoked on skating and if we can do that by making some cool videos and then they see the effort we’re putting into the community, they’re more likely to want to buy from us instead of some chain store.
ADAM: I think it’s rad to see stores all over the country putting out proper UK footage, it definitely helps build the profile of the store in their local area, and with thousands of views per video it’s bound to get them some extra attention!
From a filming/editing point of view - which was the hardest clip to make Peter and why?
PETE: The hardest was Alex DeCuhna’s clip! I spent nearly 3 straight days editing it and still wasn't pleased with it! We were originally going to film something different with Alex, but on arriving at the spot, the prop we needed had gone, so we quickly had to have a rethink. I had done something similar before but never on that scale! It still bugs me a little watching it back but I guess it did the trick!
ADAM: Perfectionist… ha
Which one was surprisingly easy and why?
PETE: The Aaron Jago Video Game video was surprisingly easy, (definitely an original idea though) as I had just invested in a 3-axis gimbal for my camera so it made tracking the motion in the scenes really straight forward. I think we filmed it in the morning and had it mostly finished by the evening!
Where did the inspiration for your Round 2 clip come from?
ADAM: Pete and I sat down in the shop one morning and basically threw ideas at each other - we had some hilarious and potentially awful ideas. We started getting pretty elaborate looking at Skydiving costs, whether we’d be able to go somewhere abroad with the team, or how many outrageously adventurous things we could do in a weekend and really focussed on what people would like to see.
Then we realised that was a terrible idea and we had the ability to do something decent with the money! The initial idea was to hook up a random person in need with a bunch of product and take them on a filming trip but logistically that wouldn’t work, it would have been impossible to be unbiased in picking just one so we devised up a way to hook up as many people as possible.
You used Facebook to reach out to people who deserved a visit and some freebies - what kind of criteria did you use to decide who to visit?
PETE: Yes, we had to be careful how we went about it as we couldn't just go out giving product to any random person who could have just made up an elaborate story to try and get a free deck. When we decided to use Facebook, we had to do a good amount of research with each contact we had. Some of the stories were tragic and far too personal to feature in the video, but we were able to hook them up anyway.
We actually ended up going quite a bit over budget, but it was worth it.
ADAM: I spent a whole day replying to these people that had messaged us and like Pete said, after we explained how we were going to do it they weren’t so keen to have their story on camera and it was completely understandable. We eventually narrowed it down to 10 main people and mapped the route around the country with the additional idea of stopping by at parks and surprising people on the way.
It's an amazing way to use Social Media to your advantage - FB really can be a powerful tool eh? Talk us through a few of the conversations that took place on there whilst you were planning the Round 2 clip please.
ADAM: Yeah we were blown away with how many responses we got, some were really sensitive subjects and then we had a couple that were like, ‘My mate left his board at the skatepark’ so filtering them out had to happen.
One I can tell you is David’s story, Dave was the guy we surprised in Crewe and I’m not lying, he had 3 totally separate friends nominate him. I was informed that he broke his ankle a couple years ago and was told he wouldn’t skate again, which he proved to be untrue and skated after his injury… we know the feeling. However, his story went on and I was told that he had recently been diagnosed with a heart condition that causes his resting heart rate to rocket up to 200bpm without any notice and because of this he has been in and out of hospital throughout this year and his everyday life has been drastically changed.
All three friends told us how positive he has remained throughout all of this, how he doesn’t complain about his situation and instead is a kind and generous friend that will always try to help someone in need.
It was a no brainer to give Dave this surprise!
How many miles did you do, how many boards did you give out, how many different spots/parks did you visit?
ADAM: We ended up driving over 1300 miles, which was inevitable being based in Devon.
We hit up 10 parks, and I honestly have no idea how many boards we gave out, we just loaded up the van with tonnes of product and set off. Each location was a surprise for us too, Radlands is a prime example, as we wanted to surprise the first person there, but there were 3 dudes and a few kids there already so we just hooked them all up with some skate bits.
I’ve got a piece of paper somewhere with the product list on…
What kind of feedback did you get from the people who were randomly given free boards etc as none of them knew it was going to happen beforehand I assume?
ADAM: People were blown away! A couple knew, just so they weren’t freaked out when we turned up with a camera but most had no idea.
Southbank was one of the funniest because we weren’t surprising skateboarders, we were giving out boards to families that walked by, some were really stoked, others were a little shy at first and some literally ignored me and walked off! Not so surprising I suppose, how often are you actually given something for free without a catch?
A lot of the people we surprised at the parks and spots were really grateful and didn’t really know what to say but you could see how stoked they were, that was the best bit! Along with the people we planned to surprise, there were some we didn’t meet so they sent us messages after saying thank you, and the others were just hyped. You could see it gave them a little boost!
Knowing you lot, you'll probably have something interested planned to spend the prize money on - what's next?
ADAM: Pete’s just come back from the states so we’re going to sit down and discuss our plans soon! We’ve got an idea for something big in the New Year but you’ll have to wait and see what it is.
What, if anything, would you say you've learned from being involved in Store Wars?
PETE: I think the best thing has been how caring the skate community is. When we put out the message Facebook, we were overwhelmed with people's concern for their friends and fellow skaters. People went miles out of their way and changed their plans to meet us and surprise their friend who they had nominated. Giving out skateboards at South Bank was also such a good experience, and just chatting with parents who couldn't believe what we were doing. We have even had photos sent to us of some of the kids skating the boards we gave to them who may have never started skating otherwise.
ADAM: In relation to our final video it made me realise that it didn’t take much to make someone’s day, a small gift, and an invite to go skate! That’s what it’s all about. Skateboarding!
Is there anything else that you'd like to say?
ADAM: A big thank you to everyone that watched, shared and featured in our videos! Huge respect as well to all the other shops that took part, there were some insane and hilarious videos throughout the comp and thanks to you guys at Sidewalk and to Mountain Dew for the invite to get involved! Stay tuned for what we’ve got planned for 2017!