Portrait by Lui Araki • Bordeaux, May 2015
Hey Diego, yes all is well here in France, wishing the same to you!
2.Tell us how you begining into skateboarding and and how long have you been shooting skateboarding videos? you was photographer too rigth?
I started skateboarding in the late 1990’s in a small town in France called Blois, 45000 inhabitants about two hours from Paris, it’s in the dead center of the country and in reality back in the day nothing was going on here. The economy of the city is based on its royal history and all the tourism around that, which means a lot of the local vision is facing backwards with not much hope for progressive enterprises or cultural development that is judged too modern - new initiative freak people out in this very traditional region. I think a lot of people here (especially teenagers) develop subconscious frustrations, not being given the keys to understand the evolution of the world confuses them. So, to the youth, skateboarding is something alien - like a message in a bottle from the outside they can focus on, it distracts them from boredom and encourages them to look at new horizons and learn from different cultures, maybe even physically get out of the city (because as you know skateboarding is a good motivation for traveling). Back in the day skateboarding was a lot more unpopular so it would really attract certain types of people with the same insecurities and struggles, but different backgrounds in life and cultures which would transform in different skate styles, it was a lot more genuine than everybody wearing Thrasher shirts and more importantly, it was a lot less confusing to get answers out of skateboarding. You skated with people who did the same and your skateboard gave the life lessons. Nowadays so many kids get skateboards and don’t even know why, they aren’t even given the time to really want one. But it’s still sick because the percentage of those who really enjoy it will keep doing it, frequent the streets and learn from the meditation anyway - that doesn’t die, generations don’t matter here, nor how confusing the mainstream becomes.
I have been filming for almost as long as I have been skateboarding but here it was super hard to get access to proper filming gear. Our region was super secluded so you couldn’t find anything or get information (before the Internet), you couldn’t get standard equipment or learn ‘how to film’. You could only be the skate nerd watching the same tape of 411VM three times in a row on rainy days trying to slow-mo Mike Carroll’s line and not understanding shit about the technical subtleties of the footage whatsoever. There really was a separation between our world and the world we could see in skate videos (still is, but Internet has made it thinner), you had the US pros with the generators and small picnic tables and then us with your friend’s dad camcorder and cracked concrete curbs. The first device I used to film skating was a battery-operated webcam, you couldn’t even film with it but you could shoot sequences (20 frames in ‘high quality mode’ which was shit anyway and 80 frames in ‘low quality mode’ which resulted in three dozens of black and white pixels). Then you would capture the ‘photos’ and animate them as a .gif image then convert the .gif... Manual labor! On that webcam, once the memory was full (4 seconds of shit footage) you couldn’t delete just a few frames, you had to format the whole device and lose everything. So everytime you missed your trick you had to manually format the thing, meaning that you couldn’t go home with two tricks unless it was first try and of course lines were impossible or you had to be stupid fast. Then real cameras came later (when they became more accessible here - mid-to-late 2000’s).
I started filming because I was super stoked on all the amazing skaters around me (Luy-Pa Sin is a local legend, I used to skate with his brother), there was something beautiful about this fucked-up scene with no spots and yet so much passion, I didn’t see that in the French magazines back in the day so starting to film was my way of saying ‘hey we have a heritage too, look at our city and its people’. I was proud of our dirt, to me it didn’t matter how small or commercially unexploitable my city was, we skated and that was it.
And yes I also started shooting photos around the same time I started filming but skating was really number one from the start, filming came second and then I had little time to devote to photos. Again I started with cheap cameras then got a proper digital set-up around 2010 but then I also got a film camera and that’s all I started using. I shot film all the time 2010-2017 and took my camera with me around the world going all over Europe, or to the US, Japan, India, Indonesia, South America, Iceland... I had moved to a bigger city at the time (Bordeaux, France which is like the skate capital of the country) which made it convenient, then I moved back to my hometown of Blois and it became hard to use film again so I started putting more time into skating and also started writing more articles for magazines worldwide. Kind of traded explicit visual imagery for written text. I do a lot of interviews of people because to me everybody’s background is a life lesson and every individual is a unique trip. Everybody is good at skateboarding anyway nowadays so I guess instead of just displaying stunts, I needed to get deeper and ask them all how they got there, person by person, it’s almost more memorable now (when that used to be the boring part before the Internet when everybody wanted tricks - now skate tricks are everywhere, even in pop-up ads).
Vivien Feil - Switch Backside Lipslide
3.About your work,in which magazines have appeared your work as a photographer and how many videos have you filmed so far?
It’s hard to keep track because I keep submitting photos and text to many different publications even small ones. Vista Skate Mag from Brazil made a portfolio thing of me two years ago that was almost 30 pages, such a honor, they killed it. When in Bordeaux I was skating with the Magenta Skateboards guys all the time, they are some of my best friends and introduced me to so many people, there was always so much energy, in France or on trips and I was shooting everything, so they’ve used some of my photos and other images from that time period I keep using, sending to mags whenever needed, they don’t age. I also help out Benjamin Deberdt for the content on the LIVE Skateboard Media website and I’ve had photos and text published in the French SuGaR Skate Mag and Thrasher, TransWorld SKATEboarding Japan, Push Periodical by Richard Hart, Bilde Paper and Duck Tales Zine from Australia, Free Skate Mag from the UK and really just about anybody who asks if I can make the time. I’m always busy catching up with projects, in addition to being a translator and also being the community manager and media editor for the local skateshop, plus, of course, skateboarding, and life in general. It’s hard for me not being productive because then I start asking myself too many shit questions and losing focus.
About videos I’ve mostly made grassroots DIY full length films, maybe 3 or 4 full videos that kind of count as real videos and of course a few more when I was a kid and trying to figure shit out. Most recent production I did was «Vladimir» a film about the Vladimir Film Festival in Croatia which is an event with core skate video premieres and exhibitions of nothing but independent skate productions and photography, organized by skaters who also have almost nothing (but a scene with great passion). «Vladimir» is half a documentary half a skate video with a message, look it up and those guys will inspire you. Maybe look up «B&B» too, a still ongoing project, the finished parts of that one are on YouTube. The rest is either local stuff, or a mess. But I’ve also filmed for Magenta Skateboards videos (filmed all the longlens in «Just Cruise»), Static 4/5, Minuit, Parisii and plenty of stuff as soon as I get the chance to. Recently I’ve been experimenting with different filming formats too, you’ll see soon, maybe.
Zach Chamberlin - Slappy Noseslide Tailgrab
4.Which are your influences and motivations in your work?
Life is one big inspiration, I just go through it doing things the way I can, trying to find my own visual language to express how I perceive existence and what it says to me. The technical aspect of media etc... only needs to be conquered so you can express your vision in a fine way. I keep making mistakes so I can learn from those and eventually, hopefully get there. My motivation is to reunite the people who get my message around the positive details in life and skateboarding can be a good way to achieve that, because it’s something moving in all possible ways. It’s got wheels to get you moving forward and keep going through shit to learn from, then you basically get more life out of life which is remarkable.
Miguel Castro - Nollie Flip
5.Explain some more about the rad and diy skateboarding scene from France.
Skateboarding in France was always two poles, first the big cities with all the fresh urban architecture and «hot» spots, sponsors because they are economic centers etc... and then the smaller cities which consist in most of the countryside. Those smaller cities were never in magazines or videos before so in order to «exist» the people skating there always had to invent their own format, their own media and sometimes their own spots. Every once in a while they breed some super passionate people who live, breathe and sweat skateboarding and those same individuals go through generations constantly building new shit, Seb Daurel is a good example (former Powell then Cliché rider, still skateboarding, super into DIY building, he lives in a cabin and pours concrete all day now), Jo Dezecot is another one, look him up and his crazy projects such as «La Cave», the guy used to build his own photo cameras and is a full-time contractor now, of course you can come from a big city and play pretend you’re into cool DIY shit but you know those guys aren’t fucking around.
About the media, you have a lot of DIY filmmakers here who grew up in small zones with a great undocumented scene like I did, so they invented their own format. Yoan Taillandier has been a big worldwide influence with his «Minuit» videos, Romain Batard is yet another super sick genius, try and watch his video «Frame By Frame» from 10 years ago. «Crosswalk» by Pacôme Gabrillargues is a super rad, super creative one too from the same time period. And of course the Magenta Skateboards guys always try really hard to work with indie filmers and come up with pioneering shit, they’ve bred a lot of the trending street skating and filming style of nowadays including rad stuff such as GX1000.
6.For you what is DIY?
Independence from the model when something needs to come out of you so bad, it no longer matters what everybody or anybody else is doing. No sponsors or if any, likeminded people working on the same scale as you are, or at least with genuine comprehension of and organic interest in your operation, so it’s more like a collaboration. DIY comes from within so of course it’s going to be unique. Fake it and people will smell it from a mile away. Skateboarders have a particularly well-trained eye for spotting and calling out the bullshit. Look up the videos by the Rios Crew from Budapest Hungary and you will understand, they speak that very language.
Ben Gore - Nollie Heelflip
7.You know some from the skateboarding scene from Southamerica?
The scene in South America is so big and complex (as much as the whole place is). Most of the scene I know of is based in Brazil, I’ve been in touch with people there for the last few years and last November I got to go to Rio De Janeiro to attend the Mimpi Film Festival and I was so amazed by how the importance of the community there. For me, having grown up in a region where people are doomed to cultural apathy, I was blown away by how literally everybody I met there had a super sincere, passionate and sophisticated relationship with skateboarding, and how intense they were about exchanging, sharing ideas, working together, learning. Everyone is so effervescent and bright, forward-thinking and thirsty for mutual progression, opposite to the petty behaviors I can’t get used to here, that is the idea that will stick with me the most. That has to be the part of the world I’ve been to where I got the most positive energy, with Japan. Everybody wanted to show me everything, I got to see so much cool shit, incredible skate styles and independent works!�Besides that I’ve been to Peru, Bolivia and Chile before but not for skating although I did skate Pura Pura Skatepark in La Paz one afternoon. Super positive enterprise for the local youth and really well done, if it weren’t for the documentary videos about its creation one would have a hard time believing it’s DIY.
Jimmy Lannon - Kickturn
8.Where the homies can see your work? some links?
I’m everywhere, just look me up. If not you can follow my activity on Instagram @passionisfordinosaurs I try to use social media as a constructive platform for (my take on) the skate culture, with links to films, interviews, articles. I post everything from video trailers I’m working on to photo archives, text, art and of course a lot of skateboarding (by my friends from all the world, and also mine). I think that’s the best way to keep in touch, and get an idea of what I’m doing (which I really don’t know myself so maybe that activity is some sort of therapy, just like most activities are to people).
Magenta Skateboards Guest Board skate part (me skating + I edited)
"Stickers" skate part (me skating + I edited)
Vivien Feil part from "B&B" (I filmed & edited)
Glen Fox part from "B&B" (I filmed & edited)
"Vladimir" (my new film)
Right now I just really want to skate as much as possible, I’m a bit over making full videos and want to focus on expressing myself through the act of skateboarding itself more, I just started getting shoes from State Footwear through the Euro distro and still get stuff from Magenta Skateboards so I want to keep representing them, I actually just started filming for a web part for State, thanks to the help of longtime friends who are stoked to film me, experimenting with a different video format than what I’m used to, so I still need to figure some stuff out but for now I’m happy with the few clips I’ve got and I can’t wait to get more, it’s an exciting process, super hyped on the project; it will all be footage from my hometown Blois too, so the world finally gets to see our shitty spots we’ve skated for all our lives. This year I’m going to try and travel to different countries again for various skate missions, always meet new people to exchange with and hopefully get wiser. My life has never been as busy as right now with all this media work (with two new projects that keep dropping every day I finish one) in addition to skating, job plus the general life-related stuff on the side, but that’s OK, I seem to enjoy kicking myself in the ass with stronger and stronger work ethics everything just to come through.
Leo Valls - B/S Lipslide
10.Aymeric thanks for your time in this interview,something you want to add?
Thank you for your time and attention. SK8 COACH is rad!
Romain Scordino - Ollie Up To Gap Lipslide