Al Hodgson is a skater and filmmaker from Brighton, England who runs Orwellian World Landscape. He’s produced a plethora of videos and products, where he displays his curious fascination with dystopian worlds, the inner and outer workings of the VX, rugged British spots and taking alternative routes to document his crew ripping them to shreds on their skateboards.
There’s not many independent skate filmmakers in the UK who have released quite as many quality edits and full-lengths in recent years as Al has. But what’s even more interesting about him are his solid and nuanced perspectives on skate filmmaking itself, its culture and his focused points of views on the tools and equipment he uses to captures his unique lens of the world.
We’ve been paying attention to Al’s skate filmography for a long time, so we had to make him a No Comply Network member.
So to celebrate Al becoming a member, we had a chat about skateboarding, filmmaking and his creative process, O.W.L Skateboards, why he likes the work of Colin Read, Gustav Tønnessen, Josh Stewart, Yoan Tallinder and Soy Panday, his latest edit Moorland, his products and upcoming OWL video projects and his favourite skate filmmakers, brands and much more.
Read it below to discover it all for yourself.
Photo by Matt Ransom
What’s your full name?
Hey! My full name is Al Hodgson.
Where did you grow up?
I’m originally from and still now live in Brighton. But I spent a while living in Bristol and still visit there regularly, so O.W.L exists between the two places, but at the moment it’s more heavily Brighton-based.
Cool. What is OWL Skateboards?
OWL Skateboards is just the shorter name of a skateboard project I run called ‘Orwellian World Landscape
‘. It’s through it, that I and my crew of friends, make films and release video projects and the occasional limited board and merch runs. www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmBS_p7gzJM&t=70s
Do you film skating full-time or do you have another job?
I also work full time as a videographer and content creator for a music institute and curate a little Brighton skate archiving project on Instagram
What do you think is the key to filming great skateboarding?
In terms of skateboard filmmaking, I’d say replicating the energy of the skateboarding being captured is probably most important. I’m definitely an advocate of the VX1000/MK1 combo for that reason. But that comes with the caveat that the filmer has to know how to use it well and get the best out of it, otherwise it’s a waste of a perfect tool. @olichappers But I’m definitely not a ‘VX-or-nothing’ person. Any approach to skateboard videography has the potential to be great with the right amount of effort or creativity, it just has to be exciting or inspiring, culturally authentic and ideally non-narcissistic. I’d say they’re the keys. @spliffiths As for the key to skateboarding? Good trou’.
Why is creativity an important element to skate videos?
I think creativity in skate videos is an intrinsic and imperative part [of] skateboarding in general, but for me personally it’s always been a pretty fundamentally important element to how I’ve experienced and enjoyed it. It’s such a complex visual language that we’ve created and honed which is truly unique to our craft, and I think it can be a really beautiful thing.
Agreed. What are your thoughts on skate video editing?
Like with anything there’s still a fair amount of crud to wade through, but I feel like it’s comparatively less than it used to be, and the quality of craft in, especially independent skate videos in the past few years has been super refreshing and consistently good.
It feels as though the experimental and independent content gets a good amount of shine these days, and the volume of good videos is higher than ever, which can only be a good thing, we just have to keep fighting the good fight.
What’s your creative process in putting together a new project?
In terms of my own creative process, like many others in the depths of our subculture I’m a pretty strong advocate of the VX1000, and I tend to get pretty obsessed with a particular VX video, approach or filmer and want to make something of my own.
That being said, I’m not really one for just going out filming with no end goal in mind, and if I am going to start working on a project, I like to know that it can be seen to fruition and some sort of crescendo, otherwise it can feel like a waste of time.
By that same token I don’t really like filming or editing for other people’s skate video projects unless I can have some sort of worthwhile creative input, and so I couldn’t really see myself as a skate filmer for hire or something, because I’d rather just make skate videos exactly how I wanted with specific people I thought were rad.
I’ve been really lucky to work on these projects so far with some amazing people and I feel super blessed to be able to call them my friends. @spliffiths
Dope. So what creatives working in skating inspire you?
Right now I’m super obsessed with Birch Skateboards
. Guru Khalsa and those guys are doing something super creative and pure out of Austin and it’s super inspiring. Anything Yoan Talliandier
) does turns to gold.
is a damn VX magician and has basically taken it as far as you can go in terms of conceptual skate videos. I’m still reeling in shock from how the hell Gustav Tønnesen
manages to be both an amazing filmer and the most talented skateboarder on Earth.
I think all the Piilgrim
stuff is great. I’m still a huge fan of everything brands like Magenta
and Theories Of Atlantis
and Josh Stewart
keep it very real. So yeah, a bunch of stuff.
What’s your most recent project that you have released?
Our most recent project is ‘Moorland’; an edit of a wild-camping skate trip around the rural South-West that we did in September. www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfPLdM7wzLY&t=2s Alongside it we also released an accompanying photo zine and a run of VX1000 homage boards and long-sleeves, all of which are available on our store or via Workshop Dist.
Do you have any upcoming releases?
I have a couple video project ideas in the pipeline at the moment for 2021, so we’ll probably be starting on them from Spring once the weather gets a bit better. For updates about that give us a lil’ follow on our Instagram. But other than that, it’s just a matter of seeing what next year holds post pandemic winter! So we’ll see…
Lastly, what are your thoughts on The No Comply Network?
It’s cool. You’ve had a lot of really rad and talented people become part of the project, and it’s sick that you shout out some of the more obscure and often forgotten skate clips on the Instagram. They’re really sick.