Mike Manzoori’s skateboarding shows just one side of his creative talents but it was his pro career that put him on a path to filmmaking.
We were really interested to find out how exactly he made the transition from pro skater to filmer, how he made the move from the UK to the USA and found his focus on filmmaking. So we gave him a call to have a long chat about his stories and perspectives on it all.
Read Mike’s In Focus interview on making ATM’s Flick, meeting Don Brown and Pierre Andre, setting up Sole Tech’s video department , skating and filming for Sheep shoes, making full-lengths for Etnies, Emerica and éS, collaborating with Fred Mortagne on Menikmati and Jon Miner on Stay Gold and This is Skateboarding, Album, his short film Aimless, untold Tom Penny stories and his plan for a Penny documentary, Kyle Leeper, Rain and Shine, going freelance, his latest and upcoming projects, and his favourite skaters, styles, videos, photos of all-time and more below.
So before we get to your filmmaking in The States, you were skating for a company called ATM, how did that start?
So I’d been to The States when I rode for Santa Cruz. That was kind of a weird one because I thought I was kind of done with being sponsored at that point.
I went out there to visit and the team manager at the time, Shane O’Brien, was like you need to talk to them about turning pro and getting a board.
I was like mate I don’t feel comfortable having that conversation at all.
He’d sorted out a thing with them where I was getting paid a couple hundred bucks of month over a year and at the end of that year, me and this Dutch skater Dirk Winkleman, one of us was going to turn pro. It was a really weird setup. I’d never heard of anything like it in skating before.
But I was happy to get a little bit of a pay check at the time. I had no income at the time.
I was just going to college. So I planned this trip to The States towards the end of that year. So even though it wasn’t quite a year yet, he was like you’ve got to talk to them when you are here.
So what went down with Santa Cruz?
He was like you need to talk to them face to face. I didn’t want to have that conversation. I put it off and put it off and then on the last day of the trip, he was like have you talked to them yet? I was like no, he was like you should!
Then I did and they basically shut me down. They were like your tripping!? Nobody’s having a board in Europe.
Frontside Rock N’ Roll, Nude Bowl: Shot by @lanced
Why was that?
Skaters in Europe were not the focus in skating at the time. They literally told me that Claus Grabke had a board in the 80s’ on Santa Cruz and it went okay but that European skaters boards, they don’t go that well. I was so sorry I left. I felt so embarrassed I left the team. I didn’t even want to ask for that shit.
What did you do then?
This guy Tom Boyle, he rode for this company New School. Then weird circumstance, I started getting flowed New School boards, even though I didn’t know what they were at the time.
Then when I went to pick them up from Surrey Skates I saw ATM boards next to them. I was like ah, that’s a way sicker company and they were distributing both. I was like can I get these ATM boards instead?
Then when I was in The States,I was in LA, skating with Ron Chatman a bunch and he was skating for ATM.
So when I called up the guys at New School to get my boards, I was like, I’m here getting my boards but I’ve seen these ATM Boards and I’ve been skating with Ron in LA, can I get these ATM boards? I want to get these because I don’t know anything about New School. They were like yeah sure.
I was like Ron is here right now, do you want to talk to him about it, and they were like yeah and they said they wanted to talk to The Gonz about it.
That was back when ATM was started. It was Mark Gonzales’ company; it was Mark Gonzales, Ron Chatman, Fabian Alomar and Steven Cales.
It was this sick little company that was run by The Gonz.
I was like holy shit, I was going to be on the team of Gonz’s company, I was tripping, I was so fucking stoked.
Then within a week of him saying that I was getting ATM boards and I was all set, little did I know that Gonz left ATM, took the whole team away, the brand was in limbo and they were rebuilding it from scratch with two people and that I was one of them.
So I basically got onto a team where I had no idea what the fuck I was getting myself into.
So they were like yeah you’re on the team, can you come out to The States, design a board and all this and then it all became apparent when I got out there .
Then I was like what? Where’s the Gonz? What team did I get on?
It was such an amazing bait and switch. I was such a doofus. I was like what happened there? But as it turned out, as one door closed, another one opened.
They got me out to The States and ATM and New School were run by this guy Jon Fowler who does Alva Skates. That was what New School was, Alva’s modern street skating reincarnation.
It was the street version of Alva Skates, to update it for the new generation of street skating kids. It was that whole era of updating skating to become more street. So it was part of that movement.
Because they got me out there, they were finishing this New School video at the time, but didn’t know how to finish it.
I went to college for the last couple of years and learnt how to use a Mac and I started helping them to finish the video and they were like ’Oh you know how to use a computer do you want to do more? I was like yeah!
They were like sick, we’ve got no one to do anything, do you want to lay out the ads, make the videos, run the team and basically have the whole brand run under your wing and do everything? And I was like yeah sure?
I got paid peanuts to ride for them and peanuts to do basically like five jobs for them but I kept the brand afloat.
It was a really good opportunity where I got to pick a team, get a bunch of dudes together, put them in a van and travel and make a video together.
It was just like my college extension into real life but didn’t feel real as we got to play on someone else’s budget, and call it our little skateboard company.
It was a really weird way that it all unfolded.
Yeah but a solid way to start your creative career in skating.
It felt like a lot of work because I did not know what I was doing! I did it for a couple years and did not know what the fuck I was doing.
We put out some ads, we put out some boards and we made a couple videos. But then again it was a pretty low risk thing for the owner of the company and for us. Make some shit and see what happens.
From there I got a lot more opportunities. I look back and I trip out because if I tried to plan any of this it would not have worked out, it would have failed miserably. I wouldn’t even know how to start planning any of this. But as I said, one door closed and another thing naturally opened and all that good stuff.
So ATM’s Flick was your first video for them?
That was made before I fully moved out the US. I came out here and just visited. We made that video in 2 months. I just stayed out here on a tourist visa and we knocked out that video real quick. That was the one with the Fastlands double set Ollie in it too.
Sounds like it worked out to the fullest
Yeah 100 percent. I could not have planned it better. I trip out on the way it seamlessly lined up. You just have to go with it.
Sounds like you’re good at multitasking
Or too dumb to know when to stop! A lot of it was necessity; there wasn’t anyone else to do it. It was a cool opportunity. We didn’t have anything else better to do. I just had to sleep and go skating. In the morning do some brand stuff. I could not believe it.
I was in college, literally just learned how to use a Mac and a mouse. Basic old school Macs. Macs back then were black and white in my college. I remember when I got there, they had them in colour. I was like oh wow, the computer is in colour.
Figuring out how to get ads made. Going to this guy down the street, where he’d separate all of the colours of your graphics with CYMK plates and taking the film plate to the magazine. I’d never done any of that stuff. But I was like yeah sure, I’ll figure it out.
Walking into Transworld, I did not know any of those guys but because I’d known everyone in the UK at Sidewalk Mag, I was like this is normal, you just go to the mag and become friends with everyone. They were super cool and they fucking took photos of me, gave me an article in the mag.
I get kids asking me now, how did you get into this?
I’m like I have no fucking clue! It all fell in my lap and it’s like thank God for that because If I tried I would not know where to start.
I mean these days; kids have more tools to make themselves known. If you have a phone and Wi-Fi you can blast out cool stuff and film and edit and the world will see it in a heartbeat. If it’s interesting and goes viral, the world will know who you are. But back then, I’d literally go to skate shops with a tape, and ask them if they want to see it and say I had a copy if they wanted to sell it.
True but even now you still need to put the work in
That’s what I’m saying though even now if your trying to figure it out now, even with the technology access, I wouldn’t know where to start. You have to do the sickest shit to put it out there and be noticed. I’ve got lucky, I’ve got 20+ years in skating and I’m lucky that people know who the fuck I am.
But to come up now, it must be really hard because people have seen everything, I try to improve myself still but that’s just built on things I’ve done before
But if you’re trying to come out of nowhere now, and make your name, it must be crazy.
Skating gets progressively even gnarlier every day. People just want to see things that are unique, original and honest, it’s a balancing act. But the essence of it seems the same as it was back in the day.
People are way more into sincerity then anything too polished or overly produced. Everyone is so spoilt for choice now. Skating, music, culture, whatever you want to filter through it all on top that resonates with you, cool. There will always be that authenticity in skating that prevails.
Whether you are skating a double set or a five stair, people can see when you’re coming through with your own shit on your own level.
Yeah, it’s the same level of fire, it’s just skating is a bit more inventive now than it was.
Your ties with SoleTech have always been tight as a skater. How did you get involved with them from the creative side though?
When I still lived in the UK, I met Don Brown and Pierre-Andre at European contests.
That was back when they were doing éS, Emerica and Etnies in the US. SoleTech started as the parent company to all of those. I started doing filming stuff for them and I filmed at a couple of contests and then those guys sent me Etnies shoes back in the day. I was getting flowed from them.
Then when I lived in The States they started Sheep, which was a sister brand to Etnies. The team was me, Ed Templeton and Laban Pheidias. That was the original team. But then Laban left and a couple of other skaters after that first video Life of Leisure. I rode for them for a few years.
That was my first video project for them. I’d done other stuff for them but they knew I filmed for that video. So when they were making more videos they were like we want you to do more shoe videos for us because I made that video in about two months of filming.
That brand lasted for about a year or two. Don and Pierre were distributing Etnies in the US, but the owners of Etnies in France, they were taking Etnies to more of a mainstream platform. Don and Pierre were resisting that and didn’t think it should be that, they wanted Etnies to stay more core to skating.
So Pierre was trying to buy the name Etnies from this guy in France and own it outright then rather being a distributor, and in doing so, in the legal process of getting the name Etnies, which took a couple years, they started éS and Emerica, as Etnies America. That was what their distribution was called Etnies America, so they combined that it became Etnies Emerica. Then they started éS as the high end of Emerica.
Etnies was like more regular skate shoes. éS was when skate shoes were a bit more athletic and basketball inspired. Better materials, air bubbles and that was a point of distinction for the brand, and they were two brands that were not Etnies but coming out of the same door.
So they had éS. They had Emerica and they were trying to get Etnies back. Then they started Sheep and got Etnies back. But then realised they had four brands in the same place and that was a little crazy and Sheep being the last one in was trying to grow and the others being more established.
Sheep got put on the shelf. They did bring it back in the last few years for a bit for fun but mainly they just kept the name.
So Sheep came and went and I started working for Etnies. In that time we started the video Menikmati for éS and I set up the video department of Sole Technologies.
We had Jon Miner, French Fred, a couple other people came and went. Dustin Aaron was there for a good ten years. Miner kind of gravitated towards the Emerica guys. Fred did the éS video Menikmati and left. But I helped on all of those projects and basically all of the SoleTech projects for 25 years.
Then last year, in 2020, I went freelance. It was the first year in 25 years that I was not working for Etnies. But I still do stuff for Etnies, freelance. Still filming and editing for them, skating and BMX stuff.
I didn’t know you laid out all their projects like that.
There were brand managers for each shoe company, who each had all of their own levels of control.
I didn’t have oversight on absolutely everything, there was some stuff that came out that I didn’t approve but most of the main skate videos I had a hand in putting together that come out of that company.
So with Menikmati, did Fred film it and you edited it?
Menikmati was 80 percent Fred at least. That was his project. I just helped him out. He started that video before I got over from the UK. I was out there doing the Sheep video. SoleTech were getting me a work visa, which meant I had to leave the US for a while, they thought it would be quick but it took over a year and they wanted to do the video.
Fred had already started working on the project first due to that. He fucking killed it. I learnt a lot working with Fred.
Fred is an epic dude. Unlike a lot of us who just picked up a camcorder and hit the streets, he has a lot of film school knowledge and brought a lot to the table. Menikmati – he shot most of it. I went on a lot of trips. He shot most of it and edited most of it.
But because he wasn’t living in America he wasn’t there for the mastering and remastering it for DVD, he wasn’t there in The States for that but that was the kind of work that I handled on it.
Of all the SoleTech projects which have you been the most proud of?
All of the full-length videos. I’m really grateful to be a part of ‘This is Skateboarding’ was me and Miner, ‘Stay Gold’, me and Miner. Those were epic videos. Stay Gold was more of Miner’s videos, but in the last half I definitely helped on some editing because I was juggling a lot between éS, Emerica and Etnies.
For me, some of the smaller projects I worked on were some of the more fun ones that I thought, wow it’s crazy we did that.
Especially now I’m freelance, to see how lucky we were having opportunity to have creative freedoms to do whatever we wanted. They didn’t even see it half of the time and we’d put it out and they’d be like that’s sick. These days they’d definitely want more approval. But we just used to make it and release it.
Which kind of projects?
There was a video I did with Kyle Leeper called ‘Rain and Shine’ that was just me and him pushing around in Los Angeles in the rain over a few days. That was fun because nobody asked us to do it.
I don’t know how it started. I think Kyle just had this idea of doing a trick or two in the rain. It was raining out here which is rare, so we both got excited, which I know sounds funny to say because that’s the complete opposite of the way it is in England.
Yeah Kyle wanted to do something creative in the rain. So we had two days of really hard heavy rain, but it was actually kind of warm, so it wasn’t a bother to be out splashing about in it.
He found it surprisingly easy to skate so it kind of escalated and we were like let’s get more and more. It’s California, so we weren’t going to get more rain for weeks or possibly months.
So we chased all the rain we could get over that winter. But it was never quite the same as those first few days. It was just colder and shittier rain. You couldn’t even see it as good on the camera anymore, it was just miserable. Despite all of that it was a really fun project that we came up with and fucked around with.
Any others that come to mind?
There was another one we did for this art gallery in Paris for an Etnies project where this art gallery was this brand new modern hi-tech building, they had these various space you could do stuff in. Galleries with thousands of speakers and soundscapes, other ones had weird projections.
Originally we were given the opportunity to make this 360 degree film so if you stood in the middle of the room, you could see a film being played all around you in 360 but then last minute that got changed, because they needed a projector for themselves.
Basically they said we could have this huge wide 80 foot wide, 10 foot tall, panoramic wall, and they said we have this special projection system where we can link them all up to make all of these projectors create one really wide image.
Given that context we made this little skate video that was like a super panoramic video. So imagine zooming out to having a super wide, framing, so it was a weird challenge to do.
Long story short, we made a film for that called Aimless. It’s just a bunch of dudes cruising around LA.
It was before people started shooting skating on RED cameras. I rented the first RED camera; it was this giant tank of a camera and this rig, where I strapped a bunch of cameras so there were three in a row and made this little wooden deck, to create these weird panoramic split screen shots.
So before Go Pro’s and that stuff were widely available, I made this mount where I put four Go Pro’s together that spun together in a circle.
It’s just some skaters mashing through the city, it’s nothing to crazy skate wise. Maybe people forgot about it, as it’s not as memorable as bigger projects but they were some fun opportunities to get to do
We had a lot of creative free reign for it. We created the soundtrack, some of it worked and yeah maybe it wasn’t for everyone but we got the chance to do it and we got to travel with all of these amazing skaters, it was epic.
I feel so lucky to have got those opportunities and it’s interesting because bigger videos, landmark videos they are the milestones in skating the major releases.
But I did notice when web videos became a legitimate thing, I remember being so excited for these shorter projects that wouldn’t take years to make or have that weird level of pressure and you could just try different shit with.
Yeah, there are opportunities to do something interesting in them
I’ve always tried to capture big tricks. I love that shit, stoked to be able to witness it. But I take every chance to show skating as something fun, that everyone can do.
I’m just finishing a promo for Satori Wheels. I went up to San Francisco to film this promo, for this new urethane they’re putting out, it’s harder so it does not flatspot. My concept was like no music, the skater was Brian Delatorre and he’s going to fly down hills and we’ll just play on the sounds of skating.
So it’s a simple edit of him mashing down SF streets. He really doesn’t do any tricks really, the only thing he does is Slappy Crooks a curb, Ollies and Powerslides. It’s mainly him slashing around actually he does a Tre Flip and a Wallride, but it really just shows the wheels in motion playing on the sound and cutting the videos. Fast.
But at the time Brian didn’t understand because were shooting this in sequence, he was like why are you asking me to Slappy Crook this thing seventeen times?
I was just trying to get the focus just right on your wheels. He was like I don’t know why I’m doing it and I don’t understand it but I trust you and he saw the footage after we’d filmed and edited it and he was stoked as he knew we had something up our sleeve.
I just prefer to show skating for skating’s sake, rather than skating to be on TV, or get a magazine cover or to get sponsors. Skating feels good. It’s great filming 20 stair Frontside Flips or whatever people do these days, the big shit is cool but the little stuff I think is a tiny bit more memorable.
Agreed. Stair count has had its moment and people are looking for a better expression of skating and something they can identify with.
It’s trippy when you hear skaters talk about stuff they are watching when they are in the van and I’m driving. The way they talk about videos and magazines, they have so much attention to detail; they’ll be looking at the bricks in a photo, absorbing all of the texture in the photo. A lot goes into it.
Just like when I was filming with Brian Delatorre, it’s just like shooting with a musician or an artist, they’ve got a way they want to be seen, like don’t shoot it like this, I think would work out better to film it like this. They have a way that they want to be seen and bring their own original version to the world.
On that note, what was the concept behind Album and why was it called that?
There were a few reasons. Album being, like because a lot of the shorter parts that come out online are like singles and for a band to release a full-length video is like their album. Then there’s also the idea of a family album where you have all of these memories and timeless moments that you look back on, a milestone of prosperity. Then the other one is that we created the whole soundtrack so we pretty much made an album.
So there’s a lot albums going on in that album. Triple layer.
In terms of the music, we chose musicians who either were from skateboarding in one shape or form or had really heavy ties to skateboarding back in the day.
Like the musician Mike Watt whose music was in skate videos back in the day and it was like a nod to him. He didn’t skate himself but I grew up with videos with his band in it.
John Herndon, the drummer for the band Tortoise, he skates, not every day but he’s skated for years. His music is in a bunch of videos and I’ve used his music before and had him play drums and stud.
Leo Romero has a lot of music on the soundtrack. Paulo Diaz is on another track. All kinds of musicians.
Mario Rubalcaba. He was actually on ATM when I was forming that team; he’s a sick drummer who’s played for all kinds of bands over the years. So yeah that was a really interesting creative process.
There were main two musicians who were running that whole thing. I’m not a musician I was just there giving ideas and influence were my buddy, Noel Paris, who was running Emerica at the time, but he has his own recording studio at his place called The Bionic Ear where he records bands all the time and he’s a great musician himself.
Then there was this other muscian Randy Randall, who was in that band No Age who grew up skating too, so they were kind of the main two orchestrating all of the sessions. I was just sitting in on all of their sessions trying not to get in the way.
Cool, that’s good, so if people find out about the bands they are looking into things that have inspired skaters too.
Exactly. Skate videos had loads of music that I would never have heard of without them. There was no way I would have heard of Mike Watt and The Minuteman back then without them. No way, if it was not for skating. You think about how skate videos were back then, it was like you were changing track on the radio, every section had a different style of music.
Do you have a favourite section from Album?
I don’t. It changes. I spent hundreds of hours working on it, the creation of every element. Ryan Lay’s in it, Matt Berger, it’s a long video. With a bunch of different dudes. Sammaria Brevard as well. They are epic for different reasons.
I like Trevor and Barney Page’s part more because I’ve had slightly less to do with them.
Ryan Sherman did more on those trips with them and a lot of their parts happened without me. It’s a different experience for me to watch them.
Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
A friend of mine Jesse Fritsch, he’s got a production company called The Anton Eye. We just did this Stevie Williams documentary that came out. I just shot some of the interviews. I was thankful to be helping out on projects like that. We’ve done a few ESPN shows, one on Joslin, one on Sheckler.
Doing those Real Street shows. Some commercial work. It’s fun, it’s random. It’s nice to learn different stuff.
Being in skating, there’s creative room to try things but you’re usually working solo or with your buddy, but there’s a limit to what you can learn in comparison with a bigger project and seeing what they can do and bring that to the table. Some projects with Etnies still. Nothing to big on the horizons.
Everybody is just asking for smaller projects.
On the side of all of this I’m working on a new personal project, I’m trying to do a Tom Penny documentary at some point.
Hopefully I’ll get to that before someone else does. If I want it to be done, I want it to be done right. So that’s something that’s in the talks right now.
Tom and I have a lot of history, so if anyone’s going to do something on him, I think he would rather it be somebody he knows.
I heard Tom tried SW FS 540 down the 7 at Southbank and you were filming it?
Yeah, could have happened. I can’t confirm or deny it. It’s nothing that farfetched for Tom. Everyone’s got a Tom story. There’s more to him than just the stories. There are layers to his life. There’s a lot to figure out for this one.
All of his footage in the Flip 411 promo is still next level
I spoke to Steve Douglas for the first time in ages, the other day. We were talking about stuff that went down around the time that the Flip guys moved to The States. He was talking about the difference of what was going on in America compared to the UK. Tom and Geoff Rowley were on fire.
Everything going on in America was the forefront but we didn’t know any better in England.
So everything we saw going on in The States we thought they were doing normally but skating had changed.
When you watched Powell and Santa Cruz videos prior to that, they were doing the tricks that they do all of the time.
But street skating, the thing you saw the guy doing in that video, that was like the one time that they made that trick because they were pushing the boundaries now, not just filming how they skate but filming how they wanted to skate in the future.
So it was two hundred tries, three trips to the spot to get this trick that was just like a fantasy.
But in the UK we thought that was normal. So the best skaters in the UK being like Tom and Geoff and those guys, were basically just doing that stuff.
It was fucking mindblowing mate. The difference between Tom and Geoff and those guys from all of those guys before was kind of like how kids skate now. They just did tricks instead of trying. They were skating around, constantly doing tricks. It’s hard to emphasise what it was like to see.
Steve had just left the US and been to a competition where everybody was falling. Nobody was landing any of their tricks in their 45 second run. He gets to the Munster contest in Germany and Tom and Geoff and all the Europeans were all doing their tricks and landing full runs because they didn’t know any better because they thought how it was.
So when that 411 part was released and they had their first covers, people didn’t know what the fuck hit them.
They were like who the fuck are these kids and how the fuck are they able to do it like that.
You just don’t understand how gnarly it was! Tom was that far ahead of everyone and doing it with such a sleepy style.
The funny thing was those big Northampton contests came in at the same time. So when they moved to The States people had already seen them in those contests and Tom was fucking killing it. But there was one year there were a couple of contests in a row and one year, they did not understand Tom.
He had a bit of a weird style, he kind of stuck his arms out a bit and they were like who the fuck is that. But we were like that’s our boy Tom.
But then I remember seeing the cool guys at Northampton contest kind of mocking him, then the following year, he’d come into his own and they were all like bowing down and worshipping him like he was the dog’s bollocks, like this is how it is.
They were threatened the first year, the next year; they were like we need to get on board with this.
It was rad to see because being from the UK; he was our boy and Geoff obviously.
Geoff had a bit of a later impact I’d say in shock value. He went so big but it took a second for people to realise how big he was going where as Tom did it all with that epic style.
Tom still amazes kids starting to skate today, it’s a good time to make a film about him. What’s your favourite Penny clip or trick?
They are all good. Ok, here’s a pretty rad one. Randomly me, Tom and Heath Kirchart went to Austin, Texas for a weekend because they were doing a shop signing for SoleTech. It was like at a mall shop not a proper skate shop. I went along to film. It pissed down with rain the entire weekend, we went to the skatepark once, and Heath flew out early because he was over the rain.
We were just hanging out in the hotel, waiting for it to stop raining. The moment we arrived in the hotel, I noticed in the parking garage on each level, there were these partitions walls that had these perfect circles that were cut into them, that were just low enough that I thought Tom could Ollie through them.
Tom shrugged it off. We were there from a Thursday through to a Sunday. But finally on the last day he was like ok, let’s check it out.
I didn’t think he would do it more than once but he jumped through it like 10-15 times. We filmed it and shot a bunch of photos.
Sidewalk was approaching their 100th issue and they knew I was filming with Tom for éS stuff for a while.
So they were like any chance you can try and get a photographer to come with you, because Tom was on issue 1 of Sidewalk and we want him to be on issue 100. So I tried my best to make it happen but in typical Tom style, every time we went out filming, Tom’s pretty spontaneous and a photographer never made it to the sessions. So I just started to bring my camera to the sessions.
I don’t shoot that many photos and that photo ended up being the cover of Sidewalk.
To get a cover and get a photo of Tom is even more amazing so I was stoked on that one. I’m glad I didn’t blow it because we were shooting on film at the time. It was all a bit of a gamble. I’m glad he did it so many times. I managed to get a 5-6 good photos out of that one session.
I like their work and I’ve really liked working with them I’ve had some of the best time on sessions with them both. I’m impressed by the way they work.
Wig is always the most chill guy in the world. I think he may reign supreme.
There was a day out with Wig, where we started out in Harrow, skated street and the skate park . Went into London and basically every photo we shot was used. In one day I got an Ad for ATM in Harrow, a contents page in Transworld and a Sheep ad in St Pauls.
So many things came out of one day of skating with him. The vibe was always good shooting with Wig.
It’s funny because the only person I was out with was my friend Nathan from high school who didn’t really skate that much, he just rolled around a bit.
Nathan shot it all on Super 8, so I’ve got all this random Super 8 from that day and I wanted to make a little edit out of it. It was one of the most memorable days, it was so productive, and I can’t believe we got so much out of it. Wig’s fucking epic.
That’s because back in the day, I mean, every UK skate mag is for the love of it and no pay back.
But back when I was first getting sponsored and TLB was doing RAD Magazine and driving people like me and Simon Evans around the country to go skating and just opening doors where I’d get to meet people, and put us in mags. We had sick conversations about music between long drives from town to town.
He didn’t skate; he just thought it was sick. It was weird to me how much he really understood skating at a time when nobody did. Maybe he rolled around a bit in the 70s’ but I had never even seen him with a board. At the time some people gave him loads of criticism but I was like this guy is the sickest!
Do you have a favourite skate photo?
There are two. The one is the classic one of Chris Miller, shot by J. Grant Brittain, shot on the Polecam, looking down on him, doing a Frontside Nosebone. That hit me at the time, seared into my brain.
But around the time in 86, there was a picture of Mark Gonzales. It’s really famous.
He’s wearing a prison striped T-Shirt on a bank to wall in Alcatraz. Bryce Kanights shot it, it’s a classic Gonz Thrasher photo.
There’s a few. Blind Video Days. Alien Workshop – Memory Screen and Santa Cruz’s Speed Freaks.
I forgot how influential Speed Freaks was. It was one of the first videos that featured twenty or more skaters. Some of them were gnarly guys, some of them were pool guys, there were so many different types of skaters. There were a lot of quotes from the skaters and parts where they just left the camera rolling. It was a raw video.
Another good one was called Debunker, a SMA video. It’s a pretty weird small company video vibe. Lot of obscure film sequences in it.
Also I can’t not give a shout out to the OG Powell videos. To this day, I see stuff I do in videos that I remember seeing in Powell videos in homage to them.
Sometimes I do intentionally. Like in Aimless, they skate past this wall, there’s a mural, silhouetted with children, it’s near to my house and I made sure we shot that as a nod to those old Powell videos.
Which segment was that?
That was from Paulo Diaz, Guy Mariano, Rudy Johnson and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Powell Ban This! section when they are skating around LA as a crew.
So aimless being that crew vibe, I was like this is my nod to that in Aimless of what it’s like when a crew skates together. That was the first time we saw all of those guys in that section, as a pack from that video.
People who make it look so easy; it opens up the whole world. Imagine you could pop up onto a waist high ledge like a curb. Anybody who can do that. That’s the coolest thing in skating to me.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. I got into them when I was really young.
Driving around with TLB, when I was 13. I was talking about them. They would be my favourite of all-time but there are many others.
Any shout outs you want to make?
I’ve got so many people to be thankful for. From TLB to Vernon Adams. RAD, Wig, Andrew Horsley, Sidewalk Magazine, Skin Phillips.
All the guys at Transworld, the owners of ATM, Don Brown and Pierre for giving me a job for 25 years to make the skate videos I wanted, people have helped me out to get me to where I am today. All the skate companies, there are too many people for me to thank. Thankful to be part of it all.
Any last words?
Thanks No Comply Network for the trip down memory lane. Thanks for the opportunity and good luck with everything.