Phil Evans is a skater and filmmaker from Ireland based in Malmö, Sweden. He’s shot a series of experimental, original skate edits, shorts, films and documentaries with skaters independently and for brandsPhil’s films are as diverse and multifaceted as is his perspective and thoughts on skateboarding and filmmaking is itself.
Every video he has produced has a different visual style or combines multiple film formats. He likes to push himself creatively, so we hit him up to talk about his most standout videos, find out what’s he’s been up to recently and also discover his plans for the future.
We had a long chat about skating, filmmaking, animation, shooting Scrum Tilly Lush with Danny Wainwright, Love Enroth, Janne Saario, producing Levi’s Light Box Series, stacking super 8 clips with Jeremy Jones, Luka Pinto, Joe Gavin, Darius Trabalza and Jak Pietryga, creating the soundtrack with Gibbo, his Malmo documentary, Oski, John Magnusson, the Panoramic Series, Nick Jensen, Jerome Campbell, Soy Panday and Vivien Feil, shooting his short film about Denis Lynn – St Denis, Dorkzone, working with Mike O’Shea and his animated short film Paper Cut London and also his favourite skaters, styles, spots, videos and photos of all-time.
Read the Phil Evans In Focus Interview below
Phil, Wallride, Bryggeriet Skatepark: Shot by @ramingol
What’s your full name?
Philip Patrick Jebidiah Evans
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in a town called Bray, just an hour south of Dublin. I currently reside in Malmö, Sweden.
When did you first see skateboarding and think I want to do that?
I saw some lads on my road doing it and it looked really fun. I didn’t even like those lads and I was constantly arguing or fighting with them, but seeing those fuckers bombing down a hill looked like a lot of fun!
When did you first get a skateboard and what was it?
I swapped a strat -copy guitar for a Jeff Hedges Santa Cruz board from a guy called “Shadow”. It was massive and had fat Rat Bone wheels and iodized maroon Indy trucks.
Where did you first learn to skate and who was in your crew?
I was in my first crew, then all the guys who started skating in my estate started rollerblading instead, so I was the only skater left.
Eventually I met one other skater called Benji Roche who sold me a third -hand Birdhouse deck that was “real sized” and popsicle shape.
Benji had some mates in the next town who could actually do tricks which blew my mind.
What art did you make growing up?
Hmm, not much really? I would just draw from time to time, more so in primary school up until the age of 12.
We had a very eccentric but inspiring teacher called Mr Rogers when I was 11. He had a very short fuse and would drag people out into the wet mud just for looking out the window, haha!
However, he did take a great interest in my art and it’s where I figured out I could do still life portraits, in charcoal, so that was pretty fun.
I haven’t drawn or painted much lately outside of doing some animation stuff. I find a video project is the best excuse to give me a reason to do it.
I’m working with Mike O’Shea nowadays so he does most of the arty stuff.
What was your first camera setup?
Hmm, I think it was a Hi8 Sony something or other.
What do you film on now?
It really depends on the project, I’ve got a few set ups. A Lumix DSLR, some handycams, some Hi8 and loads of Super 8 cams.
Almost anytime I’ve done an agency project they’ve rented big fancy cams, Arri, Red, so usually it’s someone else operating these.
Luka Pinto and Phil: @henrykingsford
You film in multiple formats, what drew you to that?
I’m not sure? It’s nice to just mix things up instead of always doing one style. They weren’t that vintage when I first used them, just cheap!
Maybe prefer a bit of an older vintage camera?
I do remember an old girlfriend getting me a Super 8 camera years ago and not really caring about it until I got the first reel back, then I was hooked!
Analogue formats are my favourite, but sometimes they’re inconvenient or expensive. Digital is so cheap and easy. It just depends on whatever the project requires really.
How did Scrum Tilly Lush get made and how long did it take?
I’d made a video called “No Use” in and around Dublin and Malmö and it was kind of a follow up.
I showed the trailer of that to some people and they were stoked to get involved so I went from there.
Hmm, I think I did it on and off over a period of 6 months or so.
Who has your favourite part in the video series?
I hadn’t seen it in ages and watched Nick Jensen’s part and I was stoked as I could see it as a point where I was learning a lot about cameras and trying lots of different things.
Cool. What was it like filming Janne Saario and the others?
Very chill. Janne Saario just had one kid at the time so we stayed in their place and had breakfast with his family each morning. Very wholesome!
Love Enroth looks and sounds almost exactly like Edward Norton. Love was really nice and hospitable too.
Him rolling his ankle sucked but it meant I had to leave early and connect through Amsterdam.
I didn’t take the connecting flight and filmed Wieger instead so it all worked out!
Filming Wieger must have been fun, what was your favourite part?
Drinking? We drank a lot but still got stuff done. Pickled herring wasn’t the best though.
How did you choose Soy Panday and Vivien Feil for a shared part?
Dom Marley, the photographer, recommended them when I was in Bristol so I hit them up. Soy and Vivien were a good laugh but they didn’t eat enough, I remember being constantly hungry during that trip. Lovely cheap wine though and they even taught me how to French kiss.
Favourite trick from Danny Wainwright’s Bristol section?
Danny Wainwright‘s big Ollie over the bump to bar. I’m jealous of people with pop.
What were you most stoked on in that video?
Making that video made me quit my job and go freelance. When I look at my work I’m very critical so I don’t think the video is very good, but it has some nice memories of me taking the leap and getting away from a job I absolutely hated! I was 100% focused on it and that felt good! With the job I was working, it was in a bank, truly miserable people who were planning their retirements at 24…ugh.
Anyway, I had been in a car accident where I got whiplash so my neck was kinda fucked and I needed to go to the osteopath a lot. The bank knew this and didn’t want to be liable so they were more liberal when I was “sick”.
I figured out that I could take 3 days off in a row without a sick note, so I would call from the airport between flights and say “Yeah, I’ve fallen off my bike, neck feels terrible” and hang up before you could hear a plane again. I also used a different bank when travelling so when they checked my account they paid me into then they assumed I was home. I also used their internal post system to mail out DVDs to mags at the time. Fun times!
What was it like filming with Craig Questions?
Oh man, Craig is a truly interesting character, he has many sides to him too. Everyone sees the “mad/destructive” side – and he is funny as fuck – but he also has a side to him where he’s very focused and calm.
It’s rare to meet someone that has that level of enthusiasm and knowledge about so many different things too..literature, music, film, riding freight trains…You learn a lot travelling with someone like that, he’s got a very interesting and refreshing view of the world.
Your Panoramic series was sick, what was the idea behind it?
I was playing with a 35mm still camera. It had a “panoramic” setting that when you pressed it a piece of plastic came over half of the frame and I was like “Ah! I can do that!” It’s a lot cheaper than anamorphic lenses too.
Any stories of filming with Nick Jensen for that?
Most of my camera gear got knicked on that trip filming with Nick. We were filming a line in Highbury and every time we went back to the start of the line I would check my bag. He landed the line and then my bag was gone. It had his wallet and phone in it too I think. So we’d to go to the police station and the phone store.
I only had my camera that was in my hand but he said he’d go for it and he did! We shot until the camera ran out of battery and got some of the best shots after that incident.
What’s your favourite clip of Jensen in the Panoramic video?
Actually just like when he’s pushing through the tube tunnels and around the city.
You filmed with Joe Gavin for it, what was it like in Manchester?
Great! Joe Gavin is a sound lad and the whole Manchester crew were bang on.
There was a lot of scallies about but John Bell would usually shout them down before anyone knew what was happening. I’ve also never seen so much open drug dealing in my life!
Favourite Joe Gavin trick in the part?
I like it when Joe bombs into the tunnel at the start, haha! Maybe I just like tunnels? I also like the line he did in the housing estate at the start as I grew up skating in a housing estate.
How did you meet John Magnusson?
I think I met him briefly when I was on my first trip to Malmö and staying with his brother Per.
What’s your favourite trick by John?
He’s actually one of my favourite skaters, dunno if I’ve a favourite trick though. He keeps his arms down by his side when he does Backside Ollies in massive bowls, that’s always rad!
He also talks to himself a lot when he skates, anytime I hear it it’s total nonsense. “Turbo Cats! Turbo Cats!” He’s flowin! It always seems quite spontaneous too.
You made a documentary about the Swedish skaters in Malmo, how long did it take to come together?
I wanted to move to Malmö as I was blown away by the scene. So I pitched it to Nils Svensson and he made it happen. It’s about Malmö and all the different crews here and how they get shit done. My favourite thing about making it was getting to know lots of different skater in the scene.
How did you end up working at Bryggeriet School in Malmo?
John Dahlquist approached me about it last summer. A part-time position teaching skate film production was coming up so I said yes.
What’s it like filming Oski?
Great! Oski is on another level!
Favourite Oski trick?
Again it’s like J Mag, I love the spontaneous shit. Wish I could skate like that!
Why did you make Oski and friends?
Why not? He rips!
You filmed Jeremy Jones, Jak Pietryga, Darius, Luka and John Bell, for Levi’s Lightbox series. How did that go down?
That was really fun. Henry Kingsford at Grey and Gustav Eden at Malmö City put it together. The lads were all sound as well.
What did you film it on?
It was on Super 8, but it does look a little like 16mm when it’s scanned.
Favourite trick from that part?
Jeremy Jones’ big spin on the bump was very tasty.
Favourite Lightbox video to make?
The “Grey” section was fun and I was stoked on the result with the whole crew and Mike’s animations.
Agreed. Favourite part about working with Mike O’Shea?
I’ve always liked Mikey’s art and I love that his animations are largely unplanned and on paper.
We’re just not good at complimenting each other so just writing that made me get a bit of sick in my mouth.
How long did it take to produce it?
It took a while as the super 8 came back from different labs in batches and then I had to get it scanned at another lab. Then I would send a scene to Mike and give him some reference frames and he’d work from there. We were on the same page though so it was fairly seamless.
How did Levi’s get involved in the project?
That was through a very sound man by the name of Filip Elerud. I met him at Bright Trade Show and pitched the idea of doing all of these films and he went for it. He also really let us do our thing which is the most important part.
How did you select Gibbo who made the soundtrack?
He’s my twin brother so it would have been weird at Christmas dinner if I didn’t ask him. Gibbo has an encyclopedic knowledge of music and has turned me on to a lot of genres and artists.
So it was very easy to explain what I wanted. “Something like escape from New York but a little faster”..then two days later he’d send a few songs. Dream scenario!
Paper Cut London is sick, how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always wondered what paper -film would look like, so I decided to make a test one day and I was stoked on it.
Then I hit up Jak Pietryga and he was down so I went to London and filmed him.
Over the next few months I edited a draft, exported the frames, printed them, drew on them and then scanned them in.
When I had a draft done I pitched it but unfortunately couldn’t get a sponsor for it so I say Fug It! I’ll do it myself.
When I went back the second time I knew exactly what I needed. I really focused for about 2 months over the winter and finally got it done. Something like 3000 pages or something stupid like that. I listened to a lot of podcasts during that time.
What was the response to it like?
Great! Thank fuck. I would have cried if it had fallen through the cracks. It got a staff pick on Vimeo, then bumped up to ‘pick of the month’. After that some agencies started hitting me up for work. Then it got nominated for a Webby and that opened a lot of doors for me with work, mainly outside of skating.
What is Dorkzone?
It’s a load of things I guess. Books, vids, art, workshops, photos, music. It’s basically the cultural wing of Bryggeriet and the whole idea is to promote the creative and cultural sides of skating.
How did you decide to make the first video?
Myself and Mike pitched it to Bryggeriet and Nils was stoked so we went for it. It took us a while to test the animation-footage hybrid and then afterwards we storyboarded it. The crew formed naturally with the Mortensen brothers, Mimmi, Adam,Penny and the crew.
Favourite trick in the Dorkzone video?
Mimmi ducking through the rainbow without putting her hands on the ground. I couldn’t do that if you paid me.
What’s Le Boxx about?
Le Boxx was the second one, then Darkzone was the most recent. Darkzone was a lot of fun and felt more like a proper video.
We didn’t storyboard this one and it felt like the skaters has more fun. Also Sondre made a really banging soundtrack again!
What’s been your favourite multiple film format video to make?
Darkzone was very fun. I was not the only one filming either, Sondre probably filmed more than me, Mike too. Great crew and a really good vibe!
What was it like making St Denis?
A wide awake nightmare. I love Denis Lynn, but there’s no way you can know him and not have him drive you insane in some capacity.
The whole process fluctuated from having the best of times to me staring at the roof picturing myself strangling him. He’s doing good now though and has gotten his shit together -apart from his hair – so I’m stoked for him.
What inspired the text screen scene?
None of that was planned. Denis was originally going to go around Europe and interview other people about their hometowns and compare it to Belfast..until he disappeared. So I tried to find him and it turned out he’d been arrested at an airport in London and missed his flight.
When I called him I was filming the screen to make a “Where’s Denis” montage and he actually answered and was in a right state. It ended up being the best scene in the film.
Favourite Denis Lynn trick?
Disappearing! He’s amazing at it. David Blaine ain’t got shit on Denis!
@denis_lynn, Tail drop, Paris: Shot by @maxverret
How have you been passing the time over Lockdown?
We’ve been extremely lucky as there’s been no lockdown in Sweden.
I’ve been working as normal apart from travelling so that’s something I’m very grateful for.
Favourite skate photographer?
Nils Svensson because he makes fox noises.
Favourite skate spot in your city?
That flatground behind Coop.
Favourite skate spot in the world?
Do you have a favourite photo of all -time?
Damn, there’s too many! There’s one I’ll pick as I saw it the other day.
It was taken by the Big Fella Leo Sharpe of my friend Al Collins doing a massive Switch Ollie over a street gap. Al is from my town and when I saw that in Sidewalk it blew my mind.
Seen it again the other day on Instagram and was still stoked!
Al Collins, Switch Ollie: Shot by Leo Sharp
What’s your favourite skate video?
Alien Workshop’s Photosynthesis and Blokes both for very different reasons.
I’ve got too many but off the top of my head I would say Chewy Cannon, always stoked to see footage or photos of him, such a rad style!
It always changes as I’ll get bored seeing the same thing for too long – which is why I don’t have any tattoos. There’s a fantastic artist in Malmö called Andreas Glad, lovely fella too.
He does incredible eerie surreal landscapes, I hope I can afford one his paintings one day!
Do you have a favourite feature filmmaker?
That’s a hard one. With modern filmmakers I’d say Paul Thomas Anderson.Before that Kubrick..but there’s so many.
Hal Ashby. Terrance Mallick.. I’d just go on all day and bore your eyeballs out.
Do you have a favourite feature film?
There Will Be Blood. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it and I can’t fault it. Team America for the same reason except swap the serious for funny.
Do you have any upcoming releases you want to announce?
At the moment we’re working on a video magazine called DZTV, it’s quite nice to work on as we’re not just covering skating, trying to mix it up a bit with art, culture, construction, music and whatnot, should have a new episode coming out very soon. We should have some zines and stuff coming soon. Nils is always shooting, Mike is always painting and Sondre is making fantastic music so there’s always something going on.
Any shoutouts Phil?
Thanks to anyone who’s watched stuff I’ve made or supported me in any way along my way.