Firstly, where are you from?
I am originally from a small town in the NE of Scotland called Buckie. It’s a small fishing town of about 8-900 people. There is really not much going on up there at all. Small town mentality is big, every tale grows 20 arms and legs. Everyone is kinda trapped in a bubble, settling down, marrying, kids etc before the age of 25. I still have a small group of friends I went to school with although don’t get to see them very much these days. Not the worst place ever but I was out of there the second I could.
What got you interested in skateboarding and then in filming, which came first?
What got me into skateboarding? I was super into WWF wrestling and BMX bikes until I was around nine years old. There was a relatively big BMX dirt jumping scene in my town, and all the older kids were into it. Of course, the younger kids see it and think it’s cool as fuck so we all got into it. One day cycling home from the dirt jumps I saw a guy with long hair and bright orange wheels ollie up a curb and kept cruising along like it was nothing. Immediately my bike was dropped, got a skateboard and never stopped once almost 16yrs later
Filming wise, just being young and super into skate videos, you just get a shit camera and start filming your friends. yeah right and the Transworld videos, a lot of Ty Evans stuff, really caught my attention, the filming was awesome and there was something about the vx1000, the sound, the colours etc. saved up for months and finally got a vx2100, which was a good camera to start with but eventually swapped it for a vx1000 and I do not think I’ll ever film skateboarding with another camera again. Skateboarding always comes first though; I think I had been skateboarding for 6/7yrs before my first vx purchase. it’s really hard to be a skateboarder and a filmer as you sorta have to approach the sessions different whether you have the camera or not…
And it was that led you from the middle of northern nowhere to the middle of the Glasgow scene via Aberdeen?
I couldn’t get away from my hometown quick enough, being a skateboarder you always have that urge to explore and you always want more. Aberdeen was the closest big city to me, so I started going there. I went along to the “go skate day” event there in 2007, filmed the whole day and it got a lot of hits online. The locals took a liking to me and I never left for years. It was amazing seeing all the spots from Alex Craig’s “h’min bam” for the first time. Thanks to everyone there who let me sleep on their couch, especially tom Simpson and his family as I was never out of their house. TX skatepark had just opened in 2007 also which was a huge boost to the scene and a lot of the local kids have now turned into nationally recognised rippers.
Around the years of 2007-2011, the Aberdeen locals were going to Glasgow for weekend trips and vice versa, and the scenes were real tight with one another back then. After I started offshore and started making a little money, I needed a base rather than someone’s couch or floor. Was deadset on moving to Aberdeen but with it being the oil capital of Europe, it’s the second most expensive place in the UK to live. I decided to move to Glasgow instead straight into a skate flat and it was the best thing I ever did.
Glasgow is an amazing city, the skate scene is great and there’s always someone to skate or hang out with. Kelvingrove I have a mixed relationship with, it’s good for me because it’s the most “street” park and it has produced some of the best skateboarders in Scotland. The setting in the park is real nice in the summer and it’s real close to the city centre, so it’s a good place to meet everyone prior to the skate. Unfortunately it’s really hard to get people to leave, hence its nickname “the vortex”. You can skate there whenever hassle free and drink beers or smoke zoots as long as you’re sensible about it and maybe the 9-5 worker doesn’t want to trawl the city getting kicked out of spots after a hard day at work, I understand. Also close to KG is literally an endless amount of bars so the party scene is pretty massive in Glasgow, which can be fun but unproductive. I’ve had my fun with that, leading a more quiet life these days…
Making independent videos is an entirely un lucrative undertaking, and yet more and more people are taking to self edited and released projects. Why do you think that is, and what motivates you to put in all that work?
The whole independent skate video/small board company etc scenario that is going on at the moment was really needed. Kids starting skateboarding now are watching these videos of people grinding 40 stair handrails, jumping down 20 stairs and toying with death, it’s not relatable at all. Progression is of course natural but where does it all end? I remember about 5 years ago, watching so much company videos and getting super burnt out on it. I would trawl websites like skateperception and eventually found this guy called Aaron Randi and got super hyped on his work. He has turned into an amazing filmer with real unique filming and editing style. also around the same time you have companies like magenta that entered the world and shook things up, making people realize that even in today’s day and age, simple, timeless skateboarding will always come out on top and will always be more relatable.
For me personally, my motivation to keep filming is almost a little greedy. There are only maybe 3/4 filmers doing it right in Scotland, each conveying their own perception of what skateboarding is. And each of theirs is totally different. So I’m just trying to continue mine. Also at the premiere’s it’s amazing to watch everyone’s’ reactions to the videos. The Edinburgh folks react differently to those of Glasgow. But we’re all friends initially. It’s a special feeling to make an actual full project as opposed to a 3 minute edit, and it really shows at the premieres and the reaction they get be it online or amongst the local skate scene
You have what might be considered to be an unusual job to many, can you explain what it is that you do and how it affects filming etc.
My job is an assistant crane operator on an oil rig in the North Sea. Supply vessels come out to the rig with drilling equipment, food and various other items and we offload them from the vessel to the rig. Also keeping the drilling department fed with any items they need at all times because drilling is the company’s money maker and if they’re waiting, there’s gonna be trouble. I am hoping to be a fully qualified crane op by the end of the year.
Offshore life is great and it sucks at the same time. you can create a good life for yourself at home as it pays really good, I’ve managed to buy a property at the age of 25, manage quite a few holidays a year and I’m by no means “rich” but I’m never worrying about how I’m gonna pay the mortgage next month. The downside is being away half the year as I work on 3 weeks on/3 weeks off rota. Missing your friend’s birthdays, amazing weather in the summer, great skate sessions, being away from your other half/family/friends is all common practice of an offshore worker.
You gotta pay to play
Who are your favorite people to shoot with and why?
My favourite person to film is Declan Welsby. I have watched him grow from a young boy into an adult. His style has always remained the same but he grows better with age. Hopefully he’s gonna be working on a full part in the future.
Shezz is a great skateboarder to film in the streets. Most people see footage of him skating parks but he kills it on the streets constantly on his 9″ board and he’s very unpredictable. Always stoked on anything he gets.
Two others would be Jake Wason and Adam Logan. Ask anyone else the Scottish skate scene and I’m sure they’ll tell you the same. Unfortunately they have no footage in SSVOL2, they’re just not really dudes who are bothered about getting footage (I think). I’m not gonna bother them if they don’t want to be in front of the lens either because everyone has their own way of finding enjoyment from skateboarding.
Do you feel like your persuasiveness with certain people brings out the best in them, or do you prefer to operate as a fly on the wall so to speak?
Definitely fly on the wall approach. If you wanna come out and film, great, if not I ain’t gonna hound you, because nobody wants to do things unless they want to. I fire out a text any dry day I’m on land to everyone I usually skate with to see if they want to skate or film, Freddie Lusk is usually the only person who says yes every time haha.
At the start of the sesh I’ll usually sit for the first 20 mins and watch. You can see people trying to put together a line, or if you can see someone is particularly “on” a trick that day, it’s ok to suggest. But never TELL the skateboarder what to do, it’s up to them.
Can you describe the particular look that Scotland has on film that differ from all other places, and yet has its similarities to more well worn turf in the skateboarding world?
I am not too sure what makes Scotland look unique on film from anywhere else. Maybe it is just how rough and rugged it is? Maybe it’s the architecture, the cobble stones etc, I’m not too sure. Aberdeen is a great city to skate, it’s completely grey due to the majority of it being made of granite but it can look really good on film when the sun occasionally shines. Glasgow and Edinburgh look good due to the old architecture that surrounds them. it’s great that these two cities you can skate spot to spot all day long without a car, you can’t do that so much in Aberdeen.
Edinburgh’s Bristo square is probably the only place in the country that has that “plaza” feel, I only started going in the past few years and it feels pretty special being there. All the ledges are pretty worn out due it being used for the past 20 years. It’s still good to go and skate the flat, annoy the locals walking past and weirdos hanging out in the corners. Watching footage from there from 10-15 years ago is really magical; I wish I had been involved in that scene.
What is next for you, next trip, next project, tomorrow night, and when if ever will hard copies be available, are you thinking of an anthology release a few years down the line?
What’s next for me is SSVOL3. this is gonna be my last of this series, I keep telling people I’m gonna retire from filming but I’ll get roped into something else I’m sure. That’s the thing with filming skateboarding, you’re never fully satisfied and you always want more. for SSVOL3, the format will be changed up a bit, for the past 2 volumes I’ve just filmed whoever has been down to film and put it out in a montage style format, however for the VOL3, 5 people have agreed to do full parts. They are Jordan Coleman, Freddie Lusk, Tom Shimmin, Declan Welsby and Miles Kondracki. We are just waiting for the snow to clear and the dry weather to return and we will be fully on it
Gonna keep the series digital for now. Unfortunately I don’t think there is the demand for hard copies these days as everything goes straight to YouTube. Perhaps for VOL3 I will try get the 3 of them on DVD with a zine to accompany it. There is nothing better than having a hard copy of something, but the digital age has well and truly kicked in now and not too much can be done about it. You gotta roll with it or fall behind
So without further ado it is our great pleasure to present to you Street Snacks Vol. 2