You were in England for the first part of the ‘Tea, Tapas and Tres’ tour and also to film for the upcoming etnies video. Mike Manzoori is etnies’ main cinematographer and also handling this video. Were you aware of Mike’s position in UK skateboarding before this trip?
Yeah, without a doubt, (laughs). I think that out of all the people who are involved with etnies I was most excited to meet and become friends with Mike because he’s the person I looked up to more than probably anyone else on the team.
As Mike has been a sponsored skateboarder himself and obviously spent a good amount of time on both sides of the camera, do you feel that gives him a different eye for spots or provides a certain atmosphere when you’re out filming with him?
Certainly, and that’s kind of a skateboarder’s dream; that when you go skating you don’t have to curate the content you are producing. You don’t need to say, “Oh, this will look interesting because I’m gonna hit this thing here…” He gets it immediately. He has been filmed and he has been filming for years so he always just gets it right away. The little thing that’s interesting about a spot or the nuance that a typical filmer might not notice.
Do you feel that Mike having been in your position before takes any of the pressure off?
A little bit but also sometimes I feel on the contrary, it can be a little stressful, (laughs). Because Mike is still a really good skateboarder so when you’re having a bit of an off day it can feel a bit funny. There are photographers who are retired pro skateboarders and it kind of brings an interesting dynamic where you almost feel a little insecure. “Oh man, this guy is better than me and he’s filming me”, you know? (Laughs). But when I go to film with him in LA, he takes me to the spots that he wants to get people to skate because he knows that I’ll be into the weird crusty spots. He will be stoked to show me around and be like, “Oh, you should skate this thing!”
In the tour article there was a photo of you doing a backside 5050 on some sketchy rail which Chris described as being pretty grim. What’s the story behind that spot?
When I’m on trips and we go to spots, sometimes you’ve got to go to the token spots because you don’t really know anything, people are tour-guiding you and there’s also a range of skateboarders who have totally diverse approaches. I think we were at that spot with the big three block and ledge into the bank and I always just feel like I don’t really have the talent to skate those spots because they have already been crushed, (laughs).
My ‘move’, that all of my team managers know, is that right when we get to a spot I’ll just take off skating around and find some shit because I feel I’m not good enough to film anything on those kind of spots that is even gonna be worth doing. I just skated around for like twenty minutes and happened to find that thing. Hopped the fence and found out it was covered in syringes, it just looked like a drug zone, I don’t know… The landing was just completely covered in trash so I spent probably fifteen minutes cleaning it out. I went back and waited for everyone to finish skating and said, “I’ve got this spot down the street”, so we skated about a quarter mile away, hopped the fence and it was all good but those guys were kind of tripping, (laughs). Obviously for the photographer and filmer they have to get kind of get in the action and they’re just like, “There’s heroin needles everywhere, this is crazy.”
You were officially welcomed to the etnies team quite recently and their video is set to be released next summer. Is it daunting picking up a new sponsor when that sort of project is already underway?
Yeah, I got on in January and my ankle was sprained the first month or two. I filmed a little ‘welcome to the team’ clip in pretty much five days so that was kind of my intro. It is a little daunting but I don’t really think there is this expectation that everyone is going to have a full part in the video. As a lot of companies are moving away from feeling everyone has got to have a full part and an hour and a half long video with fourteen full parts. It’s nice because it removes the pressure from that. Still, we have another seven/eight months, which for me is quite a lot of time. If I’m not injured and I’m travelling I don’t feel too much pressure.