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Boys on Film

Taken from issue 04 of WIP magazine, Guy Jones speaks to Carhartt WIP team rider and filmmaker Joe Gavin about life behind the lens, the skate films which have shaped his aesthetic, and why he once got chucked out of his own film premiere. 

Guy Jones: You've always been very proactive on both sides of the lens, when did you first pick up a camera?

I messed about with my granddad’s handycam when I was super young. Then, when I was roughly 21, I had a pretty bad knee injury. My grandma had just left me some money, which I spent on a video camera, and then I made “Workers and Lurkers” (2007) – my first full length. I was also super lucky to be good friends with Stuart Bentley who schooled me on how to use it, and told me what was stinking. 

Can you remember the first full length video you watched and owned, and what impact that had on you?

Wow, I think the first video I ever saw was Girl Skateboards’ Goldfish (1993) by Spike Jonze. I just remember falling in love with Hip Hop from then on. Also, that intro with Sean Sheffey tanking it got me hyped. First video I owned is a tough one ... I can’t actually remember, to be honest. Girl’s Mouse (1996) and Toy Machine’s Welcome to Hell (1996) were great because they were so different, one was pretty gnarly and the other was really clean and tech, which taught me a lot about sticking to a style. A lot of videos were pretty random, but those two showed me how to make an impact with a particular style. Zoo York’s Mixtape (1997) too, actually. That had a big effect on me as a kid.

Unlike a clip, a whole video is curated very specifically, much like an album as opposed to a single. Your video Snake Eyes Die (2013) – a Manchester scene video supported by NOTE 13 skate store and chopped and screwed by yourself – was originally meant to be a mixtape by DJ Omas. How did it evolve into a skate video, and what was the significance of this type of structure? 

It was basically always going to be the soundtrack. I just thought it would be rad to make a soundtrack first, strictly on vinyl and mixed by my mate Omas. That way, you could listen to the video like an album. So me and him would chill and curate the soundtrack with a loose plan of who would skate to what. This way, the video would already be kind of figured out, you just needed to pack it out with tricks. Also, you're working to a strict time frame so it prevents the project from going on forever. We did the same with the Seasons (2019) video for Landscape. I made the soundtrack before I’d started editing it.

You've highlighted the architectural benefits of Manchester within your own moving image projects. How do you feel these films benefit the city and scene? It must help to bring new faces into the area.

I’m not sure really. I’m quite obsessed with documenting my friends and how they develop, so I think, subconsciously, that’s pushed them. I have friends that I drag out of retirement to get them to film a part or tricks, because sometimes, it helps having someone filming and pushing you to commit. I think maybe people have moved here because of watching Manchester scene videos, not just mine. At one point, there were like five videographers here all making films. That’s definitely made a few students move here. 

Is there an ideal length for scene videos and brand promos?

Everyone’s attention span is fucked these days. People can’t sit through a video without looking at Instagram or being distracted. I think it depends, really. Scene videos can be as long as you want, to be honest. It’s more about the process than creating a product to sell. But I suppose it’s different these days with a brand video – most people simply can’t be arsed watching skateboarding for an hour, so it’s best to keep them shorter. I’m the wrong person to ask really, as I always make pretty long videos and edits. I can’t bring myself to do a three-minute edit.

Do you feel like fewer people will watch a full length, but at the same time, the appreciation value is higher?  

There’s a small percentage of skaters that still buy DVDs, regardless of them being online or not. They are the ones keeping full length going. People that watch things strictly online are way less likely to watch them again, whereas people who buy a DVD will end up watching it over and over again and appreciate it more. 

Do you have any good film premiere stories?

One that comes to mind is when we had a premiere for a film I’d made years ago about the gasworks, a spot we used to skate at. We showed it in a pub, and one of my mates, Sexual Stu – formerly Ugly Stu, until we changed it to make him feel better – got kicked out. The landlady was screaming at him, and so he poured a full pint over her head. Another time, I set up a Harmony premiere, had serious meetings with the manager about it and fully sorted it all out. Then halfway through the video, I went to the toilet and decided it would be a great idea to do some tags. The manager was watching me from a cubicle and kicked me out mid-video. Super embarrassing. Another time, I forgot the DVD to my own premiere and had to go all the way home to get it while everyone was having a blast. That sucked.

Originally presented as part of WIP magazine issue 04, available at select Carhartt WIP stores.

Interview: Guy Jones
Images: Reece Leung