Behind the Lens with ‘Sidewalk’s’ Ryan Gray

So the second sidewalk vid ‘In Progress’ was released recently and it was a banger, with a sick feel/look and some absolutely mental skating ! We decided to catch up with one of the main guys behind the vid Ryan Gray and see what filming/editing the video was like. Have a gander below for a little insight into what went into making another classic!

Were you trying to keep the feel of the vid similar to the the old Sidewalk vid ‘In Motion’?

In Motion is still one of the finest British videos that has ever been released in my opinion, coming close to even emulating it would be impossible without having Chez and Ben firmly at the helm, and Chez taking on editing duties again.
This time around it was Ben and myself that were out filming (with a massive help from Kevin Parrott – cheers Kev!) with me editing and running ideas past Ben as well as the people in the video. It was in the back of our minds the whole time that some people might be disappointed because it wasn’t just a 2011 carbon copy of In Motion, but the majority of people seem to be into it for what it is, which is good to see.

Did you feel any pressure filming for such a highly anticipated UK/international video?

I don’t know, we didn’t think about it really until the premieres had been arranged. Up until that point we were just so absorbed in the whole thing that we never had to chance to sit back and wonder “is the level really up to scratch?”. We just got on with it, logging tricks, filling up Final Cut projects and going out filming.
The thing is, if you’re watching the same footage every day for four years straight you lose sight of how good or bad it actually is. You might be stoked on a trick for a day or two after it gets landed, but beyond that point it just eventually becomes part of “the footage” in a sense. I still can’t fully gauge whether or not the video is any good. The skating’s obviously hard fought for,but as a overall project it’s still just timelines and footage to me, haha.

Were there any other guys that were originally going to have parts that had to back out, or even unexpected guys that managed to bang out a section in no time?

The one thing I’ve learnt from the past few videos I’ve worked on is that you should never try to plan too rigidly the way you want the video to pan out too early on into filming, as it never turns out the way you expected it to.
I think the original line up for the video was something like Tom Harrison, Nicky Howells, Kris Vile, Ben Nordberg, Neil Smith, Ben Raemers, Gav Coughlan and maybe a few others. There’s a photo floating about from NASS a couple of years ago with all those guys huddled up in the rain getting pissed that was meant to be the first “these are the guys in the video” shot. Needless to say that it didn’t work out as we’d planned…
About a year in, Barney and Harry appeared and started spending more and more time coming on missions filming with us, so it was clear we needed to be working on parts with them, Ben had spoken to Conhuir really early on about getting involved but I didn’t think that getting a part out of him would be possible due to his $lave commitments. I went on a trip to Ireland in early 2010 with Conhuir and realised that he was killing it and pretty much stuck in Belfast due to only having one sponsor, and that if we were all willing to put the effort in his part would come together fairly quickly. Plus I love going to Ireland, so any excuse to hang out in Belfast for a week and I’m there!
Sean’s part came together at the last minute as he banged out a bunch of sick stuff on the last foreign trip we did for the video in Latvia with DC, then Ben went to MK a couple of times to wrap his section up on home turf, with Rob Selley helping out loads by keeping on sending us clips.
Baines’ part was the last of them all actually as Matt Hirst handed me a 12gb folder of new and unused footage and told me to do what I wanted with it. That was four days before we had to post the master disc off to the duplicators…

The only bad slam we saw in the video was from Tom Harrison, did he generally take the worst beating during filming?

Hell no, haha. Tom takes a good slam but Barney pretty much battered himself whilst filming for this. For instance, he knocked himself clean out trying the backside nollie down the subway gap in Milton Keynes then landed it two tries later, and bashed his head, hurt his back and pretty much tweaked his ankle trying the kinked fifty-fifty down the subway rail next to the wall in Sheffield.
Harry was plagued with knee injuries the entire time we were filming, and Nicky’s ankles have haunted him since day one; it wouldn’t be uncommon for those two to be out of action for three, four months at a time.
Saying that, Tom spent quite a bit of time out of filming last year with both his knee and ankle, Raemers was on crutches for a spell after that éS tour, Sean’s also had repeated ankle trouble, Conhuir’s waiting for hip surgery, Remon suffered a really bad ankle tweak the first day we went filming…no wonder this thing took three and a half years to make; we’ve been working with a bunch of cripples, haha.

Did you lose any good footage?

Only to other peoples videos, haha. I can’t think of a single trick that got “lost” as in we taped over the footage or it vanished from the hard-drive, but we definitely gave away a lot of footage to other peoples videos throughout the time we were filming. But in return we got a lot of footage sent our way; share and share alike.
We were sitting on a full Manhead part that was meant to be going to Unabomber, so we took the best minute or so for that and used it in the video after he left, with the other four minutes making up an all new full section for him on the Bonus Disc. Dainton got an almost complete Lynskey part for the Kill City video, as well whatever else we were sitting on of his riders (well, except Nicky), Sean Lomax got a bunch of Grove stuff for “Pusherman”, I can’t remember where the rest of the footage went. I started making a timeline of all the footage we’d sent off to other videos but never got round to finishing it. There’s a lot of stuff though…
We almost lost Conhuir’s whole section at one point as he was stressing about filming for the $lave video; I’m glad we talked him out of doing that.
Oh, we did forget to use one Eddie Belvedere trick though, I was pissed off I forgot about that. It was the drop in to boardslide in Edinburgh that was a contents sequence earlier this year. Sorry Eddie!

Did anyone take the Pappalardo approach to filming or was it a big family effort?

I don’t think anyone Pappalardo’d themselves actually. The hardest person to get footage out of was Harrison, which is funny considering I’ve lived with him for the last few years, but that’s more down to the fact that he owns a film production company and is understandably fully focussed on making sure that his business is successful. Sean hasn’t really lived in the UK for the last few years which meant we didn’t have as much time to hook and film over here, that is why a lot of his footage is from European spots, though we tried to avoid taking the “go to Barca, film a line at Sants” route with him. So yeah, there’s a lot of European footage in his part, but hopefully it was more interesting to watch than if we’d have just filmed it at all the current Barcelona hotspots.

Which trick/line in the vid took the longest to film?

Tom’s last line, the one on the wooden benches around the square. We’d tried getting a line at that spot for so long but every time we went there we’d get the boot without fail. I think security must have had better things to do that day as we were there for hours on end trying to get that in the bag. We were both knackered but knew we couldn’t give up until he either finished the line or security gave us the boot.
I think the first time we went to that spot was in 2008, and we finally filmed one line there in 2011 after God knows how many failed attempts. So yeah, three years in total to get that line, though on the day I remember it only took something like three hours.

Was there any particular person who made the sometimes laborious task of filming more fun?

All of them are fun to film with in their own individual ways, but I reckon it’s fair to say that Denis and Remon are probably the two most unpredictable and amusing characters I’ve ever come across in my entire life.
It’s hard to describe Remon if you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him; he was an eco-warrior looking mute when we first met him, then after a week of living in my front room with Nicky Howells he’d transformed into this cocky little Essex lad that had beef with Chocolate Weetabix and a love for licking savoury snacks. He’s pretty unique. I think it was Chris Johnson that said “he’s either going to committed or win the Nobel Prize”. A constant source of amusement. How he ever found his way onto a skateboard is beyond me.
Denis is obviously non-stop entertainment too. He’s never got any money, never turns up with a skateboard but somehow manages to kill it; the stories he’s got backed up too, it’s a shame hardly any of them could ever be printed.
Harry Lintell…I’ve never seen skating come so easily to someone before. But when the “Lintell-breakdown” is in full swing, you’ve got to step back and let him work his way through it.

Did you feel any pressure as filming for the video stretched right over the HD/Digi SLR revolution?

Not particularly to be honest; I don’t mind HD footage but it’s definitely not something I’m that I’m personally into experimenting with right now. Don’t get me wrong, it looks amazing for some types of filming – long shots, static shots in particular can look incredible – but a lot of fisheye footage just doesn’t sit right. The lenses leave too much open space around the skater which I’m not a massive fan of, and a lot of the DSLR’s people are using carry no physical weight and seem hard to keep stable when filming lines. Obviously guys like Hold Tight Henry know what they’re doing when it comes to HD projects as he’s been up on that game for years now, but there’s not that many HD videos or edits I’ve seen that have made me sit back and go “whoa, I need to get myself involved in this”.
I’m still a massive fan of the VX; the way the footage looks, how the camera holds, the MK1 Century Optics lens, the fact you can rock up to a spot and set it up in a matter of minutes and get on with whatever it is you’re wanting to film…
Plus we’re both so skint at the minute that we couldn’t buy a HD camera between us if we wanted to anyway. So until someone walks up to me and hands me some HD gear for free, I’ll be keeping on rocking the trusty VX.
To quote Morph: “Man’s not got 6 grand to lay down on some HD set up, and trust, if man’s did have 6 grand, the last thing man’s would be spending it on is some HD bullshit”.
Morph speaks the truth.

Do you have a favourite story from filming the video, like any weird situations?

Damn, as with any video project you’re always going to rack up your fair share of comedy stories. Filming Barney’s Super8 footage sticks out; two stoned lads in a stolen boat going up and down the river in Exeter pissing off training rowers, passing through “The Chamber Of Farts”.
Raemers flying to Barca just before Xmas last year and banging out those two tricks on the tranny-to-wall spot always amazes me; he’d been in The States since summer, flew back to the UK for Xmas and couldn’t be bothered to deal with the jetlag so flew to Barca the day after he’d arrived home, met us, drank for three days, shut that spot down then flew back to Ipswich to sleep before making Xmas dinner for his family. I think his Xmas dinner revolved around chicken nuggets in Yorkshire puddings too…
Way, way too many comedy stories involving Nicky Howells, had such a rad time hanging out with him over the past few years. He really is one of a kind. Been in gnarly Catholic estates in Belfast whilst filming with Conhuir and Denis and been told not to speak in case anyone picks up on my English accent was quite an eye-opening experience. Ben dropping his fish-eye (see the Bonus Disc), I could go on but a lot of the best stories would probably land everyone involved in deep shit…
One memorable thing that happened after filming and everything had finished was that, on the way to the first premiere in Liverpool, some mong on the M62 crashed into the side of Ben’s car pushing them into the central reservation and writing off Ben’s faithful old Golf in the process. All of them present at the time – Ben, Raemers, Nicky and Harry – are lucky to be alive. They still made it to Liverpool and back mind, before Ben’s Golf was declared too knackered to be used on the road; it’s amazing what a grands worth of free booze can temporarily fix (thanks Nike).

Have you got any new projects on the go or you taking a break?

It’s been hard to get out filming since we did the premieres as I’ve been sat editing the Bonus Disc, which turned into much more of a mission than any of us had ever anticipated it would, and we’ve still got the mag and website to stay on top of on a daily basis too.
We’re definitely not taking a break, myself and Ben are out filming all the time anyway and we’ve spoken to a few people about working towards the next thing so I’m sure another video will start to take shape over the coming months/years. Just what it will be though, I couldn’t say…

Photo: Chris Johnson

On that tantalising note if you haven’t bought it already you should go out and buy ‘In Progress’ for a lovely jubbly vid! Perfect for when it’s cold and wet and you want something to watch while you’re sipping a brew and eating some biscuits! Also next month’s Sidewalk comes with the full free bonus ‘In Progress’ DVD which features full sections from various riders!

WAGAMAMA’S!

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