Today we return with a very fun Place Presents. Straight from Halifax, Nova Scotia comes this three-man part in “Everything’s Fine” filmed by Joel Martell. We contacted the man behind the video, who is a self-professed “great interview”, and because he announced his prowess in the question-answering business we went all in. We asked him just about anything we could think of and sprinkled between all of that we have some facts provided by Nova Scotia expert Johnny Purcell. We suggest you start your weekend right and press play on Dave, Kenny, and Ryan in “Everything’s Fine!”

Intro & Interview by Roland Hoogwater.

Film & Edit by Joel Martell.

Special thanks to Johnny Purcell.

Hey Joel, how are you?

All good, let’s get this interview done (laughs).

So, you finished the actual video, and had the premiere, how has life been after the video?

Well, now that it is done I will be filming skating a bit less, I want to get rid of the Panasonic + Extreme fisheye setup man! It is so heavy, I bought a Sony a73 DSLR but that creates a long-lens issue though.

Maybe consider getting the Romain Batard HDVX setup.

That could be an option. It is weird that as skateboarders we are so used to old…old… cameras, and we as a community, are so obsessed with the “right” fisheye lens. Because of that, we get stuck using very outdated technology. But, I will say that my arm strength has grown a lot during the making of this video.

Really? How long did you film for this project?

It was because of covid that I picked the camera back up. I used to work for Color magazine back in Vancouver but that was about 10 years ago and after the Color thing ended I stopped filming. Back then I wasn’t having that much fun, people weren’t feeling rolling long lens angles or the type of skating I wanted to show. Now that stuff is back and I had a good time making this video. The rolling angles can be tricky though, you have to hold the camera super steady, but if you can, it looks great!

Filmer nerd talks aside, tell me a bit about this part we are presenting.

It all started 2 years ago with Dave, Kenny, and Ryan, who are three guys from Cape Breton, which is an island in the north of the province of Nova Scotia. You could say that it is a barren wasteland basically. It is a beautiful place, a lot of people film car commercials there but there is nothing going on for young people. Hence, they all moved to Halifax and have been skating hard. You have to imagine, Canadian spots can be crusty, but to their eyes, our spots in Halifax are perfect.

Sounds like you had an easy time working with them.

These guys are all tradesmen, they work hard as hell, finish the day at 2 o’clock, and would still be super motivated to go out skating.

During covid, a lot of shops had to close, was the main motivator for you to start filming again the extra time you had?

Well, in a way. I have my own barbershop, I actually share the space with our local skate shop Pro Skates which has been around since 1986. So between us both, our whole community is based in one building, which is great. Covid did make me come out of retirement, I put a lot of money down on this stupid camera setup, which is basically as expensive as a Rolex watch, and waved it at skaters doing tricks (laughs).

That sounds kinda like a risky investment when you put it like that.

It is kinda crazy, but the market value of the lens went up! We escaped without any major hits, but every time a foot or something would hit the lens my heart would sink, “Ugh!” (laughs).

The titles for this video look really cool, did you create those yourself?

Yeah man, I did. Basically during covid, I went filming and learned how to use this program called Blender which you use for 3d animations. I created this bubbly alphabet and learned how to animate it. That was a lot of fun and I will be doing a lot more of that in the future.

You kinda alluded to it, but will you still be filming after “Everything’s Fine!” drops?

I will, but I am really looking forward to not being “The Guy”, the person that has to be on every session, documenting every trick. Instead, I want to teach other people in the city to take my place so that this can continue without me being in the driver’s seat.

I like that, very important stuff, it helps skate scenes can continue to thrive.

I agree mentorship is a very important thing and as we get older we can’t always do the things we used to, even if it’s just time-wise.

True, especially with us both being in our mid-thirties. At least the grey hairs don’t seem to have set in.

Dude, if only you were closer, you need a haircut (laughs)!

Random facts about the boys:

They are all from Cape Breton, a literal island on the eastern side of Nova Scotia (about 4 hours from Halifax, the province’s capital). Cape Breton has its own accent/slang, and all three of these guys have versions of that accent.

All three migrated to Halifax about 5 years ago. All of them work jobs in the trades. Ryan does rebar, Kenny is a carpenter, and Dave is a stone mason. ” 

I am trying to grow it out (laughs). Anyway, how did you get into cutting hair?

Sandro my editor at Color saw me working hard, and I loved my job but I was just scraping by paycheck, to paycheck. So, I decided to change jobs and learn a trade. Because of where the shop is, I am still around skating every day.

So what in skating inspires you today?

The sickest thing to me about skateboarding today is the rise of all these queer companies, like THERE. They prove an important point, you don’t have to have skaters that are on Nyjah’s level but instead, you can focus on showing how fun skating is. And I love the aesthetic that they have produced around their companies. When I came out in the skateboard world around 20 years ago, I felt like one of the first, I know that is not true but it felt so weird because it wasn’t on the radar back then.

Do you feel like a lot has changed since then?

Yes, especially since Brian Anderson dropped that video, and the world changed. All of a sudden, being queer and a skater is a plus, that felt so sick! It put attention on people that deserve to be seen and that has inspired me a ton!

I guess B.A. coming out did have a huge impact.

It did, I feel like skateboarding is becoming one of the most progressive sports on the planet. It hasn’t even reached the mainstream world yet how progressive we are being. Men, women, trans & queer people, are all on the same level in a sense, there is no superiority between any of us. If you think about it, those levels of sport do exist in a lot of the more traditional sports like basketball, etc. In that way, I feel like skateboarding is setting a standard for the planet and we should get more credit for that.

“I feel like skateboarding is becoming one of the most progressive sports on the planet.”

Joel Martell

I agree, that these queer companies and how we deal with gender identities in the skate scene are amongst the most interesting and inspiring things going on in skating today.

It all has a place, no diss on Nyjah, it seems like his mission is to see what is possible to do on a board with your body. But we need to put the same importance on these initiatives and see where this can lead us culturally.

I always felt like skateboarding is a gateway drug in that sense.

It is, totally. The reason I feel it is that way is because of the DIY aspect. If you want to make a skate video, for instance, it is kinda a one-man show. On like a movie set or something there are P.A.s and D.O.P.s etc, but in skating, you have to get your hands dirty and that breeds resiliency.

We didn’t even talk about Halifax that much, anything to say about your city?

I know right! We have been kinda quiet! But you might have heard about some of our skaters. Zander Mitchell is from here he was one of the first people that graced my lens, Johnny Purcell is another, he rips. We have a lot of people that moved to Montreal, Dime is connected to a lot of Halifax people. This city is a great place to start skating, we have great spots, and the city is building a lot more. But if you want to grow in skateboarding you have to go to Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal. MTL especially is amongst the best cities in North America to be as a skater.

Well, I think those were my questions. Any thank you’s?

Johnny Purcell had a lot of the connections and he helped make this happen, so thanks to him. And I just want to say that I hope that this is the start of the world seeing more of Halifax! Oh and Vans, they really support our scene. Besides that, if you ever need a haircut Odd Fellows Barbershop (laughs).

If I ever am in Halifax you can for sure do my hair!

Alright! Well, I hope people like the video.

Random Nova Scotia Facts:

  • Population just hit 1 million (it’s small)
  • Very ocean-centric province (you’re never more than 60km away from the ocean)  
  • Small but tight-knit skate scene (there is basically one shop in the entire province)
  • Nova Scotia is Latin for “New Scotland”