Today we present a multi-layered work to you. A project that shows you a lot about a person in one singular motion. But what are the type of choices that go into making a work like this? Is it as simple as going out and “just winging it” or is there meticulous planning involved? What kind of budget do you need to make good video content and does it matter where it lands? Or is good content, good content? All that and more in today’s Place Presents.

Intro + Interview By Roland Hoogwater.
Film & Photos by Nikolas Tusl.

Hey Nikolas how are you? and Where are you?

I am good! I’m in Munich all the time. Haven’t been to Prague for a while (Originally Nikolas is from Czech Republic). By the way, thank you guys for doing this. It took a while to find the right home.

No problem, this feels quite natural.

It is a cool move, I am happy that I asked Esel (SHRN) to make the connection.

Yeah, we checked it out and it made sense. So let’s get straight into it, how did this project come into existence?

So basically the idea came out of the container collective. I shared an office space there with a friend, who is also a director, and we were brainstorming on ideas on how to do something cool within skateboarding.

The female viewpoint came up and we felt it would be cool to do something with Lea (Shairer). We both liked her and her skating, but a big problem was that she kept getting injured and could not really skate. So, instead we chose to focus on her mind, expressing thoughts instead of focussing on actions.

When did this all start?

About 2 years ago, in the summer of 2019. We approached her and she liked the idea. originally we planned to make it a three-part series. Part one would be focussed on the mind, part two would be skating and the vibe between friends, and part three would then focus on the professional side of her skating.

We approached some of her sponsors to see if they were interested in supporting the project, not only from a PR standpoint but also financially. Unfortunately, that did not happen. We had the first part finished and chose to not do the other two and stick with this as a stand-alone video.

Who did the story telling on this, was it Lea herself?

No, it was Chiara Grabmayr the director, she worked together with Lea on the story side of things while I worked on planning the route and figuring out how to film.

How much planning did go into it and did you have a crew with you?

We had two shooting days, and we used these fully to get the best take. We did not have a budget, so nobody was stopping cars, or keeping people out of the way. Normally on a production with a budget those kind of things are normal. Chiara was the only one besides myself and Lea, she was trailing me and taking or giving me my skateboard when I needed to cruise. We also tried to include certain characters in some of the takes, people that would interact with her. But after 2 takes she knew and you could tell that it wasn’t authentic. So, on the second day we left it out. All in all, we did the whole thing in about 8 takes.

We winged it mostly, but she did kinda shoulder check a guy and after a few tries the woman at the bakery knew about us. So, in the final video you can see that even though 2 girls actually get to the till first she serves us. She knew what we where there for.

Only 8? I would think it would have been more.

No, I think we did 4 a day and 3 times we made it all the way to the end. You have to remember, even if you fuck up it take like 45 minutes to get back to the starting point, set things up again and really be ready to start again. Plus I wanted to have a nice back light, so we could not do it in the middle of the day. We wanted low light!

8 tries in 2 days, crazy! What about the camera equipment did you use a gimble?

No gimble, I used to film skateboarding back in the day so I knew I could handle myself by just adding a stabilizer. to be honest we hustled with the sound quite a lot and what the topics should be for the talking part. Chiara talked with Lea a lot and wanted it to be more personal, at first Lea was hesitant but in the end, she did do it and it works really well.

Chiara did a good job, it is a good testament of how it was for Lea growing up as a female skater. When a young girl sees this they might connect, or not, times are different today in comparison to when Lea grew up. Women skating is more common nowadays.

To come back to the equipment, I think most people don’t really get how a video like this is filmed.

Fun Fact: I showed this to Vincent Urban, a pretty famous director, he was a snowboarder back in the day. He watched it and he got so confused about the way it was filmed. He spent the whole length of the video thinking about that. You have to imagine he knows all the techniques and many great DOP’s and it took him a long time to figure it out.

Do you think because you are a skater you are more likely to do this instead of using a gimble?

I knew that I could do it this way, and I don’t like the way skateboarding looks when you use certain equipment so I wanted to stay true to what I like. Gimbles and super wide lenses are very common now but I still like the fisheye and 4:3 format for skateboarding.

It is not that I don’t approve of those things but it depends on what you want to say.

It is cool to hear Lea talk like that, I haven’t heard her talking like before.

She did in her “Not Here By Luck” video by Nike SB but that was after we had made this video. And Chiara and myself both feel that talking in your own language creates an even more personal connection to what you are telling. So that shines through in this video.

I have to agree, you can we way more eloquent in your mother language.

We talked a lot about the subtitles and if they should be yellow, black or white? Even the color of the video itself, I just wanted to make it like a black and white video from the 60’s. You get sucked in, but because of the lack of color you don’t really care when things are taking place. Sometimes if you go for color it works nice in the moment but in 20 or 30 years time it looks outdated.

Because in a way, each time period has their own color schemes.

Exactly, and Black & White can take you away from that and make you question or forget when things where actually filmed. You would have to pay a lot attention to details to figure out the exact time. In the end, I made the choice because color was just too much information for the whole thing to flow in the way we wanted it to.

So it allows you to focus more on the narrative.

Yes, most of the edits today have fast cuts, many different types of cameras in one edit but I am a photographer and I wanted this to be more still. So I chose to work very classically.

Do you think a photographer shoots moving images differently than a filmer would?

Well, I want to have the same esthetic value in my moving images as I do in my moving images. But to be honest I don’t know. I started filming, so it is hard to tell. I also don’t care, you just have to think differently when your images move. I do feel like you have to think about how you combine the images you create with the narrative.

Just one last thing, I am a bit sad that we did not have anyone to take behind the scenes photographs, I would have liked to have more to show in the article but I feel like it still works.

Check out Nikolas’ Skateboard work with this 2008-2012 bonus section from his ROBOTIX video.