It is rare to meet people you click instantly with, it is a bit less rare in skating but still, when I met Sean Christiansen I instantly felt comfortable. I can imagine that helps him go a long way when he goes out filming too. Still, when his new video dropped I just didn’t feel like doing the usual website and IG post, the video felt like a close portrait of a group of friends. So instead I decided to jump him and just randomly call him for an interview. He agreed and this ended up being his first… “If you would have asked first it might not have happened like this” So, we feel lucky, as should you because Sean has a lot of cool stuff to say. Enjoy!

Interview by Roland Hoogwater.

Videos and photos by Sean C.

Hey Sean what is going on with you, you just dropped your new video Califörnia.

I’m good man, just working on some freelance stuff at the moment. I quit my job last summer which was pretty necessary given the circumstances, but that freed up a lot of time to film – actually about half the footage in the video was filmed last summer and fall.

Damn, work struggles can suck but you created something positive out of it.

Yeah, it’s been cool having control over my schedule and getting different kinds of jobs coming in, I’ve been reselling some watches too which balances things out. My fiancée and I recently got a nice rent-controlled apartment so the costs of living have been bearable. That made quitting a much easier decision.

So, you weren’t stressing as much which is good. Anyway, let’s talk skate videos, tell me about your work.

I guess here in Stockholm it started in 2018 with “Green”, I put that video out in February and followed up with “Äckligt” in November of the same year. That one’s still my favorite for sure. Then in 2020, I did “Energy Kit” with Free Skate Mag, and after that, “Hel Katt” in 2021 on Thr*sh*r.

It was actually David Stenström who got me back into filming after moving to Sweden from the States in 2015. I was kinda burned out after living in Long Beach, so when I got to Stockholm I was way more hyped on just skating for fun. Me and David became friends, and he wanted to get some clips for a promo so we shot some stuff on my old DLSR but it didn’t really turn out. I ended up buying a Panasonic HMC150, and it just went from there.

“At the time I just thought he wanted to skate the manny pad but it ended up looking crazy with the horizon, maybe he had the vision…”

So, do you see a thread between all those videos?

The crew for sure, beyond that I haven’t really thought about it. The footage always dictates what kind of video it will be. And the music of course, like Vincent [Huhta] is really into music as well so I’ll always reach out to him when it comes time to sit down with the footage. But you always find out what really clicks while editing. I gotta shout out Carl Mårtensson for showing me the track that got used in the friends section, he knows all the good Swedish stuff and also helps Fritte with music for the Jante edits.

You are pretty good at showing people’s personalities, how important is that to show the people close to you?

Thanks – I have to say it’s not really a priority, but yeah between filming tricks I’ll keep an eye out for the kind of moments that stand out in the timeline and add something special. This was the first video where I shot any Super 8, and that definitely creates a certain feeling too. I love the B-roll you can get close up with the Xtreme fisheye like David Jakinda scratching the lottery ticket or Gabbe doing his “Rome” routine. The look reminds me of how they show VR in the movies, the way it brings you into that world. But certain people just shine too. Sondre Mortensen has a lot of these moments, like that line with the bushes.

What about that line in Hel Katt with Sondre in the middle of nowhere? It’s like the whole video was in the city up to that point, then boom you’re in a huge field.

Yeah, he knows all the good spots in the countryside around Malmö. At the time I thought he just wanted to put a line together with the manny pad but the clip ended up looking crazy with the horizon. Maybe he had the vision (laughs).

That is amazing, is it normal for people to take you to spots or are you a going with the vibe type of person?

Well, saying like let’s go there and get this trick doesn’t really work with my friends so it usually ends up being more spontaneous. Some people do thrive on calling out tricks on specific spots but that’s not for everybody. But if someone has an idea, usually everyone else is down for it. For this video, we skated a lot of new spots around Stockholm which was nice.

Are you worried that you’ll ever run out of spots in the city?

I mean, I heard some teams are coming here this summer but I don’t think Stockholm will ever get blown out, like So-Cal style (laughs). We’re too isolated this far north, and there’s always new developments going up in and around the city. We’ll be fine I think.

Let’s jump to another topic real quick, you have dual citizenship, right? Born in the USA but you recently got a Swedish passport too. What is it like to hear “Welcome Home!” in two countries?

(laughs) It felt like a nice achievement to get that second passport. XP boost for sure.

Oskar Wennberg’s last trick.

Coming from the States would you say there is a difference in how skating works there versus in Europe?

Yeah, definitely. I was living in Long Beach which was fun, I was just a few pushes away from Cherry Park and the Red Room. My friends and I used to film a lot, just driving out to spots all over, those were great times but people ended up kinda drifting apart. And in LA it felt like every spot was blown out. Now it’s looking better though, like the WKND guys showed how much untapped stuff there still is out there. The business side of skating is still mostly concentrated in the States though – I guess it would be nice to have more of that here, like more opportunities to do stuff with companies. But maybe that’s on me, I should pitch more ideas (laughs).

Your crew is interesting so you might as well. Anyway, back to your videos, what are some of the standout moments to you?

The first one that comes to mind is Oskar Wennberg’s kickflip manual 360 flip ender in Äckligt. He’s a real mid-90s East Coast skater, and you can really see his attitude and emotions show through in his clips. After that trick, you can see the relief – we’re both just rolling away in silence, and then he pops his board up and throws it in the trash. To me, that’s cinema.

As far as Hel Katt, it has to be Axel Berggren. I love the line in Uppsala where he ollies into the dirt bank, pivots, then does that switch frontside 360 down the stairs… I haven’t even seen him do that trick before or after. Love that guy, and he really is the best dude, On And Off The Board™ (laughs).
In the latest video, I really like the line that Simon Hallberg did with the blunt over the fence. That was a fun one, Simon just called it out, “If I get the blunt slide I’m ollieing onto the container.” And I think that was first try so you can see how spontaneous it was, I’m just holding onto the dumpster, arms in the shot, and everything. We were a big crew that day so there were a lot of hugs afterward, I didn’t want to put all those in the video (laughs).

What about color grading? This video seems to have a bit more work when it comes to the image.

With the last video, I really tried to make it look more intense by pushing the vibrance and contrast a lot. I like how that turned out, it matched the vibe I was going for – like the name, Axel skates fast, Dodge Hellcats were a big thing, especially in the music I was listening to. Shouts out to the PPP loan program.

This time around, I ended up using a bunch of different cameras. My first Panasonic and Century Xtreme fisheye got stolen in 2019, so I was trying out some new things for a while. I experimented with this old Japanese TV fisheye mounted on an HPX wide-angle adapter to try and emulate the Century – a lot of footage from that rig ended up in the latest video. There were a couple of other small camcorders in the mix too but nothing I was really hyped on. In 2022 I bought a Sony cinema camera and the matching camcorder-style zoom lens for it, that footage looks great but maybe not so much for skating.

All the different looks made it hard to match footage in post, especially in Premiere. I switched over to Resolve for this one and color-graded all the footage clip by clip, but it wasn’t til I found a nice film emulation plugin that everything started looking consistent. After that, it felt like the project really came together.
I’m still a big fan of the colors and sound you get out of the HPX, with the high bitrate, it’s perfect. I was lucky enough to get another Xtreme last summer so that’s what I’m sticking with for now.

“Sean is great filmmaker and a dear friend, it’s really thanks to him that I made any pals in Stockholm. He introduced me to everyone here and made me feel like part of the gang. I mean what kind of guy films a 33yo unsponsored skater try a line 175 times? He’s a true sweetheart who keeps it real and stays true to himself. Also probably the only filmer thats beaten me in a game of skate, those big flips get me everytime.”

Alex O’Donohoe on Sean.

So do you feel that experimenting with camera gear is dead in skating? Like Ty Evans did back in the day?

I thought that was cool, the first HD stuff he shot with the Panasonic HVX, I remember he had the endorsement. It feels like that was the moment the industry started shifting away from the VX. But today, as far as resolutions go, I don’t know how much we really need to push it. The difference between 1080 and 4k is pretty marginal, and past that who cares? I love the stuff Diego Meek shoots with the Digital Bolex – such a good digital look with the saturated colors and global shutter, that’s the kind of experimentation I wanna see more of. I think skating looks best on a CCD sensor.

So you bought the cinema cam, can we expect more from you on that front in the future?

Yeah hopefully, it’s a big plus having the full production package to be able to make music videos or independent films. I helped a friend shoot a video last fall for a band called Lucifer, but we used an HPX and an HVX to get the look, that one turned out really cool. I’d like to do more of that on a professional level but I might have to go back to school first.

That would be sick! Anyway almost wrapping up, we have to talk about Alex O’Donohoe, what is it like to have another American in the crew?

It’s such a small world, I actually used to stay at Ayo’s house in SF back in the day when he was roommates with our mutual friend. So when he moved out here to Stockholm that friend re-connected us again. It was really cool to be back in touch, he became one of the boys instantly. It is also nice to connect on American things that people here don’t know or care about, or like complain about Swedish winters, Swedish people. Just that frame of reference is nice to have. He is now officially part of the expat community, a real passport bro (laughs).

Ok, well on that note, thank you for this chat and we are excited to see more in the future.

Thank you, this was actually my first interview, hyped to do it with you!

Axel Berggren’s dirt line from Hel Katt.