Another year departs memory, saved only by the visual mementos we chose to capture along the way. 'On a Level' reflects the collective expression of skating & life in London through the period of 2018.
This title represents a phrase in our vernacular. It also relates to the 'levels' of reality we move across. Professional, family and social life coalesce with equal fluidity & abruptness. It is sometimes difficult to know which level we are on at any given time. The expression we have found on our skates suggest a degree of stability in a rapidly evolving environment.
We have made it our aim to temper and play with the idea of stability. From a physical point of view, we practice balance when sliding across precarious inner city infrastructure. We embrace the artificial terrain as organic. In this way, we try to experience the environment fully, rooting ourselves in London. From a social perspective our group is best served with a sense of togetherness and integrity. Weekly meetings provide the kind of contact where we can share ideas and experiences. The sessions have allowed for a playful sharing, allowing these ideas to be physically communicated. Most tricks in the film are born of spontaneity.
The three individuals who put concerted efforts in pre organising sessions most weekends have extended appearances in 'On a Level'. Firstly, BanK LDN and 'London Sessions' camera operator Michal Pupava.
His work over the past year has been equally divided between his demanding work schedule, practicing abstract art and skating. He already created 'London Sessions' as his own video series which are timeless captures of skating in their own right. He has been gently pushing for a 'full section'. Michal needs to strike early in the day. His motivation to complete moves wanes as we get closer to the evening. Mike practices his staple moves and was a huge pleasure to work with his footage. His simple approach to street skating is a throwback to more conventional aggressive skating. Mike doesn't see skating as merely an exercise of grinds. He is hyper creative and aware of the many evolutions skating has undergone. Michal was relied upon in exclusively filming clips for me. He constitutes a significant filming role for BANK as an overall project and his contributions to our group cannot be overstated.
In this moment, Sam Crofts has grown in stature and matured into one of the most prolific and adept skaters in the world. I had worked with Sam over the previous years since his move to London from the South Coast. Previous filming had not been pre conceived projects. Clips that were filmed appeared in sponsor sections that in some ways supported his professional trajectory. It took some time to begin working on moves with Sam with the notion of a full part. I felt that his rise justified a significant acknowledgement in a 'London video'. Sam reciprocated this idea. The idea is that the tricks are not just products of the skater and the camera operator. The environment is comprised of architecture, infrastructure and social interactions. Our experience of skating seems to be synthesised through these filters. How skating is documented and presented for consumption is specific to our experience as a group. It is interesting to consider and witness how spectacular individuals like Sam are framed within such a rich backdrop.
James Bower has been heavily involved in every aspect of London skating for the past decade. His rhythm is easy to correspond with. He is obsessed with street skating. He pays attention to the environment. He documents spots as he sees them, forward with his intentions to film at these locations. James has vision. His skill set focuses on conventional aggressive street skating. However, his pallet is expansive, often liable to remark on new techniques seen in the digital world of skating. This part affirms his importance to our scene and solidifies his status. Since buying his own HD camcorder, he now explores the world of filming. His re-entry into filming is shown here. He strongly values the richness of social interaction in London and how that affects our experience of skating. Working with James to explore these ideas is set in stone from here on out.
His & my relationship with Jonny Lee have been crucial in exploring the social and objective terrain of skating. Having handheld camcorders, keeping the film rolling a little opens the possibility of seeing more. The moments prior to or after moves. Reactions from other people, or maybe how a spot was affected by our touch. The difficulty of what we do isn't always well communicated.
The beats of Sam Zircon are interwoven to make the soundtrack for On a Level. I previously spoke about the relationship with Sam Zircon, Stinkin Slumrock & Blah Records. Since then, dialogues between us have led to collaboration. Sam worked on 5 specific tracks, aptly named 'Bank 1-5'. Three of these songs are in the video. Sam sent multiple beats, showing off his versatility as a producer. This vast choice of music opened up many avenues to wander into. Wander I did, taking some months to distil all of this music into a cogent soundtrack. Sam cannot be thanked enough for this amazing contribution.
The contributions from the group are easy to recognise. Ian Gallais once again supported with the graphics and fonts for this project. Conceptualising the project was discussed with him and the wider group as we went along. Everyone who is featured in the video knew what and why they were being filmed. Their input over the course of months has chiselled this project into meaning.