Tom Pickard has been documenting the skate scenes of Hastings and the surrounding area for longer than most of you, me included, have been skateboarding. I still have my copy of Last Words, bought for a fiver as a gormless teenager, sitting on VHS in my living room cupboard – this despite not having owned a VHS player for years. Its continued presence is more a memento, a physical reminder of a time when I was beginning to discover the wider cultural and social structures in place around the plank of wood on wheels which was going to shape my life so indelibly.
A good few years, videos and cameras later, Pickard’s latest video Jumble Sale, under the umbrella of local shop The Source, showcases the next generation of 1066 rippers alongside plenty of older and more familiar faces from across the South East. Appearances from various crews remind of the blurred line between scene and shop video, there’s a few more distant locales in amongst the Hastings crust (and if there’s one thing Hastings has, it’s that), and spots handled that have been glossed over for years as downright too fucking grim to touch with a bargepole. To coincide with the video being released to the web in full, I sat down virtually with Tom to talk filming in seaside towns, DIY sheet metal vert, waking up at 5am to watch First Broadcast for two months straight and more…
The Source skate team in its current incarnation is a fairly recent development – how did it come about, and who is involved skatewise?
I mean I never really wanted it to be a ‘team’, it was never like that. For me I wanted to show what was happening in the scene, and not just in Hastings but along the coast, in Brighton; it’s bigger than one town. I wanted to try to showcase as many different types of skating and different scenes as possible. But then, within that, certain people started getting more footage. It was really, really good to come across the younger kids like Sonny (Wright) and Sid (Prestedge) in Hastings, because they’re really good but everyone just skates skateparks. It was so hard to rip them away from the park in the beginning, they wanted to skate street but never really did.
Compared to back in the day when we were out all the time, everyone was on a similar schedule, everyone was local, it hasn’t been easy making it happen. I’m not blaming it or anything, but Covid, with a mix of social media, I think kids are more introverted now. Even if they know that that person skates over there, they definitely know each other on Instagram, they’re still somehow separate in real life. I was really weirded out by that, and it took a while but at a point you could see certain people getting hyped. I think when one person sees another get a clip or a photo they immediately want to get involved. Someone would ask, “Could I maybe get a clip for the video?” and that was eventually happening every week.
Reuben (Cooke), who has a couple of clips in Sonny and Sid’s section – he nosepicked Crowhurst vert – he’s from Peasmarsh, and after living in London for 13 years he was the biggest breath of fresh air. He’s just a fucking vigilante skateboarder, he’s happy about anything. Take him to the worst spot and he’ll be happy, so as soon as we went to Crowhurst he was like, “We need to go back, I’ve got a welder, I’ll rent a generator and we can sort it out, weld it up throughout the night.” That level of energy is something I hadn’t experienced in so long. He hyped the young kids up, they fed off his energy, then vice versa. At that point, I knew it was definitely going to be more than a five minute edit.
Originally it was meant to be about ten minutes, but as soon as we had the O.W.L Skateboards and Serious Adult crews involved it was bound to be longer. So anyway, there’s no real team. We definitely help out Sid and Sonny, and Al Hodgson and Harrison Woolgar. Next year we’ll potentially look at having a team and going on trips and stuff, but this was more just to show the scene and that there is shit happening down South. It can all be connected as well; Hastings, Brighton, Folkestone, I see it as one big melting pot with loads of skating going on.
I want to say that the young local filmers really got me amped. Meeting Jude Harrison from Tunbridge Wells and Andrew Anderton from Eastbourne, who recently moved to the Big Smoke, was so good because when I was young there weren’t really any other local kids filming. If they were it was out of necessity rather than passion, but these guys are super on it, they know their shit and I respect that. Jude has a new T-Boys video dropping around Christmas and Andrew has started filming bits in London so I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us. I want to thank them both for helping out filming bits for the video and with the events we have had.
And having the O.W.L. and Serious Adult parts in there, was that a conscious homage to videos like Waiting for the World with the Octagon Wheels section, or did the footage just come about that way?
Not really, though I can see what you’re saying. I’ve always loved what Al does and personally don’t think he gets enough shine. I didn’t have a VX, so I thought he probably wouldn’t let me film him, but I put it out there. I think he probably watched that Rich De Courcy section, analysed it, and was like, “Yeah, okay.” It was just the fact that I like what he does. It was the same with Greg Conroy, he’s funny as fuck and I love what he’s doing. I wanted to support it in some way, and I’d been filming Sam Earl in London before I left anyway. I didn’t really know what to do with all that stuff, but when I started filming Sam he’d only want to skate horrible spots that no one else wanted to skate or only a few people had. The more I looked at it the more I realised it looked pretty similar to spots in Hastings, so I knew it would work. I was grabbing hold of the fact that it was South London, it was me taking South London down to the South Coast with me. You know how Sam skates, it’s just different, he’s a fucking weirdo. He had to be in there.
I was getting really anxious, thinking there had to be a reason for including London footage – I was going to get on the train and film loads of Super 8, coming back down, going to Brighton, and in the end I thought fuck that, it’s too much. As long as his last clips were in Hastings – the same as with Al’s part – that’s what felt important. Sam came down just as summer finished and it was the worst weather ever but he managed to get a couple of clips, that ties it in for me. So yeah, it was just that I love and want to support what they’re doing. Also, the amount of times I’ve been in text conversations with Al and Greg simultaneously and they come out with the exact same thing; they’re so similar in how they look at skating.
And you also travelled a bit further west, right? There’s a clip at the Crust Ramp in Oldbury in there.
Yeah, partly because Jordan (Marowitch), who skates mostly transition, was skating Bristol quite a bit. I never wanted to say that something was too far, and obviously going to Bristol meant I could see Sam Roberts. We went to Dean Lane and got loads of clips, but I was telling him we needed to go to this old concrete halfpipe. I’d much rather get clips there, because obviously Dean Lane has been absolutely killed. It was around the time I listened to some of Joel Curtis’ Skate Creative podcast. I can’t remember which one specifically, but there’s a few which talked about the old Wig Worland Sidewalk days when people would drive around the UK constantly. That kind of hyped me up, “Alright, I’m going to Bristol on my own in a Renault Clio and I’ll meet them there.” Just like when you meet someone down the local in ten minutes, but you’re meeting them at this crusty old park in three and a half hours. Then the next day I’m back to filming locally, obviously it’s easier, but that’s added a bit more flavour. I mean, there’s bloody Milton Keynes footage in there… I remember being up there with Greg, thinking “How am I going to excuse this?” But by then we knew there would be a little Serious Adult bit, he always speaks to Zeta Rush, who lives near there, and me and Rich just went along with him on a mission, so it was very natural. I never wanted to say no to someone if they were going somewhere.
And none of it looks glaringly out of place or anything.
When Al stayed here, he basically just gave me all this old Super 8 footage he had found at a jumble sale. I was stoked, but the more I thought about it, in my mind I thought if I put it in then it had to be 100% Hastings. Once you start with that stuff, it has to be all about the town. So that made me worry, but I thought as I was shooting Super 8 anyway, and Mark Richards luckily had a telecine to convert it, I had to put it in. There are so many references to the video in it. There are certain scene videos where they shoot every nook and cranny of their town, every crack and alleyway, and it’s not that but at the same time a lot of it is shot in Hastings and more broadly by the sea.
I’ve fully stolen this one from Al’s Villagers interview that I did a couple of years back, but I’ll reiterate the fact that I still appreciate the aesthetic of seaside towns in skate videos, and ask if you think that small seaside towns are the logical next step for filming missions now most cities are so heavily rinsed?
I think some people will… but I also think the majority won’t. It’s a payoff, there will be a small amount of people – the ones saying “We need to skate spots that have hardly been skated” – those kind of skaters will. Also DIY types, the kind who’ll go down to Lewes to skate the DIY rather than the skatepark, but I think the majority will just realise they can just go into the city and get clips. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but I just think people travel less now. Not even necessarily abroad, but the simple concept of a day out – I think people do that less now, though I don’t know why.
Some still do, and when I see people from out of town getting to Hastings I get so psyched. Thursday nights at The Source have been really busy with people coming from all over. Folkestone, Haywards Heath, Tonbridge Wells – we’ll be drinking in the courtyard at half ten at night and I’m thinking fucking hell, you’ve all got to drive home and go to work tomorrow. So there are people doing it, but I think the majority will stick with where they know they can get stuff.
Al’s one of the best at covering the coast, all that footage of Brighton seafront. I bet plenty of filmers saw that and were like, “Fucking hell,” got psyched, but the next day wouldn’t actually end up going there. It’s got to be the ones who really want it.
Jumble Sale includes both street and skatepark footage. I know for many filmers skatepark footage is a no no, but personally I quite like seeing the mix, it’s as much a part of skateboarding as hitting the streets – especially in a country so plagued by rain. What is your take on the unspoken skatepark footage ban that is so prevalent in skate media?
I guess it changes from project to project. If a certain project is a street skating video I get that but, like I said before, I want to have every type of skating in there. I used to be like that with street skating, but there’s no difference in, say, filming you skating Seven Sisters than filming a trick on the streets. I think that, if you’re presented with a street skater and then with a transition skater in Hastings, you’re not going to just film one. I absolutely loved filming clips of Harrison, but then filming clips of Jordan Marowitch trying something on a transition for two hours got me just as hyped. It’s personal preference, whatever your cup of tea is, but I get the same pleasure from filming both things. The same with the vert footage, I filmed that just after I got down and I was just psyched to see old people skate. When I was editing I was so close to not including that – thinking too much about skateboard media, “What’s it going to say?” Eventually I was like, “Fuck that.” If I can show the Dolans in Brighton, Ruby is obviously really young, then the next clip is some 40 year old? That’s what I was trying to do.
Again, I’ve been that way in the past, but the section that you open, that section is so wholesome to me. It’s followed by the O.W.L. section which is straight onto the streets, but seeing all those faces, that’s what skating is. It’s rad what people are doing on their boards, but the more people involved the better. If you’ve got a very streamlined idea for a project then obviously you’re going to do that, but for me it was the more the merrier.
And that Caterham scene is rad, the way so many people descend on the Tuesday night session.
I was just psyched it was still there. I remember going with BMXers every week for a while, but when we went on boards no one would be on the vert, it would just be me filming Joe Sandland for hours. I went there for this and it was fucking going off! It’s funny, the second time I went to Brighton and filmed Al, I was staying at his. I woke up early because the Dolans skate The Level at stupid o’clock when no one else is up. I said I was getting up early, filming at The Level then meeting them later, and Al was like, “So there’s skatepark footage in the video?” I was worried he was going to back out [laughs], but he just said fair play. Again, to me it was the same concept of Al, Harrison and Cal being at the Source jam. They came for the video, but I told them the event would be the opposite end of the spectrum to what they do. They were on the deck for the best trick jam, loving it. I’m really glad they came but it was hilarious to see them there. They were stoked on the skating, but also all the characters that were there.
I don’t mind London, but it can give you a certain outlook; even if you fight against it, it makes you see skateboarding in a certain way and I don’t think it’s nice sometimes. The whole point of why most people start is because it’s not this, or that, it’s a bit of everything. Sometimes it does go a certain way and becomes massively exclusive. When I moved back down, I remembered that Hastings is a prime example of weird, random people, like Sid. Then Sonny is well mature for his age, they’re so different, but him and Sid get along really well.
As someone who has lived away for a long time, it was rad to see the mix of those new faces and some familiar ones. Who surprised you most during the filming of the video?
I was obviously really hyped on the young guys, they’d never really been filmed before. Everyone was rad and all had different approaches, but with Sonny every session felt natural. When he does the switch 180 then the impossible down the double set, that was the first clip I ever filmed with him. I think I met him at the skatepark and said I was down to get some clips when it was still winter. He called it and said it would only take him 15 minutes, obviously it took longer but I knew it would because, as we all know, the nooks and crannies of street skating make it hard. He did it and he was so psyched, he’d never filmed a street clip before and was super psyched on the filming process and scoping out spots for the video.
It took a while for Toby (Shaw) to get into his stride because he hadn’t skated in a while, but I didn’t want him to just kickflip stairs and ollie gaps – I forced him to a few spots to make him skate a bit differently. He’s one of those people where you have to. Then Ollie (Curtis), his mate, came out of nowhere and did loads of gnarly things. Every time he said he wanted to do something I was a bit worried, if he wanted to film something it wasn’t going to be chill. I hadn’t filmed big stuff for a long time. It was great, because a lot of the time it worked out, and maybe it’s an age thing but a lot of the time I was thinking, “What do we do if this goes wrong?”
Ollie’s a savage, he was really gnarly when he was a kid too.
I can’t remember coming across him when we were younger, even though I know he was mates with Nathan Atkinson and knows everything about the scene. Just before I moved down, I met him and Toby and he brought his grind box to the underground car park. A nice, chilled skate… then four months later, he’s dropping in off some massive, savage thing. It was good though, everyone was having it but no one was really going crazy, so I was stoked to have yet another side of skateboarding. He definitely filled that void, and him doing the drop in on the pier made perfect sense as the ender. I definitely didn’t think he was going to do it, the slats were going against him and I couldn’t see how he would roll away.
It was sick, but afterwards the owner came out and started on me and Oli basically got in a fight. Maybe when I was younger I would have thought it was rad, but I just wanted to leave. The guy was threatening us, “Don’t go to any nightclubs because I know all the bouncers.” He was definitely a piece of work, demanding money from us, I guess that’s half the reason why people hate that pier. It’s privately owned, very exclusive, it’s weird.
But on the other, more philanthropic side of the spectrum to the cunts who own Hastings Pier, there’s Crowhurst Bowl. I wanted to talk about that, because there aren’t too many DIY sheet metal vert ramps with bowled out corners in the world. What state is it in now?
Well again, it was natural; I think that for every video we end up going to Crowhurst at some point. This time it had been over twelve years, I wondered how the fuck it could still be skateable but wasn’t worried about it being gone. I think someone had been there before and had spoke to Dennis, the owner, he’d been talking about doing it up. They said it was skateable. Sid, who’s 17 or 18, he was asking about this crazy red bowl in the countryside, it was like some myth. I showed him some photos and he was hyped. Reuben meets us there on his motorbike straight from work, it was the best crowd. Sid was obviously like, “This is fucking horrible, I can’t skate this.” He’s grown up at Boyley Park, not that that’s smooth but Crowhurst is still gnarly compared to that. He was loving it anyway, and it’s Ruben’s new favourite place. He comes from a little village and understands, he embraced it. He nosepicked the extension, that took him a while, then started looking at the vert. He tried it for fucking ages, the light started going, and the only one he went for, he stuck – that’s why he looks so astonished. The side he was doing it on, you can’t drop in because the sheet sticks so far out, so he had to jump down and walk around after every attempt. I was hyped we captured something at Crowhurst, because every video has had something there, whether that be Egon, you, Joe, Stu Spray. Reuben still wants to do it up properly.
It takes a good amount of time to get used to it, but once you get past that you realise you can maybe do something and that’s when shit starts happening. I was glad we got it in there. Mark Richards has loads of unseen footage that Dennis filmed back in the day, which hopefully we can put together. He was apparently at all the old Backyard Jams with a VHS camera, and Mark has all the tapes. There’s bits from when it was blue, and I think it became red in 1991 so that would go back to 1988. Tim Leighton-Boyce apparently went up there a couple of times, so there’ll be some stuff. It’s a big project, but it’ll be worth it on both a skateboarding and BMX side.
The whole spot is out of the kindness of Dennis’ heart, he saw some kids who were just riding around the streets of Crowhurst so he built that. I’ll keep on at Mark, so hopefully it will happen.
I’d love to interview Dennis, but I feel it needs to come from a BMX perspective before it comes from our side.
Well, there was a point I heard where people started putting him in for an MBE. He got word and basically had a massive go at everyone and asked them to take his name off. It sounds hilarious, everyone was getting well excited and when he found out he shut everyone down. Maybe it would be the same with an interview, he’s just not that kind of person. I’m glad that, in an old video, I got just a clip of him and Joe chatting.
I’m currently working on a Hastings retrospective page for the website showcasing photos throughout the decades from loads of different sources, including the R.a.D. archives. I just need to speak to some OG locals about different eras to help structure the piece. I think it’s important for younger people to have access to what came before them, but I don’t have enough time for everything so this idea has been a casualty of ‘not enough hours in the day’.
As someone who I know nerds out pretty hard over skate videos, who are your top five skateboard filmmakers?
It pains me to say it, due to recent video parts, but I would say Ty Evans – up to Modus. Everything up to that was groundbreaking. I’ve got to say Jacob Harris, he has a different approach and you have to respect that. Skate videos are usually ‘tricks, a part a song’, and if you can break that in any way then absolute respect. Who else? Chris Mulhern, who did This Time Tomorrow, I think that was needed because his videos were very chill. Everything at that point was hammers, bigger bigger bigger, and I was loving it but then suddenly there was a four minute part of people doing loads of lines in the street at night. It was so different to what was happening at the time, but just as rad.
Torsten Frank, he started filming on HD really early on and filmed a lot of Lem Villemin. It wasn’t massively different to other people, but there was something about the way he filmed and put stuff together that felt really fresh. It showed European skating in a certain light, and I felt like that kind of carried on that way after him, this very clean look. Obviously there are a load of other people I really respect that I’ve forgotten. My memory is shit, but the fact that those people came up obviously means something. I could have said anyone else, but I didn’t. There’s so many ways of seeing skating.
[laughs] I can’t believe I forgot Magee. You have to put his name down, just by default. Josh Stewart and Dan Magee are by far the top tier. They just had an idea, everyone else was filming skating but those two had a fucking idea. Unabomber videos, Viewfinder videos, they were amazing but Magee was the first person that seemed like he had an idea for the whole video, simple as that. The first time I saw the older Blueprint videos, it sounds cliche but it felt like more than skateboarding; not so much a concept, but something tangible which ran through the whole video. Through lockdown, I revisited a lot of stuff like that and that’s why – why the fuck am I still thinking about this stuff all these years later? First Broadcast, I remember me and Monkey went to London for about ten weeks in a row every Saturday around when that came out. Every time, before we went, at half 5 in the morning he’d get to mine and we’d watch the whole video. I mean the whole video, he’d fall asleep on the sofa while I watched the whole thing, then we’d get the train to London for a day trip. That went on for a couple of months.
Looking back now it’s absolutely mental, but it does mean that stuff has stuck with you. The same with Josh Stewart’s Static series. You can watch a clip with the biggest hammers and best skating, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay with you forever. It’s basically a feeling, if it has a feeling there’s more chance of it staying in your psyche.
And I think what you said about copying, that’s how you have to develop any creative practice you’re involved in – through emulating the shit you’re stoked on and filtering it that through your own experience, because you want to make something you like as well.
Everything we do is because of inspiration. Why do people make films? Because those people like films. If you’re skateboarding or filming skateboarding, it’s probably because you’re hyped on watching skateboarding. There are the odd occasions when people are hyped without watching it and I’m like, “Fuck me, you’re an alien.” [laughs] I absolutely respect people who skate all the time and don’t watch videos, but I’m of that generation. People used to get livid with me because I wouldn’t leave to go skate before the video had finished.
I guess that’s why I made this video, I think that they’re really important. I don’t think an Instagram clip or a single part has the same feeling. It sounds really harsh, but it could be the best single section (and I love a lot of single sections), but it’s not as collaborative. That’s why I got involved and I think that’s why a lot of people got involved. The more full lengths getting made, that keeps that idea going. Self promotion on Instagram is not skateboarding, you might as well just be some fucking athlete. It’s about people coming together, it doesn’t matter how good the tricks are.
I hate to be that old person, but… when Toby was trying that ollie at Morrisons, it took him four weekends in a row, he’d try it but he’d get too tired. One weekend it was really nice, there were about 15 kids and then Gary Coomber, Dan Brown and some older guys. It was fucking rad, it was so good to see everyone skating. I started filming Toby, there was a lull where a few people left, then it was just us and about eight people on their phones not talking for about 15 minutes. “Okay we’ve skated, now we have to do phone.” The kids were ones who loved skating too, it’s not like they didn’t, but I think the magnetism of the phone is so harsh on young kids that it doesn’t allow them to get lost in the moment. I don’t want to be that person, but filming those younger people made me feel sorry for them. No wonder they all feel anxious as fuck.
And one of the things that’s so good about skating is being lost in the moment, and not noticing all that other stuff – if your attention is being pulled another way, you’ve lost something really good about it.
But there’s the catch 22 – they want to see the most up to date skating on Instagram. Is that the moment now? Or is it being in some car park with your friends? They don’t want to miss out on the latest part, which I get, but it will still be there in two hours.
And you can’t shout, “Have it you mosher cunt” at your phone and have the person in the video hear you.
[laughs] You can put it in a comment, but it won’t have the same effect. But yeah, if you don’t film with younger people you don’t see that.
I guess we just have to use it as best we can, and be stoked we didn’t grow up with that extra hassle.
I mean I’m fucking stoked, hand on heart I am. Yes it has its advantages, but you can just accept it for what it is and just have fun.
And that’s the good thing about full length videos, to whatever extent they arrest that social media flow and put you in the moment for half an hour.
I was round a mate’s the other day, he doesn’t skate, but he put Fully Flared on. His kids were there, going crazy, and we realised it’s an hour long. There’s so much footage in that video! People would see that footage now and think, “We’ve got enough for two years worth of social media,” it’s fucking nuts. I was gobsmacked by how many clips are in that video. I said to him, it felt like after that video was made then everything changed.
That was the last hurrah of the hour-long full length, a project intense enough to give people full breakdowns.
Ha, well obviously it had its negatives but maybe it had to get to that point to simmer down. There’s a reason for everything, but so much work used to be put into videos while now it’s filmed, edited, watched and done before anyone has even allowed themselves to appreciate anything. Everyone’s said it, but it’s horrible. I don’t watch much anymore, but things I do watch I specifically watch on the TV because, if I watch it on my laptop, it’ll go in one eye and out the other. It’s the only way I can take in skate media now, otherwise I’ll forget it the next day.
It’s the same argument as a feature film competing against a Netflix one hour episode. Feature films are so hard to make now, I find two hour films hard to watch now, I can barely fit in a Netflix episode. Our attention span is getting smaller, which I find sad. A two hour film or a half hour skate video is a wholesome project, you can watch a scene video from Massachusetts or somewhere you’ve never been with all these rad people skating. You can’t really do that in four minutes. I think people will keep doing that forever, it’s just harder to find.
When me and James Pilbeam started skating, we watched Snakeskin Jacket for a full year before we realised that other videos had been made. It was rad, because it was rad skating happening in the town next to us. It made us wary of going to Hastings, because it was 80% drinking and 20% skating, but it was the characters and the scene which were important. When I was young, so many videos were quite serious. You watch say a DC video or a Supreme video, and you kind of know what’s going to happen, whereas you get a scene video from fuck knows where and it’s a blank canvas – which is rad.