We first met Romain in Berlin, he was at one of our events. I had known about him via his work first and foremost but also via friends like Hugo Maillard. His work spoke for itself. Fun, exciting, sometimes spontaneous and at other times very planned. A week after we first met we saw each other again, this time in Paris. We spent the day together and afterwards it was clear that we should work together, this interview is the first of many we hope. Romain is a secretive guy. He doesn’t like to spill the beans before the meal is finished but certainly we had have fun talking about all the things he already did finish. Romain is a hard worker so we are sure the things that are off the record today will be out tomorrow.
What have you been up to Romain?
R: First off, I have this English man staying with me.
Who the fuck is that?
C: (Laughs) I am a Welshman, my name is Conor (Charleson). How are you doing? I have been staying with Romain all week.
Nice to meet you, I’m Roland.
R: So, this guy is the apple breaker, he breaks apples all day.
How did that happen?
C: Basically you press the apple really hard…
I understand how you do it, I want to know how you came up with it.
C: I don’t know, I saw someone do it and I wanted to learn how to do it. So when I came to Paris I started doing it all the time (laughs).
R: Do you feel powerful?
C: Yeah, it’s a little incentive for girls out there, you know.
So you are single.
C: Yeah, you wonder why (laughs).
I would not be able to guess (laughs). But let’s get to Romain, the interview is supposed to be about him. What can you tell me about Romain? And don’t start with that “he is a nice guy stuff!”
R: Don’t talk shit, ha.
C: He is a bit of a romantic. He spent a good portion of the night with a rose approaching ladies in a bar.
R: Nobody wants me (laughs).
C: Dropping smooth sounding French lines… He is a romantic, a bit of an old-school romantic.
*****Off The Record*****
R: Back to the interview, tell me what you want to know.
What is the favorite thing you have ever filmed?
R: I don’t know, that is a tough one.
Alright, I will give you some time to think about that.
C: Tell him about the Giddy series.
R: I have a couple of video projects going on at the moment and what doesn’t fit those projects became a series called Giddy. The Giddy’s just need to be fun, that’s it.
So it is basically a way for you to keep your hard drive clean.
R: Yes, but it is also because I think the footage needs to be seen. You filmed the trick because you like the trick. Ah fuck, I can’t answer this question.
Take a sip and think about it.
R: You want me to be drunk and say shit.
C: Why don’t you talk about the shit you don’t like?
R: The one video by Monster, We Are Blood? Ah, I don’t want to talk about it.
Okay. So, you moved to Paris a while ago, how is it?
R: The whole French skate media is here so there’s a bit of competition.
With whom are you in competition?
C: I have noticed that there are a lot of situations where there are multiple filmers at one spot.
R: Yeah, it happens… You want to go film with a group and somebody invites another filmer. If the other filmer is a friend, I don’t mind it. Like Olivier Fanchon or Victor Demonte, I don’t mind. It can be really cool to be together.
I think inviting a second filmer or photographer is kind of not done, it is a faux-pas. I have seen people trying to get the same angle.
R: And who is going to put out the footage? I feel like there is just a lot of skate-media in Paris.
Somebody told me, when you started filming, you did not have a lot of “good” skaters around and that pushed your filming.
R: That is not nice! It’s a compliment, but it is not nice to the skaters.
C: You did that with the VX, you can make a lot of things look nice.
R: Do you know Mickael Germond? I went to his house in Lyon about a month or two ago and he told me: “I don’t really want to film tricks with you because I am working on some projects with other filmers.” I told him: “That is fine, let’s just film some bullshit and if there happen to be some good tricks, I will give them to you for the other projects.” So we had fun and at the end of the week, he told me he was happy he could film “shit” with me and it would still look good. But I don’t like to say that because it feels like I am giving myself props.
Well, Mickael said it.
R: Maybe… I took the compliment but I don’t like being complimented. I don’t like everything I film, there is always room for improvement. You are never perfect.
A perfect segue way back into my first question! What is the favorite trick you filmed?
R: I think of one that stands out, not because of the filming but because of the trick. It was in Sam Partaix’s skate shop video. Greg Dezecot made the video and I helped him. So, for this video, I filmed Sam doing a backside tailslide on a bench in my hometown and it made a really great sound (watch it here, at 5:05). The spot doesn’t look that hard but you can’t really claim anything until you’ve been there. You know, videos are full of lies, the fisheye lies. You can’t really see the speed, you can’t see the cracks. But yeah, I like that footage but I lost it. Later I was making an edit of the stuff that did not make it in my last videos and the hard disk fell and broke. So I lost the footage trying to show the unshown. Maybe Greg still has it.
I think it is funny that you seem to focus on the sound as opposed to the filming.
R: It is not the sound, it is the trick itself! The audio shows that instead of perfectly putting his tail on the bench he chose to do it by force. That is what I like about this footage.
C: Why don’t you chat about your concepts?
R: I always try to have a concept but not all of my edits have one behind it. These days if you want something to stand out you need to have a concept or some really, really good skateboarders. Worldwide guys. I don’t mean that the skaters I am filming with are not good. You know what I mean, the type of skater that can do a fliptrick on flat and the whole internet will go crazy, even if it was badly filmed. Having a concept is fun for me because it makes me think and at the same time if this concept helps to show a skater to more people I think it is good for everyone.
It keeps filming interesting for you.
R: For now but it will probably change after a while and then I will look for the next thing.
Are the Giddy edit’s conceptual in nature?
R: At first when I started the Giddy series I wanted every one of them to have a different theme but in the end, I think they all end up looking almost similar to one another, same style of music same vibe. It is not what I wanted at the start but it happened.
I think Giddy#02 is different, that is my favorite.
R: It is my favorite too, I guess that has to do with the 3d camera I used and it was shot during the winter.
C: I am trying to work here guys! But your conversation is more interesting so it is distracting me.
What are you working on at this hour of the night? (01:00 AM)
C: preparing some lesson, I am a geography teacher. Teenage Londoners, a lot of fun! (laughs)
You can add to the conversation. Do you have an opinion on Romain’s filming?
C: I really like the one with your friends from Nantes, the one you shot in Bordeaux. That one has some really clean skating in it. I can watch that one more than once, actually, I would watch most of them multiple times.
Don’t be too nice to him, I would not watch every edit he did more than once (laughs). Some are better than others.
R: Churb you mean, that was an easy one to make. Except for the animation. We filmed for a week and at the start, I already knew I wanted to have an animation like that. One of the guys he studies fine art and he makes those visuals, visuals that I really like. I told him to create some drawing and I animated them, so the filming part was short but the animation took me a while.
Why was this edit not a Giddy? I remember thinking you were only doing Giddy’s at that point.
R: Why was that edit not a Giddy? Those edits have a different function, they are made up of footage that doesn’t go to a specific project. This was all planned, I wanted to do an edit about them specifically. I do remember telling you that I don’t want to do full lengths but I don’t recall telling you I only wanted to make Giddy’s.
Maybe I just made that up then. So what have you been up to lately?
R: Today we went skating with Victor Demonte and Armand Vaucher who are friends of mine and a couple of other guys. At one moment we lost them, later that day we met up again and they wouldn’t really tell me where they went. So after a while, I found out that they went to those gap to banks and Armand did an impossible in the bank. Twice actually.
C: That is nice, you didn’t get to film it but you did put them on blast a bit in this interview (laughs). You were pretty bummed about that!
R: Not really, I knew they went and filmed something. But when he came back we still filmed some really good tricks, so it is all good.
He did some makeup tricks for you because he felt guilty.
R: It is all good, Victor is a good friend so if it is for his video, I don’t mind. With other filmers, I would be a bit annoyed, yes.
****** off the record******
C: Maybe you should call this interview off the record because half of it you can’t use (laughs).
R: I am happy to share things with you but I don’t want to say the wrong things.
C: Why don’t you talk about that trip that you have coming up.
R: I don’t know if I can talk about that (laughs). I might go with Vans on a trip to Israel. The idea is to film VX1000 and put that footage directly on Instagram.
So, no longer edit? Just the for the Gram?
R: Well, nowadays when you ask people “Did you see the video?” they say yes but in actuality, they never watch the whole thing or they saw the highlights on Instagram. With Vans, the idea is to do an edit every two days and put it out directly. There will be a longer edit with the biggest tricks included but Instagram is also a big thing on this trip. It is 2017 I feel that this is a normal development, everybody is on Instagram.
C: So what can you talk about on the record? That homeless guy?
R: No I don’t want to talk about him (laughs).
We can do an Instagram compilation about you saying “off the record” and “I can’t talk about that”.
C: Everybody talks shit, all cool skaters talk shit and if they don’t, they are probably boring. Or they do triple flips or something.
What about all those private links you send out?
R: I do an edit every day to show the skaters what they filmed.
C: Every single fucking day!
R: I think if you see your footage in an edit a couple of hours after you did it can make you feel good. Does it feel good?
For some I guess, it can ruin some tricks if you see them too often, you become overly critical. I am interested in knowing what kind of views those private links have though. Some skaters like to send stuff around or show it to others.
R: I can see that some guys show it to all of their friend’s others don’t care at all. Some don’t even watch it. Sometimes I might send the link out to 5 people and the video only has 3 views after two weeks. they don’t care. Other times I send it out to only one guy and the next weekend it has 25 views. Don’t show it to everybody guys!
So back to filming, do you prefer filming long lens or fisheye?
R: Long lens when I am lazy (laughs). No, but it depends obviously. I have more fun filming fisheye. The thing is that not every spot looks good filmed with a fisheye. Anything over 5 stairs looks better long lens. Between 5 stairs and flatground skating, fisheye works best. Banks are hard to film fisheye.
Does it change when you film HD (16:9) instead of VX (4:3)?
R: I did have an HD setup before but it wasn’t optimal so… To be honest, I haven’t filmed with a proper HD setup before but I’m ok with the way it looks when you have the right setup.
The VX breaks often though. How much money do you think you have spent buying those?
R: Let me think…. Maybe around € 2000, I have 7 VX’s at home but most of them have a defect. I got one of those for € 50, but I also bought a mint one for € 500. It depends, usually, I find broken ones and I repair them, that costs less.
C: How did you find a € 50 VX?
R: I found it on the french craigslist, it used to belong to this guy who made documentaries. He chose me out of about a 100 mails because he saw that I was in Paris and he’d rather sell it face to face. So I went to pick it up and we had a talk, he was happy to know that I was really going to use it. Originally he wanted to sell it to me for € 30 but I told him the minimum for me is € 50 (laughs).
You charged yourself more!?
R: Yeah, he was so nice, so I wanted to give him € 50 instead.
Crazy. How did you learn to fix a VX1000?
R: On SkatePerception (R.I.P.). Guillaume Périmony, Alex Pires and I have been going on there for 10 years. Every time we had a problem we would post about it on that forum to get help. At some point, I needed to to fix my camera. It was supposed to be an easy fix but it turned out to be quite the trouble. The forum had a tutorial on to disassemble and reassemble a VX. I asked a friend for help and we opened it together and saved it. Now I do repairs all the time. This week I just swapped my tape deck because it wasn’t working.
So not all the VX’s you have work?
R: No, Some are there just for parts.
Alright, so you really can’t talk about your upcoming projects?
R: No sorry, they haven’t happened yet so I don’t want to jinx them.
Alright. Let’s leave it at this then.
Giddy #05 is out now:
Click here for more Giddy’s.
Photos by Clément Harpillard