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Phil Harvey ‘Keep Keen’ Interview

December 8th, 2010 by Dave

Below: Lewis Threadgold – Fakie Flip (Photo: Danny McCourt)

Manchester based filmer Phil Harvey has had a hell of a year. His eyes have probably spent more time looking through viewfinders and gawping at editing software screens than they have seen the back of his own eyelids. The amount of times we would turn on our internet exploring devices and find another offcut edit or teaser for the forthcoming Keep Keen, we were starting to worry if Phil slept at all during the last 12 months. Turns out he has, but not a minute is wasted in those conscious daylight hours; we have been tuned in all year to Phil’s hard work and we cannot wait to see what the finished product looks like.

The official premiere takes place on December 16th in Manchester so to whet your appetite we managed to tear Phil away from editing, rendering and exporting to tell us a little about the clips he’s been playing with for months. Read on to learn more about Keep Keen, how a person from Oz got a full section in a Manchester scene video, who feebled the 21 stair rail in Castlefield and how the general public can sometimes mistake filming skateboarding for suicide. We’re keen, are you?

Photography: Danny McCourt and Vic Macmahon

When did you start filming properly and how did you get into it?

I probably started filming when I was 15, but I didn’t really get into it properly till I was about 17. I just used to like filming my mates where I grew up, and I knew that I wasn’t that great at skating so thought I would get into the filming side instead.

Where was the first line you ever filmed?

It was quite a while ago when I filmed my first proper line with a fisheye, probably when John Bell and I used to skate our local high school and film as much as possible in a day.

From the local high school to ledge hopping and globe trotting. Phil filming John Bell (Photo: Vic Macmahon)

What skate videos have made the most impact on you over the years to inspire you to start filming yourself?

Loads of videos made an impact on my filming, but the one that stands out the most is éS ‘Menikmati’, as that was when I first got hooked on skating and it was the big video at the time. The éS team did a demo in Bolton which was the first time I saw skating at such a high level!

I really like Sidewalk’s video ‘In Motion’ also, and any of the Transworld videos, they are always amazing.

Did French Fred’s filming style in Menikmati and later in Sorry and the Cliché videos inspire you in any way when getting creative with angles?

Yeah I really like what he does. All his stuff is really well filmed and the music he uses works well. It definitely helped me. I just try and watch as many skate videos as possible and see how they film and apply it to my own filming. Then it’s just trial and error.

Below: Ben Rowles – 360 Flip (Photo: Vic Macmahon)

The UK have been producing some brilliant independent filmers as of late, who amongst your peers are you most impressed with or inspired by right now?

There’s been some really amazing UK vids, too many to mention them all. I really liked ‘Square One’ and ‘Who?’ the Welsh scene video. The standards in both of them are ridiculous.

I know I’ve had to balance on some walls a little higher than I found comfortable when trying to find the perfect angle. What’s the most awkward angle you’ve had to film?

There’s been too many. Getting bad back pain sucks from crouching for a long time, but I just dealt with it knowing it would be worth it in the end to get the trick!

Did ‘Keep Keen’ come to you as a project idea or did the amount of footage you were getting steer you in the direction of making a full video?

I made a little with my old friends who skated back in the day and we just carried on filming after that. None of them skate now apart from John Bell and Chris Barrett… so at first it was just filming my mates and what they did, but after a while I decided to make a full length video.

When did you start filming it, and who with?

It properly started about three years ago I think. It was just John, Chris and Lewis (Threadgold) who were gonna have sections at first, but after a while I started skating and filming with a few others and they were down to have a section.

Lewis and John used to film with Pas and the now defunct Casual Skateboarding crew a lot, did you ever film with those guys?

I never did actually film with the Casual lot, apart from Lewis and John. Pas did send me a few tricks for the video though, thanks a lot Pas!

Was the title there to inspire you to keep going until it was finished? Who came up with the name and how did it become the title of the project?

‘Keen’ is just a saying in Manchester that people say when they’re up for trying a trick or whatever, so that’s how it came about. I’m pretty certain it was John Bell, Will Golding and Jim Knight who came up with the idea while on a Unabomber filming trip. We were just trying to think up names for the video and Will and Jim realised that me and John say keen loads, so it just came from there.

Chris Barrett gets the bow and arrow arm steeze nailed with this fully locked backsmith. (Photo: Danny McCourt)

This production will probably go down as having the most amount of ‘throwaway’ footage ever. Is this due to you being a perfectionist for people’s sections or just a matter of too much filming taking place and better tricks going down from one session to the next?

A bit of both really. I wanted everyone to have really good sections, and if people are learning new tricks then I wanted to try and put them in as well.

Also, I didn’t want the footage I wasn’t going to use to just sit on my hard drive. So I thought I would do a few web edits to let people know that I’m making a vid. All of the footage on my Vimeo won’t be in the final video.

Who has got full sections in the video?

John Bell, Chris Barrett, Ben Rowles, Lewis Threadgold, Ben Grove and Mitch Faber.

Which section was hardest to put together and for what reasons?

Probably Mitch’s. With him living in Oz, it was hard to get enough good footy together. I went over twice but luckily he was really down to film all the time. I’m happy how it turned out; he got so much footy considering how long I was over there for. He also just moved to Amsterdam with his girlfriend so I was able to see him for a few days this summer and get a few last minute tricks for his part.

Below: Chris Barrett – Wallie Tucknee (Photo: Vic Macmahon)

The relationship between filmer and skater has always been a weird one… was there anyone involved in Keep Keen that frequently got your goat or disagreed with spots etc?

You can never please everyone with spots I think. So I would try if possible just to go film in small crews as you don’t get as much done with big crews as no one ever knows where to go.

What was the worst day of filming and why?

I wouldn’t say there’s ever been a bad day of filming. It’s always good to be out skating rather than sitting inside all day. Although getting my camera hit by a board isn’t too great and that’s happened a few times!

Which trick took the longest to film?

Chris’s second to last trick took a while. It was freezing, I was pretty ill and standing there for two hours waiting for him to do a trick didn’t help, but it was worth it in the end.

If the trick wasn’t as gnarly/good would you have still stayed in the cold for two hours filming?

Yeah of course I would! I love filming and wanted Chris to do the trick, so I was happy to stand there even though it was freezing!

Who has your favourite trick in the entire video and what’s the story behind it?

One trick that does stand out is Blake Harris’ feeble down the Castlefield rail (which was in sidewalk recently). My friend Luke from Oz came up to stay at mine with two of his friends, Blake and Vaughan, as they were travelling around the world and filming for their own video. I knew Blake was good so I decided to show him this rail that Woody was the only one to try, but never landed. He did it second go.

It was insane to see someone feeble a 21 stair rail, and probably one of the first times I’ve ever felt scared for someone trying a trick.

Who do you think will blow up in the UK after this? A lot of skaters in Manchester are still being slept on even though they kill it on the regular…

I think Chris and Ben will hopefully get a bit more deserved coverage. They’ve been killing it! With Pusherman coming out soon there will be another Manchester video coming out. I can’t wait to see that!

What’s the strangest incident that happened while filming Keep Keen?

The strangest thing I can remember is when I got taken away in a police car. I was filming in Manchester and I wanted to get an above shot of a gap, so I climbed on the side of a main road. A police car pulled over and one of them said “do you know how stupid you are?”  Apparently about three people had rang up the police thinking I was a bridge jumper and was gonna commit suicide!

They took me away and had word with me before letting me go. It was really strange!

There’s footage that was recorded in other countries, explain the hook ups behind traveling to make the film broader in terms of spots…

It all started working at Camp Woodward for two summers in a row. I just applied for a job on the internet and got it. I met a few good people there who were up for meeting the next year to skate; I just kept in contact with them and went over the next year to skate. That’s how I met Mitch. We just planned to meet up when we could in summer to skate and film.

It’s amazing how skating can get you in contact with so many people from around the world!

What is your fondest memory from the states?

I went to the states about three times to skate, but only once to film properly. I went to Boise, Idaho to meet another filmer called Colin Clark and he showed me loads of spots that we skated all the time. The whole trip was amazing. I don’t think his friends have met anyone from England so they were stoked.

Also, going to a frat house was pretty random; that stuff was kinda weird!

Below: Lewis Threadgold – Polejam (Photo: Vic Macmahon)

Do you think that as equipment becomes cheaper and more accessible that travelling will be more common in scene videos?

I hope so, but it all depends on the person. I really like travelling, so even if I’m not filming I’ll go and travel somewhere to skate or just to see the place.

What advice would you give to a budding skate filmer who is looking to make a scene video or has hopes of filming skaters like Ben Grove…

Just be down to film as much as possible, get to know the people in your local area and be friendly.

Are you filming anything other than skateboarding? Would you consider making a career out of filming/editing?

Just skateboarding. I wouldn’t mind a career out of it if it was to just film skating but I know how difficult it is to do that in the UK. So I’m happy just doing it for fun!

Will you be making another film when this is done?

I doubt I’m gonna be able to make another video. It’s a lot of hard work and I’m finishing university soon and will have to get a proper job. I’m going to try and do little web edits though and maybe work on other videos.

2010 for you must have been mostly centered around Keep Keen. As we’re about to finish up the year, what are your three favourite memories from the year, your three favourite skaters and the most important thing you’ve learnt that you’ll take on board for 2011?

My favourite memories of the year are definitely finishing this video, travelling through europe this summer and now being able to skate myself!

Too many skaters to mention but ones that have stood out this year for me are Torey Pudwill, Shane O’Neill and Manolo Robles.

As for the most important thing I’ve learnt: just to enjoy skating, don’t stress and have fun!

Keep Keen premieres at the Bay Horse Pub in Manchester on December 16th.

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