DVD Reviews

Monster Network – In Between Days

When he’s not networking with the metaphorical beasts and ogres of the interweb, Russell Cowling turns his creative eye to the viewfinder of a camera aimed directly at the gritty shores of the South-East. Though countless filmmakers have been influenced by the do-it-all-yourself approach to filming and editing that’s evident in the finer skate videos courtesy of French Fred, Greg Hunt et al, no one achieves it with such DIY honesty than the Essex lad himself. There’s no stock footage in sight. The Monster Network, seek to progress even further from the wonderful Never Forever and Into The Fall, combining creative skateboarding with artistic interpretations and observations from the eyes of those that walk the four-wheeled plank. In Between Days does just that…

After biting through a typically impressive visual introduction, the filling bursts through the crust in the form of ‘Gorgeous’ Dave Watson who’s been steadily on the up since silently killing it on the now-defunct Clown and having the raddest trick in Into The Fall half-way through the end credits. This section is effortless and his style speaks volumes that the dial on big-talkers doesn’t even turn to. While they’re blabbing away at 10, Dave is cruising away at 11. And that front-blunt on the unreal natural quarters in Basildon is completely off the scale. Essex Legend Simon Skipp – whose Romford ditch recently got some gnarly coverage in the new Blueprint flick – shares his section like he did in Never Forever and proves himself still worthy of being the undisputed king of Romford. There’s no bad-talking the way Skipp can attack Romford’s blue wall switch and still 360 flip like no other. Nigel Davies slips in a huge noseblunt before Dave sleeps through a killer ender to close this excellent opening section – that’s kindly been posted online to whet your appetite on the Monster Network site itself. Good stuff.

I’m gonna call out my own bias right now on the second section, because I grew up skating with Warren Greatrex, and I can only express my anger that he didn’t land such incredible shit when I was the one filming him. A lot has changed since secondary school and that huge gap he glides over wasn’t even in the shitty bike track we used to skate back then but Warren’s style has always been perfect. We could be seeing more from this kid if he keeps killing it like this. George Gough and Wil Thomson follow to the spectacular soundtrack going with some interesting ledge trickery and a couple quick-footed gems. That frontside shove…

In Between Days Trailer from Monster Network on Vimeo.

What I’ve always enjoyed about Monster Network productions is that they’ve never been afraid to have lots of shared sections. For someone with Firefox-Generation-ADD (or FIGADDS! as I’ll call it), keeping it consistently fresh makes the skating flow down even more nicely, like a well-made mix tape made for a friend. For the next track we have new Channon King footage, and it’s like hearing the opening chords to a song you haven’t heard in a while but always loved. His style is unmistakable and still suits his off-beat trick selection on ridiculous spots, including what’s either the world’s worst designed bench or one that’s been victim to the world’s largest arse sitting on it.

The next treat is a meaty friends section full of some more familiar South-East heavy-hitters, culminating in some really piss-taking malarkey from Raemers, Veran Tull and Neil Smith. Nick Remon jams to a song you’ve all heard before but not in such raw context. Nick rips through impossible terrain and reps Switch Skatestore hard. This admirable local loyalty is kept up with the notorious smooth stylings of Jay Tate. This is a section so fresh and clean that even the haters-gonna-hate brigade that often dismiss natural style for sketchiness can’t talk shit on. Real pop, excellent catch and fluid, bolt perfect skating that’s never robotic, Jay Tate kills it. With the assistance of Adam Howe and Jay Minta (specifically that Kalis-as-fuck catch on the nollie frontside flip off the indoor kicker) this montage is my personal favourite in a video full of bangers.

Carl Wilson takes the end section and deserves the honour. Park skating in videos is something often contested and I disagree with those doing so, particularly if you can kill it like Carl, if you skate what you want and film what you want and be creative in your own way then you get a great video. And this is just that. Top work to all involved, 3,5,0,1,2,5 go!

Order it now for £5 before it sells out at


Enjoy these offcuts…

Unused footage In Between Days from Monster Network on Vimeo.

DVD Reviews

Blueprint – Make Friends With The Colour Blue

If there was one thing that was unanimous in people’s expectations of the new Blueprint video was that this was not going to be simply Lost and Found 2. For some, this was the skate video equivalent of being dumped for a shitty reason, ‘you haven’t changed, but I have, sorry’ and of course would react in a similarly immature fashion. Yes, Lost and Found has proven itself to be a timeless watch and a quantum leap forward for the standards of both production and skating. Almost instantly, the high standards became disseminated throughout British productions and naturally, we turn our attention to Shier, Mr. Magee and their merry gang for that next jump. And you won’t be disappointed, unless you were hoping for LAF2, but then that wouldn’t be progression at all, would it?

Perpetual rain aside, things are immediately different; Magee as usual ignores the usual conventions of skate videos and throws the only, but not lonely ‘our mate’ section before the intro. Dave Mackey delivers a blink-and-miss-it minute of high-speed excellence, wallriding through your town like your neighbourhood spiderman. Before you can catch your breath again, the feature presentation begins with a tremendous cinematic introduction of the idiosyncratic Blueprint team. Eat up all the lovely esoteric references to the Birdhouse In Your Soul video and let the new generation Blueprint warm your life up. With some more global newcomers, t’print’s branding of the ‘cup of tea video’ is now replaced by a cup of whatever-the-fuck-you-like video. Rule Britannia is out of bounds, mate.

With no more interludes ahead (a winning decision too. How often do you get a 50 minute skate flick with uninterrupted skating?) Colin Kennedy gets the ball rolling with a stomping section of power, style and the best feeble grind you will have ever seen, no hyperbole. The music choices again are simply too perfect. It’s one thing finding a song that fits with a skater’s style and hoping that will carry it along, but here we have songs that infiltrate your mind, successfully re-contextualising each track as if it were written for that part. Paul Shier‘s trick selection and quick-footed style is a radical departure from Kennedy’s slow burning power moves but sharing that Procul Harum track simply works. And furthermore, this could be the best part from the trans-atlantic gent yet. Enders!

Back in Europe, Sylvain Tognelli proves himself to be a worthy addition to the team with a mixed bag of tricks and some very interesting lines. Danny Brady has sharpened his unique approach and crazy knees and serves up some amazing shit on some of the worst spots you can imagine. Not worst meaning worst but worst meaning best; Wave Of Mutilation has never sounded so great. This is followed swiftly by Marty Murawski who cements his reputation as an instant classic. No one skates like this guy, and no one could get away with trying to either. The same could be said with Tuukka Korhonen, who shares Marty’s section. His trick selection immediately makes him someone who is destined to be underrated, and this is a shame because Tuukka consistently kills it with finesse. Make friends with both of them.

Chewy Cannon maintains the pace from his incredible Diagonal section and doesn’t disappoint one bit – I challenge your jaw not to drop on that 5-0 grind. Once it does, don’t expect it to shut any time during the next section. Kevin Coakley, what the fuck? This is a serious competitor for my favourite section of the year, and let us not forget that this is 2010, where everyone skates with jokeshop skills and I would shell out three bucks for all of them. Coakley skates like he should have been in Lost and Found even though what he’s skating certainly wouldn’t have. If MFWTCB is Blueprint’s friend request to America then Coakley is the mutual friend that will make them choose not to ignore it. There’s no way you can hate on this. Proper spots, proper skating. Get some.

Jerome Campbell impressed me a lot. Not that I wasn’t expecting super style and quirky pop-outs, but this is a BIG section. He has the best arms in skateboarding, I’ll leave it at that. Neil Smith attacks everything and anything relentlessly; from the traditional Essex boy backflip off the swing to shutting down the hubba atop Southbank that was really open exclusively for him anyway, this section is a monster. The endgame is in sight and try not to jam to this track. Nick Jensen pokes his head in before the closer and chills his way through one of my favourite Portishead tracks. The section is typical of someone who’s well and truly blown minds recently and is now taking a well-earned smoke break, but it’s a real pleasure and one of the highlights for sure.

To conclude this mammoth piece of five years work well done, who else? Mark Baines earned this having pushed the envelope of British skateboarding for his entire career. Oddball moves, crazy style: Baines is that off-coloured U in the word colour that makes it that little more special. Sure, Blueprint have confirmed themselves as a global force, but this video achieves something more than being just a really, really good skate flick: It argues that it’s not where you’re from, nor where you’re at, but where you’re going, where you’ve been and all that bonkers shit you take with you. Ten out of ten. God Save/Bless T’Print.