Andy Evans – Heel Toe Magic Interview

After fifteen years of challenging the rule book and smashing down the walls of the domestic skate film industry with such classics as Chillin’ and Straight to Video, ANDY EVANS is back with his latest DVD release.

Heel Toe Magic is jam packed with innovation, skate acting, late flips and more tricks per second than other release to date! We caught up with him on the eve of it’s retail release to find out the method behind the madness and celebrate an opposing stance to the dominant production ideology.

At what point in the cycle are you consciously filming for the next video as opposed to just ‘filming’ filming?

Well when you start one of these things I think there comes a point where you start to see what could be possible after you’ve filmed a few bits. Obviously at the start of ever project you feel like you have a mountain to climb, but you know the climb can be a very enjoyable one with minimal need for oxygen tanks so it’s always very exciting. Also if I get a few silly ideas in mind that always gets me enthused. The catalyst for this video could easily be attributed to Churchill doing his seminal impression of Munson at the helm of the Starship Enterprise bellowing orders…. It was brilliant, such a strong and stupid image I couldn’t get it out of my head. I just really wanted to make it into a reality hence the need for a vessel to place it in. And so the video began.

Right: Sam Beckett Rocket Airs way above Mount Hawke’s coping: Photo CJ.

You are pretty strident about countering the overly serious aspects of capital ‘S’ skateboarding, what’s your take on that?

I think to an extent I probably am. When you look at the overall attitude towards making skate videos these days its seems to be more common to take these projects overly seriously. This attitude obviously reaps good skate footage but personally I feel it nullifies some of the best things that can surround a good time out skateboarding. It doesn’t seem to have a good balance.

Also, considering skateboarding is sold to us on being this free thinking individual “do what you want” activity there certainly seems to be a lot or rigidity in the production of the media. Legit spot legit trick etc which seem to be a massive oxymoron in the mix of things. The idea of certain things being legit and certain things not legit would just seem to be trying to push things in a singular and controlled direction.

Surely whatever trick the skater wants to do and wherever he wants to do that trick would be “legit” . Even though from an aesthetic point of view it’s obviously good to have a variety of locations I don’t think it’s very positive to get so hung up about that. If the skater is doing their trick the best at your local skate park block then that’s the best place for him to do that trick and there is nothing wrong with that. I think the skaters have a much better idea than the filmer of what is good skating, as they are the people actually doing it. They know what’s hard or interesting and enjoy pushing their own skating in different directions but their ideas aren’t always listened to.

I’d rather work with the skaters than try and dictate to them, it makes the process a lot more enjoyable for everyone. The main reason I got involved with making videos was that they have an amazing energy and could be used to illustrate all the good things that exist within skateboarding and be a catalyst for lots of fun times. This is something I feel has become a little lost with the enforcing of the present rigid skate video production guidelines.

Do people from outside the UK respond positively or do they just wonder what it is you think you’re playing at?

I know what you mean! Particularly with some of the sketches the humor its very UK based so I thought they would create a big question mark for people outside of this country. But I have been pleasantly surprised with the responses I’ve heard back from people outside of the UK. They do appear to get into it as odd as it might seem to them. Ben Powell told me whenever he sees Mark Appleyard he usually greets him with the phrase “Tapestry bitch” which is most amusing. So it’s translating OK- I think.

Right: Ben Raemers Frontside Air at last years War of the Roses in Blackpool: Photo CJ

The new breed of British champs are all keen to film with you above more serious projects, is it hard to convince them or are they up for the cup?

They don’t really take a lot of convincing. People like Mike, Ben or Kris I’ve know for years and they seem to keep coming back for more. Minimal pestering is required on my part and I’m just so flattered they want to be a part of it, to be honest. Without their input it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good or fun.

A lot of people have said that Greg Nowik’s part is a standout. Do you have personal favorites that you try to coax into pushing themselves like Mariano did in Fully Flared?

I like all the skaters I film in a variety of different ways. I usually tend to focus in on people who fascinate me with their approach or attitude towards things. I do love people who have strong ideas about their own skating, and you can almost see their personality shine through in it. That side of skateboarding has always intrigued me massively.

As far as Greg goes he’s been one of my favorites for a long time. I was fascinated by the way he skated from the first day I saw him. His style, energy, enthusiasm and seemingly bottomless bag of tricks, all executed at maximum tilt is just so, so impressive and infectious to watch. Greg is pretty inspirational. He’s killed it since day one and shows no signs of slowing down and he definitely was going all out for this part. As far as coxing the best skating out of him…hmmmm…well Greg is one of those skaters who thrives on pushing himself and isn’t happy unless he’s learnt 10 new tricks that day. The process worked by just asking him what he wanted to do and we would go and film it really. We would often have a trick list session to see what new ones we could come up with but as with most skaters it just depended what he was in the mood for doing that day.

I think when a lot of people see Greg skate they can’t help but be affected by the energy he gives off when he’s destroying a ramp like a kung-fu movie in fast forward. I think I just wanted to illustrate and bring that across as best I could and I’m glad it seemed to do that well. Check him out at this year’s Massacre for his skills, he will be there for sure.

Where did the monkey suits come from and how do you begin the process of persuading people to make arses of themselves?

I’m pretty well known at the fancy dress shop that’s for sure. It’s become a bit easier to convince people to dress up and do silly things but that still sometimes is the hardest part…phrases like ”Go on it will be funny honest”/ ”no one will know it’s you, you’ll be wearing a cardboard box on your head” often come into play. I’m lucky my friends are such good sports though. Again it wouldn’t be the same without their input. Ben, Marc, Bob, Munson, Steve and Horsley are some of the funniest people I know and their ad-libbed comedic input into the sketches really makes them what they are. I give them a general direction and then let them run riot within it….. That approach usually works the best.

Munson seems to be in line for an Academy award- but why does he keep saying ‘cake’?

Munson is like a human special effect. His screen presence is unrivalled…. I was absolutely made up he decided to play himself after he deemed Churchill’s impression of him to be “a bit harsh”. He viewed the script and decided it was the part he was born to play. He actually turned down a lead role in Lethal Weapon 7 to play this part…or so his agent told me. I hear he’s in the running for 2 Baftas and a Golden Globe for best portrayal of a shoe company Team Manager. He really was a good sport and had us in stitches during the whole shoot…the outtakes are priceless. As far as Cake goes…. I just think it’s a new swear word he was trying out.

Do you have all the skits in mind at the outset or do you just wing it as you go along?

For this one I actually figured the sketches out pretty early. I got more and more into the idea of making it work as one story so was keen to make them all link together. There is always quite a big dialogue with the people in the sketches and they all have a big input into them. In particular heavy contributors for this one on the ideas front were Marc and Mike who seemed to come out with all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas. My job was just to bring them all together into a vague order.

Is there a dream cameo that you’d like to get in the next one?

Dream cameo? Oh God…. So many….. Maybe Steve Olson’s brown romper suit…..possibly get Sheckler to “double pit to chestying” everything in his wake….hard to say… The real Brian Blessed would be on the wish list…. Although Churchill’s impression is getting better by the day…..Young Blessed?

Your props were cheap and shoddy- why can’t you spend a bit of wonga on them instead of spending it on advocaat and tumbling dwarves?

I think you’re watching the wrong video. My props aren’t cheap and shoddy at all. I think you will find it’s all part of the style …I can’t keep this up – they are pretty bodge job! I need a budget…perhaps a cardboard box and sticky back plastic sponsor would be they way to go. Will make some calls.

Check out our review of Heel Toe Magic here, watch the official trailer below and go grab a copy from your local skate shop now!