No longer than yesterday, UK heads Leon Humphries & Tom Sharman released their full-length video Many Revolutions online, and if you haven’t purchased it already, you will find plenty of good reasons to while reading this interview with both these London legends! Turning a classic crew video into a masterpiece, these lads have produced one hell of a great movie indeed!
We will keep this intro short however, because our friendly chat with Leon & Tom quickly turned into an in-depth look into the making of such a project, how blading in London has evolved over time, and how friendships come out even stronger when your mate cheats death before your very eyes. Come join the conversations, and take a look behind the scenes of Many Revolutions!
But first and foremost, do yourself a favor and download Many Revolutions here:sellfy.com/p/TdgI
Words: Freddy White Photography:Gareth Morton Video stills: Tom Sharman
Hey there gentlemen, thanks for doing this with us! To get things started, who are you guys, where do you come from, and how did you two become aquainted? – Tom: I’m Tom Sharman, 31 years old. Originally from the countryside (near Brighton), but came to London almost 10 years ago to study Graphic Design. Now I’m a freelance videographer and editor, which funnily enough I got into through blading in the first place. We actually met for the first time at the Barely Dead premier in Brighton put on by Kingdom Magazine (I forget the year?), but only chatted briefly. I think it was actually a house party in New Cross with Rob (Glanville) when we properly conversed and started to get to know one another. – Leon: We’ are two close friends, drawn even closer by working on this film together. We both live in London at the moment – on opposite sides. Morden, South West London and Mile End, Central East London. We both love to skate, and as a result of that, we picked up cameras and tried to capture what was going on around us.
We actually met at a house party, and earlier in Brighton around the early 2000s. We connected sporadically over the past 15 years but not until Tom moved to London did that connection really occur. A house party attended by Rob Glanville seems to be the pertinent first memory. Tom recalls how close he became to Rob during his years at University where they had both been studying at the same time. Rob and I were already blood close by this time. Meeting Tom, my first impression was that he had an open mind and a warm demeanour. We have been friends for years since then. It has been a pleasure discovering and sharing creative ideas with him, hence our collaboration within this thing we love so much.
You two friends have been working on this project together for quite some time now, care to explain what Many Revolutions is, and why you both got involved into such a time-consuming project? – Tom:Many Revolutions is a creative collaboration between two friends who share the same ideas and passions for both the form of skating, and the form of filming and editing the process to the same degree. We both acknowledged one another’s creative outputs since meeting, and put two and two together – a joint project bringing you a different perspective on London’s rollerblading; a constant cycle within clips of our film.
We spoke over a long phone call, I think it was late 2013. Leon rang me with a rough idea of a title and a theme. He wanted to get me involved, as he liked the way I saw blading, as well as documenting it in my own way I suppose. From then on, we began slowly stacking clips.
Speaking of the title, what is the deeper meaning behind it, and did you choose to call it that? – Tom: Through a mutual love of the English language we agreed a title that depicted what we both believed blading to be. This infinity of circular spinning imagery is the underlying theme that binds the 50 minutes of our vision together through to the title that encapsulates this. The revolutions of our wheels – beneath our feet are constantly turning, taking us places – but also it has a more deeper meaning than that, the revolutions of life, continuing, moving on. Possibly even deeper than that, it also represents freedom – it’s a form of art and expression, it has a sociological aspect. It uses the city with a different and more fun approach than the possibly too strict and serious way the so-called ‘normal’ people use it. Rollerbladers are keeping their inner child alive, and I’m sure that’s very attractive to those who left theirs by the wayside because of the demands of our rigid modern societies. – Leon:Dustin Latimer struck a chord with me when he spoke about some of the deeper insights within skating very publicly. He expressed himself freely and the way he skates is truly artistic: it was all in his mind’s eye and he felt that anything was possible. In my most recent years I came to truly realise what he had been talking about. In tandem with many life events of varying pleasure and pain, the words Many Revolutions were resonant lyrics in a beautiful song I’m in love with. I started to think about our group of friends, each other’s struggles and victories. I started to realise that in this moment, most of the people I have grown close to also share this ubiquitous appreciation of the ‘art’ or artistic side of skating. The early rigid focuses of perfecting specific tricks have evolved into an open minded, mature and philosophical approach towards skating. This is embodied in the style or form that each rider takes up in their efforts to do their moves. This is also based around the fascinating discussions that take place within skating, creativity, life. We feel that it is both interesting and important to demonstrate the relationship between these different aspects of our experiences.
Each person in this video are deeply connected. We share ideas and creative energy when we skate together. Many Revolutions represents lives intertwining – friends growing closer. It represents the wheels beneath our feet continuously moving as we yearn for that feeling always – cheesy I know! Many Revolutions can be thought of as our own mad ramblings or as a framework to an important period of our collective, creative lives.
As Tom said, I approached him to work on the video because I loved the way he sees skating and felt he’d be receptive to all the bullshit I go on about!!!
Besides you two guys, what is the crew working on this with you, and when it comes to the video itself, what’s the blading cast in Many Revolutions? – Tom: The crew is pretty much Leon and I for the most part, but there have been people to help film along the way – mainly with Leon’s camera and the Century. Originally Alex Brightwell was going to join us, but had to vacate due to work commitments. As well as a lot of our friends who feature in the video (some of which could’ve almost had parts themselves), the video features (in this order) James Bower, Martin Weissenstein, Leon Humphries and Rob Glanville. – Leon:As we have spent more time engaged with the filming and performing of moves, a sense of clarity and definition about the project has been established. We certainly have a sense of responsibility and ownership but our friends have a huge role to play. Firstly, we are filming them and, secondly, sharing and developing our ideas together before, during and after the skate sessions. These are all very necessary processes in order to get the most from the wider crew. Our very close friend Neil, who also stars in the film helped us massively with the organisation for the premiere. We obviously have a pool of skilled, professional people around us. Not only did Neil and his amazing house mates give their warehouse space up for a night, they also helped to coordinate the evening’s technical requirements. This was crucial for both me and Tom as we were focused on the project already diluting ourselves in our other responsibilities.
Among these multiple characters, London itself also plays a central part in the movie. Why is that so, and why is that place so important to you guys, and blading in general? – Tom: As an outsider, London was always something and somewhere I fell in love with. From an early age with skating it back in the day to traveling around in awe of the metropolis. I tend to find the beauty in most things, and seeking for this within the London rollerblading scene was no obstacle whatsoever. For me London brings out a lot of the essence of rollerblading, captured in its natural habitat. It’s a place that we are all united in ever exploring. For us, these spots are often around recent buildings, in modern architectural ensembles, which also often happen to be very specific looking and photogenic. In video, you film very close up, with fish-eye lenses, so you completely lose this dimension. We wanted to put the rollerbladers back in their environment and show that what mattered most wasn’t necessarily the skater, nor the architecture in itself, but the two combined, the relation between them. – Leon: London is the backdrop of the movie. It’s where we live and so is the backdrop of our lives. We all feel strongly about our identity as Londoners. In the past, with other video releases, we have tried to represent an identity with various symbolic references. For instance in Matt Watt‘s ‘Teem’ he used a tube map with stations representing the rider in the part of London they were from. In the background we used the song ‘maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’ which was a war time, moral boosting song synonymous with London. In those times, being resilient, aware, gritty and ‘together’ with those around you may have kept you alive and positive in dreary times. I feel like some of those values are still relevant today. We have a beautiful multicultural society here. Generally speaking there is togetherness but there is also a definite ‘attitude’ as a result of everyone being lumped together. Each societal cross section lives together, not always in harmony hence we are not robots. However, inspiration and influence is taken from other cultures and schools of thought, the process behaves as a very general and overarching osmosis. When a city is described as a ‘melting pot’ the results are often of more tolerance and awareness of each other. In terms of our society, it is a more encouraging environment to do what you want to do without fear. I find that for the most part the groups are culturally, politically and emotionally aware. Living in London has directly influenced these personal and collective developments. Subsequently all of this experience and information needs a way out to be expressed. Each person embodies their own interpretation of London through their skating using a sociological framework, yet alone considering the artistic merit of London’s vast architecture.
London has always been one of the hub cities of the word. It is one of the cities likely to be visited by all travelling artists, exploited by the fashion industry and had a clear sense of sophistication and ‘cool’ about it. The skyscrapers, bright lights and endless concrete adds or detracts from this idea given different lights of day and weather. I feel there is an expectation as residents of the capital city to hold down and sustain a strong skate scene here. We have been doing it. Generations before us have come back into our culture after 10 years out surprised, relieved and pleased that there was something to come back to. We respect and revere out historical roots of which strengthens a collective resolve to continue skating here in London. London is beautiful, we have all found our freedoms here, as solitary stories or together represented in videos we made. London is a pillar stone for blading as a whole because we have given a fuck since this whole shit started.
Who’s filming / editing / in charge of what exactly? – Tom: Filming wise – The whole video has pretty much been filmed by just Leon and I. When we first started it was predominantly us two – Leon filming (mostly) fisheye and me with long shots / close ups / ‘Sharman’ angles. Throughout the course of the video though, other people have either picked up Leon’s camera (Mike Simpson, Jonny Lee, Mike Pupava) as well as some people giving us a couple of other angles which worked nicely.
When it comes to the editing process – I have done most of it, with Leon sitting by my side, directing in a way. So that we both see our visions come to life. Being an editor by trade, I have a structure in how I do things, a way of working too – but this changes through every film I create, I like to mix it up and keep the audience (whoever that may be) on their toes and also not feed them too much of what they might expect, in my own idiosyncratic way. I’m very particular about tricks landing on a beat, a snare or a lyric, as well as breaking it up with sufficient cutaways. You’ll see that we also used a lot of super 8 shots – some to do with the whole spinning/revolutions theme, others with a whole nature vs city vibe. These little motifs became stronger and stronger throughout the editing process, something we decided to bring in more and more, which gave it a different dynamic as well as a kind of psychedelic / abstract feel. – Leon: I have been involved with skate film projects for a long time. I initially took an interest in filming when I broke my leg in the late 90s. I needed to stay involved with projects so I started filming. I loved filming and even more so now. Being part of a trick with someone, collaborating and creating a piece of art together is a joy. I never edited solo, but loved being part of that creative process too. Marrying clips with moments in music, manipulating what was filmed, I always had ideas about how and why I wanted things to look, and what I wanted people to feel. I have filmed many sections and always felt a very strong connection to those particular projects. They have all been important to me and more so because I was involved in their making. Most of these video parts were important periods of my life. I loved working with Tom on the editing. It was a chance to create what we had been talking about. A lot of ideas occurred pretty organically. An example would be the hand written titles Tom sketched. Some of the original concepts and ideas had been discussed on many occasions. When it came to the edits, we realised we had been filming the things that brought our ideas to life. Edit ideas came to each of us at various moments and Tom was able to create those edits with patience and skill. I love to get involved in how the order of tricks is mapped. This is a process both of us enjoyed doing because we were so excited by the music we had chosen. The tricks fell as they did because it made sense to the rhythms of the music and the feeling created by the form and intensity of the skate moves. Tom loves to talk about this sort of stuff so it was a real pleasure to geek out and shape this project for all of the right reasons.
Sounds like a healthy, yet long process! Now that the full piece is finally done, what are your personal favorites, if any? Trick caught on camera, best section in the video etc? – Leon: Watching it back, I get pretty lost within it all. I do have favourite tricks. My favourite section is Rob G’s. His creativity and style surpassed all previous levels. I have grown up watching him skate and have a good grasp of his vocabulary and style. Rob sensed that this was a good moment to really push himself and drew from some interesting influences. This process seemed to be a true collaboration. Rob planned certain tricks and had tricks earmarked for months. Others he just did spontaneously. We spoke about how we wanted the section to look and filmed it accordingly. Bearing in mind that I have known Rob for the best part of 20 years, finally getting to work with him, in a hyper creative state of adventure was a dream! I enjoyed that whole process immensely, what more could I want than an on form Rob G busting a gut to film with me?! He fucking killed it and we knew when we had enough footage – it was a nice realisation that we had done what we had set out to. His section was the first one we finished filming.
Rob ends up in very expressive, languid shapes when he skates. His skating combines what is usually classified as ‘ninja’ style with creative ‘mushroom’ style tricks. He started at the very dawn of skating so he is most certainly ‘old school’. We sit together and talk about skating techniques from all disciplines of skating. I feel like Rob has been able to harness so much inspiration and develop his own techniques as a result of what is going on around him. I have been inspired and privileged to film him. I feel honoured to work towards a section personally important to him of which could be considered his ‘magnum opus’. – Tom: To be honest, the actual video as a whole is something we’re both proud of. There may not be any ridiculous NBD hammers, or 6 way switch ups in the video – we tried to bring out a more artistic dimension instead. But in essence it really captures the scene at a point in time. It shows friendship, unity and togetherness, almost like a postcard from London, welcoming people to visit it with open arms. Personally I really like the motifs (which we spoke of earlier) that are a running theme throughout. The quick cuts, interludes with voiceovers and mini montages that bind it into a finished piece.
As far as sections go, I’m a big fan of James Bower’s section (this may have a few people agreeing), although throughout the 2 years he made a few pieces with Jonny Lee for Dirtbox, which was pretty much all VX – so this will be something (hopefully) a bit different. But let’s be fair – the kid rips, and that’s why we wanted him in it from the start! Also I really enjoyed putting together Leon’s section – as I’ve always admired his skating and wanted to make a section, as well as in a way escaping my comfort zone in the way of using a metal track for his song. He has a long part – mainly due to the fact that we actually had so much footage, none of which was really ‘throwaway’ material, so we actually used two songs for it. It came out really nice though. One section that springs to mind is the black & white section. It has a slow feel to it, to a jazz score. It acts like a breather from the pretty much back-to-back sections that all meld into one another. We really focused on the sounds in this part, as well as showing some clips of a some people you may not have seen behind the lens in a while (filmers). I can’t really put my finger on why I like it so much – it just works I suppose, in a film noir kind of way!
During the time you were filming, as a crew you had to go through Rob Glanville tragic head injury. Do you think this unfortunate episode also shaped the video into its final form in some way?
Yes certainly. We were shocked to our core in the aftermath of the accident. For those who were there, the event itself was a massive trauma. Collectively, we felt compelled to support Rob’s family and each other. It was a beautiful outpouring of love and support that kept everyone going in those first weeks. Some of the feelings underpinning our film seemed to become tangible. It was difficult to see our brother hurt so badly. It jolted each of us and the immediate effect was that everything just stopped. Nothing seemed important, perspectives shifted and all of the energies focused on the production had now ceased. At the time of the accident, we felt the video was very near to completion. We had footage dating back a few years and the idea was to include those clips showing a rich chronology. It took about three weeks before we even looked at the project and started conversations about how we wanted to move forward. At this moment we were unanimous that the project was always about strength of friendship, appreciation and dedication to each other’s creative visions. To us and our close friends it was obvious that the film encompassed that. However, we were also aware that we could contribute more towards the project – to really embellish it. James Bower was very mindful of his section and continuously skated, whilst filming for other parts, after Rob’s injury. After tricks dedicated to Rob, James’ section started becoming more of what we really wanted. A complete banger! The same can be said for the rest of the sections as influences expanded. Tom tends to his projects meticulously so he never seemed to be happy to settle until our creative ideas had been executed. His techniques developed and our ideas started to flow as to how we wanted this thing to actually look, and what we wanted people to feel. Rob’s injury was a reset button. In our lives it was a reset button. But soon afterwards the reasons why we were even making this film became so clear and helped to shape the end product immeasurably.
That’s really heavy indeed, glad you all stood strong together, and actually turned it into a positive force. Where there any other setbacks, injuries, or overall bad experiences? And what’s the best thing that happened, and your best memories from this whole thing? – Leon: There were various irritating setbacks in the post production phase, thanks largely to the software and hardware we were using. My machine, used for editing a large proportion of the film, had some weird ‘habits’. The audio card has had an issue for some time and no audio was available out of the machine – we had to acquire the sound via my TV. A minor inconvenience although sound editing was made trickier because of it. For about 6 months, maybe more, we had dealt with this sound coming from the computer. It was a horrific high frequency knife through the dome. We felt like we had contracted some sort of neurological illness after each edit session. I broke a wrist during filming. Bower and Neil both had various issues that they carried throughout. People got hurt, but they were injuries that were mostly manageable. I don’t feel like it was a period of time where anyone was out to just drop hammers and say ‘fuck it’. More injuries of the aging person! There were some issues with footage being requested by the skater. Unfortunately I gave up some footage and ultimately lost a part of the ‘story’. The best aspect of this whole project seems to be the relationships I have strengthened during the course of making it. I have gotten closer to some of my already close friends – we did a hell of a lot of skating together! I think just getting closer, all of the ideas being exchanged, love and care expressed towards each other is so affirming. I have felt that with those really close to me who also happen to be heavily involved in the project. The project is close to my heart and to see everyone expressing their vision of skating makes me really happy – it is always good to have a reason to film, pretty much everyone resonated with that. The flick has evolved and watching the last exports, realising what we have accomplished will solidify my already vivid memories of this beautiful moment in time. – Tom: Well, apart from the hugely traumatic and completely unexpected occurrence with Rob G, injuries have been very sparse in comparison. Saying that, James was (and still is) dealing with an ongoing ankle injury that slightly affected and prolonged his section.
The video as a whole could’ve taken maybe a third of the time, due to the fact that I (Tom) was traveling to Morden (far south in London) from Mile End (central East), basically an hour and a half round trip, about 3 times a week. The reason for this being that all our masses of footage on various hard drives was located here at Leon’s house, aka the central mainframe hub, slash ‘edit cave’. On top of that, we were editing on a dodgy copy of Adobe Premiere that kept crashing, on a Windows machine (I’m a Mac guy) and using a TV as our form of speakers for audio output. So one would say not ideal! On reflection it could’ve worked a lot better having all the footage with me and editing parts on my own machine in between work and other commitments.
Ahah could have been easier indeed! Now that it’s all said and done, when’s the video dropping, and how will it be available? Tell us a bit more about the premiere maybe? – Tom: We actually had the premier last Saturday (the one before Winterclash) and it couldn’t have gone better. We had a great turnout of over 100, with a lot of people traveling from across the country, as well as from across the pond. Some old school UK heads which were really juiced to see it, on top of creative’s in our scene who I really value and respect the opinion (and own work) of.
VOD wise – we actually wanted to release this sooner, but in a weird turn of events, Marc Moreno and Jonas Hansson both dropped their brilliant videos at the same time, so in a way it’s a waiting game. It doesn’t make sense to drop a video the same day, or a couple of days after another one has just been released, even more so that it’s your peers. A mutual from of respect must be patiently adorned! That being said – we’re looking to drop ours just after Winterclash, 23rd/24th of Feb. This could be seen as a bold move, as people will still be on a high from that – but we could sneak it in just before the abundance of WC edits arrive online. Call it a little post Clash gift from us!
Any last words of wisdom you want to share with the world, shout out’s and thank you’s? – Tom: I’d like to personally thank everyone who has been patient in waiting for this to happen, those who stuck with us and persevered with our efforts, attention to detail and enthusiasm to keep getting more. I suppose this is directed at our London homies in a way. Everyone who shredded in the video I’d like to give my upmost gratitude to also.
Shout outs to all the people who dig my creative work and keep me going with positive and enthusiastic feedback which drives me to create more, whether it be blading or not. I get inspired daily and always have ideas for new tricks up my sleeve… Watch this space!
Also thanks to you guys at Be-Mag for kindly letting us spread some light on our little project, hopefully you’ll get a slightly better insight into how both our minds work – as a collaborative pair as well as individuals. Cheers! – Leon: I’d like to thank Tom for sharing in the vision and seeing it through with me. I’d like to thank Neil for his dedication throughout this project and being such an important person to me. I would like to thank my bros at home in the Beaford Manor, you guys are awesome to come home to. I would like say a massive thank you, and to say how much respect I have for my friends who were in the film. All those who were not also play a big part in the overall inspiration for the project so thank you. My close family have been incredibly supportive, as always and those people know who they are and how much they mean to me… Thank you. In terms of wisdom, I just love the creative energy in skating at the moment. I’d say, do what you can to open all of the possibilities of skating, exploring, and creativity. Keep filming, photographing, writing and expanding each other’s minds through playful art. It’s such a positive moment that we are in so lets soak that up and manifest all of those feelings in the moments we get to skate.