Breathless / part 2

Interview: Benjamin Deberdt
Photos: Arthur Bourdaud (unless noted)

Breathless, an independent video just out on DVD, stomps all DIY’s clichés, as they have developed for the last two years when concrete got “in”… Arising from a city with natural terrain, and based on the skating and manual labor of beardless youngsters, this video is refreshing and crushes one myth: concrete doesn’t have to be poured by bitter and balding shredders!
Although, Arthur Bourdaud –the director– and his friends certainly did not intend any of that, they just did their thing, and this is the part to celebrate, more importantly…

Introduce yourself, really quickly…
Well, my name is Arthur, I’m 20, and I must have been skating for six, seven years now. And I just finished the second year of my cinema school, in Nantes.

Basic question: how did the camera come into your life?
I started just filming my friends, messing around, but not skating, just being idiots. Then, more or less all of us started skating. So, I got into filming skating, then, really. I started thinking I would like to be doing that later, maybe not in skateboarding, but being in audio-visuals, so that’s when I got into that school.

Breathless is your first big project, I’m guessing?
Totally. Actually, I never really did, or posted, small montages, I kind of kept the good tricks with the idea of a longer video, to come with time. I have done that since I bought my first VX1000, about four years ago.

The casting seems so young to me!
Well, Jean is about 19, Jo, 25… Maxime is 25 too, Armand is 17, Charles 18, Mihiel, 18 or 19, and Édouard, 22… So, yeah, pretty young! Guillaume Perimony was telling me there were too many kids! [Laughter] That’s how it is now in Nantes, it’s a new generation!

I find that interesting, that in all the construction scenes, everybody is so young…
Yes, there must be nobody in its thirties in the video, apart from Pontus…

Nantes has always been know for its very street scene, with a lot of natural spots, plus one of the earliest streetpark in France, if not Europe, so how did you guys got into the whole DIY thing?
Actually, the video was going to be a street video about Nantes, but we started meeting the Rennes heads, and when Jo Dezecot started skating for Playart, we went to visit him for a week-end in his village, and I kind of fell in love with him, you could say [Laughter], and all he was doing. In the meantime, some DIY spots started to happen in Nantes, and this is when the latest Pontus video dropped, also. I started to think it would be a great thing for the video, so I jumped into it, and the whole DIY part of the video happened last year.

Wait, all those spots got built in one year?
Yes, apart from Cléré-les-Pins, that must be three years old. Going there and meeting Jo was the turning point. It motivated us for both other spots.

How did you look for and found the locations?
The one under the bridge has some sort of history, actually. Some guys had found the place and built some wooden obstacles, a few years ago. Two years later, the first concrete happened, but it wasn’t really well thought of. The transitions were bad, the concrete was also, so the place got sort of abandoned for a couple years, until the same people decided to start it all over again. Then, it grew with Nantes skaters joining in, as it was more people from a small place outside the city. But, let’s not say exactly where it is!
As for the other spot, that’s at my friend’s. I’m, originally, from the countryside, in between Nantes and Rennes, and one of my buddies had already built a concrete mini, with his dad and little brother, in their garden, as they got a big space with nobody around. He had more room, so we got motivated to build something bigger, between the end of a summer, where we drew it and built the skeletons, and the next summer, where we poured. We were only three or four, working…

Actually, what’s the ratio between the people building, and the ones skating?
As the spots are quite far in the middle of nowhere, you have to get organized to get there, so it’s not so bad, actually. Maybe apart from the bridge spot… In Nantes, let’s not lie, you find some guys that don’t want to build, just skate.

Like everywhere else! [Laughter]
People might not have time, or the desire, and well, Nantes is more of a passing point, compared to Cléré, where you have to go visit Jo, or the other spot at my friend’s.

Édouard Fontaine, frontside feeble. photo: Nicolas Boutin

In terms of material and all, how do you do?
The three spots have three different systems… Cléré, basically, it’s all “found” material… [Laughter] But, I know that, now, Converse, is helping with concrete. Same with the bridge spot. Also the Cléré council, strangely enough, as the place has turned into an unofficial skatepark without them putting a cent into it, have been giving extra money to Jo to clean it up and make it safer. It really is countryside, so you can get away with a lot more, there. As for Nantes, under the bridge, it was a lot of donations… Someone even gave a concrete mixer. We also organized a party, with a raffle that worked really well, and they got plenty of money from it, that they invested. I say “they” as I wasn’t that invested in that one, and I don’t want to sound like I was. So, they could even buy a generator, some tools and cinder blocks. And for the Nantes video premiere, we did another raffle, and with the help of Converse, we got what it takes to make the spot evolve. As for the third spot, we stole everything! Didn’t buy one thing [Laughter], apart from the coping… We chipped in at three, well, five, as his parents got in also!

In the end, the video gives me the impression the spots are the heroes, over the skaters…
I wouldn’t say the spots, but the group… I didn’t want to give last part to one person in particular, first because nobody really stands out that much. And I like the scene in general, and I wouldn’t want to push someone to the forefront, and that they get big headed or something. It’s that group that deserves the coverage, one guy wouldn’t have make it alone, so there you go… So, having a DIY part to close the video, it shows the group spirit, which matters. That’s why I wanted that collective part.

For such a local project, how did you get Pontus footage?
I sent him the trailer, and he liked it and asked if he could be in the video! I said “off course”, obviously… Then, there was a bunch of people we had met but that I never filmed much with, so for those, I got footage from different people, and that’s mostly the “friends” part…

Now that the video is out, what are the projects, for you, and the group as a whole?
First, push the DIY projects. It will be a summer of building, for sure. Doing another full-length video, I’m not sure. I’ll tell you, after going through so much trouble to find sponsors, money, all that, that doesn’t really makes you want to jump into something big again. Maybe smaller productions…

Spots wise, are you going to attack new locations, or make the older ones better?
No, work on the existing ones. We got some space and some ideas!

DVD is now available here
or in the following skateshops:
Click skatestore (Nantes), Playart Select store (Nantes), Rideall (Nantes), À la Bonne Planchette (Tours) and Crime LR (La Rochelle).
Support your local stores!

A first Live Skateboard Media exclusive montage can be seen here, and here is another one dedicated to the Low Holly spot:

Live Skateboard MediaLive Skateboard Media

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