Conversation / Alexis Jamet & Romain Batard

Romain's last name might have reminded you of one of our Off Size projects, Hors-Champ, but those two are not necessarily on everybody's lips when it comes to discussing French skateboarding, despite being more than active, each in their own fields… Proof, once again, that you do not need to live in one of the capitols to produce local videos that reached people around the world, putting a real skateshop on the map, or simply live your passion while developing all your creativity. This is just a chit-chat with two swell guys…

Introduce yourselves briefly…
I come from Amboise, a small town in Touraine. Four years ago, with two Friends from Nantes, we opened a skateshop in Tours (À La Bonne Planchette) and later a second one in Nantes, about a year ago, a city I ended up moving to. I mainly work on the visual aspect of the stores. And I started working with people in the States, a few months ago.
Romain: As for me, I grew up in Le Mans. We released the Frame By Frame video in 2009, with Greg Dezecot, Olivier Fanchon and Aymeric Bertrand, then I worked in a video production company in my native town for a few years, as an editor and computer graphics designer. I ended up being really bored in Le Mans, and moving to Nantes a year ago. But since life seems so cheap in Paris, I might end up moving over there, sooner than later.

I was wondering if you had been exposed to your creative passions through skateboarding, or not?
As for graphic design, it is totally though skateboarding, the magazines, and then the people I met. For a couple years now, I have been working more in clothing design, and the whole painting thing is more something I do for myself, on my free time. It allows me to leave the computer while still making something, at a slow pace. Also, the formats I do are not huge, which is great as I don't have a big studio space. But my painting inspirations are not related to skateboarding. Maybe apart from Brian Lotti. I really liked his work in Blue Line, and when I had a chance to see his art in real life, it was really cool.
R: Same for me. Since I wasn't keeping up skateboarding wise with my friends, I started filming and taking pictures, and showing it through my own website.

Remember the first time you met?
I believe this was in Rennes, for the King of Rennes Road, back in 2007… But, we only got to get friends the next year. I had moved to Le Mans to study.
R: I thought that was in Tours, actually, most likely skating with the Dezecot and Boutin brothers?

How did the idea for this part come about?
I had filmed quite a bit with Romain, during my year in Le Mans, for Frame By Frame. And since we ended up living in the same city a few years later, it was a good timing to do something together again!

Alexis, you are just back from L.A. How was the culture chock?
Actually, I was surprised how small it was. Maybe, we are being fed so much of American culture in Europe, from music to movies, plus internet… Without being conscious of it, I was getting myself ready for what was going to hit me! [Laughter] But, yes, there were thing I would not get, or moments where I felt uncomfortable. Luckily for me, the people I work with are really conscious of it, and are cool enough to always try to me myself feel comfortable.

Romain, you always seem to be interested in learning new technologies, to then apply them to skateboarding. Is this why you did not use a fish-eye at all for this part?
I have filmed with a VX for many years, and since I have never found a set-up I would fully like. So, I try things, sometimes it works, sometimes not! I always look up what is new with video equipment, often for things not skating related. As for the fish-eye, I just wanted to change a little. I quite like the final result, here, but it is quite annoying to film with that set-up, so I have gotten back to good ol' fish-eye, since.

Both of you are quite associated to the 126 gallery / crew, what makes the bond?
A: I think I started hanging out with hem, through Romain, during that one year in Le Mans. Even if the Tours scene is great, they got something different going on that would make me spend more and more week-ends with them. It's stupid, but maybe the old saying “the more, the merrier…” has some truth to it! We end up being quite a crew, and laughing our asses off. And, now, being in Nantes, they are less than an hour away, so it has gotten worse! [Laughter]
R: When I was living in Le Mans, I would end up going away every week-end to more happening places. I clicked right away with the 126 heads. Clearly, 126 is breath of fresh air for us! The exhibitions they host allows you to see friends from other towns while getting some culture in, and the guys always have more up their sleeve than the gallery. Kayaking, pin-pong, play ball, barbecue, concerts… They are a bit of a Day Care Center, actually!

What have you planned for the rest of the summer?
Try to go on some holidays, to enjoy friends and family. And work on a few things for the shop, with the boys.
R: Find a job, film more and shoot more photos, while visiting friends from Bordeaux and Madrid, because it has been a while. And why not work on another Hors-Champ?

Paintings: Alexis Jamet

Photos: Romain Batard

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