Filharmonia Skateboarding / LEEF STORY / Krzysztof Poskrobko / INTERVIEW

As choke-full of odds as it essentially is, the world most often turns out to be an unfair place, especially when it comes to recognizing the labor of people who coincidentally weren't born into some "hot spot", regularly discouraging their efforts - if not their ambition. Consequently, for those, another way of channeling their drive is by refocusing on what really matters: the cultural transmission, and not just certain material means only best employed towards it realization, when it all comes down to it.
If Poland-based Krzysztof Poskrobko's brand Filharmonia officially announced its retirement just a few months back and was brought to our attention just a bit too late by his first name and filming session companion Krzysztof Godek (interviewed here - and the man has been dropping parts from the Repeat video "IF YOU DON'T SKATE, DON'T START" weekly on his YouTube channel as of late, here), sometimes also cruelly, pure skateboarding is timeless and to this day, the fact stands that the Filharmonia full-length productions "LEEF STORY" and its predecessor "LLUF SONG" are impeccable works.
Comparably to other independent productions such as Nikola Racan's "SOLSTICIJ" or the equally Polish Couch Raiders' "CONNECTIONS", they are the result of not just filming sessions but full-on thought processes and personal evolution of the author throughout a timespan of several years spent traveling the world and maturing, skateboard under the feet, camera in hand and a vision in mind.
Krzysztof's sharp eye for detail, good taste and cinematic atmosphere only perspires through those works as much as the strength of his motivation, so it was no surprise when after we first got in touch with him to be recounted his "LEEF STORY", the words we heard back turned out to be pretty heartfelt. Make sure not to miss "LLUF SONG", below!
LIVE Skateboard Media: Hey Krzysztof, so today we are showcasing this video of yours, "LEEF STORY" from 2018 that just made it onto the Internet recently, affiliated to Filharmonia Skateboarding. Can you recount that "LEEF STORY" to us starting with who you are, where you are from, how you originally got into skating and your influences over time?
Krzysztof Poskrobko: Hi Aymeric, so I'm a young guy from Poland - originally born in Bialystok in the East of the country, but I've been living in the capital for the past fifteen years and that's where I'm currently continuing my skateboarding adventure. I started skateboarding back in 1997, when I was fifteen.
Frontside ollie. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek
I saw Larry Clark's movie "KIDS" and immediately realized that I wanted to be like those guys from the streets of N.Y.C.. Shortly after, I met some homies I started spending lots of time with - and by doing so, I got to see my first skate videos on VHS. Besides the baggy pants and cap worn backwards look, I also wanted to actually do some tricks.

"I learned to waste my time
in more creative ways.
I felt safe and
free there"

As for influences, two of my main ones were definitely the videos "QUESTIONABLE" and "VIRTUAL REALITY" - icons like Duffy, Carroll, Howard, Rodney, Danny or Colin were being watched every day before the sesh [editor's note - now's a good time to announce that Chrome Ball Incident's Eric Swisher just dropped an interview with Jake Rosenberg alongside thirteen minutes of raw footage from the early Plan B days, here].

Eventually, I got to meet the local crew who turned out to show me the more global aspect of skateboarding - they made me realize that it has no limitations and makes us stand out through our individuality. They would usually meet at the main spot of my city: Filharmonia, so the concert hall building. I learned to waste my time in more creative ways. I felt safe and free there. It was pure fun, and a new lesson every day.

I felt like I made the best friends possible back then. Surprisingly I didn't turn out to be so wrong - I can still count on those people to this day, even though I am the only one left who's still actively skateboarding.

Frontside 50-50. Ph.: Piotr Kielb

LSM: How did Filharmonia Skateboarding come about, exactly? When was it that something clicked for you that you should give doing things your own way a try, did you feel like you had a particular vision to express? Or was it something more organic that just happened with the homies? What other productions did you make, besides "LEEF STORY" - videos and others?

Krzysztof: In 2007, I felt like I needed to change something in my life so I went to N.Y.C. for six months and got a job in construction there, which allowed me to save some money. At that time, U.S.D. had a very low exchange rate so there was no point in buying Polish Zlotys - therefore I decided to invest it in production of a hundred boards.
Frontside noseslide, Warsaw. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek
I designed them in Paintbrush and sent my project to some random manufacturer found online. I didn’t care about the quality back then. From then on all my homies started skating using my boards, and that was the turning point when I decided I wanted to continue.

Backside tailslide, Kiev. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

Over the years, my vision on the importance of things changed a lot. Quality of my product became the number one priority. I consequently found a solid manufacturer, learned Adobe software - in order to create proper designs - and started collaborating with various artists.

"Both films together form a whole"

I also made two full movies, the first one being "LLUF SONG", an expression of my love thrill and blind admiration for skateboarding and everything associated with it.

I wanted to ride, film, create for a brand, events, spots, in order to support people, build a culture, show a way towards dreams - I've dreamed the best dream of my life. During this deep sleep, I also released a bunch of short promo videos that you can watch on the Filharmonia YouTube channel. Eventually, after a few years I woke up in order to recount a "LEEF STORY".

Lisbon. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

LSM: The line-up of "LEEF STORY" is remarkable, with literally dozens of skaters from many different countries, operating in different countries. How did all those connections happen, for instance with Luka Pinto or Tommy May? Where exactly did you go to film, how many years did the process take and what prompted you into such an ambitious project, originally? Did you have an accurate vision of what you wanted to achieve from the start, and what were the difficulties that came from investing so much of yourself into the project?

Krzysztof: The guys skating in my videos are mainly the FHM SKT crew - Bartek Górka, Michał PrzybylowiczFilip Dziewięcki and all my good friends from Poland.

The rest, I have met on my skateboarding life path. I'm in touch with most of them. For instance, I first met Luka when he was a little kid, visiting my brother from another mother Patryk on the Jersey Islands. I would ask him about him a lot, as he was a talented kid.

"What after skateboarding ends?
That is a big price to pay
for investing so much
of myself"

In 2014, I underwent another episode of needing a change, so I bought a camper van and went on a three-month trip to the South of Europe (Portugal, Spain and France) with a friend from Poland: Krzysztof Godek. From the beginning, I knew Luka would be a great companion as he's a lot of fun and easygoing. That trip helped me get new connections, meet some great skaters and collect lots of clips. 

Filming in Murcia. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

It took me about two years to collect the material for my last movie. From the beginning, I knew I wanted it to be completely different from the first one. "LLUF SONG" had a very positive outcome - it was like a lucid dream about skateboarding.

"LEEF STORY", on the other hand, shows that it’s not all so nice and sweet, that life has its downs and is full of pain and sorrow. Both films together form a whole. They show a balance between good and bad feelings that accompany me during skateboarding.

"I get very inspired by authors
who don’t use commas
in their productions"

All this costed me a lot of my personal time, which has probably blocked me from developing a professional career and meeting people from different backgrounds instead of only skateboarders.

All that leads to the question what to do next? What after skateboarding ends?

That is a big price to pay for - as you said - investing so much of myself.

The older I get, the more I understand it.

LSM: So you did have a particular vision, specifically with "LEEF STORY". The editing is very intense and sharp, the soundtrack works amazingly and generally, it’s a well-made and sophisticated video with considerable thought and effort put into it, which denotes that you might have been sculpting it around the reference of a very specific mental image. Were there any particular meanings, feels or messages that you especially wished the viewing experience to convey? Who are some of your influences in skate videos, skate filmmaking and what prompted some of the strongest aesthetic choices (e.g.. the use of the VX-1000, the image-in-image inserts and various more or less oppressive effects)?

Krzysztof: Yes, I did have a very particular vision regarding the editing.
I am a big fan of short cuts in a video, because those help envision the dynamics of skateboarding.
As for the soundtrack, it's divided into songs I’ve always liked that have a meaning for me, and ones that were the result of hours spent searching online.

"In every other field,
if you put so much of yourself
into doing something
with that much passion,
you can easily live
out of it"

Indeed, I had a very specific image in my head and I only had to realize and release it. I'm happy to hear that it was noticeable for you. I do not see my film as a collection of parts but more as an entire piece. It must be watched from the beginning to the end, as every little piece of it coexists with one another in a smooth harmony. I get very inspired by authors who don’t use commas in their productions.

Ollie in Sicily. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

I wanted the people watching "LEEF STORY" to feel what I feel and see what I see, so they would understand my anger and disappointment, but also catch some ZZZ’s - by reminding them of the positive sounds of "LLUF SONG".

Even though I have been skateboarding for over twenty years now, and have sacrificed a lot for it, I've never received more than a praise. I've had my skateboarding company for over ten years and it has been a constant struggle to keep it profitable. I still have to work hard to be able to keep a decent lifestyle; meanwhile in every other field, if you put so much of yourself into doing something with that much passion, you can easily live out of it.

"Another very painful realization is that
the skateboarding world is not
as open as it seems"

Don’t get me wrong, I still respect skateboarding - and I always will - for what it is. I never did it in hopes for any profit but with age, I understood that life is more mundane. It's also hard to accept the fact that all that used to be so fun in skateboarding has become a pain now. Another very painful realization is that the skateboarding world is not as open as it seems - it’s actually very hermetic and hard to get in if you don’t know the right people.

I use the Sony VX-1000 as it’s legendary equipment that has been present in skateboarding videography for years. I really like the effect it gives together with the MK1 lens. It has the perfect field of view.

As for the image-in-image effect, I found it accurate to show additional feelings and points of view accompanying the process of filming.

Backside 180 nosegrind in Porto. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

I also decided to use multiple graphic images, which might be a controversial choice for some, but I find them honest because they are part of everyday life, so why avoid them? I included a lot of metaphors, like the birds attacking each other like people do attack us, and would even if we died. None of the inserts is random, they all have some implied meaning or emotional outcome.

Ollie in Girona. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

I intended it to be possibly easiest and the most honest way of expression. I wanted the image to touch the feelings of the viewers, and make them feel what we felt in that particular moment.

Ollie over to frontside tailslide, Athens. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

LSM: What are you up to nowadays? In addition to being a talented skate filmmaker, as your section in "LEEF STORY" can attest, you’re also a very active skateboarder with regular appearances in publications (e.g.. your part in Krzysztof Godek’s new video). How involved are you in your current scene, where are you currently based and how do you keep busy? Any words on the scene in Poland in general, and recommendations of activism and productions to check out?

Krzysztof: As an owner of the brand Filharmonia Stakeboarding, I've also managed a team of skilled skaters whose skateboarding I admired. I was amongst them, hence why I decided to have my own part in "LEEF STORY". Since the skateboarding is a big part of my life, no matter how it is, it is still very important for my existence.
Krzysztof Godek has been supporting my need for self-expression for a long time. Besides his contributions to the video, there are couple of leftovers from Kuba Kaczmarczyk's Grey Area video "NEVERWHERE" - and then most of the rest was filmed by me.

"Lots of investments are
just another tick
in a Mayor's
exercise book"

Nowadays, I am more focused on skating than filming, as at the age of thirty-eight I can’t be sure for how much longer I'm going to be able to do it, whereas my VX-1000 can be waiting for better times.

Current scene in Poland, at least in my eyes, has a lot of the young skaters finding skateboarding as a sport. That is because they get a chance to take part in the Olympics, to get a professional training, to travel, visit various spots and develop their skating skills.

A slightly different vision of skateboarding than mine and other older skaters, but I do not criticize it as everything changes.

They will probably never experience skateboarding the way I did, but it also gives them a big chance to do it for their whole lives and maybe get some profit out of it which would allow them to pursue their passion even further.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Michał Przybylowicz, frontside tailslide kickflip out. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek

Unfortunately, I think that Polish skateboarding is way behind the rest of the European scene, although there are some talented guys that, if they keep on doing what they are doing now, have a chance of succeeding outside the country.

In my opinion, the reason for that is a lack of places where one could practice. Our skateparks are very basic, the designs are still from the nineties and there is no way of changing that for now, because of some inevitable building regulations.

Great budgets are getting wasted, lots of investments are just another tick in a Mayor's exercise book.

In my opinion, no matter how much you love riding on a street and don’t give a fuck about the skatepark zoo, you need a place where you can peacefully skate without the fear of getting kicked out, and where you can focus on perfecting the trick.

"The only competition
I try to win is
against my own

Another thing lacking is authorities in Poland as in, we don’t have any successful skaters with a worldwide professional career that young kids would look up to, in order to get to their level.

Anyway, all those things also help us prepare for the challenges posed by the streets, and show why skateboarding is such genius in its very own simplicity. 

As for myself, I don’t participate in the sport aspect of skating, but people still see me on the board - the only competition I try to win is against my own barriers. Besides skating, I have a full-time job and I’m generally trying to enjoy my life as it is here in Warsaw, but also trying to travel as much as I can.

Anyone looking for recommendations should check out Youth Skateboards, Raw Hide and Uliczneswirusy - the crews and their general image. Existing for a long time and still evolving: the Grey Area Video projects.

My longtime idol Tomek Kotrych, my partners in crime Krzysztof Godek and his new baby Repeat, the one and only Polish printed Barrier Skate Mag, concrete creations made by the guys at Szaber bowl and for the young bad boys, those would be Filip DziewięckiAndrzej Palenica, Filip Wojciechowski and Janek Jaroszewicz.

LSM: Thanks for your time doing this and insight, Krzysztof!

Krzysztof: Cheers!

Bordeaux. Ph.: Krzysztof Godek


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