Franck Pierron / PREMIERE / "Tracked Movements"

Here comes an improbable U.F.O.! If the name of filmer Franck Pierron doesn't ring a bell to you, you don't necessarily have to question your street cred: Franck was always the man in the shadows, masterfully documenting skateboarding from afar out of pure passion without ever feeling the need to put himself out there, as to keep it all nothing but pure fun. From the nineties to the mid-naughts (the era of the French Chill Magazine, for those who remember), Franck has been shooting every format from VX-1000 video to Super 8 or 16 mm film. His eye is of the kind that cultivates the detail and celebrates the energy; and his genuine excitement seems to translates over into the resulting footage, as his drawers are full of tapes and film imprinted by timeless stylings performed by some of the most classic skaters. The years went by and Franck ended up pursuing an audiovisuel career in the television field, but thankfully for us he never shed his youthful first love for skateboarding away and last month after we asked him if he had any unseen footage to contribute he would be sitting on that we could screen at the (now recent) Das Days Movie Night in Paris, he did not hesitate once. #Fortheculture! What this whole exchange eventually resulted in is this clip: "Tracked Movements", an improvised project title reflecting the process of that quest for lost footage, but also the one of the basic act of filming skateboarding to begin with as well as many more, even deeper meanings we will leave up to your imagination as you duly deserve. Regardless of its designation, what counts is how Francks's passion and enthusiasm have survived the past fifteen years time span and today, LIVE Skateboard Media is proud to get to present it to you under the form of this time capsule of an edit, timelessly tracking the movements of many a Parisian skate activist who eventually contributed a lot to the local culture, history and scene, each in their own respective ways. And of course, we caught up with Monsieur Franck long enough to introduce him to our classic "5 W's" treatment!

LIVE Skateboard Media: Yo Franck! May you please tell us when all this unseen footage was shot? What was the scene in Paris like at the time, do you remember who were the strong personalities, and the hot spots and shops?

Franck Pierron: This footage was shot in between 1999 and late 2000, early 2001 tops.

What the scene was like? Well, if one considers that in between 1990 and 1995 people were mostly into technical tricks (pressure flips, double flips, nollie flips...), around that time we had already transitioned into a "heavier" style of skating: more stairs, bigger gaps, longer handrails... Bigger, better, faster. Which never stopped since it seems like.

To me the Paris scene was divided into two camps: the Street Machine skateshop / SuGaR magazine camp, and then the Snowbeach Warehouse skateshop / Tricks magazine camp, with a handful of free electrons floating around in between. I also tried to be one of those, in order to get to catch a little bit of everything that was going on, which ended up with me operating mostly independently but hey, at least I was free!

"[Vassili Ritter] was your visa for la Déf'..."

The hot spots at the time? Bercy, la Déf' (la Défense), le Dôme, Créteil... All skaters magnets. You were bound to meet familiar faces there anytime.

Franck in Rome, 2000. Cliché tour ! Ph.: Leo Vernhet

As a filmer, I already tried to be on the look out for new spots and Vassili, the king of la Déf', was super good at finding gems; la Déf' was only expanding every day back then too. Vassili was your visa for La Déf', he knew everyone there, you could never get in trouble when he was around. Some of his footage in this edit, the clips in which he's wearing beige clothing, were filmed by Philippe Leweurs, by the way.

"Back then a camera and a fish-eye were a true investment, especially when you're unemployed"

Samir Krim had the downtown Paris knowledge; so he was the guide for all the new, still untouched or unknown spots.

The two aforementioned skate shops, Street Machine (rue Bailleuil) and Snowbeach Warehouse (still on Boulevard Richard Lenoir to this day) were the main hang out spots everybody would catch up at prior to going skating and filming. We'd watch videos there, on VHS then DVD (no YouTube at the time which I liked better), everybody would get psyched and just generally get along.

LSM: Who were you mostly filming with around that time period? How did you connect with everybody, and is there anybody in particular you have the fondest memories of filming skating with?

Franck: I got to film many people: William Phan, Vassili Ritter, Vincent Bressol, Stéphane LaranceFranck Barattiero, Tony Brossard, Samir Krim, Mathieu Levaslot, Yann Garin, Luy-Pa Sin, Jon Monié, Mathieu Cuvelier as well as a few visiting U.S. pros. We always connected through the shops, from word of mouth, or at contests or right on the spots.

Paris didn't have many filmers at the time; back then a camera and a fish-eye were a true investment, especially when you're unemployed.

LSM: Why did you get into filming skateboarding? What is your background like?

Franck: I first took up skateboarding because I was getting tired of team sports, especially because of one dumb judo coach I remember having in my teenage years.

So I naturally turned over to skating. I was decent at tech skating in the early-to-mid-nineties, but quickly came to the realization that I was never going to be the next Tony Hawk or Matt Hensley so hey, let's give the camera a shot.

Franck, 360 flip!

It just came about naturally because skateboarding bred creativity back then (it was still forming after all, with lots left to do), the videos were inspiring at the time.

"Watching TransWorld videos was better than any theoritical course on filmmaking"

Filming skateboarding was an extension of what I essentially liked to do, I was really into videos such as the Powell video "Public Domain" or H-Street's "Shackle Me Not", oh and the Santa Cruz videos. 

I watched so many skate videos it pretty much taught me filmmaking; I learned everything by myself from shooting video to using Super 8, 16 or 16 mm film.

Watching TransWorld videos (which brimmed with creativity back then) was better than any theoritical course on filmmaking, and it nurtured a certain visual language and sense of rhythm in editing and shooting in me.  

In the early nineties, I would write video reviews for the prehistoric French skate mag B-Side, so I had easy access to all the new videos through the magazine or V7 Distribution. 

Franck, mega vintage noseslide in Tours!

Then for a while I worked and helped manage a skateshop in Tours, then had to go do my military service after which the owner didn't want to take me back, so I ended up unemployed for a while and killed the time going around France in order to film here and there in Nantes, Toulouse, Rouen...

Bud Skateshop had just opened in Rouen back then and Paul Labadie and I ended up filming "Data", a half-hour long full-length, that was back in 1998. I pretty much moved to Rouen for four months, bringing my editing computer (something rare at the time) with me and we just went on an endless mission the whole time: filming in the afternoon, editing in the evening and sleeping in the morning, somehow everybody was down... Now looking back, I feel like we could have shot more lifestyle stuff but ah well.

"A very young Lucas Puig who must have been nine or ten at the time..."

Then in 1999, I went to follow a training in editing in Toulouse and then I filmed the locals: Fabien Martin, JJ Rousseau, Guy Dauriac and a very young Lucas Puig who must have been nine or ten at the time... 

The training over, I moved to Paris because that's where all the TV gigs are in France, nowhere else.

Franck, cameraman for the Canadian TV channel CTV.

LSM: Where did you like to film the best, in Paris? Many La Défense clips in "Tracked Movements", were you particularly close to the scene there? How big of an importance would you give to a spot's aesthetics or a skateboarder's style?

Franck: I didn't have a favorite spot, but visually I did really like La Déf' as opposed to, say, Bercy. 

The architecture is great there, nothing but huge modern buildings and cityscapes. It's not N.Y.C., but close enough!

But it might have been a subconscious thing mostly really. I was mostly tagging along with whoever happened to be available.

I'd prefer getting footage at open spots as opposed to underground parking lots or undercover spots, that's for sure. But Paris gets a lot of rain.

Franck and Kareem Campbell, 1999, Axion demo at Créteil!

LSM: What struck you the most at the Das Days movie night screening? How did you feel like introducing this classic footage to the newer generations? How did you like the reactions? Did that motivate you for anything more?

Franck: That's a tough one because I'm not used to being under the spotlight, I'm rather used to staying quiet behind the camera or the editing computer, but witnessing the positive reactions got me stoked, and inspired me to keep putting more of this old footage I'm sitting on out there. Why not keep this going?

Thank you Live Skateboard MediaBen Deberdt for the opportunity and Aymeric Nocus for editing all the footage.

Thanks for the good times: François, Arnaud et Mathieu, thank you Seb Carayol, Florian of Bud Skateshop (let's do one more?), Paul Labadie, Philippe Leweurs, everybody else who helped me along the way and were down for me to film them, be it in Tours, Orléans, Paris, Rouen, Nantes, Toulouse...

Let's keep it rolling!

Live Skateboard MediaLive Skateboard Media

Wait to pass announcement...