PREMIERE / "Brotherhood" / Max Guyot / INTERVIEW

The last time LIVE presented one of Maxime Guyot's skate video works was back in 2016: he had then just published the second episode in his web series, "NCY Brotherhood". A "NCY" and not the most common "NYC" that stands for Nancy, France - the ancient capital of the Duchy of Lorraine, way prior to being the one of American fashion. Since then, Max hasn't been sleeping nor slipping and today, he's back with no less than a full-length video: "Brotherhood" (now a general concept) consists in exactly twenty minutes of urban skateboarding, coming in three slices: the first two are dedicated to the underrepresented Nancy locals and scene, and then the last one has a taste of Paris, foreign lands represented by quite the amount of Magenta heads. The eventual result is a little gem of an independent video, much in the vein of some of the best French classics of the genre and featuring rare styles, meticulous editing and intense VX-1000 swordsmanship. Which is obviously synonymous with many a question, so we logically caught up with Max himself for an interrogation he promptly gave in for, very much under the influence of our trust serums and various variations on the Stockholm syndrome.

LIVE Skateboard Media: Yo Max, what's up? May you please introduce yourself to our readers: who are you, where are you from, what's your background in skateboarding and filmmaking like and what's « Brotherhood »?

Maxime Guyot: Yo Aymeric! I'm fine, kind of mellowing out after all the stress from exporting the video file right now... I'm twenty-seven, I was born and still live in Nancy, in the North-East of France. I started skating back in 2005 - back then, I used to live right next to the local spot nicknamed « la Small Place ». I'd always see « grown-ups » skating there and it was so intriguing to me, it made me want to give it a try, and I never quit since!

"If in need of a deck or whatever, the one address to know is Fetish Skateshop!"

I especially remember a young Karl Salah who was basically a local at that spot, and he was killing it already. The first video I ever watched must have been that same year: « Pandore » by David Couliau, and I actually still rewatch it from time to time to this day. Other videos I was super into before the 2010's hit were Blueprint's « Lost And Found » and « Make Friends With the Colour Blue », Landscape's « Portraits », Habitat's « Inhabitants », « Static III » by Josh Stewart (with my personal favorite Soy Panday part…). Eventually, it was with « Minuit » by Yoan Taillandier that something clicked about the idea of buying my own camera. The project was very focused on the local scene in Bordeaux, as opposed to whoever could 360 flip crooked grind a fifteen-stair rail (something I was getting bored of already, at the time...), which spoke to me.

"Skateboarding is something you do with friends, or it's not as fun"

So I bought a Sony VX-1000 on eBay back in 2013 for two hundred and fifty euros, which turned out to be a great deal as the camera was in impeccable condition, and then the MK1 fisheye to another dude who also sold it to me for two hundred and fifty euros - I got lucky the whole time!

Eventually in 2015, I put out a first edit on YouTube: « NCY Brotherhood », and then a follow-up: « NCY Brotherhood II » in 2016. So, this third « Brotherhood » production doubles up as closure for a trilogy!

LSM: The makings of « Brotherhood » took two years, is that right? May you recount its story to us - did you choose to start working on a full-length video from the get-go, or did you start by spontaneously stockpiling footage with no particular set goal in your mind for the final form at the time? Would you say you had an objective of some kind with this video? And what is the reason behind the title?

Max: It's been close to three years, actually... The oldest clips are from 2017, then we got some in 2018 and then in 2019. I could only skate and film on week-ends, hence the extended time period. The longest and most tedious definitely was collecting footage of everything I wanted to put on display in this video, for it to resemble the original vision I had for it.

From the start, I knew I wanted to make a longer kind of edit - say, fifteen, twenty minutes. Brotherhood as a term comes from the original « NCY Brotherhood » productions; in Nancy, the scene (or at least the crew behind the first two videos) is very tight-knit, and consists in people who've been close friends for over ten years so of course, that's not without resulting in sharing bonds of sorts! Since I exported my project over to Paris with this one, I quite logically dropped the outdated « NCY », but the basic motor still remains and is still fueled by skating and filming with my friends.

"The city [of Nancy] isn't exactly skate friendly"

LSM: The first two thirds of your video are dedicated to your scene in Nancy, France; how could you recount said scene to us in words, even though you just pretty much did it in audiovisual form? Any names, productions, activists worth checking out, for the curious? Did you start out for this project by getting clips in Nancy, by the way? How did you choose the skaters you ended up getting involved, or maybe that was a natural process and you just incorporated anybody who happened to be skating? How does it feel, filming around the streets of Nancy with a VX?

Max: Skateboarding in Nancy is pretty cool. Downtown is pretty small, which allows for skating from one spot to another quite conveniently and easily; and then there's the local chill spot as portrayed in chapter two of the video, that's also literally downtown and in a perfect central location. Two months ago, the city built a brand new plaza complete with ledges, curbs, manual pads and walls and then not even two months later, they skatestopped everything. The skatestoppers look like they're just sprouting out of everything, like weeds. So, the city isn't exactly skate friendly, and to this day we still get kicked out of spots and get threatened with tickets for not being rotting over at the « skateboard track ». Then on the side, the city doesn't mind using skateboarding as a marketing tool, by propping emphemeral skate installations in front of the train station back in August 2019, or in soon-to-be cultural spaces. 

Thankfully, we don't get kicked out every day, but the inconsistency is weird - like it depends on the weather...

 Florent Juliac
Corentin Ohlmann, backside 50-50. Ph.: Florent Juliac

But besides that, there's been some cool skate events going down here in 2019 for a city of this size: a Raphaël Zarka and Fred Mortagne exhibition, one of Sergej Vutuc, a DC Shoes France tour stopped here…

To everyone visiting (or living in) Nancy, if ever in need of a deck or whatever, the one address to know is Fetish Skateshop! The shop is operated by Hervé, who's been skating for about thirty years and still goes hard to this day.

As far as more local activists, Greg, an 'O.G.' from the same generation as Hervé, recently got himself a VX-1000 too and has been working on videos (in a very experimental style, but I like it!).

Mathis [Khelifi], who closes the first chapter of the video, skates for Fetish and reps Vans shoes and Element boards. If you're around, you'll probably just bump into him and the crew or something.

For « Brotherhood », yes, I first started filming in Nancy before starting to move onto a Paris section.

"The VX-1000 and MK1 combo is still king,
but those luxury prices are insane

The skaters in this video are all my friends! So the process was a natural selection of sorts [laughs]… My goal with this video was to incorporate and involve people I share sessions with, and that's pretty much it. I don't think the two Nancy sections would have had a similar impact, had I just met up with anybody who could kickflip noseblunt, there just wouldn't have been any connection then and that's not exactly what I would have wanted to show either. Skateboarding is something you do with friends, or it's not as fun…

LSM: The video closes on a third chapter dedicated to, this time, Paris. Why this choice, and how did you end up splitting the same timeline between Nancy footage and Paris footage? Were you filming in Paris by coincidence, or did you go on trips specifically for that? Who were your local connexions there, and how did you choose the skaters you wanted to document on such a busy turf? Were you consciously thinking that a Paris section in the full video might bring some extra attention over onto the Nancy scene, or did you just do it?

Max: Many friends of mine actually moved to Paris five or six years ago already (Corentin OhlmannLouis PerruchaudVictor DémontéJoffrey Morel…), and they settled there quite quickly - Victor even got a VX and made a bunch of rad edits. So that inspired me to also go and do something in Paris. My good friend Emilien Bonnet eventually moved there too, back in November 2018, which was the final straw and encouraged me to just get there with a camera and film, hoping to capture whatever was going down there and incorporate a Paris chapter to the full video. Looking back, the sheer number of Nancy skaters having moved there over time only made it all the more logical... So I went that one first time, and then a few more times and that was it. 

My last trip there was back in late August 2019, when you and I went on that afternoon mission! 

It was on location that I naturally connected with SoyChuckMaz [Masaki Ui] who I had already met in Bordeaux back in 2011 (I would have loved him to have more tricks!) and well, the whole crew. We mostly cruised around, hitting up random spots and collecting footage as we'd go.

Soy Panday, halfcab nosewheelie. Ph.: Antoine Jouguet

Everything fell into place quite naturally, although for a while I was a bit scared that the Paris section would get all the attention and the Nancy chapters, none. But all things considered, as the logic behind the video is to showcase local scenes and homies, I'd say it essentially does the job regardless.

LSM: Regarding the aesthetics of « Brotherhood », did you have any particular influences? Who else than the skaters did you involve in the making of the video? Would you describe yourself as the skate video nerd type (for admittedly a completely random example, have you ever watched Jahmal Williams in the DNA video)? Finally, how hard is it to still run the VX in a small French city in 2020?

Max: I'm into tons of different videos, but mostly independent releases. I'm not really interested in commercial productions that the bigger companies put out.

I'm super into Japanese skateboarding in general, which I originally found out about via Minuit! I love the 3RDZ videos, « Far Out 2 », Manwho, the « LENZ » videos by Tightbooth, Takahiro Morita's FESN video productions

Very recently, Toyota-based Teppei Ono sent me his new video « HAIIRO » which is also pretty incredible (thank you!). I'm more interested in the authenticity of the creativity that complements what's most otherwise plain performance, in those videos in general.

Elsewhere than from the Far East, I really liked « Sprinkles » by Zach Chamberlin, « Solsticij » by Nikola Racan, the audiovisual output of the crew over at Threads Idea Vacuum, « Spirit Quest » by Colin Read… It's a long list! I buy every independent video that I like in DVD form, I have quite the collection too. Oh, I also remember really liking the concept behind Parisii.

"I'd like to go on a foreign filming trip, preferably to some unfamiliar destination"

For « Brotherhood », Corentin was the one in charge of everything regarding the drawings, scribbles and visuals that were integrated into the video. I'd just give him ideas, and he'd come up with something... Getting him involved in the project was great and we ended up spending a lot of fun times skating, laughing, chilling... And in the end, quality-wise as far as I'm concerned, he came through!

Regarding filming with a VX in 2020, well - as long as the camera is alive, people will make do! What I'm flabbergasted by, though, is how much those cameras go for these days - some of those prices are pure nonsense... I'm especially thinking of certain Instagram accounts ran by opportunistic owners who use the relative rarity of the camera as an excuse to mark the prices up, sometimes by the double. So yeah, the VX-1000 and MK1 combo is still king, but those luxury prices are insane. One is probably better off just scouting around eBay like I did... 

LSM: Thanks for your time, Max! What about whatever's next? Any ongoing projects, skate video-related or others?

Max: Thank you Aymeric, and everyone who was involved in the makings of this video!

Regarding what's next... I'd like to go on a foreign filming trip, preferably to some unfamiliar destination or something. We'll see!

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