PREMIERE / Danny Fuenzalida / GREY AREA "Neverwhere" / Kuba Kaczmarczyk / INTERVIEW

Kuba Kaczmarczyk is the epitome of your ideal local O.G. head: forty-two years strong, he's been spending half of those sweating it behind the lens, documenting uprising regional talent throughout the generations and supporting the scene in his home country of Poland by many a means - all the while being caught up in work tasks aplenty, family life and the whole adult realm. His previous full-length "Grey Area" was an underground hit a few years ago, packed to the brim with unique aesthetics and raw Polish street skateboarding; its recent sequel, "Neverwhere", only carries its predecessor's torch to higher levels as it successfully perpetuates that identity, throws new faces into the mix and takes the whole concept to a new stage. It even comes packaged with an ounce of sunshine as, as though to boost everybody's serotonin levels, plenty of Miami footage ended up finding its way onto Kuba's timeline, including a whole, highly improbable, brand new Danny Fuenzalida section! LIVE Skateboard Media is stoked to present it to you today, along with the following words from the author himself he was even kind enough to deliver to us - to you.

LIVE Skateboard Media: Kuba, may you please introduce yourself to us? What is Grey Area, where has it been operating from, and since when?

Kuba Kaczmarczyk: Hi my name is Kuba, I’m forty-two and from Warsaw. I’ve been filming skateboarding for about twenty years.

"My main goal at the beginning was to put Polish skateboarding on the map"

I'm the filmer but all the graphics and effects in my works are made by my friend Pawel and throughout those years, we made a couple of local videos.

"Grey Area" is the title of our previous full-length. It’s also our habitat, the way our country feels and looks like (or actually used to look like, as it's been changing a lot over the past five years).

Chris Jones, boardslide. Ph.: Modest Mysliwski

This is also a reference to the spots our crew would skate. For a long time, we only had two options: either stick around one of a few marble plazas or start looking for something different - most likely crustier and harder to skate. Unfortunately there wasn't anything in between. So we chose the exploration of the back alleys of the city, of its dark cuts in order to progress, and have more fun; hence a grey area in between.

Danny Fuenzalida, pole jam to backside smith grind. Ph.: Matt Roy

LSM: How long had it been since the last Grey Area full-length before this? You had an amazing one come out around 2013 if I remember correctly. How did the filming process for both projects come about?

Making full-length videos is quite the seriously time-, energy- and money-consuming pastime; takes a lot of motivation, especially multiple times throughout the years. Whose initiative was it to start doing this?

The Polish talent and spots your videos document is incredible; really makes one think about all the undiscovered (read: not overblown by the mainstream) treasures there are in the world - people everywhere do amazing shit, ten times more than one’d originally expect it seems like, but it only gets validated by the industry if it sells, which dictates whether it does or (most often) doesn’t get seen. How is the skate scene like in Poland? How did your first connections as far as people to film with come about?

Kuba: "Grey Area" was released October 2012, so it took me six long years. The process was the same every time. Once the previous video was made, I'd just keep filming, without any major theme or idea for the first couple of months.

"Why the full-length format? Because I’m old school"

The skating just needs to meet my criteria of trick and spot selection. I’m pretty strict about that. Usually I film with the same people.

There also things that change the feel during filming, for instance when there are new additions to the crew or when some of the guys get focused on other things in life, so the line-up slightly changes from one video to the next. I check on how the clips I get work on a timeline super often, and try different scenarios. So ideas just keep flowing during the whole process.

"We skate street and look for new spots the way I think skateboarding should be: organic and improvisational"

Why the full-length format? Because I’m old school, and I’ve always had more of an affinity for full-length videos. Of course I appreciate people's feedback, but I do this for myself mostly; first and foremost, I need to be pleased and satisfied with final product.

My main goal at the beginning was to put Polish skateboarding on the map; maybe even just to show that there is good shit happening in my country. Our scene in general is the same as everywhere else so I can only speak about the people I skate with - they’re fucking sick to say the least. We skate street and look for new spots the way I think skateboarding should be: organic and improvisational. This is exactly what you can see in "Grey Area" or "Neverwhere".

Danny Fuenzalida, switch wallride. Ph.: Matt Roy

Of course there are pros and cons to everything - Polish skateboarding is no exception. Unfortunately I can see less and less people skating street nowadays. It breaks my heart, but I’m sure everywhere else is also getting all those amazing parks, recently skateparks have been popping up around every corner which in turn made skaters too lazy to hit the streets. Contests became a main goal for some, mostly younger kids as well… I’m too old to care about that though – I'm a hundred percent focused on my little world. I’ve really been trying to open my mind to different mentalities. 

"Danny Fuenzalida and the boys ended up being super fun to be around,
and we became great friends"

Filming for this last project "Neverwhere" was the most challenging process yet - I’m over forty now, I have a full familly - wife and two daughters, and I work full time. So the time I needed to finish this video, I had to cram it in all that. It was probably super hard for the boys as the filming needed to be as planned as possible; I couldn’t hang out with them for whole weeks, or maybe on some we'd get one or two clips, giving them more pressure and less time. But in the end they pulled through and I’m really proud of them - I’m proud of every member of the gang.

I also wanna thank my lovely wife Ania and my kids for being so patient and the best in general. 

LSM: Miami sunshine was unexpected, and paradoxically refreshing amid all the other crazy rugged spots from the grey area! How did that idea work out? Did you have connexions there already, had you met Danny Fuenzalida beforehand? What is the story?

Kuba: I was always a big fan of the MIA videos. "Last of the Mohicans" or "Welcome to MIA" are in my top ten for sure.

Danny Fuenzalida, frontside smith grind. Ph.: Kuba Baczkowski / Barrier Skate Mag

In 2013, I had this opportunity to go on a free trip over there; we had a business trip to Florida but we could go earlier and have a little vacation down there. Instead of laying on the beach the whole time, I decided to try and link up with local peeps and film them. That was the first time ever I hit up someone without meeting them before, just to ask if they were down to film.

I was really shy about it, but it worked out really well. Danny Fuenzalida and the boys ended up being super fun to be around, and we became great friends.

Danny Fuenzalida, switch backside nosegrind. Ph.: Kuba Baczkowski / Barrier Skate Mag

This trip was super productive - Fuenz and all his friends were on it. Also one of his buds, Manny Mo Massens, met up a bunch and got clips. Right away I knew I would come back to get more stuff for the video, so I did make another four trips over there afterwards, with or without Euro boys.

Manny Massens, kickflip. Ph.: Matt Roy

Miami is awesome - both skate- and vacation-wise. I’ve noticed loads of similarities to the Euro scene; they also skate rough, cutty spots and like Europeans, or underground East coasters, they’re far from the spotlight. Big up to Miami and its skate scene and locals!

Danny Fuenzalida, switch frontside kickflip. Ph.: Matt Roy

LSM: How was it skating and filming with Danny? How did it feel to see him skate your local spots in front of your lens? Must have been pretty crazy and again a representation that in this world everything just might happen, right?

Kuba: It was dope. First off, Danny is ill as a dude so everything came about pretty naturally. Of course I was stoked to get to film him but what was especially nice is that he made the whole process feel like I was filming another one of my boys back home. The homie session you know.

Danny Fuenzalida, wallie. Ph.: Matt Roy

One thing sick about Danny's approach is how he goes through the process of doing tricks. He's a true skate scientist; he analyzes every aspect of the spot and the trick, he has to be aware of every one of his motions down to the each toe whilst doing the trick – this was crazy to me, and fun to listen to, watch and film. 

LSM: How many premieres of the video have you had already? How have they been going so far? Do you want to sum up the vid in a few words (I know, right?) for people to know what to expect in it? How much of your work is influenced by Pontus Alv, how long have you known him for and what is the history of you guys’ Polar connexion?

Kuba: We had a few premieres – from ten to fifteen I'd say. It's been great so far, I'm really stoked. Like I said before, this the 100% raw street skating of my friends. And the video also encapsulates many other things that went down in the meantime – tons of laughs, tears, spot hunts, friendships, madness and fun.

"We love arguing and we usually have different point of views on many things"

I’ve been friends with Pontus for many years, and Juras rode for his squad for years. We met in Warsaw when he was here right after he finished his first video “The Strongest of the Strange”, then we started visiting each other.

Kuba & Pontus Alv. Ph.: Kuba Baczkowski / Barrier Skate Mag

It’s hard to say how big of an influence he's had on me. It’s definitely there. For sure we started fixing and pimping spots because of him, I have to admit that. Apart from that, we love arguing and we usually have different point of views on many things.

LSM: Alright Kuba let's call this, what are you up to these days, are you working on anything new (since you said this wasn’t the new Grey Area video, ha!), is there another project you’re cooking up already? Is it going to be called "Next Area" or "Grey Generation"?

Kuba: Every time I've gotten to the end of the process of filming a video I've promised myself (and my wife) that this was the last video I'd make and I’d retire after the deadline, but then the energy from the people reacting to it usually makes me feel like making yet another one. But now I know that I probably I won't be able to make another full-length.

So maybe instead of that I’ll make something shorter - I have some ideas, we will see, some things need to be confirmed.

Maybe I’ll try a HD camera. I was always against it but maybe it's time for a new challenge…

Last year I became a huge fan of the Vladimir Film Festival and really want to come back there with something to show.

“Grey Generation” is a dope title by the way. So, I’m not hanging up the idea of filming, it’s just time for a break and then, back to the drawing boards.

Thank you for reading this and giving me a second of your time. Get out there and find your grey area to rip and get clips at.

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