"VELVET" / Spencer Legebokoff / INTERVIEW

Spencer Legebokoff has been shooting skate photos and videos in Canada for a long time now, but especially got his name out there on the international scale a fistful of years ago with « WALTZ » - an edit filmed around his region of origin that is West Kootenay, British Columbia - which he submitted and came to showcase at the 2018 edition of Vladimir Film Festival, the now classic independent event and cultural phenomenon occuring yearly thanks to the passion-driven locals of Fažana, Croatia. Being the uplifting experience it's really crafted to be, Spencer then came back home inspired to fully pursue his own vision in his skate filmmaking and what logically ensued is this new piece: « VELVET », a video willing to lean towards a more contemplative direction - but not at the expense of some great, sincere local skateboarding - which we are happy to bring you today, alongside a full interview with Spencer himself regarding the project, just below!
LIVE Skateboard Media: Hi Spencer, congrats on your new video « VELVET » and thank you for your time. Some people will remember your earlier piece « WALTZ » which was shown at Vladimir 2018 but nonetheless, may you introduce yourself and tell us about where exactly in Canada you are based? How would you describe your city and scene in words? And when it comes to the video form, may you please introduce the skateboarders featured in this one?
Spencer Legebokoff: My name is Spencer Legebokoff and I am a skater, filmer and multi-disciplinary artist from the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada. I was born and raised in a very rural environment, with the nearest towns both roughly twenty minutes away - towns with populations of only eleven thousand and eight thousand people.
Because our local municipalities are small, it forces those I film and skate with and myself to have to think unconventionally and literally scour every corner for spots. This scouring creates a very unique relationship between us and our urban geographies.

"It's also nice when
people care about you
as an individual,
past being the man
with the camera"

This latest film takes place mainly in the local area, but also has a fair amount of footage shot in Victoria, BC, the capital of our province—where I lived for a year while in university.
The skaters in this film are all my friends and people I could hang with outside of skateboarding. I've made this a rule for my independent projects, because I've found there's a better chemistry between myself and those who I film with. It's also nice when people care about you as an individual, past being the man with the camera.

"Bringing something
to Vladimir is
about bringing passion,
energy, love"

LSM: You filmed « VELVET » specifically for Vladimir 2020 and then went on to have some more premieres around your country; how much would you say seeing « WALTZ » on that first big screen back in 2018 planted the seed for this new project, can you remember how that felt and did the idea of making « VELVET » start itching right there and then?

Spencer Legebokoff: Bringing my last film to Vladimir in 2018 was a very surreal experience that edged on life-changing. Seeing the grassroots passion within a variety of projects was heartwarming and to be a part of the collective body of work reminded me what skateboarding really means to me - relationships.

I showed my film on the first night of the festival and there were a few technical difficulties, but I didn't get too down about it. Bringing something to Vladimir is about bringing passion, energy, love and less about a perfectly curated showcase.

"Physical premieres are
what you remember"

It was my first time in Europe and the experience instantly made me want to come back. Although I wasn't able to bring my new film to Vladimir 2021 (in person), I was stoked to be able to contribute to the tenth year anniversary.
My film did have three other physical premieres - two in a local town called Nelson, BC, and one in Victoria, BC. I wanted to make an effort to show this film physically because after something goes online, it's just as quickly gone and forgotten. Physical premieres are what you remember.

"I wanted the film
to be felt
before it was

LSM: Either way, you clearly experimented with a slightly different direction here, going for something contemplative if not almost sensual. Was that always a clear path you wanted to take from the get-go or did your concepts and imagery need some time to really come together and refine? Or maybe one you really wanted to develop with « WALTZ » already but didn’t have the confidence and/or experience to affirm at the time? Again, did Vladimir act like a sort of trigger here?

Spencer Legebokoff: 

Vladimir 2018 functioned as a trigger to allow myself to create skate films exactly as I wanted them.
« VELVET » is a unique project to my body of work because it focuses on the intimacy of skateboarding between skater, their board and how they journey through their environment.
I wanted the film to be felt before it was understood, similar to an abstract painting. I slowed things down with « VELVET » and allowed the spots, tricks and filming to speak for themself, opposed to forcing the film into the usual scripts one would expect from mainstream skate films.
Although I did make this film to be shown to wider audiences, at the end of the day this film is a documentation of some of my closest friendships in my life and the time and effort my friends and I spend on skateboards to make something creative.
Primarily, this film is for those who are in it.

"I knew some skaters
would be stoked
on the film, but
a non-skater audience
would have other thoughts
on it"

LSM: How did the other premieres come about? Anything to share about those?

Spencer Legebokoff: 

After « VELVET » first premiered at Vladimir, I showed it at a local ramen and cocktail bar called Red Light Ramen in Nelson, BC. I wanted a venue with the right atmosphere and Red Light was it.
We were able to show the film on an outdoor patio, which was great considering the climate of how suss people were about Covid in the fall. It was really rad to see so many of my friends come out to see my film - skaters or not - and it was awesome to meet some folks that I had never met before who had also come out.
Next, the film premiered at Artavi Skateboards in Victoria, BC, and was organized by my homie Leo who works at the shop and has some clips in the video.
Lastly, I wanted to show the film to a non-skater audience, because I knew that some skaters would be stoked on the film, but a non-skater audience would have other thoughts on it. As the great Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky says, art is essentially meaningless without met with a response. Therefore, I showed my film at Touchstones Museum in Nelson, BC, which is one of the most refined museums within four hundred kilometers of me. This was a quieter, less rowdy premiere, but brought in a variety of folks who I didn't know, many of which weren't skaters.

"Each work that I put out
is a documentation
of my influences
of an era
of my life"

LSM: Would you say you had a particular goal with « VELVET »? Would you say you have reached it? Are you still perfectly content with the final product, seeing things you now wish you had approached differently, or already working on something new - again exploring different perspectives perhaps? How do you keep busy these days?

Spencer Legebokoff: 

My goals with « VELVET » were to make a skate film that is felt, not only seen and heard. I believe there is a relationship established (if only for a few minutes) between an artist and a viewer when a film is experienced. I feel content with what I've put out.
I do have ideas in how I could shape future films, but I've learned that each work that I put out is a documentation of my influences of an era of my life.
Our winters here are long, with little to nowhere to skate, so these days I spend time within the literary arts - as a judge for a poetry contest - and do a bit of writing myself. Other than that, I run a business doing fruit and ornamental tree care. With spring approaching, I am getting the itch for skating again, when the snow melts...

LSM: Alright Spencer, this is when and where you give thanks! If you’ve got any last words for now, too, feel free to shoot. Cheers!

Spencer Legebokoff: First and most obviously, I'd like to thank all the friends who are in « VELVET » and put in the hours and days into its creation. Most specifically, I'd like to thank Tommy Fleming and Devin Miller - two skaters that appear the most within the film and who I spent the most time skating with.

I'd also like to thank all the venues that showed my film and their representative: Nikola Racan at Vladimir Film Festival, Korina Langevin at Red Light Ramen, Leo Graceffo at Artavi Skateboards and Stephanie Myers at Touchstones Museum.
Both of the animations in the film are original, so I'd like to thank Reyna Brown and Aymeric Nocus for those. I'd like to thank all of the musicians who allowed me to use their music in my film.
Lastly, thank you to Live Skateboard Media for promoting my film on their platform!
Live Skateboard MediaLive Skateboard Media

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