You know this old saying—there are three things people can watch forever: fire burning, water flowing and other people work. I never understood the watching others work part until recently. As much as filming can be fun to filmers, it is work, and certain people, like Rémi Luciani, make this work look especially appealing.
A few years back I bought a DVD from this mysterious French filmer with a beautiful sounding name: Rémi Luciani. We got in brief contact then but never talked since, until last summer. It turned out Rémi was visiting Latvia, as his girlfriend is Latvian. What a coincidence. I was so happy to get a chance to meet and skate with Rémi, but mainly see him film in person. As you can see, Rémi is one of those filmers that make filming look as exciting as the skating.
So, for our 3rd installment of Filmers Worldwide we bring you the Rémi Luciani interview.
[Remi’s latest work. 100% must watch]
Hey, Remi. Let’s start with some basics. Where are you from?
I was born in southern France, where I live now, but I grew up in Corsica.
What’s your story? How did you start skating and filming?
I started skating when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I remember walking in the streets, and I saw a skater ollieing over a concrete block, his friends all cheered up when he landed. That’s how the idea of picking up a skateboard sparked in my mind.
I can see that we are from the same generation of filmers. We have similar tropes: close filming, nights, VX, MK1. Would you agree? Do you remember when you got into this stuff?
Yeah, it seems like we’ve been watching the same style of videos. In terms of aesthetics, I’ve been growing up watching videos that were all shot with the magic combo that is the Sony DCR-VX1000 camcorder and the Century MK1 fisheye, it was the golden years for sure.
As a child, I didn’t even know skate videos were a thing. The only documentation I had was magazines that my parents bought me in 1999 I reckon. I had 3 mags and I sticked for years with them. I may have watched my first skate videos in 2007/2008 I guess. The very first influences came from the DVS “Skate More” which is my all time favorite along with Blueprint’s “Lost and Found” and “Osiris “Subject to Change”.
Then I discovered independent projects such as “Overdose” by Cameron Sanchez, “Welcome to Mia” by Josh Stewart and the Happy Medium full lengths.
I found out about your work when you put out Marseille Zoo video on DVD.
You’re not the only one that discovered our videos by purchasing a copy from me. I even made a friend who travelled from Perth, Australia to meet us, his name is Blake Manning, he’s himself a VX filmer and an incredibly talented skater. I can’t be more thankful for those connections, they’re true and precious.
Yeah, for sure. Without that we wouldn’t have met. But like the process of making a DVD is probably difficult, what do you think is the gain from that?
Filming and editing videos is one thing, producing DVDs is another. I had to learn how to use new software that isn’t produced anymore to make menus and chapters. Edit some bonus content. Design a cover. Find a factory that can produce the copies. Clear the music rights. Find distributors, sell copies by myself.
Making DVDs is a laborious process, but the outcome is a great satisfaction. After years of filming, being able to give a physical copy to your friends who were involved in the project is a unique feeling.
Transitioning in an era where everything gets dematerialized is sometimes harsh for someone like me who grew up with tangible skate materials. Physical supports are all dying one after the other: magazines, tapes … the DVD doesn’t escape the rule. Growing up watching and watching again the same documents I could possibly put my hands on, and now having dozens of videos being released online in a single day is radically different.
How many full lengths have you put out by now?
To this day, I’ve released two full lengths: “Marseille Zoo Episode 4” in 2017 and “NCE” in 2018. Short and long term projects are both enjoyable processes, it’s about your mindset. I might have been craving to produce full lengths by this time, I’ve been producing more short formats lately.
In 2016 I moved from Marseille to Nice, to pursue my studies in cinematography. By this time, I filmed everything I needed last minute before moving to Nice. Then, as I was producing the master of Marseille Zoo Episode 4, I began filming in Nice for NCE.
Do you have your video that you don’t like how they turned out, but other people like them? And vice versa. Which video of yours do you like them most and why?
From a technical point of view, I usually find out that my favorite personal project is always the last one I’ve released in date. I tend to like more the recent stuff I’ve done rather than the ones from couple years ago.
From a general statement, it seems like my earlier projects reached out to more people than the most recent ones. Does it mean they liked it more? I don’t know. People’s opinion is none of my business, you like this or don’t like that, that’s fine man!
You are probably the only filmer I know who is sponsored. Can you tell about TADASHI and what did that came about?
Tadashi Yamaoda is a skater, photographer and filmer from San Francisco. At the beginning I found out he invented a dome-shaped protection made of high grade plexiglass that fits most DSLRs 8mm fisheye. He called it the Tadashi Filter. I spontaneously hit him up asking if he thought of maybe adapting his concept to other lenses such as the MK1.
Several months later the Tadashi MK1 fisheye protector was released, what a blessing! Thank you Tadashi.
Do you think filmers could get on sponsorship programs same as skaters?
It would be wonderful if we filmers could eventually get sponsored by camera and lenses manufacturers for our filming and editing needs, but let’s be honest, skateboarding is a small drop in the film & video industry ocean. Proof is that Schneider Optics recently discontinued the Century lenses, they’re now focusing only on their main activity: building cinematographic lenses for cinema productions. They had to focus where the real income is for them, which is understandable.
I saw that you got an HD set up. Why did you make the switch? What do you think about the VX in general/ Is it dying?
I recently uploaded HD footage on Instagram filmed with a Panasonic HPX171 and a Century Xtreme fisheye. As I saw that Schneider discontinued the Century lenses, I felt an urge to try to get a set up, I really wanted to try and see by myself the potential of such equipment with a 16:9 aspect ratio. I got the camera from a friend and the lens from another. The main issue was that the lens wasn’t made to fit the camera I had. I had to make a taylor made bayoring built to be able to use it. The bet was risky but I somehow managed to sort it out and I’m really happy with the result.
I don’t see the VX and HD as a binary thing, one is bad, the other is good, I realized that it is a stupid rivalry. In my eyes, one doesn’t replace the other as many might say, it’s all about the way you use your camera. Most HD projects that came up recently are boring as fuck to watch, but there’s a minority that remains exciting and motivating.
Which vids are you stocked on at the moment?
Recently I was stoked on Dan McGee & Kevin Parrott’s “Cover Version” and WKND “Death Dance” that are both shot HD 16:9, and also Northern Co’s “Helen” which is VX.
In your opinion, how important is a filmer for a skater’s career?
In my opinion, if a skater wants to make a career it is even more crucial to film regularly than before due to the huge amount of content posted daily. Having a filmer friend won’t necessarily make you pro, but it can help if the opportunity arises. Have to be at the right place at the right time, that’s for sure!
Andrea from CHEF Family told me that you have a solid reputation as a VX doctor/ repairman. Could you tell about your repair work and how did it came about? Also, how can people get their VXs to you? (how many VXs have you broken?)
I started learning how to repair VXs with mine having issues from time to time, that’s part of the game. As I went from issues to issues I got some knowledge about how they’re made, I first helped some close friends and people I know. Then I started purchasing VXs that were faulty to learn more and began to stack some spare functionnal parts. Which led me to propose some repairs to the filmers who might be in need. I’ve had issues with pretty much all the VXs I own, but luckily all of them still work properly to this day.
What’s your filming vs skating ratio?
I definitely film more than I skate, which might sound unfortunate in a way, but I’m happy with it. I still enjoy some skate sessions with friends from time to time, mostly practicing flatground tricks, bombing hills and cruising.
What do you enjoy more editing or filming?
It’s impossible for me to choose what I like better between filming and editing. Both disciplines should be equaly enjoyable for a film maker, otherwise there’s a problem. It’s like who do you like the best: your mom or you dad? I personnally know couple filmers that find editing unbearable, which I totally don’t understand.
[Another one of Rémi’s must watch clips]
What are the most important components for a good video to you?
For a good video there’s no particular recipe to follow. Nevertheless, the tastiest ingredients for a good video are skating, filming, editing, design and concept, if you got at least two of them, I guess you won.
Where do you think skate videos are going to?
I believe that in the future none big corporate skate brands will release full lengths on physical support anymore which is actually already the case, only couple passionate independent film makers will make the effort to eventually make it thrive. Same for the VX, it will definitely die one day, or maybe there will be a revival, but I doubt on that. There’s that community of filmers that uses DSLR and set their recording to 4:3 like Tadashi or James Cruickshank for example, to this day, that’s what reproduces the best something that looks like VX. I hope more filmers and brands will go that way.
But also I think that in the future all skate videos will be filmed long lens . . . with phones.
Follow Remi on insta
Cover Photo by Ben Vandenberghe