Jacob Harris put his life on hold to make Eleventh Hour. This deservedly just won video of the year at the 2014 Bright European Skateboarding Awards. We caught up with him to talk about these current developments, find out a little more about his vision of skateboarding and hear of his future plans. If you have ever seen him skate when he is not behind the camera you will know how good he is at it. We have, we have also seen his various driftwood set ups in varying states of disrepair. In an attempt to rectify this and hopefully see some footage of him in the future we would like to announce that he now rides for the Slam! Thanks for the interview Jacob and welcome to the team…
Interview by Jacob Sawyer. Portrait: Finn Andres
Congratulations on your recent award! How did it feel being out in Berlin with the crew receiving it?
Thanks! Having everybody there was a lot of fun and the condition of going really, pretty sure I wouldn’t have gone without everybody. It definitely feels like we received it as a group, true to the way in which the video was made.
You are currently in Athens on an ISLE trip, what’s been going on out there? Do you like how the footage looks out there? Who has been seizing the day?
We’re filming for a project that hasn’t been quite finalised yet in terms of format etc, so I can’t explain much about it other than to say that it’ll be an Isle video project featuring everybody involved with the company that will drop later this year.
Athens is a great city and I do like how it looks, but relative to certain places I guess. It’s very difficult to plan a trip in January because of the cold weather, so from the list of places that mostly included Spain, Athens was the clear winner. Obviously there’s a lot of marble out here too but it’s a lot of off-white, more classical looking stuff that looks more interesting to me. It’s a city in relative turmoil at the moment and I feel like its scars are quite visible and come through even on a VX.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Tom killed it the most, but I was impressed by Chris Jones’ ability to perform so many gnarly switch 50-50s whilst having his movement capabilities reduced to that of a cheap action figure by injury. It was good to have Casper along with us for the first time too! Very much looking forward to seeing him get fully into gear.
Backside 50-50 in Athens. Photo borrowed from Sam Ashley‘s Instagram
You’ve been the one largely responsible for filming and presenting ISLE riders since it’s inception. It must be a good feeling to have done that from the start. Can we expect to see your involvement as the company develops further?
It’s definitely an interesting process trying to get into phase with Jensen’s brain as he shapes the company. We’ve been talking quite a bit about it recently and I think we’re landing on roughly the same page aesthetically now for this new project. Besides that a lot of the riders are my good friends so I really enjoy being a part of it. As for the less immediate future it’s pretty difficult to say, it depends how drastically my life changes in the next year.
You have mentioned that you live vicariously through Tom Knox’ skateboarding but we all know you are always killing it every time you go skating. Have you ever found yourself rinsed in a cold wet spot thinking “I could do that?”
Well Tom and I skate in a pretty similar way but no matter what I can do he’s in every way a much more capable version. He can make a reality of ideas that I can feel out or envision, which is a surprisingly good feeling. I can make drunken fantastical claims and get my henchman to carry them out!
I’ve definitely at some point filmed things of other people that I could probably do too, but since I film people mostly for the way they’d do something and how I’d like to make it look it would never have occurred to me as a negative thought in that way I don’t think.
Do you ever session a spot to motivate someone out filming on their own?
I get very excited to jump on a spot first because I still have a massive part of the grom in me that gets impatient to skate new things. I think that works out alright for other people too though, you know, send the monkey into space first… But I always take a cruiser and normal board around with me to be part of the session and yeah, so people aren’t skating alone.
Frontside Ollie in Peckham. Photo: Henry Kingsford
Some of the people you filmed for Eleventh Hour were people you had wanted to but hadn’t yet and the project led to this happening. Is there anyone you still haven’t filmed you’d be interested in making a part with?
It’s funny because as soon as you start filming somebody you haven’t really filmed before you learn to appreciate their skating in a whole new and personal way. A lot of people in London I’ve never really had the chance to film like Rory, Steph, Charlie and Toddy that I’d be into filming with. I’m curious to see how the younger guys like Darius and Curtis develop too. This is mainly because for a long time I’ve felt like we were the youngest crew making things in that way and now we’re all nearing our mid 20s and, though they’re not much younger, it gets me stoked to see younger crews getting into it and exploring the streets in a way that I felt skateparks might have hampered recently. So I’m definitely going to try and do some stuff with them if I can.
You mentioned in an interview with Henry Kingsford that you felt a niggling urge to do something representative of your skill and vision before Eleventh Hour and that you felt this urge again even before the video’s release. Is another independent video something you would consider?
I’d love to make another one with more of a vision carved out from the beginning, but I just think it’d be impossible to commit that much time again. At the time I’d come straight out of university so I didn’t feel too guilty having such a loose lifestyle but now I need a bit more routine. Besides that rent is a joke and making a full video off of your own back really is a monster that swallows your entire life; I’m just again starting to feel like an actual person who can put time aside for normal social things.
The final trailer for the epic eleventh hour video
It’s well documented that Lost and Found was a big influence on you and Dan Magee has lent a helping hand along the way. What other videos made an impact on a young Jacob Harris and for what reason?
I loved The Strongest of The Strange and there was a video called ‘Filming Crazy’ made by the French magazine ‘Chill’ that no longer exists that I really liked. The Strongest of the Strange for being so obnoxiously and unapologetically an extremely personal piece of work that, though I’m not sure skateboarding is the best context for, I really admired. It felt like it didn’t quite know what it was about but it had all these disparate and interesting visuals that the 13 or so year old me hadn’t really seen in a skateboard video before. The Chill video had these cool 16mm bits that obviously engaged with cinema, I really liked that. Obviously the Static series but I think that goes without saying.
Describe the highs and lows of filming an independent release for anyone considering this path?
I guess the lows would be mainly financial. Also you feel as if what you do doesn’t have the stature of a company video, or people are less inclined to take it seriously or be interested in it but I think the tide has fully turned on that aspect of things, which I didn’t really realise until after making Eleventh Hour.
The highs are definitely just the group feeling that you get because people are all-in with it. If you’re in the video it’s because you’re down for the cause and you’re all in it for the same reason. That’s a great feeling, knowing that people trust what you’re doing and want to be part of it when really they have no obligation. Also being able to travel a bit with friends like Dan Clarke, Luka Pinto, Arthur Derrien and Alex (Tbone) Campbell that you wouldn’t usually be with because they’re not sponsored or not associated with a company that you usually work with. Similarly picking people who are great, unique skateboarders but not in the spotlight like Dan, Arthur or Luka and putting them in a context with Jensen or Knox makes me stoked.
Who is out there filming now that you feel will bring interesting projects to the table in the near future?
I’m not as in touch as I’d like to be but Greg Hunt’s new Vans video is obviously going to be amazing. The Bronze guy [Peter Sidlauskas] smashes it and I’m looking forward to seeing where Colin Read goes with his stuff.
We are inundated by frequent web clips, this has almost an anaesthetising effect when it comes to amazing skateboarding. However have any web clips of late grabbed your attention for any reason?
Loads of things are good, but off the top of my head I enjoyed the Converse Paris clip, the Bronze stuff is amazing and I appreciate the Magenta output even if it’s not really my cup of tea. Sometimes though my favourite use of the web clip format is to have raw footage or somebody’s attempts at things; to show the skateboarding in a way that would be boring within the context of a normal video. Everybody should watch this kid called Rowan Zorilla though, he’s got it.
You are obviously a talented film maker with your own style and end game aesthetic. Is it something you feel you would like to master more? Are there any other creative or academic pursuits you would like to learn?
I want to get onto a cinematography course next year at the NFTS. It’s tough to get in, completely immersive and based in Beaconsfield but that’s where I’d like to be and what I’d like to move towards.
Is there any chance of the VX being replaced?
Never say never. If somebody asked me to work on a project that suited me and was HD I definitely wouldn’t dismiss it.
When are we going to see a Jacob Harris video part?
Not sure about that! Maybe under an alias at some point.
Any advice for the next generation who are motivated to make videos?
I’d say watch a lot of films and engage with other visuals and above all try to be interesting or stimulating ahead of ‘legit’, otherwise you’re just another hack. Remember also though that nothing is 100% original and there’s nothing wrong with a few nods of the head towards things that you like. Get onto the streets and get to know your environment!
Read Auteurs: Jacob Harris another interview conducted by Ben Powell later in Jacob’s career.