Online Silverscreen 1: Concrete Poets "Writers Block"

To those of you who frequent UK skateboarding websites and forums, the name Concrete Poets should already be familiar to you. With their website already established, countless mentions on The Story Store and Slam City sites, and a world of hype built up on the Sidewalk forum, you’d have to be visually impaired to not know that The Concrete Poets are about to unleash their first full length effort. With “Writers Block” finally been released through the Story Film Makers Guild in mid October, we thought we’d give the man responsible for the Concrete Poets empire, Henry Edwards-Wood, chance to fill us in on the background to the project. Read on…

Could you break down for us exactly how much time you put into the making of
Writers Block? Including filming, editing, motion graphics etc…

Damn, there’s no actual way to be accurate on this as i’ve been working on
the vid for about 2 years its pretty much engulfed my life, Filming wise it
was mainly done at weekends and occasionally evenings and holidays and that
we’d meet at SB skate for abit then jump in the car and go from spot to
spot. Pretty usual stuff I guess except we had to do it all around college /
work / personal life and all that. We’d just film all day till the skaters
were to tired or my arm felt like it was about to drop off. Towards the end
it got harder as everyone tried to wrap up the sections and also because i
was doing a lot of filming for other people as well. I remember the day I’d
decided we were done filming it was the maddest feeling, I then spent
literally 2 weeks glued to my Mac for about 14 hours a day minimum, I had
been working on rough section edits for months in my spare time at work and
stuff so I had the basic skeleton of the vid already their but it was a
matter of tweaking every little thing rearranging stuff, grading the clips
and adjusting levels and that. The motion graphics kind of take a lot of
time but are sometimes more fun cos i could get creative and mess around in
photoshop then animate it in After Effects but for the complicated ones
where i literally had to adjust keyframes and settings on each frame they
took literally hours. I edited the credits in one day, woke up at 9 started
it, from scratch, finished at like 4 in the morning.

The level of filming and editing displayed on Writers Block seems to be up
there with any competant company based video thats been released recently,
did you purposefully strive to create a scene video that matched the
production standards of “professional” releases? If so, what are your
inspirations?

I love (as most people do) all the Blueprint Videos as well as vids like
Mosaic and Yeah Right, they were the first vids I watch where I actually
took note of the effort that went into them, I would literally rinse them
over and over studying the camera angles and editing techniques, working out
what was good for which trick and spot. It was those high end videos that
made me wanna film in the first place, cos after watching them if I was
watching a video I would instantly see a dodgy angle or budget effect or
what ever and it would take away from the companie’s integrety. I knew that
scene videos come dime a dozen so I just decided that if I was gonna make a
video, Id have to try and use the same quality control as any professional
outfit, so I would look at each bit of footage and think would I accept that
if i was watching it in a professional release?

Henry Edwards-Wood. Photo: Concrete Poets

A lot of people seem eager to compare the look and feel of Writers Block to
that of Static 2, would you class Josh Stewart as a direct influence on your
work? Where else do you draw influence from?

I’m not gonna lie, Josh Stewart is probably one of my favourite editors at
this time. Static 2 is also one of my favourite videos, I like it cos it’s
independent but also the way he edits is so grimey and hip hop-esque whilst
still being elegant and steezy. I draw a lot of influence from the old
Transworld videos like Modus Operandi, and I love the editing in
Photosynthesis. Its probably from watching all those vids that I love
playing around with digital film to make it look like its cellulite, film
burns, stutters, flickers etc but tried to make it more grimey and less
glossy to show the darker side of London / Britain.

For those who have yet to watch Writers Block, could you clarify how a
London scene video came to be released through a shop in Sheffield?

Well basically Shaun Currie has a lot to do with it, and I’m sure we’ll go
into Shaun abit later, but basically he moved to Sheffield about a year ago
and instantly embedded himself in the scene and has become a bit of a local
celebrity. Anyways so he kinda got us abit of hype up there and he said he
walked into story one day to find Baines looking at his page on the Concrete
Poets website. Next thing I know, Baines myspaces me and says hes interested
in releasing the video through the Filmers Guild Label. This was like a
dream to me as up to that point the vid was purely under our own steam and
we weren’t sure many people outside of London would get to see it. We went
up to Sheff soon after to see Shaun and to talk with Mark about the vid, we
showed him what we had so far and he was really into it and it went from
there really.

How much time did the Concrete Poets spend in Sheffield whilst filming this
video? Any amusing northern encounters to report?

Man, Sheffield is so heavy, its probably my favourite place in the UK
besides London Its got such a tight scene and everyone there rips. Not all
of us went up there at the same times i’ve been up there to film 4 or 5
times just for the weekend. I would have liked to have been up there more.
Lots of mad shit happened when we were up, one of the best was when Shaun
made a security guard cry, thats quite a banging achievement you’ll admit
and was bloody hilarious at the time. I ain’t gonna go into detail, but
Shaun loves to be in the thick of conflict, and the Guard got to close to
his personal space, he reckons, so he shouts “Get of me you Paedophile” the
guards so shocked by this he instantly goes over to his landrover where he
could be seen sobbing. Im sure there’s something in his past history that we
don’t know which must have been a factor and its pretty raw really but
still, funny as hell to say.


How would you describe Shaun Curries personality?

Big and Loud I think. He’s definitely a character. Basically just wants all
Eyes on him at all times and absolutely loves the camera. He’s just lucky
he’s good at skating and a steezy mo fo as well. I guess the steez is part
of his personality too, except he has his own idea of steez. Check the green
wooly hat he’s wearing when he bigspin heels that road gap. i’ll tell you
now he’s so stoked on that hat being in the shot. Its those kind of things
really, he’s just different, full of energy and everybody loves him but at
the same time too much of him can drive you crazy. Lucky for us he moved to
Sheff cos at the time he was driving us nuts. Going to sheffield is actually
the best thing that could have happened to him though as he’s upped his game
so much and it shaped his personality and his skating so much.

Southbank. Photo: Concrete Poets

Could you fill us in on a bit of the history behind the Concrete Poets?

We’ll we come from humble beginnings, its started out as Kyle, Faris, Greg,
Myself and a few other skaters from Lewisham which is in South East London.
This was like while Shell Center was still there in all its glory and wed go
about filming on a shitty little camera there, all round London and alot at
our local Comet car park. Eventualy alot of guys kinda fazed out cos of
work, girlfriends or other stuff and we started spending all of our time in
Central London. I was lucky enough to inherit some money from my Grandma’s
will which i spent on getting a vx2 and a powerbook to edit on thats when it
all kicked off, we started skating with Howsey, Jin and Shaun, then later on
Yappa, and we all get on so well it works so perfectly. Im stoked on all
those guys cos their all mad steezy in different ways and I think it shows
in the video.


Who are the Swedish Poets and how did they come be involved in the project?

Well basically its not some mad next crew but litteraly just these 2 guys we
met when we went to Malaga. The are both Swedish and live in Stockholm. We
got some footy of them in Malaga then the next year me and Faris went to
stay with them for a week and just filmed some stuff to go in the video. Its
cool cos we get on so well with them and they were so down with what we’re
doing so its just like their the swedish embassadors of concrete poets.
We’re taking over the world too, Brett, whos got some banging footy in the
group section, is actually from Boston. We met him at SB one day, he’d come
over for one semester of uni in London and instantly he just became one of
us and we were hanging with him everyday. Were going to Boston to stay with
him next summer to film and skate and he reps CP hard over the other side of
the pond.

Being a skateboard filmer around inner-city London must get a bit unnerving
at times, have you ever found yourself in any sketchy situations?

Yeh man, theres always sketchy moments when im holding my breath waiting for
dudes to pass or thinking shit why’d i get it out here. My camera actually
got stolen at Shoreditch park when the blocks were first dumped there. I was
filming with Jin and some other younger little dudes and 4 yutes just walk
straight up to me in broad daylight, try and take the cam, I don’t let go so
they start decking me in the face throw me to the ground and start kicking
me in, I still don’t let go so they end up breaking the mic off the cam to
get hold off it. They breeze off and i run to my car and follow em and call
the police, I find them and kinda hide in my car watching them but, get
this, Police put me on hold for 5 mins before i can even report it, by the
time police arrived the boys had climbed down onto the path that runs along
the hackney canal and were gone. Fucking Police! if they’d have answered
straight away I would have had them caught.

To be honest though that was a blessing in disguise as I had an NTSC camera
which at the time of buying I was told wouldn’t make any difference. But it
really did and I had a lot of trouble converting the old NTSC footage I had
already filmed to Pal for the DVD. My camera was insured for £2500 even
though I bought it for 400 quid and so basically when they paid out i was
able to buy a VX1 and a VX2 along with a Genny and lights so it really
worked out well for me. Nowadays I don’t film anywhere sketchy unless I’m
with Kyle if you’ve seen the video you know he’s blench as fuck and was in
the marines for abit. He’s my body guard, I’m not scared of anyone when he’s
about, he’s gnarly. Someone pulled a gun out on him in Catford but he
managed to get away, so he goes out looking for him with his brothers,
finds the guy and fucks the dude up till he’s reduced to grovelling.

For a city as rinsed skateboard-wise as London, you seem to have uncovered
some pretty amazing unseen spots. Is exploring your surroundings still an
important part of day to day skateboarding in London?

Mate, finding a new spot in London is like discovering a gold mine. First
rule is don’t tell anyone, cos in London if you let a spot slip, it will be
rinsed within a week. New spots are exciting purely cos there’s no ABD list
and it just hypes people up to skate. I’m always looking for new spots,
although I tend to find all the best ones completely by accident, usually
when I’m stuck in traffic and I try take a shortcut, i’ll get lost but i’ll
stumble across a banger of a spot. Im sure there’s still tons of unknown
spots in London, its just about looking around outside of central.

When you think back to the time you were working on Writers Block, what one
story or event sticks in your mind above all others?

Malaga for definite, was one of the best times of my life, and everyone else
said the same. Just pure skating heaven, everyone was on a hype and went off
but we also just had good times as mates there. The most memorable event can
be seen at the end of the Malaga edit on the website, when we all got mad
drunk for free in this Irish pub when england got knocked out of the world
cup. Just all the antics and shit that happened that night is the funniest
stuff ever, Howsey and Greg messing with Kyle on the floor of the bathroom
when hes out off it, and bits you dont see in the vid where Faris was so
fucked he filled up the entire bide and a sink with vomit and was just
sitting on the toilet naked looking like a fragile mr Burns. Man it probably
doesnt even sound funny, but its the funniest shit ever to remember.


What is your personal favourite piece of footage in Writers Block?

Man its hard to pin it down, I love all off Yappa’s footage and just wish
there could have been more of it, I think I like his half cab heel into the
bank best for 3 reasons, firstly, its textbook Yappa – pure control and
steez, secondly it was the first piece of footage I filmed when first got a
VX1 after having my 2 stolen and the video got back on track, lastly it was
filmed at sunset so the colours are just the sexiest thing I have ever seen,
all golden brown and beautiful. I love it when you get that perfect mix of
good skating and perfect setting.

Photo: Concrete Poets

Is there anybody you would have liked to have had a section with on Writers
Block but didn’t have chance to?

Well really, it would have been great if everyone in the group section could
have had a full part, specially Faris and Yappa. Faris has been so unlucky
in that his ankle has been fucked for literally the whole time we made the
vid, every time they got better he’d fuck it up completely again. Faris is
such a sick skater, mad tech and good style but his footage doesn’t really
reflect that and its all really old. Yapski as well, he kinda got involved
abit later so he always had less footage but he’s also been plagued with
ankle injuries, a full Yap section would seriously blow minds, were working
on a full one now that were done with this, honestly though I don’t think
the world was ready for one yet, wait till it happens, the world ain’t
ready.

I take it that now this is out of the way you’re not going to chill out on
the whole video making tip, what upcoming projects have you got in the
pipeline?

Loads of stuff really, most of my effort is gonna be going towards the Slam
video, Magee has got me, Morph, Dominguez and himself all working on it, its
gonna be pretty epic man like a massive London video to show the whole world
what’s up. Magee wants to turn Slam into a global brand and the videos gonna
be a big tool in doing that. He’s talking about filming the whole thing on
High8 and is getting together a fleet of High8 VX1e’s, He’s going for the
whole easter exposure gritty style so its pretty exciting seeing how that
pans out. Other than that I’m gonna be filming a lot with Rory and Jin for
the Landscape vid and with Steph and Lucien and Shaun Witherup for their
prospective companies as well as Slam. Concrete Poets ain’t dead either
though, it may be along way off but expect a new full length video in about
3 years or so which will probably be a collaboration with Morph and 3L.

Anybody you’d like to thank?

Yeh man, all off CP, Baines, Magee, Marshall, everyone at Story. Henry and
everyone at Slam for their support, Morph, 3L, Chris @ Science Skateboards,
All the South Bank faithful, Alec, Felix, Fraser, Finn, Fos, Ches, Shaun
Witherup, Steph, Lucien and Rory and anyone else I’ve forgotten.
Safe, Hold Tight London.


Click the image below to view an exclusive collection of extras courtesy of Mr Edwards-Wood

www.concretepoets.com

www.thestorystore.co.uk

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Joleon Pressey