Montreal based filmer Brian Shannon recently premiered his full length video “Duluth” a few weeks ago for the city's annual am series contest Am Getting Paid hosted by The Boardr, Vans Canada, and Empire. Hundreds of industry insiders and skaters were in town for the event and everyone made an effort to come out to the premier. “Duluth” is what I would call one of the best interpretations of what the Montreal skate scene has looked like over the past few years. Although some footage was filmed in places like Chicago, Arizona, and Barcelona—Josh Clark, Charles Deschamp, Zander Mitchell and everyone else featured in the vid put Montreal skateboarding on the map. Bshans did an awesome job showcasing what skateboarding is all about in our city and the interview we did with him highlights the ins and outs of the making behind the film, and about himself as a videographer.
For those of you waiting for the video to come out on DVD follow Brian on Instagram @bshanss for updates on how you can obtain your own copy. If you are in Toronto this Thursday, October 8th hit up the premier on 573 College St.- event starts around 10:30. Premier dates for Halifax and Moncton will be announced later this week.
Let's start with where you are from
I was born in Toronto and lived there until I was 2 and then we moved to a suburb a half hour away called Burlington, Ontario.
When did you move to Montreal?
I guess I officially moved to Montreal like four years ago. I had been coming back and forth for the first two years kind of just coming for a summer then leaving once it was over. I guess I decided to officially call it home 4 years ago.
True, and you came out here for skating?
What is it about the Montreal skate scene that sets it apart from other cities?
I don’t think you can pin point one thing. It has barely any spots capped and no real skatepark. So you’re only meeting up with your friends at street spots. I guess it filters out a lot of the skate park hero’s and gives you a good scene. Everyone knows each other and seems to get along.
So how and when did your passion for filming develop?
I was probably around 13 or something and my friends dad had a camera that we always used to take out—sounds like a super cliche thing but we did. I always just wanted to film because I had seen other skate videos. Another cliche thing- my friends started getting better then me at skateboarding so I just started filming them. I met some guys from Mississauga who were all really into making videos so I kind of just stuck with them and developed a passion for making skate videos and from then on it became a part of me.
Photo: Hope Christerson
What were some of the first skate videos you ever got stoked on when you were younger?
The first video I owned that wasn’t borrowed was Menikmati on dvd. I guess anything around the early 2000’s. Baker2g, Sorry, Chomp on this, Bootleg 3000, Mosiac, and a few local videos BSE, and 66 tapes later from Toronto. So I would say all of the above.
What about those videos inspired you? Do you ever try and channel them into your creative process now?
I think you could take bits and pieces from all of them those videos were what made me like skateboarding. If I had to say one thing I guess I would say French Fred the filmer. I was too young at the time to realize that he made Menikmati and Sorry. Those were my favorite to watch because they were done so well. I don’t think I do but maybe without knowing. I just do what I think looks good and satisfies me.
What kind of camera do you use?
VX1000 and I have a Lumix GH2 and HVX to go on trips or film contests with. The HD cameras are pretty much work cameras so I never have them on me. VX is out all day because its fun.
Do you have filmer OCD? Any certain things that absolutely need to be done in order to film properly?
I try and get everything done properly the first time so I don't have to do any post production. I’m really picky about settings. Ill change the settings like 10 times during a line just to make sure I get the right shot. Even after all that, I will still find something wrong with every clip. I always have my batteries charged- I always fear out about that. Having shit on my lense. I always carry something to clean it with. I guess that's my OCD for filming.
What about the skaters? Are there any funny or weird behaviors you've picked up about them? Stuff you would only catch them doing while you're out filming them day to day.
They are always late haha.
I don't really like filming people with headphones in. I actually refuse to film people who decide to wear headphones. Filming is a collaboration, it's doing and creating something together. If the skater is just kind of zoning you out or whatever it just doesn't make any sense. A few of my friends used to do it and I would try and talk to them and they would be like ‘what? what did you say’ and I would be like what the hell am I even doing. They are sitting there on their Ipods changing songs and I'm just waiting for them.
What is 4pack?
Its pretty much just a group of us that drink a lot of Grolsch and they just so happen to come in 4 packs. One day Ryan (Bootsy) spray painted it on his grip tape and it kind of just became a thing. Ive actually never even had a board that had 4pack written on it, but that's the crew haha.
Why did you call the video “Duluth"?
The reason it’s called Duluth is because we all just hung out at my old house on Duluth and De Bullion. It was a skate house for like 6 years. Everyday we would meet up and go skate, get food, grab beers, and come back to chill on the stoop. I guess in the end calling the video Duluth made sense.
Its cool cause its got a Montreal theme going for the title.
Yeah it was a Montreal skate house for sure and so many people stayed there. Like everybody would roll through that place and sleep on the floor and party there. But everyone's moved out now and its been renovated. It's RIP.
What’s the story behind you wanting to go to Duluth Minnesota?
I met Davis Torgeson on a DC Canada trip a few years ago and he’s from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He showed me a couple local Minnesota videos and the spots looked really good. He told me if I ever made a trip out there he would hook us up with someone who could show us around if he was out of town.
So this summer Josh [Clark] told me were doing an Empire trip and to help him brainstorm some places. I told him Pittsburgh or Minneapolis and then told him there was a Duluth there to try and sugar code it. Thats pretty much it. The city does look cool though.
How long did it take you to film/edit the video?
I started filming the first tricks in Arizona on a DC trip in 2013 I want to say. Josh [Clark] and Charles [Deschamps] were the first ones who officially filmed tricks. We had always been talking about it and I had some clips laying around. I don't know if all of them made it in the video but we started taking it seriously in Arizona at this green rail at like 4 in the morning. In terms of editing, I pretty much edited the video the last 20 days before the premier. I had all these ideas and it was supposed to come out in the Spring but Josh had this idea to switch it around and make it a big premier and event for Am Getting Paid. So he wanted to tie in with that and make Empire be a part of it. I didn't want to do it at the time but I’m really glad I did because we ended up getting a lot more footage and I pretty much flipped the video from what it was last fall.
Who all is featured in the video?
Too many to name but the main parts are Josh Clark, Ethan Kilgour, Charles Deschamps, Zander Mitchell, Dustin Henry, and 4 pack. If you buy the DVD you will see the other parts.
Were you the one who decided who gets a full part in the video?
I guess I kind of had a group of people that I knew I wanted in it. The only person I wanted in that didn’t make it was JS [Lapierre], I ended up having to pull his footage two different times. One time for the Shep Dawgs video and another time for this Zero thing that he’s filming for. So that was kind of a bummer. Easter egg hin hin.
Did Dime have any influence on the direction of the film?
No not at all. I kept on joking around with Antoine [Asselin] telling him that Dime should sponsor the video because everyone's wearing a Dime Tshirt in it.
Other than Chicago and Arizona what other trips did you guys take for the making of the video?
We all took a trip to Barcelona in the winter of 2014 and everyone in the video, besides a few guys, were there. That's when things really started to pick up. Everyone got a bunch of clips. A lot of the 4packsection was filmed in Barcelona. I think there is only one trick of Kyle [MacDonald] and Kevin [Macdonald] that were not filmed in Barcelona that's in the video. And I went to San Francisco where I filmed my homie Ethan's part. A lot of his footage is from 2011 or 2012 that never came out and it needed a proper home.
Tell us about the drone that you used to film for the video
I got Dan Mathieu to help out and do it. I didn't really know what to do for an intro and I was just like "it would be really cool if Dan could fly his drone over Duluth street". Our original plan was to meet up at 7 am one morning and just film but that didn't end up happening. He could only film for one day cause he was so busy editing his Red Bull Documentary. I kind of told him what I wanted but I had no idea how it was going to look. We ended up filming in 4k by accident and that's why it looks all fucked up in the footage. I didn't care that much because it's HD and the shitter it looks the better so.
Why is skateboarding important to you? What kind of influence does it have on your life?
Skateboarding is important to me because it's let me meet so many people and allowed me to experience so many things in my life that a normal person would not understand. I think everyone will agree that we are all still going to be looking at things you can skate on when we’re 70.
Do you think your videos play a role in supporting locally? Is that something you want to portray through your videography?
If they do then that’s cool. I really just go for whatever i’m feeling that day.
I know a lot of filmers and photographers who have a hard time being satisfied with their work and sometimes they end up never releasing it. It will even happen to me with a few of my articles. Are you someone who gets affected by that also?
That was something that was happening to me the last couple of years but King Shit Mag approached me and wanted me to do a little segment of skate footage on their Instagram. They told me that I could use whatever I wanted, old, new, current or whatever. I was like 'alright sweet this is a good way to unleash all the footage I was sitting on'. There are some people that don't really care if their footage ever comes out or not, but then some people will be like "whatever happened to that clip we filmed in Vancouver" or something like that. Now it’s getting released because we can put it in the Instagram. I try and mix it up with the old and new. Pretty soon it will be all new.
And that's something that you are still doing for King Shit?
What was the best part about Am Getting Paid 2015?
When Tyler Warren got kicked out for crowd surfing at the premiere.
What was the shittiest part about it?
When they ran out of beer.
When/where are you going to be releasing copies of the video?
I don’t know when but soon and I think maybe at THR Bar haha. Josh said he has a bunch of Jagger he can give me.
Shout outs/ any last words?
I’m going to Bar B Barn.