Giddy #12: Perros
Romain Batard’s latest Giddy instalment #12 is based in Mexico, Monterrey and Mexico City to be exact. It features: Axel Cruysberghs, Edouard Depaz, Val Bauer, Phil Zwijsen, Joseph Biais, Felipe Bartolomé, Rémy Taveira, Nico Gisonno and Fito Stone. Check below our article about the trip from issue 42. There’s an interview with Romain and nice photos by Clément Le Gall.
‘Oh look, a bunch of French guys in Mexico. Can’t wait to hear how much Tequila they drank!’ is what you might be thinking the text for this article is about. Well sorry to disappoint you but we decided to interview Romain Batard, the filmer on this trip, and sadly there’s no talk of Tequila fuelled nights or how many macaroni-shaped poles Val found to grind, but you get a good insight into the mind of one of our favourite videographers. So if you want to read about Romain’s favourite Giddy edits, his preferred camera setup, the life of a freelance filmer and more, continue on… If you want to hear about Mexico’s exotic nightlife, maybe just DM @val_bauer.
Romain Batard interview by Will Harmon
Why are your edits called Giddy?
Romain Batard: I wanted to start doing edits that would all be kinda different from each other, without putting myself under too many constraints, so I thought Giddy was a name that fitted this idea.
I’m guessing you started these after making your full-lengths, yes?
Yes, I just had finished two full-lengths in a row and wanted a format that is freer, less time consuming.
How did you get into skate videography in the first place?
I realised pretty quickly that I was way worse at skateboarding than my friends so after one or two years of skating I started filming them with my dad’s old VHS camera.
You grew up outside of Paris, is that correct?
I grew up in Le Mans, a small town in the west of France. After working a 9-to-5 in a video agency for five years, I decided to quit and work as a freelancer. I felt like I needed flexibility in my work schedule. My main client, and girlfriend at the time were in Paris so I decided to move there. So actually it had nothing to do with skateboarding.
What video/filmers influenced you growing up?
Josh Stewart with the Static videos, Fred Mortagne during the Flip Sorry/early Cliché era, followed by Takahiro Morita (Tightbooth Productions), that really had a more modern use of the MK1 fisheye. It seems like he had a big impact on fisheye filming.
A lot of your Giddy edits have specific themes, what was your favourite one to make?
I think Giddy #8 was my favourite process. I fell in love with this song by Ryuichi Sakamoto, and found many versions and covers online. I wanted to edit them together as a medley, but didn’t have the skills to make a fluid mix. Fortunately, my friend Matias Enaut was down to help and even found new versions of the song to incorporate.
I also wanted to film footage of shattering flowers using liquid nitrogen for a while. It’s a process a bit too complicated and I would need to rent expensive high-speed cameras to capture it properly so I decided to use footage I found online. That footage wouldn’t match the VX though, so I asked Romain Duplessier alias «Thee Attic» to help me. He is a VHS and glitch machine maniac, and that could unify the video. He also found this weird experimental film that matched the vibe.
I also liked filming Giddy #7, the one with all the hands interactions because it made the whole filming process unusual. The ollie hand check at the start of the vid was a fun thing to film because Val and Joseph couldn’t really picture what the clip would end up looking like. Adding a little bit of special effects is a weird thing with skating.
Giddy #10 you filmed all in LA, with the P2 tilted 90 degrees the whole time. Why did you decide to do this and what were the challenges you came across?
In commercial agency jobs, the content was slowly going from a horizontal to a vertical format. People spend more time on Instagram than YouTube these days. I thought that it would be cool to film one episode this way. We filmed a quick test with Marca (Barbier) at République and liked the result, so I asked Oscar if he could create a handle to hold the P2 sideways. The fastest way for him was to make it out of metal, so it has a bit of a Frankenstein look but it works well despite being heavy. Around the same time we planned this skate-vacation trip to LA. Filming a vertical edit suited this trip because I could use phone clips from everyone in conjunction to the vertical P2.
The biggest challenge was to convince some of the guys that it was a good idea ha ha.
Do you think this shift from people watching videos on Instagram more than on YouTube, or even on VHS or DVD has made it harder for people to make a living off skateboarding (because suddenly anyone with a phone is a filmer), or has this new accessibility actually led to more projects, hence more money being invested into people filming properly and more opportunities?
Before, you could make an income from selling hard copies of videos. That was a nice way for independent filmers to get compensation for the time invested on the video, adding to the fulfilment of finishing a project. But nowadays this is gone.
I believe it’s easier to show your video to a worldwide audience but there are also a lot more people filming. In the same way, there are more job opportunities in the industry, but you still need to be lucky enough to meet the right people.
Do you make a living solely off filming skateboarding (as a freelancer) at the moment? What are the advantages of this over being a ‘staff filmer’ for one brand? What were/are some of the challenges? Do you ever turn down work? If so, why?
I’d been making a living from skateboard filming for four years, with commercial agency work on the side. I couldn’t maintain the rhythm of mixing the two so this year I’ll try solely skateboarding. The cost of life in Paris is high, so we’ll see how it goes. I believe being a staff filmer is more stable but could be a bit boring depending on the brand you work for. Freelancing is stressful at times because you need to get some projects going, but the offers never come exactly when you want. So you have to make choices but you don’t really know what is gonna come next. I’ve accepted too much work before, and had to turn down better projects that came later because my schedule was full. I guess you learn by making mistakes.
Giddy #11, the long one. It’s pretty much a full-length video by today’s standards. Why was this one so much longer, and why not call it something else rather than Giddy #11?
I started filming standalone parts with some skaters but it didn’t work out with the brands for different reasons. The footage from those was in a pending state and Joseph (Biais) had the good idea to make a longer Giddy with it. There was no real theme linking all that footage except the fact that it was a basic full-length video. So why not name it: ‘the long one’? It just made sense to me to keep going under the Giddy name because it’s simply what I do.
On your Instagram you have pinned stories of skaters (who aren’t ‘filmers’) trying to film skateboarding (filmers contest). You pit two against each other and the Instagram audience votes. Out of all the filming attempts by these folks, who do you think has the most potential?
You can also clearly see who filmed before and who didn’t. It’s cool to see those that didn’t get behind the camera before. The remark I get the most is how heavy the P2 is once you actually use it. I would say Oscar (Candon) could be a good filmer. He’s not afraid of getting closer.
So one of the reasons we’re talking to you is that you’ve gone with the crew to Mexico for what is presumably Giddy #12. Who all went and where in Mexico did you go?
We went to Mexico City in early January with Rémy Taveira, Val Bauer, Edouard Depaz, Nico Gisonno, Phil Zwijsen, Clement Vanpeperstraete and Clem Le Gall.
And why do you think everyone is choosing to go on skate trips to Mexico these days?
Like Portugal, Mexico was one of the more open countries during Covid, so a few people went there and came back telling their friends it was a really nice experience. Rémy and Val were there last winter and enjoyed the escape so much they kept trying to get us all to go back.
What’s your favourite thing about Mexico?
Fito, our friend there, is the nicest and has a creative mind. He just started his skate brand called Jet Service if you want to peep.
Anything out of the ordinary happen on this trip?
The police are quite corrupt there. Every day they would see our group of foreigners and try by any means to steal money from us. It made it really hard to skate and film. But I think we also made the mistake of sticking too much in the city centre.
After CDMX we still wanted to get more for that upcoming clip and luckily I’m supported by Vans so I could plan easily to go back. We’re on a second trip to Monterrey with the addition of Joseph Biais, Axel Cruysberghs and Felipe Bartolomé.
Many have said that you’re amazing to go on trips with because you’re organised and have incredible stamina. I’ve been told every night as soon as you get home you capture all the footage, stick it in the trip’s WhatsApp chat, then it’s straight to the bar! This true? Is this just to keep people excited about being productive or are there other reasons for this approach?
Capturing, naming tricks and making a timeline felt like homework when I was a kid. I’d prefer to do it as quickly as possible to be able to enjoy the rest of the evening. I’d rather be doing it every evening because it gives me time to rest if I only have one day home before the next trip. On a trip, I just show the footage to everyone on the computer, but when in Paris, I just send a private link every day. I believe it’s rewarding for the skater to see his trick on a normal screen in the evening rather than filming it on the camera.
Okay for the filming geeks, what’s your favourite camera setup at the moment?
At the moment I really like filming HD 4:3 with the Sony ax700, century MK1 fisheye, and a VX mic. The camera itself is more modern than the P2, faster, and you have more control on the image.
I had to make a homemade ugly handle for the camera. Manufacturers made models pretty similar to this camera with a nice integrated handle but the built-in microphone is shitty and there is no good spot to place the external microphone.
You’re renowned for filming very close and tight. How many lenses have you smashed?
I don’t know, maybe five, six. It always hurts! But filming very close is fun; it’s trickier.
And has this led to you altering your approach with the scarcity and high price of MK1s and Extreme fisheye lenses?
Oh yes! I was quite unlucky last year; I broke two MK1s in three months. That really hits the bank. From there I decided using Tadashi filters was mandatory.
Who are your current influences/filmers today that you admire their work?
The first filmer that comes to my mind is Sirus F Gahan. I love his work and him as a person.
Yeah Sirus is the best. In 2022 there seems to be less and less fisheye footage in videos. Why do you think this is?
I believe it’s a mix of a few different things. Filming long lens being easier, less weight in the bag, Strobeck’s influence, and the price of the good fisheyes skyrocketing.
You made a tutorial ‘inviting’ others to replicate the HD/4:3 MK1 setup… Like, why? So many filmers would have chosen to keep that shit to themselves to make their footage stand out. Why did you choose to share it?
The primary reason for this tutorial is that I have been cool guy-ed so many times while asking other filmers for advice when I was younger. There are also so many camera options but only a few setups look good. And it hurts me seeing a skater I love filmed with a bad DSLR setup. If sharing these kinds of geekeries can up the general quality of videos, it’s a win-win.