Dream Ticket – Girl Skateboards in England & Germany
Sam Ashley and I were at CPH Open this past summer and after the event at the prison, we found ourselves in close proximity of the Girl team. They were in the midst of a European tour and CPH was the halfway point. Sam is old friends with Sam Smyth, they were having a chat, so I turned to my right and talked to the well-dressed Canadian chap who was with them. ‘Hi I’m Daniel,’ he said. ‘Policelli?’ I asked… I was aware of his name, as I’d been a fan of his remixes for years. I knew he worked for Crailtap filming and editing, but how he got the job was what enthralled me. Instead of recanting his story myself I’ll let him explain…
Interview by Will Harmon
So you grew up skating in Toronto, is that right?
Daniel Policelli: I actually grew up in Vaughan, which is just north of Toronto. But once I started getting older, I definitely started heading into the city more and skating the streets.
What was it that made you get so into Girl and Chocolate?
It was around the time when Pretty Sweet came out. And they were celebrating their 20th anniversary. They were obviously posting a lot about their history and stuff, so I kind of went back and started watching all the old videos that, you know, I was still a baby when they came out. But I think yeah, just that kind of era is when I really started getting into it. Because that’s also when I started filming skating and just paying more attention to the industry.
I first heard of you, or saw your name, when I saw the Lakai Return of the Flare and Chocolate Chip remixes, which were sick by the way, but interestingly they weren’t on Crailtap’s YouTube channel, but your own. Were you in contact with the Crail camp to make these?
No, honestly that was just kind of out of boredom, like winter boredom. Just kind of long, cold Canadian winters and nothing to really film and you could barely skate, so I was kind of just screwing around. Then I remember that there was a teaser for The Flare, and I was thinking to myself, ‘oh damn, I really hope Rick (Howard) has footage in it.’ I was kind of expecting that he was just going to have a few clips sprinkled in. So I thought maybe it’d be sick to find a bunch of Rick Howard web clips and put them all together and then once the video comes out, take clips from the video and kind of make like a Rick Howard part. That was my idea. So I started looking for clips online, and I realised that other dudes on the team have lots of web footage, like (Mike) Carroll and Jesus (Fernandez). So I was like, ‘okay, I’ll just make a few of these then.’ And I made the Jesus one that was the first one I posted. And I kind of just made it one night like super bored and I posted it and shared it on Slap. Then the next morning I swear it already had thousands of views. I remember even you guys shared it on your Instagram. Yeah, I think we did… That kind of surprised me. I remember Jesus liking the posts that I made about it. Just that… Already I was kind of blown away, because I wasn’t expecting that response. So then I thought okay, I’ll make a Carroll one and I just kind of started doing them every week. And yeah, over time, like dudes on the team or like, people behind the scenes started following me on Instagram…
Wait so you weren’t in contact with these guys to get this footage? You just literally found it on the web? Because they all look really professionally done…
Yeah, so for each skater I would just search their name and try and find everything they’ve done. Well like not to go too off the rails, but there was this dude Tennyson Corporation and he was making these same kind of remixes. He’d find every kind of web clip possible and tour videos and things like that. And he made his own full-length video called ‘Dog’. So I just kind of wanted to do the same thing but with stuff from like the end of Pretty Sweet to The Flare, that kind of little era.
Okay, so basically you did all these for free? Like Crailtap wasn’t paying you.
Yeah, I mean, I definitely didn’t do it to get like clout or whatever you would call it. I just did it because I was bored and I wanted a home for all these random web clips that were scattered across the Internet. So if you want to watch a Carroll part, you don’t have to watch like 40 web clips, you can just watch this part.
That’s great. I mean you’re kind of giving the people what they want, you know? So like these clips, did they already have other audio on it? Or did you find raw stuff? How did you do it?
Yeah, like most of them are from Crail edits, so there were songs. Sometimes you would get lucky and find a raw clip posted to Instagram that you could swap the audio, but basically I was just trying to find the raw skate clips and I would try and dub it. If you heard it without the song I added, like, it probably wouldn’t sound the best, but because of the song, it kind of made it a little easier to hear the skate noises so it sounds right. But it was kind of an annoying thing to do for sure…
Like you said earlier, some of the team guys started following you, and I mean the Crailtap guys must have just been psyched when you were doing this. You were literally giving them free publicity for The Flare video that was going to come out. Did they ever contact you or DM you about any of this stuff?
Yeah, I mean, I was posting them every week on a Saturday for like a few months. I suppose they were from February to June in 2017 and yeah, over that time I do remember dudes commenting like, ‘Oh, sick’ or like, ‘This is dope.’ Or even people like (Daniel) Wheatley or Steves (Steven Smith), the TM from Lakai, he was always just like, ‘Yo, like, keep these going. These are sick; we’re all watching them.’ And like that was crazy to me, because again, I wasn’t making these to try and get noticed, I just thought it’d be cool to have it somewhere archived. But yeah, a month before The Flare premiere, Federico (Vitetta) hit me up on Instagram, and he just kind of said like, ‘Hey dude, you’re the best. We love watching these. We’d love to see you at the premiere.’ And he says, ‘I have two tickets for you if you want to get here.’ And he didn’t like buy my plane ticket or anything, but I was like, ‘dude, I can’t pass this up.’
Yeah you could meet everyone!
So I went out and spent a couple days in LA and went to the premiere. That was the biggest trip because I got to meet all these dudes and then got to put like a face to the name. It was cool… I got to meet a lot of dudes out there and I got to even sit at The Nine Club where they did a little on set episode. I got to meet Chris (Roberts) and Roger (Bagley) and like kept the connection going.
That was a great night for me to get a couple of phone numbers and stuff and I remember talking to Federico a lot… I was definitely not expecting that at all.
You must have been fanning out pretty hard…
I tried to keep it cool, because I don’t know… I just didn’t want to blow it. So yeah, I don’t think it was too bad, hopefully…
And then so how did this evolve into you working for Girl/Chocolate/Crailtap?
Well, I remember being at the premiere for The Flare, and the video ended and I remember everyone was kind of leaving. I was just like sitting there and Carroll was like one of the last ones in the theatre and I was walking up and he was just like, kind of thanking me for the remixes, which was really cool. And I remember him saying, ‘you know, we were watching these every week, like, before we went out filming. You kind of played a part in this video’, and that like, really hyped me up. And I remember Steves too, he was saying, ‘hey, you know maybe you could help us out with the next one?’ And I was like, damn, that’s really sick. Like, these guys are stoked on it. I’m gonna try and keep this thing going. I don’t know how I’m going to do that… But yeah. I was in school at the time. I was going to university for Media Studies and so I was doing that and then on winter or summer breaks, I would try to go to LA for a couple of weeks. Just pretty much like to try and show face and try and be there. I didn’t want to be a try-hard, like, trying to get on every session or anything. But it was just anytime I could say what’s up or like, come out for a session, I would try and do that.
Yeah I see… It’s hard because you don’t want to seem too keen, even if you actually are.
Yeah, so I think the first trip that I actually went on was the T.O.N.Y. tour (Toronto to New York), which was later, in 2019. So this is already like a couple years after, but they came to Toronto, which is obviously where I live, and they asked if I could help show them around and film. And so I helped out with that Toronto leg of the tour and I don’t think I was originally supposed to go to New York with them, I think someone else was lined up to film them in New York, but they ended up not being able to. So Sam (Smyth) was like, ‘hey, like, do you want to just keep coming along with us on the New York side of the trip?’ And obviously I was down for that. And yeah, I don’t know, I kind of just, again, kept it going. It was like a slow build, but yeah, I just kept showing that I was down and I guess I didn’t blow it too hard on the tours or anything so I just kept going on the trips that I could until COVID happened. That kind of put a pause on everything but I was still able to stay in contact and help them out however I could. During the quarantine COVID times it would be like social media stuff, or whatever little edit they needed, or these recap edits at the end of the year, stuff like that.
And they didn’t pressure you to move to Southern California or anything like that?
They were always asking like, ‘hey, what’s up? What’s your plan? Like, you want to come here?’ especially during the filming of Bunny Hop. I mean I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time in LA over the past few years and I just feel like Toronto is more of my home. I love it here and it’s where I want to be right now. And I couldn’t really see myself living in LA, but they’re totally fine with that, which is really cool.
Well it’s a pretty exceptional path you’ve taken, from being a big fan of the brand, to eventually working for them. That rarely, and I mean very rarely, actually happens, so that’s pretty incredible.
Oh, yeah, I mean, it was like the stuff I dreamed about in high school or even in university. Like, ‘oh, it’d be sick to like be on a trip with these guys or like to film this kind of thing or that…’ and then I ended up being able to do it all, which is insane. And I’m still doing it too. It’s like, I never would have imagined…
So also on your YouTube channel, there’s a lot of other hard to find Girl, Chocolate and Lakai clips. Is this like you said, just seeing these things and wishing they were more available or easier to find? Did you put these up, again, before you were working for these guys?
Yeah, pretty much. That was all stuff before I was involved. It was just kind of stuff that may have even been on YouTube, but they would be in pretty bad quality. And I don’t know, I’m always just kind of like anal about preserving skate quality, like, just making sure it’s in its original quality. A dedicated archivist… I have pretty much all of those Crailtap DVDs, so any ones that were in bad quality or like not even available to find on YouTube, I would just try and put it up just to make sure that they’re up there.
And besides your ‘DanielPolicelli‘ account you have a separate YouTube account ‘PotatoPlop‘ for all your filming stuff right?
Yeah, I want to keep it separate. Just to have a channel with all that remix kind of stuff and then a channel for all my actual film stuff. That’s kind of been going on for like 10 years now. It’s just kind of all the stuff I film with my friends here in Toronto. But yeah, we’re working on a video. We’re kind of in the crunch time era of it. I guess it’s been the past couple of years, but it’s kind of been like on and off, because I’ve been going on a bunch of trips. But we’re trying to put it out in January, so we’re just about there.
Nice. Okay let’s talk about this past trip to Europe with the squad. Actually it wasn’t your first time in Europe with the crew was it? Didn’t you go with Erik Herrera and Carl Aikens to see Jesus in Denmark?
Yeah, so I did go for the first time last year, in 2021, when we were filming for Bunny Hop . That was kind of an idea I put out there. My dad was actually born in Italy and I’m not sure how, but when I was born he was able to apply for me to be a dual citizen. So, you know, it was like during COVID and stuff, and I was like, ‘hey, I don’t know how travelling is right now, but I have a European passport. Like, I could be out in Europe; it’s fine for me. But yeah, it would be sick to go and film with Jesus.’ That was like a big thing for me: I really wanted to make sure Jesus had some footage in this Chocolate video.
Thanks for doing that! Love some Jesus footage…
Yeah, so I just approached Sam, Rick and Mike. And I was like, ‘hey, if I can get to Copenhagen, I’ll hang out with him for a couple weeks, however long and film a bunch of stuff’ and they were down with it. And then their idea was like,‘oh, bring Carl and Erik. That way they can meet Jesus and also film.’ And it ended up working out perfectly and we didn’t go during Copenhagen Open so we were able to avoid all the partying and like the large crowds and just stay in the streets. I think it was a productive trip for sure.
And you did that little slice of life thing with Jesus as well, right?
Yeah, see that’s just like my little kind of Crailtap nerd mind there, like, ‘let’s do a slice of life or something?’ So I was so stoked to be able to do that for sure.
And then have you met some of the legendary alumni of Crailtap? Like Aaron Meza, Ty Evans and Spike Jonze?
Yeah. I mean, obviously, like Federico, who I’m now very good friends with… I haven’t met Ty, but yeah I got to meet Spike during the filming for Bunny Hop last fall. He’s kind of like the Chuck, Skate Barn dude (from The Chocolate Tour ), but grown up and that was pretty cool to see him kind of just dive into a character like that (for Bunny Hop). And he was super nice too off camera; it was cool to meet him. And Meza too actually… I feel like I’ve kind of talked to him here and there online, like super quick, but I got to meet him this time, on this past trip to Copenhagen. We went out for breakfast one time with him, Sam and McCrank. So that was really cool because honestly Meza for me is like a big inspiration. Just like all his work through Crailtap during those late 2000s, like that’s kind of my favourite kind of stuff and favourite kind of videos. I think that’s what got me sparked on Crailtap.
Are you continuing the tradition of trying to get a little clip of Smyth eating some food for the end of an edit?
Yeah, exactly. I got one on this trip too. But just to go back to the Crailtap influences even Roger Bagley… Getting to know him, and again, like the work that he did when he was working for Crailtap… Those are my favourite kinds of videos. Like the mini top fives and the slice of life stuff… So it’s also been really cool to become friends with him.
A passing of the torch, so to speak… Okay so this past European trip, where I met you in Copenhagen, where all else did you go and who went?
Yeah so we started in Munich and then we went to Stuttgart, then from there we had a little Copenhagen break.
We were kind of just there for the contest. We didn’t really do much street skating. It’s hard to do it… And then once the contest ended, we went to Bristol and then spent the last few days in London. It was all the new dudes, like all the kids on the team, and then plus McCrank. So like Griffin, Niels, Simon, Manch, Rowan, Breezy and McCrank, me, Sam and John (Marello).
So any highlights from the trip or anything? Any memorable moments?
You know, it’s kind of crazy, because it seems like a long time ago… But definitely like meeting Dougie (George) and Dan (Fisher-Eustance); that was sick to have them on the trip. They were definitely bringing some good vibes and that was like on our last leg of the trip too. I think some people were obviously getting pretty worn out by this point and these guys brought some new life into the trip. I remember there was this bump to fence spot and there were a whole lot of people outside… I think it was a hotel and there was a conference or something going on and the dude kicked us out, but Griffin kind of calmed him down and became like a doorman and made sure that people were not in the way.
And so Dougie backside flipped this huge bump to fence like super quick and just everyone there, like the whole team, was cheering and a bunch of pedestrians too. And then Simon backed him up with a heelflip and yeah, that was just like a really cool moment.
In the clip you can hear everyone screaming… I just like those kinds of moments on trips when everyone’s together.
And now you get to experience these things with this crew in person, as part of your dream job, for your favourite skate brand. All this for just wanting to see more of the Crail guys’ clips all together…
Yeah, it was just strictly out of love. And it’s really cool that they saw that.
And you know people do those remixes and stuff all the time, so it’s cool that they invited me out (to Cali); I really want to thank Feds for that, because it kind of just kept that fire burning… Anytime I would get to meet these guys or go out there I would just try and keep it going, like keep that connection going. I think being persistent about that is what really helped me. Because I could have just, you know, gone to the premiere and that was that.
Persistence pays off…
I didn’t ever want to be like a try-hard or anything, but I definitely wanted to put some effort in and see where it takes me. And yeah, it ended up working out somehow, I have no idea, but I’m super stoked.