‘Off The Ring’ by Macéo Moreau

Ok, so what we have here is a bit of a Jamie Thomas/Gustav Tønnesen/Geoff Campbell situation, where a crew’s filmer, editor and all-around driving force also happens to be an extremely talented skateboarder themself. And I’m talking kickflip hurricanes on ledges good, à la Mike Carroll.
He also, similarly to our camera-wielding friends listed above, comes from a place that’s not exactly renowned for its influence in the skateboarding world: Seine-Saint-Denis, aka the ‘93’, a small départment to the northeast of Paris, which for years has been shamefully vilified by various national and international media outlets.
Macéo’s Parisian suburb-focused video is a first of its kind, something unique in its concept, but also in the way they approached it, and their motivations. Kill me now but I’m not afraid to say making skateboard videos is quite a selfish activity, at least in the sense that it almost only benefits our little subculture and that anything that gets in the way of it tends to be told to fuck off. For how many more years are we going to have to be subjected to footage of cringe altercations with security guards just trying to get through their day? Well, this here is the antidote: a group of close friends who over five years created a love letter to the areas they’ve grown up in, driven by the idea of sharing rather than taking.

– Arthur Derrien

All photography by Thibault Le Nours.

How did the idea for this video come about then?
Macéo Moreau: I guess it comes from the fact that in our little friendship group we’re basically all from the suburbs of Paris, mostly Seine-Saint-Denis, and growing up there we always thought the area had so much potential in terms of amazing spots that had never been skated… But mainly, what we’ve always loved about skating here is the vibe. You’re often in squares where people are maybe not necessarily as used to seeing skaters, where you’ve got lots of kids out and about playing, and we naturally find ourselves sharing what we do with the other users of these spaces in ways that we wouldn’t necessarily if we were skating at République, or going around the centre of Paris trying to get clips. Like in town, apart from a few heated arguments with neighbours, you’re not really exchanging or sharing much… It feels so much more open and easier to connect in the suburbs, and the kids we bump into will sometimes be glued to our boards for the entire day, just because they’ve never seen them before. The best is when you hear them say they want their next birthday present to be a skateboard, or ask when we’ll be coming back to the plaza… That photo Thibault shot of the kids rolling down the stairs is kind of the definition of why we chose to do this.

For how long have you been working on the project?
I guess it was kind of off the back of my first video (93FRAMES .EP1), which came out in 2019… That one was entirely filmed long-lens because we didn’t have a fisheye. Malo had convinced everyone to start filming something that would just focus on spots around where we’re from and when I got the MK1 we were hungry for fisheye clips. 2020 was a good year, we got a lot of stuff, but then Covid hit… Malo injured his knee and was out for a year… And then I guess a lot of my mates don’t really come from families that are particularly privileged, so after Covid working as much as possible kind of became the number one priority for most of us.
Also, quite a few other video projects came up during that period, so in a weird way although we’ve been working on it for years, we’ve not been able to have that many sessions altogether filming for it. There’d sometimes be 6-month gaps between clips… But yeah, because we enjoyed finding ourselves in these kind of remote places, their energy, and how hyped people were on skating and stuff, we stuck with it.
Not to say that it didn’t land us in some sketchy situations…

Kevin Ozcan, ride-on frontside crooked grind, Sarcelle.

Yeah, but I guess that’s just street skating in general, no? When you’re out all day doing what we do some weird shit inevitably ends up happening no matter where you are…
True. But the one situation I’m referring to here is not necessarily something you’d encounter skating around the centre of Paris.

Go on.
Firstly what I need to say is that when we go to skate these places, we’re very aware that we are guests in these spaces, and if we’re going to skate a cité (an estate), I’m going to go over and chat to whoever’s chilling outside the block looking at us, to explain what we’re doing. I don’t just rock up, pull the camera out and start filming when there’s a bunch of kids playing etc. I don’t want to give off the wrong impression. I make sure people understand that what we’re doing is making skate videos between friends, that we’re not making money off them, that we want the kids who are about to enjoy this as much as we do, and for that to come across in our project. And people are generally really receptive and encouraging, like ‘yeah what you guys are doing is sick, keep it up!’, etc. And we always end up staying at spots for ages playing football with everyone…
But then one time, in this slightly sketchier neighbourhood in Saint-Denis, I noticed that some people were kind of eyeing us up from a distance, and sending kids over to check us out and report back. Like I kinda felt something was maybe up… But I was a bit further looking for bits of wood for the spot’s run-up so wasn’t paying too much attention. And at one point I see 11 massive dudes, what looked like a full football team, just running at the crew! I didn’t have the camera in hand at the time as a mate was filming, but they really came in swinging, there was no discussion or negotiating possible. They just ripped the cameras (my mate also had a film camera) out of our hands as they punched us. And what’s sad is that it’s the one time I didn’t go over and have that chat, to explain what we do, to see if it was okay and stuff…

Malo Spence, ollie 1-foot to 50-50, Noisy-Le-Sec.

Do you think it would have changed things if you had?
Honestly, I do yeah. If they weren’t into it they would have just said ‘nah fuck off we don’t want any of that here’ and that would have been it. But nobody I’ve taken the time to chat to like this has ever reacted in that way, so I can’t help but feel like if I had made the effort to go and see them, and found the right words, that situation could have been avoided.

Did it put you guys off the project for a bit after?
No not at all. I mean we didn’t go back to that spot ha ha, but other than that no.
At the time it happened, my mate wasn’t filming fish so Kevin Ozcan managed to swoop in and save it, so we had that. And then almost straight away after friends of ours did a GoFundMe for us to buy ourselves a new camera and it raised 1500 euros! Plus it turned out the seven euros insurance I’d taken out ended up covering the theft, which is great because the FDR- AX700 I was filming with had gone up since I’d bought it. So in the end I managed to get the same camera I had plus another one for filming second angles!

Kevin Ozcan, Switch hardflip, Saint-Denis.

I guess the main takeaway from the whole thing was probably that it just reinforced the value of communicating and explaining what you do to people then?
Yeah, you’re in someone else’s space, and you need to respect that. It’s easy to forget where you are when you’re locked into trying a trick, and to start losing it a bit and chucking your board around or whatever, and it’s happened that people have understandably been a bit like ‘what the fuck are you doing coming here and doing that’. You sometimes need to be reminded to be conscious of these things… But as I said earlier 90% of the time it was all love and encouragement. Plus a lot of the people we’d meet would be well keen to be filmed saying funny shit to the camera or asking if we know Tony Hawk lol, it’s sick.

Malo Spence, bluntslide gap out, Gagny.

What about in terms of spots? Were you guys Google Street Viewing a lot?
Oh yeah definitely. And then just from being around there, like say if one guy comes across something deep in the depths of the 93 riding his moped to work he’s gonna take a pic, then we’ll go and check it out, then find some other shit around there, and so on.

Malo Spence, crooked grind, Montreuil.

It’s cool that you’ve got the Marseille boys in there too.
Yeah over the years Val (Verd) and Victor (Campillo) would come to stay with me to do stuff with Luidgi (Gaydu) in Paris, and on days where there wasn’t really a plan in Paris we’d go explore some random parts around mine. And that would obviously add a bit of extra hype…

I love this connection between both crews, like how the first videos we posted of you guys were the edits you filmed in Marseille with those boys, and now we’re releasing this, which they’re a part of…
Just out of curiosity, what were you doing for work during the whole filming of this project?
For years I was essentially a PA and runner for advertising companies in Paris. And then for the last 2-3 years I’ve been self-employed doing video stuff, mainly getting work for various little brands outside of skating, but also doing some work for Hélas (for just over a year), which I get a bit of money for as well… And I mean look at
the destinations! We did Brazil and now this Morocco trip, and every time there are a few extra days out there to chill… Just so that if you’re going all the way to Africa you get to experience more
than just skating.

Jérôme Sossou, ollie into the bank, Montreuil.

Too right! I mean that backdrop does look pretty dreamy (Macéo’s taking our video call from a beach café in Tagazout)… Any last words to end this on?
Maybe just that it’s so nice to see it all come together and materialise into something like this, in print… I’m so grateful to all the homies, Malo, Abel, Key, Moino and especially Thibault, who was out there with us dragging his massive bag around… So much has happened over the four or however many years it’s been working on this, and at the end of the day, we did it all (and continue to do it) mainly
for the memories. Just to hold on to these moments.

Kevin Ozcan, ride-on 50-50, Montreuil.