Archive | January, 2013

Over Ply Wood film archive….surfing at Llangennith in the 70’s.

31 Jan

The cine film from Ron over in Australia was not only skateboarding in the 1970’s. In fact the majority of it is surfing, this next clip was filmed down at Llangennith at the end of the Gower Peninsula. One of the things that makes it special is that Ron filmed in the water, not sure how easy it was to come by waterproof housing for the camera in the 70’s but it can’t have been cheap. I got the films from Ron for the skateboarding but the added bonus of all the amazing surf footage has made it a real pleasure and a privilege to watch. Thanks again Ron and Mark for making it all look so good.

Surfing at Llangennith in the 70’s from Jono on Vimeo.


Cine film, Skate City and the 1970’s.

29 Jan

Skateboard! magazine 1970's Skate City article...banner title

This being the first real post i thought i would make it a big one.

Contributions for the project have been almost continuous and very generous. I have had a wealth of photographs sent to me covering all eras of skateboarding and a similar story with video. As technology has changed over the years and formats have come and gone then I have been given every imaginable form of video and in this case cine film.
Through the facebook page and Paul Conibear I heard that one of his friends had some cine film of skateboarding in the 70’s. I never dreamed there would be so much and of such good quality. Ron Williams was originally from Porthcawl but now lives in Australia, a surfer and documenter of his travels, surfing and skating. His films include a lot of surfing filmed in Wales and around the world captured from both the beach and in the water. Rare items, seen by few and i can’t imagine many others at the time having cameras, underwater housing, access to boats and planes from which to film, all of which are included in Ron’s reels. To cut a long story short Ron sent me the reels over from Australia!! Thanks Ron for your trust and generosity, unlike the video files of today there is only one copy of cine film, a fragile, sellotaped together thin reel of celluloid so these things are hard to come by and keep safe.
I thought it would be easy to simply set up a projector and use a camcorder to film it off the wall. Experimenting with this it never really worked, the film jumps around as it is projected, the colours don’t look as vivid as they do on the film and the brightness of the image tapers off at the edges…getting a proper digital transfer seemed the only way to get the film looking as good as it deserves to.
Again the facebook page came to the rescue. I was contacted by Mark Knights who has skated for years and also happens to work at a film archive, when he heard about the prospect of cine film arriving with some unseen skate footage from the 70’s he leapt at the chance to get involved. Mark has gone on to convert most of the cine film and has just started converting some of the Vhs tapes too. I figured if this is worth doing then it’s worth doing well so getting all the conversions done professionally seemed the right way to go.
So the films are being done and the results are arriving and much of it isn’t specifically relevant to the story in Over Ply Wood. It is however super interesting and unseen so it needs an outlet somewhere. I plan to regularly post clips here that can’t be used in the film. This first one has links to the story however. Skate City on the banks of the Thames right in the shadow of Tower Bridge in London is the subject of the first clip. Alongside the film I was also lent a stack of old Skateboard! magazines at the weekend which have a ton of coverage of the building, opening and use of Skate City in 1977. So thanks to Mike Pearson for loaning your treasured collection!
The article below is taken from Skateboard! issue 2 which came out in October 1977. This would set the time of the opening of Skate City as the summer of 1977…Andy Vost told me one of his friends was skating at Skate City as the Sex Pistols boat party sailed by so it was up and running on 7th June 1977….remind me who that was Andy?!
Skateboard! magazine 1970's Skate City article

Skateboard! magazine issue 2. October 1977.

Skateboard! magazine issue 2. October 1977.

Skateboard! magazine 1970's Skate City article 2

Con was skating at Skate City as he talks about in the interviews I have done with him and here is a picture Vince sent me of Con blazing the ‘black bowl’ but i’m not sure of the details of where this is from or when it was a magazine i think?
Con at Skate CitySkateboard! magazine 1970's Si Napper interview 1
I have included this Simon Napper interview as some of the photographs are down at Skate City and also Si mentions Con on the last page as being the “only skater outside of London or Brighton to measure up”!! High praise indeed. Click on the images to get a large size that makes it more readable.
Skateboard! magazine 1970's Si Napper interview 2Skateboard! magazine 1970's Si Napper interview 3

Below is the first in a series of unedited film clips taken from Ron’s cine film. Skate City ‘Black Bowl’…the film has only seen by a handful of people and not for a while i think. Let me know any names and i can add some details about the skaters to the clip.

Skate City from Jono on Vimeo.

Over Ply Wood….Swansea’s skate history.

28 Jan

I have been working on my documentary for almost 2 years now and it is finally taking shape. I started interviewing well over a year ago and the early interviewees must have either forgotten or given up on seeing a finished film any time soon.

As time has passed and a steady flow of interviews have been recorded the story has almost told itself. My knowledge of the history of skateboarding here began at Morfa and even there it only stretched to a few half remembered articles and photographs in R.a.d. and Skateboard!

My interest was fired up by a pile of video tapes I borrowed from Tomsk which showed sessions on the Morfa vert ramp but others had contests and big days on earlier ramps; ramps the locals built in the corner of parks, on waste ground and even on cliff tops.

The first few interviews were with the people who built and skated these ramps; Tomsk, Jason, Greg and Arwyn. Skaters who strove to build better and better ramps and created a scene against the odds which as far as vert went culminated in one of the largest, well constructed and iconic ramps in Europe. This of course wasn’t either the beginning or the end of the story and each interview opened up a multitude of other contacts and stories which i have been following up for the last 2 years.

The later history of skateboarding has been well documented which is great and the more recent times have been fertile with Exist and their indoor skatepark. Over Ply Wood follows the story from it’s beginnings up to the present day. I continue to meet more characters from all decades since the mid 60’s when skating first arrived in Swansea, literally crawling out of the sea with the surfers of Langland. A good number of these people span the decades with their contribution to the story and many continue to skate today.

The story has matured over the 2 years I have been working on it and a constant flow of material has enriched the initial interviews both visually and in revealing the finer details. More photographs, video and stories appear weekly and it has almost become impossible to draw a line and say enough is enough.

I have been running a couple of facebook pages as i have been working through the project which have been super helpful in finding material and letting people know my progress. This blog is in part to continue that process but also as an archive for some of the contributions as it can’t all fit into the film. This stuff needs to be seen and will give some background to the film when it is finally completed.

Alongside the stack of video tapes i have received I also got sent a pile of cine film which documents skating and sufing in the 70’s in the U.K. through the travelling lens of Ron ‘Milk’ Williams. I have also contacted several of the Langland diaspora scattered far and wide and interviewed them by various means….skaters and surfers who have left the area but still maintain a close link through their shared history with Swansea; Paul Conibear, Skin Phillips, Twiss Boneless. All this and much more is making the completion of Over Ply Wood a very exciting prospect….stick with me, it will be worth the wait.Image