Lucas Fiederling’s “Where We Come From” is a celebration of independence, creativity, and freedom. In the following interview, we picked his brain about the genesis of his full-length project and its reception. The behind the scenes photos in the above gallery were taken during the four years while filming for WWCF, with commentary from Mr. Fiederling.
Lucas Fiederling, frontside feeble. | Photo: Jelle Keppens
Tell me about your experience working on WWCF. I want to know everything!
I’ve been working as a filmer for a long time and I was at a point where I was really not so happy with the magazines or the companies I was working for and how things turned out; never really one hundred percent satisfied because there are too many cooks in the kitchen. At the same time, you’re never really getting a lot of money out of it, either. So, I thought, “Okay, I gotta do something about that. Find some new stuff to work on and grow in my filmmaking or whatever.” But then my dad passed away in that time. Suddenly, I felt that I’ve gotta do something that pleases me, instead of taking care of money.
So, we’re touring for Cleptomanicx, this German clothing brand—we just finished a four-year video project for them. When we were on the tour for the video, going to the premieres and I was getting back that feeling you had as a kid when you’re making little skate edits with your homies. I was like, “That’s what I want again: I want my crew, my homies, and do a video that later WE can tour with and do premieres and celebrate it.” And have the freedom again to make the creative choices you want. I basically called Willow straight from the back of that tour bus and he was in, that is just how it started happening. The other guys eventually just came together.
There’s a really eclectic mix of skaters in the video. How did the rest of the crew get involved?
Well, in the beginning it was more of a “European” plan, I guess. I called my other good homie, Niklas [Speer von Cappeln], who had a part in the Cleptomanicx video, and it was a good choice to continue to have a project together and be able to travel together.
I still lived in Barcelona at that time, so Chris Pfanner is one of my best homies from my time in Barcelona. It was pretty obvious to get him in the mix, and then Chris took me on a Volcom trip, which is where I met Eniz and once you see Eniz skate you are so amazed! The only one that I’ve seen skating live besides Eniz and I was THAT blown away by is probably Daan (van der Linden): that kind of super natural style and ease. The way he skated every day is the way he skates in his video parts; he just does it.
It ended up being that me and Eniz would sit around late at night, going through the day’s footage, and we became pretty good friends pretty quickly. It was pretty obvious to get him in the video!
Phil was probably the only one I didn’t really know back then. Well, I knew him from a few parties or whatever, but my friend Bastian who helped me a lot with the video, knew Phil pretty well from their time at Carhartt and brought him to the mix.
Axel came in as one of the last guys, actually. We always had trouble putting together tours with everyone involved, finding a timeframe when everyone is available—families and whatnot—so Axel was always the “bonus homie” who just joined the trip, had a travel budget, and was able to come along. In the beginning, I kept selling his footage to etnies and stuff… but we kept taking him on trips and at some point we were just like, Okay, we can actually just give you a part because you basically have a full part already.
And I’ve known Marty since the time I worked for Podium Distribution. We went on some trips in Europe and he turned into one of my good homies. I used to go skydiving in Arizona, so when I was there I went to hang out with Marty as well. Eventually it came together that we wanted to have a part of him as well. He had filmed for a few parts that were supposed to drop, but they didn’t happen. We were just like, let’s continue filming and try to get something together. Obviously, it was chaotic because we had to give a lot of the footage away for his DVS part in the end. That’s just how it goes.
How did the rest of the crew approach filming for WWCF? Did they kinda have the same frame of mind where they really wanted to do something independent and fulfilling?
I guess in the end, it’s like everyone that skates starts doing it because we wanna do what we see in those first skate videos that we watch. That’s probably what captures most people in skateboarding: traveling with your friends, having a mission that you’re working on together, and just having a reason to go on adventures. Yeah, it’s just a lot of adventure and excitement, I guess. Everyone kinda feels the need for it as a kid when you start skating, like learning new tricks.
These guys helped me out a lot and we're very supportive during these 4 years full of ups and downs. Of course you got to kick someone’s ass once in a while, but in the end they've been kicking my ass, too, and hooking up the next trip and such.
Did you have any plans to submit WWCF to film festivals?
At first I didn’t, just because of the music rights and the length of it. Most [skate] festivals are looking for 30 minutes, maximum of 45. And we did, like, 60 minutes or 55. For that reason we’re not really thinking about it that much. It was so much work getting all the premieres together around the globe—from Berlin over to New York to even one in a forest in Siberia at a skatecamp—there was so much. It was basically a year now that we’re done filming and I'm still daily working on WWCF-related things.
We had close to twenty premieres around the globe, which obviously we didn’t attend all of them. I tried to fly around to the premieres in the hometowns of all the boys and all that, but then money was missing since I had just put everything into the production of the books + dvds and paying filmers, etc. I guess that was the main outcome we were focused on, to have this end result of this video we can look back on and take out of our shelves and show it to our kids when we’re older, reminding us of that good time—four years of traveling with your homies.
The vibe was pretty good. We sold out the first thousand of them, a bigger return than we ever expected of it. Footage-wise, it turned into something way greater than we expected. We were not sure for a long time if we had enough, or if there was enough time to get more. Or if we still had money to do another few trips because it was starting to be a hassle as well towards the end. The reaction was strong enough to send us to a few film festivals, see about the music rights and right now we did a remastered version for Red Bull, which was a good way to make some of the money back. We just finished that so it’s basically the first time in nine months that I’m not editing and working on that footage!
Making the DVD and editing those parts up to five times until we’re really happy with the music choice… that’s a downside when everyone has a say in it, you know? Me and the skater like the song, but then Marty is like, “No, no, no, you can’t do that. It sucks!” We’re like, Okay, we trust Marty because Marty knows a lot. So, we try something else. Then, Marty has an idea and that song works really well, but we can’t get the rights to it. We did [get the rights] for a lot of songs until we realized that we couldn’t the rights for a few of the ones we really wanted. We kind of said “Fuck it!” at the end and used a few that we weren’t supposed to use. That’s just how it goes, I guess. We paid all the small musicians but not the big ones [laughs], because we just couldn’t clear some of the songs and there wasn’t enough time to change again. So now it's a mix between befriended musicians and big names.
There are so many unique locations in the video—places like Sahara, Morocco, Israel. How did you find those spots? One of them that really stands out is Samu’s switch back lip on this perfect concrete tranny. In the book, you say that it was supposed to be torn down, is that right?
Yeah, that was in Israel. While we were skating it a guy shows up with this bulldozer drill thing and kinda gives us a few more tries and turns it off to watch. In the end, Pfanner went there with the Anti Hero guys a week later, and it was still there. I guess people have been skating that spot for years; it’s been in videos here and there. People don’t really travel there that much due to the political situation. It’s not really thought of as a spot anymore; it’s usually just locals.
When you’re touring, all the locals are really down to take you in and show you around the city. We couldn’t even go to all the places from where people invited us to come along, sending us pictures of spots and such. I would just go to the country and we already have a spot list and everything. I didn’t do shit! The work the filmer usually does was already done on a lot of these trips by the locals that helped us. That was amazing, of course!
I love all the quotes in the book from all the guys involved in the project. How did you get them to open up?
We did Skype interviews and each of them were 30 minutes to an hour long. And then at some point, we skipped the idea of putting too much text in the video + book. We thought, Okay, people are going to write in magazines about this and talk about it and whatever, so we didn’t want to put in too much text and just leave it to the pictures, basically. Then we just took the best quotes out of that and used only very few lines of that. I don’t remember the exact questions, but I guess it’s just what you get when you’re friends and you’re just having a conversation. Oh, and Chris Nieratko helped me out too. He set up some questions for me that I then asked the boys.
I especially liked Axel’s quote, and also Marty’s when he talks about having a long-term project to work on. It seemed like kind of a cool counterpoint to the endless 15-second Insta clips. Do you hope to inspire more people to devote the time to these types of videos, even though it may be more work in the long run?
Yeah. At the same time, though, I must admit that I don’t even know if it’s more work. In the end, maybe. But when you’re trying to get your followers together on Instagram it means you have to work on it daily. There’s no day off. And on an independent video, you have to work in the meantime to get the money to finance it. But in the end it probably stresses me more to be on an iPhone all day long and work on my Instagram than it would to be out filming and be able to decide that, okay, nothing is happening today—let’s go drink a coffee. [laughs]
Yeah, much more freedom.
Yeah, I guess. I mean, there were days when when we were working our asses off. When we were in Bangkok, I was super heartbroken over a girl, and I had a fever and it was incredible hot. We were going from spot to spot all day long, and in the end Willow also got sick. I remember we finally went to the islands for the last few days because everyone was just exhausted. And when I got there it was just the craziest relief and everyone was so hyped, coconuts on the beach and all.
You know, this is just how skateboarding works: You can’t say no if someone wants to go to a spot after you’ve been waiting for four hours for the other guys to get their tricks. Then they’re like, “Let’s go there, I really want to go there and try something.” Everyone’s gonna say yes, no one’s gonna say no. There were times when after everyone was really dead and wanted to go home, WIllow was like, “I’m really not happy with my footage so far. Let’s go to this spot.” And Burney (the photographer), him and me took a tuk-tuk to the spot to check it out, just so he could look at it and decide if it could work and we could go there the next day. And then of course we got stuck in traffic for ages in the tuk-tuk, and it was so hot and we weren’t able to breathe due to the smog.
It just goes with the territory. Any other good stories from your trips? Did something make an especially big impression on you?
Family members were saying, “Oh, do you really want to go to Israel again?” I’ve been there for a documentary and I wanted to go back because I met a few people and some locals, and I thought, Yeah, it would be a good destination for a skate trip. People were warning me not to go there and that it’s too dangerous. “Why don’t you go somewhere else?” You know? “There are spots everywhere!”
In the end, everything was super fine when we went there. When I got back to Berlin, though…
There is this one scene in the movie where there is this guy attacking me and he just grabs my camera and throws it to the floor. We were super tired, checking out a spot and not even wanting to skate it, just looking at it for the next day. We were inside this little fence at a school—not even a real fence, more like a fence to keep the kids from leaving while school is in, a preschool—this guy was in the playground next to it, super angry and screaming at us all of a sudden! I tried to talk to him and calm him down. Suddenly, he was screaming at me that I had filmed the kids and stuff and going super mad on that. Obviously, I wasn’t even filming, especially not his kids!
Then, he just ran up to me, grabbed me around the neck and tried to choke me. I got out of it, but then my camera was right behind me on the wall so he just grabbed it and threw it to the floor. He picked it up again, threw it at me, the camera exploding into 500 pieces. And the guy just runs off, leaving his own little kids. Just leaving his daughters with us, whose camera he just destroyed! It was just a super abstract situation. He called the cops on us in advance, too, because we had jumped the fence, saying that we were breaking into the school and all this gnarly shit. So we got a bit afraid that the cops would show up and be super pissed and thinking that we’re like thieves or whatever. Super abstract. But then the guy who called the cops is the one going crazy. When they finally showed up they told me “It’s your own fault if you go to a neighborhood like that with your fancy cameras,” and that was just a couple blocks from my house.
You know, people warn you about going to these “crazy” destinations, but you can have some crazy shit happen to you every time you even get in a car! You’re driving around all day—that’s probably the most dangerous thing you can do.
That is gnarly. This footage is in the video?
Yeah, there was a second filmer there who filmed part of it but couldn’t set up his mic for audio in time, so I tried to re-create that in post.
What was up with the monkeys? That must have been rad!
Usually when you have a tour with your sponsor, you have not many chances to explore anything outside of skating. When not out filming you may have to skate a contest or do an autograph signing, or just wait in lobbies a lot. In the middle of our South Africa trip everyone was a bit worn out. We were just like, “Fuck it! Let’s hang out with some monkeys!” We went on a safari, we went up the coast to do some surfing and hang in the mountains and stuff like that. It was a cool trip! South Africa in general is one of the bigger official first trips for the video we did, and Matt Price was shooting it back then so he brought Jaws and Ryan Lay and Marty; we had a cool European and American mixed crew.
South Africa is so rad, it’s just like one of the most awesome awesome places to visit and do an indie video like this. You get there and you have that feeling anyway because the whole scene is like that, you know? Like back in the ‘90s because it’s small and there’s not that many skaters, everyone knows each other. The spots are crusty, and of course there’s an amazing landscape and nature. It was cool; it was a good time to stay a whole month, skate, and fuck off and go surfing and go into nature. And it’s worth it, because everyone comes back into the city and is hyped for skating again, you know?
What’s the one thing you want the audience to take away from WWCF?
First of all, the motivation to go skating. I guess that’s what you want to do with a skate video. You want to motivate people of hopefully different generations, hopefully they will all get motivated by something in the video. Maybe the kids get motivated by this, and the older guys get motivated by that, you know? There’s a Tom Penny moment in there but also some flip-in/flip-out shit that gets those guys hyped; everybody has something in there that they can probably enjoy. If there’s some message or something, I guess it’s that it’s not that hard, you know? You can go out and do it if you really want to do it. It does get expensive and stuff but you can always find a way and if you are truly in love with it, you'll walk away satisfied at the end.
In the end, you’re just trading financial security for good times security. You can be sure that the four years you’re working on something is considered [as time] “wasted” if you look at it from the career point of view. But you’re not really wasting anything, because you know that these four years that you put into this video are gonna be awesome.
People are always too scared to go out and do something, you know? Not really too much in skateboarding—there’s a strong “do-it-yourself” spirit in skating these days. People are always scared to leave their comfort zones. And I am, too. Anything I do aside from skate videos, that for me is leaving my comfort zone. Once I'm in the back of a bus exploring some new country with my friends, I feel at home. That counts for most of the guys in this video, as well. It just defines us, in a way. We all love skating itself, but we mostly love the part where you go out and explore and destroy and capture and create some art and fight your inner demons and battle with a new spot.
Pick up the DVD/book in the Store for 90 hardbound pages and more quality skateboarding featuring Axel Cruysberghs, Chris Pfanner, Marty Murawski, Eniz Fazliov, Willow, Phil Zwijsen, Samu Karvonen, Niklas Speer von Cappeln, and many more.