Open Return – Introducing the UK Ace Trucks team / Lucien Parsons interview25.09.2023
A conversation with Lucien Parsons, who is making the first UK Ace video.
Where did you grow up and how did you start skating?
I grew up in Bristol. I actually started Penny boarding first, when I was around 10 years old. I remember walking into Dean Lane holding my bright white Penny board with purple wheels and seeing Bear (Myles) for the first time, but I was too scared to say hi because he had a proper board. We became friends when we started secondary school and we’ve skated together ever since.
When did you start filming skateboarding?
Me and my friends always made videos together since we started skating but I wouldn’t say they were my videos. They were just fun little janky edits we made with a dad cam with a fisheye attached with Sellotape. I think I made my first proper video at 17, so two years ago. That was for Dirty Rat, a brand I started with my friend Billy Lincoln. We had so much free time back then because of Covid and we were all just enjoying putting our energy into something really creative.
When you sent over Bear’s Grey video part in May 2021 I noticed a big improvement from the Dirty Rats edits. Don’t get me wrong, those were cool, but it seemed like you had progressed quite a bit with putting edits together.
Filming and editing is kind of like skating. It takes over your life and you can get quite obsessive over it. It’s a journey with no real ending. Just when you think you’ve done something good, you see something someone else has made and realise how far you still have to go. But I really enjoy the process and I try to push myself and try something new each time.
Which videos and filmmakers have influenced you?
I didn’t really watch skate videos at all growing up. I started to pay attention when I started actually making them. Mike Arnold’s High Tide edits (for Sidewalk) are amazing. They were in Bristol and the music was great, loads of jungle and stuff. Then obviously Rich Smith and his (Skateboard) Cafe videos are amazing. When Jay (Lentern) moved to Bristol for uni we got quite close. I basically lived in his flat for the entirety of his first year and he showed me all this stuff that wasn’t filmed in Bristol: Jake Harris with Atlantic Drift, all Will Miles’ videos – I remember Lambrusco really stood out to me – The Yardsale videos… At the moment I really like Sirus F Gahan, Austin Bristow and Grant Dawson as well.
How do you approach choosing music?
It’s so difficult but music is really important. I definitely have certain songs I’d prefer to use, but I always try to be open to what other people are listening to. If you keep an open mind you can usually find something you like or spark some sort of idea you hadn’t thought of before.
You are working for Converse and Ace at the moment. How have you found negotiating fees and so on? That stuff is tricky to navigate at any age and you’re only 19.
It definitely was tricky to navigate. I guess it’s a people thing… I think if you’re honest with your client and prepared to listen to their ideas and budgets and stuff, you can generally get to a place where both of you feel happy and like no one’s taking advantage of the other.
What equipment do you use and how much have you invested?
I’ve got a Panasonic HMC151, which is a similar camera to the HPX170. Dan (Kreitem) at Yardsale actually gave me that camera to film with Bear. He really helped me out with that so a massive thank you to Dan. Then I’ve got an Opteka fisheye. That was like £150, so not too expensive for a fisheye. I’m trying to get – and lusting over – the Century Xtreme fisheye, the massive one, but they’re rare and pricey.
That lens is discontinued, right?
Yes, they’re discontinued. I think you can find them occasionally on Instagram or Ebay, but there is a limited number of them out there and they are just really expensive. The last one I saw was going for $15,000 on Ebay. If anyone out there knows where I can find one let me know (laughs). I also recently bought a Bolex H-16 16mm camera. Hopefully I’ll get to use that on some future projects.
Nice. Do you do any video work outside of skateboarding?
I’ve worked for brands that aren’t involved in skateboarding, but often they’ve wanted skating in their videos. I made an Instagram video for Keen Footwear, which is this American outdoor shoe company. I think we sent them a video of someone skating in their sandals and they really liked it, so we did a video for them. Bristol City Football Club wanted to promote their new away kit and wanted skateboarding involved. They shot me a message, I went for a meeting and I made a minute-long Instagram video for the Club, which was really fun to make. They were really nice and basically gave me full creative control. I’m keen to work with brands outside skateboarding if I like the idea and it feels right.
Are you doing any non-video work to help pay the bills?
Not at the moment. I was working at a bar while doing an art foundation course, but that finished at the start of summer so I’m trying to go completely freelance now.
We should probably talk about the Ace video you’re working on. How did the project come about?
I did a Dirty Rat pop-up sale with Rerun Street Wear and Rock Solid Distribution (UK Ace distributor). Wes (Morgan) from Rock Solid proposed the idea to me over drinks after the sale. I was so excited because it felt like my first proper big project and seeing the list of skaters involved really made we want to do it.
As I understand it, you’ve got quite a lot of freedom with the project.
Yes. Wes has been amazing. He basically said from day one that he wants this to be my project and for me to have full creative control over the filming, editing and music. Him saying that made me feel comfortable enough to try some new stuff creatively.
The UK team has grown quite a bit since you started filming. How has this affected the project?
Honestly it’s been fine. Ace seems to have a good knack for picking skaters that I like watching, so it’s been good for me. It has made the project take a bit longer, but I’m just excited to be filming as much as I can.
The title of the article hints at you spending a lot of time in London for the project. Tell us about these visits.
I pretty much spent half my time in London for two or three months. Honestly it was terrifying – you always have a preconception about a place – but once I got there it was so much fun.
I always had a place to stay – everyone has been really lovely about it – and I had a lot of fun having drinks after filming. It has been great getting to know people properly.
How have you found filming in London compares to back home?
I love filming in Bristol but in London there are just so many spots everywhere. It’s actually crazy. Like I was saying I was a bit intimidated by how big the city is. I was like: “I’m not going to be able to find any of the spots.” Lime bikes were a saviour. I was cycling around the whole time, taking photos of everything.
How did you find working with skaters you hadn’t met before?
It was a little scary at first because I wanted to make everyone feel comfortable and that can be
a challenge in a strange new place. It’s scary meeting anyone for the first time when it’s one-on-one, but they’re in exactly the same boat. Everyone is there to film and have fun.
Have you got any memorable stories from filming missions for the video?
I was really excited to meet Charlie Birch for the first time. I’ve always loved his skating but I’d never seen him skate in real life. I knew he liked handrails and I knew about this wooden one outside some flats, so I sent him a photo and he was keen. He turned up, had a ciggie then started throwing himself down this gnarly handrail, trying a lipslide. It was 10 or 11am. He did it in about 10 tries then we went to the pub. I’d only really just woken up and he bought me a drink. That was a nice early London experience.
Do you have any other projects running alongside the Ace video people should look out for?
Yes. I’m filming a Grey part with Jordan Lightowler, which Converse is kindly supporting. Before Bear went away travelling we planned to film a short SML Wheels video with him and Mike Arnold, so when he gets back that might be happening. Me and Bear also have a special project we want to work on next summer and me and Henry (Gibbs) have a short part for Baglady planned.
What are your long-term plans?
At the moment I just love making skate videos. I feel myself getting obsessive about it. I have loads of ideas I want to try out. But I’m also interested in other things as well. I would definitely like to get more into photography, fashion, music videos… as long as those things fulfil me creatively. But I want to keep making skate videos for as long as I can.
Lucien would like to thank: all the skaters from the Ace video for their time and energy, Henry Kingsford, Theo Newton, Mikey Patrick, Griff (James Griffiths), Denny (Kaulbach), Giz (Josh Gislingham), Joey Tershay & Wes Morgan.