Fabrice LeMao – Creator/Founder of the LASFF
What was your original intent for founding this film festival?
My original idea and intent was to reconnect with the fundamental skate culture. Since the early eighties, with the first Bones Brigade videos, there has been this way to better connect with the culture of skateboarding. It was through videos.
The mood and attitude gave the truest sense of skateboarding. Before there were videos from earlier in the sixties, but what Stacy Peralta did was a serious piece of work.
The magazines served as a way to keep the link to the culture, but before videos all you could do was guess what was going on between photo number one and photo number ten. By seeing the actual move being done in a video, you could really relate.
What is your personal background in skateboarding?
I started skateboarding in 1978, and never stopped.
What about video and cinematography?
I am a writer first and foremost. As a writer and skateboarder, I was exposed to video in the early days, but I wouldn’t say what I did in video is worth mentioning.
Have you attended many other film festivals? I heard surf film festivals in Europe inspired you to do this.
That was one of the main points. I was upset about how there many surfing film festivals in Europe, but nothing for skateboarding. I was pissed off about that. Back in Europe there are four surfing festivals.
Here, there actually was something for skateboarding. There was something in San Francisco that lasted for three years, but it was pretty underground, called Under Skatement. There was also something in Seattle, but I don’t know what happened with that.
More than anything else, what I wanted to do was to gather the people that know about skateboard movies and have a good sense with what going on to create the academy.
So the creation of the Academy of Skateboard Filmmakers was your also your idea?
The list of academicians is already pretty long.
And it will be getting longer soon. I have been talking to a lot more already.
How do they pick judges?
They are usually so busy that I have been submitting people to them and asking if they would work or not. I have got some thumbs up and some down.
What exactly do the academicians do, since they don’t judge the films?
They nominate the movies. Since they were all so busy, and could not see every single video entered, we divided the movies by category and then dispatched them to certain [academicians]. For example, the academy members would only be reviewing movies for two categories. Then, I asked all the academicians if they wanted to continue on to judge, or pass it on from there.
How will the judges differentiate the way they are judging each category?
Basically, they will be judging on anything, the quality of the photography, the footage itself, the length of movie and just on what category it is in. Because the way you judge the international is so much different than the commercial, so you don’t judge the categories the same at all.
Will next year’s festival be held here in L.A.?
Actually, there will be this one in L.A. for sure, but there will be one more in Europe. We are working on other locations in the world, but we are looking to have our next one in Europe.
Will the L.A. festival continue to pull in international movies?
Yes, just like all the other film festivals there will remain an international category. We probably wont have all the same categories in the European festival, but I’m not exactly sure yet.
How did the event’s sponsors get involved? Did you approach them?
Actually, it was a lot of us approaching people we already new within the industries. Although it is never easy, it seemed easy to get sponsorships with people we already had relationships with.
Also, I wanted to keep it very low-key for the first one, but because this is L.A. you can’t do that. I wanted to keep it really underground, but instead we ended up bringing in a lot of money to put everything together.
How do you feel about having endemic vs. non-endemic brands as sponsors?
Well if you want the event to grow, you can use non-endemic sponsors to attract a larger audience. If you want it to stay very core, you only use the endemics.
For the first festival I wanted it to be very core, but because I feel the general people need to see more of the videos that skateboarding is producing, I want this to grow. If people can see more videos like Lakai, I think they need to see more of that, to see more of the quality that skateboarding can put out. So to get more people to come out, you need some non-endemic sponsors for support.
I am happy with the size of this event, between underground and too big.