Vladimir Film Festival

Nikola Racan inter­view with Grey (part 2)

27 / 2 / 2017 / Interview

Nikola Racan / Photo Henry Kingsford

The ori­gin­al inter­view taken from Grey skate magazine: Nikola Racan inter­view part 2.

Ahead of this Friday’s premiere of Sol­sti­cij, in asso­ci­ation with Palo­mino, we decided to pub­lish part 02 of an inter­view with its cre­at­or, Nikola Racan. This inter­view was con­duc­ted in Nikola’s homet­own of Fažana, Croa­tia last Septem­ber, a couple of days after Sol­sti­cij’s Croa­tian premiere at the Vladi­mir Film Fest­iv­al. You can read part 1 of the this inter­view – mainly about the fest­iv­al – here. Part 2 is about Sol­sti­cij.

Pre-order a DVD copy of Sol­sti­cij here.

Inter­view by Henry Kings­ford for Grey skate mag.

Q: Tell us a about your full-length video, Sol­sti­cij.

A: The film was five years in the mak­ing. I come from Croa­tia and the skate scene there is not like it is in the UK or France or Hol­land. I lit­er­ally star­ted from noth­ing. There were some filmers before, but every video that was made in Croa­tia was stayed in Croa­tia. This is the first pro­ject that involves people from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. It took a lot of time to devel­op and grow in a per­fect way, to think a little bit, to know how to use the cam­era, to know what to do. What is the pur­pose of the video? I didn’t know until I expor­ted the video three hours before (the premiere). And then it came to me: we are united now, we are just like one crew or one fam­ily all sit­ting in the gal­lery watch­ing the film. It was such a pleas­ure that all the guys came. The video has over 60 people in it and 80 or 90 per cent of the guys were at the premiere, so… I didn’t feel stressed at all. I was really happy at the premiere.

Q: It was an emo­tion­al even­ing. Were you expect­ing this reaction?

A: Since I star­ted to make the video, I did everything by feel­ing. I was not focused on tricks at all. Also, when I edited the video, I was not think­ing about the tricks – what is the first trick, what is the last trick – it was noth­ing like that. I wanted to make a flowy, moody… The video is really like a per­son­al pro­ject. I’ve been edit­ing for almost a year, not try­ing to do any fancy effects, you know, some stuff like Colin (Read) did (with Spir­it Quest). It is not a video like that. I filmed 99% of the video by myself. Every clip tells a story and every skater in the video became my really good friend. Before the video, I wasn’t friends with nearly 80% of the people. I was say­ing to my guys in my homet­own, in Fažana and Pula: “If you want to make a good skate­board video, you must con­nect with the oth­er guys. You must involve some people from out­side.” The guys could skate really good, but they needed someone to guide them through.

The premiere was def­in­itely emo­tion­al. At the premiere I felt really light. I felt really happy, like it was pure hap­pi­ness. There was noth­ing else. I didn’t worry for a second that some­thing would go wrong… How can I describe it? Maybe it’s too early for me to talk about it because the fest­iv­al is… I mean the guys are still here.

I don’t know, I can only say that I feel really light and happy.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the music you used?

A: If you are a skater and you use a hip-hop soundtrack to your clip or some stand­ard stuff, it will always work well. I don’t have any­thing against that, but I really wanted to make a video with a dif­fer­ent soundtrack, to use some artists that are well-known in the music world, but also some that are under­rated. Not only that, I was search­ing for a song to dis­play the char­ac­ter of each skater, so it was a really hard pro­cess. I’ve been work­ing on the soundtrack for five years – as long as I’ve been work­ing on the video – so each guy has a track that describes his skat­ing and bey­ond skat­ing, his per­son­al­ity. Every clip I filmed… it was so per­son­al with every­one. Every guy who has a clip went on a little mis­sion with me. Every clip has a story. The soundtrack is pretty emo­tion­al also. I think it speaks a lot about myself.

If you just add the clips and cut them and edit, it’s alright, any­one can do that job. Some do it bet­ter, some do it smooth­er… I didn’t really want to imit­ate oth­er filmers’ styles, you know: film the closest I can get, cut it … For example with the intro and Zoe’s (Miloš) part, I really wanted to start the video with some­thing awk­ward. It was a struggle for sure to find the tracks.

I also want to say that a few of the songs in the video are from one guy named Damir Šest­an. He was the first guy (from Croa­tia) who trav­elled Route 66 – he did it two times in the late 1980s – and he was the first guy who brought blues music to Croa­tia. He made so much music with fam­ous guys in Croa­tia that he did not want to go any­where, so I got a few tracks that were nev­er released.

Q: From him?

A: From him, yes. So it was a pleas­ure to have one of the most fam­ous Croa­tian sing­ers in my video.

Q: Where did you travel for the video?

A: I trav­elled to a lot of places in Croa­tia, a lot of places in Slov­e­nia and parts of north­ern Italy… not that many places. I went to France, Bor­deaux and cit­ies around Bor­deaux, Par­is. I was in the UK, in Lon­don. It was like five coun­tries. That’s not lots, but for Croa­tians it’s all right.

Q: You men­tioned that you didn’t want to copy anyone’s style, but then you also men­tioned earli­er (in part one of the inter­view), Yoan Tail­lan­d­i­er and the Japan­ese move­ment, Tight­booth etc. What were some of your influ­ences for the video?

A: Yoan is pretty much one of the most influ­en­tial filmers of the new era. He influ­enced me a lot. All the guys… I’m so amazed by Josh Stewart’s work. A lot of the under­ground or inde­pend­ent filmers are influ­enced by him. When I first star­ted to film I didn’t even want to use the VX1000. Actu­ally it was an acci­dent that I got that cam­era. I was film­ing with anoth­er cam­era and I bought the MK1 fisheye. The guy who even­tu­ally sold it to me, he lent me the VX just to use while I was try­ing to find the fisheye adaptor for my cam­era. When I first felt the cam­era in my hand, I fell in love. That is the reas­on why I’m using this camera.

Q: How did it feel to film tricks with Yoan for your video, him being a big influ­ence, filming-wise? 

A: When I first came to Bor­deaux and I was film­ing the guys, my heart was jump­ing 100 per cent. I was too emo­tion­al because I was new, you know. Nobody knew me – maybe they still don’t – but five or six years ago I didn’t know any­one. I think I pro­gressed quite fast since I star­ted film­ing maybe eight or nine years ago. I filmed a lot before (the video), but these bet­ter cam­er­as… So film­ing Yoan was dif­fer­ent to film­ing the oth­er guys because he’s a filmer, but it was easy because this guy is super-chilled. He’s not stressed. It was a pleas­ure because I can relate to Yoan. Film­ing a filmer. Film­ing some guy who influ­ences you a lot. He is also a super, super tal­en­ted skater. He almost has a small part in the video, a minute and a half maybe, a little bit more…

Q: Tell us a little about the outro. It felt a like a love let­ter to your hometown.

A: It def­in­itely is, yes. Exactly. A lot of the video is shot in Pula, not much is shot in Fažana. Only the outro is all Fažana. The cam­era moves back and forth, it goes places I usu­ally walk by the sea­side in the winter when there are no people around. I love that peace and quiet and it shows that as much as you go away, you always return to your home. Everything was shot first take. I simply had an idea of how to do it and an awe­some track. It’s basic­ally the way I see it (Fažana). It is how it is. I’m not try­ing to make some­thing that is not here. It’s def­in­itely a love let­ter to Fažana.

Q: What will you do now, after spend­ing five years on this project?

A: Now, when everything is done, I made a video. It def­in­itely has been a long pro­cess. This video, it’s not super-tech­nic­al with a mil­lion skaters and a mil­lion places, revolu­tion­ary tricks. It was nev­er about that. It was about cre­at­ing a scene and con­nect­ing with the people who could think the same way, who could share the same vis­ion. I really wanted to put my place on the map and show that we guys here can do some good stuff. The Croa­tian skaters inspired me. This shitty scene has inspired me to do this. The video went the way I wanted. Nobody pushed me to do any­thing I didn’t want to do. It was dif­fi­cult to explain to people around me what I was doing with my life: “What do you do? You went to Rijeka for one week, now you’re back home. You don’t do shit…” It’s hard. It looks that way: I’m not doing any­thing you know, I’m just fuck­ing around with the camera…

Q: Do you have any more pro­jects planned?

A: Jake (Har­ris) said to me in Lon­don and Colin more recently: “I fin­ished the film and I’m nev­er going to do a skate video again.” And I feel those guys. I feel them 100 per cent, because when you are a filmer, you babysit the guys, you need to be a man­ager, pro­du­cer, dir­ect­or, edit­ing guy, everything… Five years with the guys from all over, my life was on hold. I almost broke up with my girl. Not just that, my friends… even the people in the video at one point star­ted to lose faith that I would ever fin­ish it. It’s life, you know. I’m glad that it’s done because I can say and all the guys can say: “I did this in my life”. That’s it.